June is a big month for horror, but massive action franchises are back and bigger than ever now that theaters are slowly reawakening. The start of a fun summer is just around the corner.
‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ June 4th (Theaters and HBO Max)
James Wan’s The Conjuring series – along with one of his other horror franchises, Insidious – brought back the old school style scares of haunted houses and demonic possession. The series follows the bizarre and terrifying real-life cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), a pair of paranormal investigators. The original 2013 film kicked off an ongoing universe that includes three Annabelle movies, 2018’s The Nun and the following year’s The Curse of La Llorona.
Thankfully, the connections are pretty loose, so you only need to watch the first two Conjuring films before watching The Devil Made Me Do It. The new film has the Warrens wrapped in a murder trial where the defendant claims to have been possessed by a demon. It’s based on the infamous 1981 trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson in Connecticut, and it promises to be another frightening feature full of ghosts and holy warfare.
‘The Amusement Park’ June 8th (Shudder)
The Amusement Park was made by horror icon George A. Romero back in 1973, but the movie was never released due to its content. Romero was hired by the Lutheran Society to create a film about ageism and the various problems that the elderly face in the United States for educational purposes. But being the artist that he was, Romero winded up making a film so genuinely disturbing and upsetting that the project was completely shelved, and thought lost until it was found and restored in 2017.
The film is a masterful bit of psychological horror that illustrates the genuine terror of living as a senior citizen, following the events of one old man’s day at an amusement park. Romero more than gets the point across – he practically beats you into action. It’s incredibly fitting that one of the filmmaker’s very best films comes from beyond the grave.
‘In the Heights’ June 11th (Theaters and HBO Max)
Lin-Manuel Miranda has been the go-to for big Hollywood musical numbers these past few years, but he first made a name for himself on Broadway back in 2008 with In the Heights. The musical is the story of the tight-knit community of Washington Heights, as lives change and dreams are attempted. The hip-hop style of music for the show was still a novelty thing back then on Broadway, and it became a smash hit that set the stage for Lin-Manuel’s eventual world domination.
The film adaptation is directed by Jon M. Chu, who took over the box office in 2018 with Crazy Rich Asians. That film feels sincerely joyous and heartfelt, so there’s little doubt that same energy will be applied to In the Heights. Chu is no stranger to musical sequences either, having also directed a couple of Step Up films, 2015’s Jem and the Holograms movie, and a pair of Justin Bieber concert films. In the Heights should be the perfect summer movie if you’re looking for joy and celebration.
‘Censor’ June 11th (Theaters) June 18th (VOD)
Censor is inspired by the video nasty era of the UK, which saw a wave of absurdly violent and gory exploitation films flood the video cassette market. Naturally, this brought a harsh crackdown on what kind of content films should be allowed to show, and strict censorship laws swiftly followed.
The film follows Enid (Niamh Algar), one of the members of the censorship board who considers her work to be an essential public service. As she pores over countless hours of graphic violence, she believes she’s protecting people from things no one should have to see. But when she views a film that brings back memories of a childhood incident, her entire world comes crashing down. Censor is an exceptionally smart horror film, one that tackles several social topics at once while still supplying plenty of bloody scares.
‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ June 16th (Theaters)
2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard proved to be a surprise hit thanks to the pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Reynolds plays the bodyguard while Jackson plays the hitman, who is on his way to testify in court and naturally needs some protection from people looking to shut him up. The film also starred Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek, and was directed by Patrick Hughes, who previously did Red Hill and The Expendable 3.
The sequel puts Hayek’s character front and center as the titular Hitman’s Wife, but she’s more than capable of handling herself. The twist this time around is that Reynolds’ character isn’t allowed to use a gun or any kind of lethal weapon. Just in case you think these movie’s take themselves too seriously, they don’t – they’re most certainly more comedy than drama, and all the better for it.
‘F9’ June 25th (Theaters)
The Fast & Furious franchise is a series that just keeps getting more and more ridiculous as it goes on. Maybe that’s the secret. The franchise has only gotten bigger and bigger at the box office all over the world, and its action sequences and vehicular mayhem have only gotten more absurd and more entertaining. This latest entry marks the triumphant return of Justin Lin, who directed Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6.
After the events of The Fate of the Furious, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family must face Dom’s younger brother Jakob (John Cena), a deadly assassin, who is working with their old enemy Cipher (Charlize Theron), and who holds a personal vendetta against Dominic.
‘Luca’ June 18th (Disney+)
During the 1950s, in Portorosso, a seaside town on the Italian Riviera, a young boy named Luca (Jacob Tremblay) shares adventures with his new best friend Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer). But Luca and Alberto are hiding a secret: they are both sea monsters from a world below the water’s surface.
Pixar’s latest animated feature will be released exclusively onto Disney+, with no additional charge like we’ve seen with their past couple of Premiere Access releases. It worked with Soul last year, and likely will again with Luca, which promises to be a beautiful coming-of-age story about childhood friendship.
‘America: The Motion Picture’ June 30th (Netflix)
Check the voice cast on this thing: Channing Tatum, Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, Judy Greer, Bobby Moynihan, Raoul Max Trujillo, Killer Mike, Andy Samberg, Will Forte, Simon Pegg and more. America: The Motion Picture is a wildly profane and action-packed retelling of the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution. Just don’t expect any kind of historical accuracy, this ain’t that.
The movie comes from Matt Thompson, who is best known for his work directing A LOT of episodes of Archer. It’s written by David Callaham who also has quite the resume – The Expendables, Godzilla, Ant-Man, and the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It’s gonna be tough to top this one in terms of ridiculousness.
‘False Positive’ June 25th (Hulu)
Directed by John Lee and written by him and Broad City’s Ilana Glazer, who also stars in the film, False Positive is a new horror film that’s kind of a modern riff on Rosemary’s Baby. After months of trying and failing to get pregnant, Lucy (Glazer) and Adrian (Justin Theroux) finally find their dream fertility doctor in the illustrious Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan).
But after becoming pregnant with a healthy baby girl, Lucy begins to notice something sinister through Hindle’s gleaming charm, and she sets out to uncover the unsettling truth about him. But the secrets she uncovers are more terrifying than anything she could have predicted.
‘Vicious Fun’ June 29th (Shudder)
Joel (Evan Marsh), a caustic 1980’s film critic for a national horror magazine, finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blend in with his homicidal surroundings or risk becoming the next victim.
That’s one hell of a strong and funny premise, and Vicious Fun proves itself to have the chops to back it up. Written and directed by Cody Calahan, the film is one of the finest horror comedies in recent years, and it’s guaranteed to gain a sizable cult following.