Oh, January. After months of wonderful movie after wonderful movie, we reach the first month of the new year, where all bad movies go to die, although everyone in the rest of the country gets to see the good stuff that already opened in NY and LA. Expect plenty of horror and mediocre action, and if we're lucky, some wide releases that won't suck!
Have an Adrenaline Rush
"A Dark Truth" (Jan. 4th)
In this thriller from a director who has made 20 movies no one has ever heard of before, a former CIA op who now works as a political pundit is hired to expose a grisly cover-up. It stars Eva Longoria, Forest Whitaker, Andy Garcia and Kevin Durand. Although there aren't many reviews out there yet, the ones that exist are brutal, which makes us wonder how a film this poorly put together got the green light (and such a high profile cast) in the first place. Once you watch the trailer, you may find yourself in agreement. Yikes.
"Broken City" (Jan. 18th)
Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones starring in a January crime thriller? Uh oh. Wahlberg plays an ex-cop seeking revenge against a city's corrupt lawyer, played by Crowe in this film directed by Allen Hughes. Hughes and his brother Albert previously co-directed middle-of-the-road genre films like "From Hell" and "The Book of Eli," so we're a little skeptical. However, it's worth noting that Wahlberg has a fairly good track record for January, as 2012's "Contraband" ended up taking the record for best January opening weekend of all time.
"The Last Stand" (Jan. 18th)
This one is … confusing to say the least. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville star in this action movie about the leader of a drug cartel battling a sheriff to cross the Mexican border. But it's also the first American production from great South Korean director Kim Ji-woon, best known for 2008's "The Good, The Bad and The Weird" and 2010's "I Saw The Devil." Could be terrible, could be amazing, but in any event, expect reasonable numbers as the film marks Schwarzengger's first starring role since 2003's "Terminator 3."
"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" (Jan. 25th)
Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star as Hansel and Gretel, siblings who have become vengeful witch hunters in their adulthood. Delayed, delayed and delayed some more, this action comedy filmed in 3D is finally getting released in good ol' January. But if the timing freaks you out, take a look at the writer/director and producing team for some semblance of reassurance. Tommy Wirkola, who directed the crazy Nazi zombie horror movie "Dead Snow," is behind the camera, and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez Productions are on board as producers. This is so crazy it might just work! Or it might be mind-blowingly awful.
"Parker" (Jan. 25th)
Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez star in this adaptation of Donald E. Westlake's novel "Flashfire." (Previous Westlake novels adapted for the screen include "Payback" and "Point Blank," and he also penned the script for "The Grifters.") Statham's Parker is a professional thief who disguises himself as a wealthy Texas businessman to exact revenge on associates who betrayed him. Director Taylor Hackford (aka Mr. Helen Mirren) is best known for 1982's "An Officer and a Gentleman" and 2004's "Ray", both starkly different from this action thriller, but at least we can rest assured that he knows what he's doing.
Have a Scare
"Texas Chainsaw 3D" (Jan. 4th)
Another one? When did this happen? The seventh installment in this popular franchise follows a young girl who figures out she was adopted when she receives a long lost grandmother's inheritance. But there's a downside - she must share the money with her cousin Leatherface. Oh, noes! Expect a few throwbacks to the original in this road trip movie meets slasher flick, with cameos from original Leatherface Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns and Bill Moseley, among others.
"Mama" (Jan. 18th)
Jessica Chastain does a horror movie!! Rejoice!! Directed by Spanish director Andres Muschietti and executive produced by Guillermo del Toro, the film follows Annabel (Chastain) and husband Lucas ("Game of Thrones" bad guy Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who are raising his semi-feral nieces. They were lost in the woods for five years, and they're definitely being haunted by something they think is their mother. Fun fact! Muschietti was a PA on 1996's "Evita." Double fun fact! The "Mama" trailer, featuring a gothed out Chastain, is kind of terrifying.
Have a Laugh
"A Haunted House" (Jan. 11th)
This is a parody of the recent slew of paranormal-minded horror flicks, from the mind of spoof expert Marlon Wayans. Frankly, the genre is kind of in need of some skewering, and the trailer is actually pretty funny. Here's hoping the trailer isn't funny just because that's where all the best jokes are. Since "Scary Movie" remains the best of this genre, one can only hope this return to horror will demonstrate a step in the right direction for the Wayans' parodies, one away from the mediocre spoofs that have come in between.
"Movie 43" (Jan. 25th)
This new comedy featuring intertwining shorts directed by the likes of James Gunn, Brett Ratner and Elizabeth Banks stars just about everyone ever. The trailer smacks of the raunchy hilarity of early Farrelly brothers, so it should come as no surprise that Peter Farrelly is a producer and part of the large directing team. The actors include Oscar winners, comedy staples, TV stars and Gerard Butler perhaps reviving his career playing a leprechaun.
Have A Potentially Quality Time At The Movies?!
"Gangster Squad" (Jan. 11th)
After being delayed four months to allegedly reshoot certain sequences in light of the Aurora shooting, "Gangster Squad" is one of the few films might be excellent, despite its January release. "Gangster Squad" is the third film from director Ruben Fleischer, who was behind "Zombieland" and "30 Minutes or Less," and it's got a juicy cast comprised of Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. Set in Los Angeles in the '40s and '50s, this noir follows the action between LAPD and the East Coast Mafia trying to take over. The screenplay from "Castle" scribe Will Beall is based on Paul Lieberman's book.
"Struck by Lightning" (Jan. 11th)
"Glee" star Chris Colfer tries his hand behind the scenes with his first screenplay, about the last few weeks of a high school senior blackmailing his way into Northwestern before he is struck by lighting and killed. The film also stars Rebel Wilson as Colfer's best friend, TV high school students Allie Grant ("Suburgatory") and Sarah Hyland ("Modern Family") as fellow classmates, and Alison Janney, Dermot Mulroney, Angela Kinsey and Christina Hendricks as the adults in his life. Not a bad lineup.
"In Another Country" (Jan. 11th)
Isabelle Huppert appears as three different French women who visit a Korean town and experience three very different kinds of love affairs. This comedy, which recently screened at AFI Fest after appearing at Cannes earlier in 2012, has received glowing reviews, and marks the first English-language film from South Korean maestro Hong Sang-soo.
"I Am Not A Hipster" (Jan. 11th)
"I Am Not a Hipster" follows a young artist in San Diego who learns to terms with his grief through music. The film is filled with fantastic live performances, and an overall soundtrack to die for. The official Sundance 2012 selection finally hits VOD January 15th with theatrical releases across the country throughout the month of January.
"John Dies at the End" (Jan. 25th)
This indescribable romp of a movie finally gets a limited release! The film from "Bubba Ho-Tep" helmer Don Coscarelli, has been a midnight favorite at film festivals all year and for good reason. Decidedly not for everyone, be sure to give the trailer a watch to figure out if it's your speed. But if two adorable exorcist-types taking a drug named soy sauce that makes them see other dimensions and helps them save the universe sounds up your alley, you're in for a confusingly wonderful time at the movies.