5. Frankenstein’s Monster
At one point there were too many Frankenstein films in development to count. OK, there were six. But that’s still a lot for a creature who hasn’t seen much action aside from films like 1994’s Frankenstein with Kenneth Branagh. Suddenly Dr. Frankenstein and his Monster are fashionable again. Several of those projects have stalled, but I, Frankenstein starring Aaron Eckhart as the Monster (AKA Adam Frankenstein) is due out this year. It tells the story of Dr. Frankenstein getting caught in a supernatural war. (There are also gargoyles and angels, because of course there are.)
Two films at least remain in development: This Dark Endeavor and Wake the Dead — the latter, like I, Frankenstein, is based on a graphic novel. Frankenstein’s Monster is a smart choice as a tragic hero: he’s never been evil so much as misunderstood. These reinventions of his story could cast the Monster as a romantic lead, but Victor Frankenstein is also a figure worth exploring, especially if we’re returning to his younger (hotter) years.
Ghosts have never really fallen out of favor: they’re on TV in True Blood and Being Human (the American version returned last night). But there are also several ghostly films coming out this year, including The Conjuring with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, Haunt starring Jacki Weaver, and The Seventh Son with Ben Barnes and Julianne Moore. Add to that sequels like Paranormal Activity 5, Insidious: Chapter 2, and Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes, and you have a pretty clear indication that hauntings aren’t going anywhere.
It’s probably unfair to conflate ghosts and possession, but you get the basic idea: there are malevolent spirits beyond our control. It’s unlikely the paranormal genre will ever become sexy, but it’s not going to drop in popularity either. That’s because ghosts never get old — they’re so broad conceptually, and so open to interpretation, that few ghost movies feel all that similar. And because they’re unseen, ghosts remain scary, a trait that other supernatural creatures have lost.
Aliens are tough: they’re not really supernatural so much as sci-fi. But until we prove their existence, I think we can lump them with the rest. Like ghosts, aliens have remained a steady fixture in movies, but a few big-budget films this year may push them further to the forefront. There’s After Earth starring father and son duo Will and Jaden Smith, and Oblivion with Tom Cruise. On top of that, we’ve got Pacific Rim, an ostensible Transformers rip-off, as well as the continuation of the Riddick series with Riddick and the long-awaited Ender’s Game.
We’ve tried sexy aliens and outside of Speciesit didn’t work — note the failure of I Am Number Four — but if anyone can do it, it’s Twilight scribe Stephenie Meyer. Her book The Host hits the big screen this year. Aside from that, aliens pretty much always work as a hugely intimidating threat: they tend to be bigger and smarter than we are. It’s doubtful the alien trend will ever subside much, especially as we continue to learn more about our universe, which is stupid expansive.
Prepare yourself for the next supernatural teen romance — relax, it has nothing to do with Stephenie Meyer. But Beautiful Creatures, an adaptation of the first book in a popular YA series, is almost definitely the next big thing. It stars newcomers Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich, who are poised to break out, and it has all the elements of Twilight’s success, plus a lot less critical repulsion. Fairy tale reboots Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Oz the Great and Powerful also have witchy elements.
The teen witch genre is obviously appealing: I mean, hormonal young people with powers, what’s not to love? The failure of The CW’s The Secret Circle, however, seemed to slow it down. No matter. Assuming Beautiful Creatures is as successful as it’s hyped to be, we can only assume a slew of copycats will follow. Not to mention the rest of that series: Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos, and Beautiful Redemption.
Without question, the real supernatural creature on top in 2013 is the zombie, which is seeing a dramatic resurgence. Shows like The Walking Dead reminded us that zombies can still be scary, which inspired the film adaptation of World War Z and the Evil Dead remake. But there’s also the lighter side of zombies, as in romantic comedy Warm Bodies. Expect to see more like this in the future. Also R.I.P.D. starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Daniels. They’re zombie cops, naturally.
But why zombies? To be honest, they strike me as an odd choice for the “it” supernatural creature. I mean, they’re gross, decaying, brainless mounds of flesh. I guess the catch is, they don’t have to be. Now that vampires have become so last year, it’s stands to reason that another member of the undead community has to take their place. While traditional zombies are mindless, they’re overdue for a reinvention. And the genre has never really moved past the George Romero standard, which means Warm Bodies fills a void that could help make it a big hit.