As we say our goodbyes to 2015, I wanted to make a top 10 list of horror films for the year. I’ll tell you, friends, it wasn’t easy. This genre blending and bending fad has made it difficult to put films into one category. I had to come up with criteria for choosing these particular films and I started with the basis of the genre, which is a film having a negative emotional reaction playing on the viewers’ fears. So criteria one was, did it scare me?
Now this could range anywhere from nightmares to killers or even the supernatural. And each of these films did scare me. However, just because a film is scary, it doesn’t make it the best. There had to be other factors making the films on this list exceptional. So let’s not judge only on, “did this film make me want to pee my pants?”, but also on, was this a good film—taking into account the directorial attributes, camera work, and all around artistry. Finally, I did some clean up of the list to exclude remakes and sequels. If you want to talk about Poltergeist, Insidious: Chapter 3, or Sinister 2 then move along little doggies.
All right, folks, let’s get weird.
10. To start this party off on a mellow fear-factor scale, I’d like to begin with the number ten spot, Spring. This was a beautiful film with not one but two directors, Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorehead. The cinematography was gorgeous and even utilized these drones that everyone seemed to be getting for Christmas this year. The film is very much a love story, about a guy (Lou Taylor Pucci) who’s had it pretty rough; his mom just died of cancer, he lost his job because of a bar fight, and the cops are on his trail. He decides to skip town and go on a trip to Italy (yes, really pretty scenery) with his inheritance. There he meets the perfect girl (Nadia Hilker). She’s a cheeky babe, just the type of mysterious and sexy lady any guy could possibly ask for. I will say I might have picked up some tips from her. She’s the hottest type of bold. I digress; the horror part comes along in the form of a scientific genetic mystery. This girl turns into some nasty primordial creatures when lover boy isn’t looking. Until one day, when he is.
9. The next film you guys should check out is The Green Inferno, directed by Eli Roth. This film intrigued me so much because Roth took the time to get real Peruvian jungle natives to be extras in the film. That means it’s the most authentic-fake, cannibalistic film this year. I was kept on edge and continuously wondered what horrific man-eating scene was going to screen next. Although the film takes most of the screen time to cover back story and explain why these college kids are going to save the jungle, once they finally get there crash their plane trying to leave, the movie picks up the pace. I was extremely impressed with the care and effort these actors had to take to portray their roles. It’s my understanding that they were in 110-degree heat while filming and eaten up by all types of nasty jungle bugs. Roth was heavily influenced by Cannibal Holocaust (1980). Remember that one where the director was actually charged with murder because the footage seemed so real and brutal? I’m not going to say The Green Inferno was all that terrifying and explicit, it could have upped the ante a bit, but it was still disgusting and please-don’t-eat-me scary.
8. Moving right along, Henry Hobson makes his directorial debut and Arnold Schwarzenegger gives us a free-of-charge performance in Maggie. You heard me; homeboy liked the script so much that he did it for no payment. The govenator teamed up with cutie Abigail Breslin to give us an alternative view of the zombie apocalypse. It reminded me of Warm Bodies, but much more serious and irking. Little Maggie was infected and is slowly turning into a brain eating, lifeless zombie. Lucky for her, Dad decided to get her out of quarantine and let her spend her final days at home, just like a terminal illness with no hope of recovery. Only, she’s not dying… she’s just going to wake up one morning trying to eat everyone. This leaves Arnold with the task of killing his little girl when it comes time. What he chooses is the making of a great horror drama.
7. Then there is We Are Still Here – Director Ted Geoghegan imagines a house that wakes up every few decades and needs more blood. This film was also inspired by a classic horror film called Cemetery (1981). We Are Still Here has what you’ve been looking for: gory, spooky, nasty images that haunt your dreams and make you run instead of walk from the bathroom back to bed when you’re home alone. Classic formula and blood and guts for days. You looking for what your gut tells you is horror? Here it is.
6. Picking up the pace in these genre films, right on down the road is The Final Girls. This is an amazing tribute film to the popular 80’s slasher movies. The film follows a group of friends into an old horror film and they have to stick with the final girl (the last girl standing in nearly every horror film) to stay alive. It’s hilarious and I’ve actually covered it before, here. Not to be biased, but I just love the concept and think it was really fun. If we’re all about getting creative with this genre then why not add comedy to a somewhat serious and scary film? Plus Adam DeVine trips me out in every role he’s ever played. He’s the perfect horror movie character.
5. Now we start reeling it in, shall we? Our number 5 spot is Goodnight Mommy. This foreign film is impressive and scary in ways that I haven’t witnessed in an other-than-English horror movie since Takashi Miike’s Audition (1999). Now, I know you’re thinking, how can you be afraid and invested when you have to read subtitles? Trust me, this film takes its time pacing things out for you. Goodnight Mommy is about twin boys (Lukas and Elias Schwartz) and their mommy (Susanne Wuest) who has recently undergone extensive reconstructive surgery. What you think is a very beautiful and slow movie at first is really full of little hints and clues to a grand reveal. I love that who’s-the-bad-guy stuff. Not to mention, the mansion these three live in is spectacular, and even if I weren’t interested in this film I would watch it on mute as if it were a house hunting show while I was cooking. I loved the pacing and watching everything unfold in this movie and then realizing at the end that it deserves a second watch. Touché Austria.
4. The next film I have on deck is The Hallow, which features an interaction with nature and its cruelty much like Lars von Trier’s Antichrist. It also features a firstborn son and weird mother/son dichotomy. If you know me, you know how I love von Trier and anything remotely close to his ideals is going to get me all excited! Director Corin Hardy masterfully crafts this story about an Irish couple (Bojana Novakovic and Joseph Mawle) and their baby son moving into the depths of a forest villagewhich they have been warned about because of the evil creatures inside. This dad is a tree doctor, though; do you think he listens to the villagers? Nope. He gets his family all demon woodland-fairy attacked and the end game is some straight up horror movie phantasmagoria. The Hallow is a quality production with a very nice Irish setting, although its not really a slasher, it is isolated fear.
3. Okay, It Follows. This, this, this! So I remember way back when this movie came out I was so excited to see it and then I was so let down it hurt. However, I was fresh out of film school and getting to drink up all the amazing films I never experienced before and my expectations for monthly horror movie releases were way too damn high. I realize now that after 100 years worth of movies there are 50 that I can name off the top of my head as truly amazing. Once I got over that, I realized this film was one of the best this year. It Follows is about sleeping around. There’s a terrible sexually transmitted it and that particular it is coming straight for you. The worst part is, it can be anyone and anywhere. David Roger Mitchell is clearly a lover of the genre and takes care to give nods to horror films from the ‘60s to ‘80s. The camera work is flawless and textbook for the genre. The plot is lacking for me but judging by creativity and strength in the genre, this film made it to my number three.
2. Believe it or not, this number two film scared the living shit out of me. It just keeps freaking me out and even now, writing about it, I get goose bumps. The Visit is precisely my type of terrifying. It plays on themes of insanity and is not supernatural or gory. A brother (Ed Oxenbould) and sister (Olivia DeJonge) go to meet their grandparents (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie) for the first time, only to find out those two are freaky old kooks with some serious mental problems. I had no idea what the bad thing was to be afraid of, or who was making awful things happen to this elderly couple. It kept me on edge throughout the film which means M. Night Shyamalan is back to doing werk. After writing and directing some of my other favorites like Signs and The Sixth Sense, I was excited and pleasantly surprised to see The Visit. These creepy old folks did not disappoint. Just. Go. Watch it.
1. Finally, the last and most amazing film I have seen all year and would watch again ten more times, is Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. I can’t even get past the first scene with Blake Anderson starting the zombie outbreak because it’s just so friggin’ good. Then the rest of the film happens and it’s over too quick. I literally just want to keep watching these three scouts (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, and Joey Dumont—all of whom I want to see more of) and really sexy chick (Sarah Dumont) fight zombies, all day, all the time; forever. Scouts Guide has everything I want in a film, not just horror but young love, comedy, thrills, and zombies. It’s the perfect hang out movie, date night movie, and playing hooky in bed with your laptop movie. I would screen this to a crowd or watch it on my phone during a road trip. Director Christopher Landon (has anyone seen this guy? My God) delivers everything and a great time. Honestly, if you gathered nothing else from this list, go watch this movie. It’s just too good!
Boom! There you have it, all the horrific films you need to catch up on for 2015. *Drops mic*