Whoa. When Scott and I were talking about compiling our lists, I was worried. To be honest, the prospect seemed rough, because the year as a whole has wavered between Meh and Awful for horror.
Luckily, as I perused the back catalogue, it turned out to be not as bad as I recalled. And there were a few late entries that upped the overall quality considerably.
THE WITCH: An early favourite, this historical period supernatural horror film written and directed by Robert Eggers in his directorial debut starred Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson as a Puritan family in 16th Century America, menaced by evil, unseen forces in the woods surrounding their isolated farm. What it lacks in jump scares and gore, it more than compensates for with atmosphere, an underlying menace, and an authentic portrayal of the period, including dialogue and accent.
DON’T BREATHE: directed by Fede Alvarez and written by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, the film stars Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto, and focuses on three friends who break into the isolated, fortified house of blind Gulf War veteran played by Stephen Lang, believing he keeps a fortune in compensation money there. Instead, they discover he’s a serial killer, and has his house booby-trapped better than that Macauley Culkin brat ever managed. A tense movie in a genre I’m not exactly sanguine about after viewing so many lackluster efforts.
LIGHTS OUT: Directed by David F. Sandberg in his major directorial debut, and based on Sandberg’s 2013 short film of the same name and featuring Lotta Losten, who starred in the short, with a simple but powerful premise of a spectral entity that gets closer to you whenever the lights are turned off. While I thin the expanded version of the short is a bit stretchy and explained a little too much about what was behind the creature, the execution was overall creepy and impressive.
THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE: A late entry, only watched this week, the movie, directed by André Øvredal (TROLL HUNTER), stars Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox as father-and-son coroners in a small town who experience supernatural phenomena while examining the body of an unidentified woman (played by Olwen Kelly). As they find more and more things bizarre about the body, weird s**t piles up. It sorts of unravels in the end, like one of those campfire ghost stories people tell that make you go “Huh?”, but it’s an intelligent, spooky offering.
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE: (read my review here) Scott and I agree on this one, a Hitchcockian exercise in claustrophobia and paranoia, where a woman fleeing an alien invasion finds herself trapped in a shelter with a survivalist (incomparably played by John Goodman) who may or may not be worse than the creatures waiting outside for them… a superb thriller, well worth viewing.
TRAIN TO BUSAN: (read my review here) A South Korean zombie movie, something I never thought I’d see, where a Rage Virus-type disease races through the population, quickly bringing down civilisation, and a father and daughter attempt to flee on a bullet train with other survivors while facing undead threats both without and within, as well as the general inhumanity that doesn’t need zombies to arise… it’s a fast-paced, gory exercise
HUSH: (Read EvilQueenB’s review here) Another home invasion film, but this one is a well-crafted one, with a twist in that the victim, a writer (Katy Seigel) is deaf, something her attacker uses against her, until she turns the tables. There isn’t much to the story, but sometimes the best films are based on simple premises…
SHIN GODZILLA / GODZILLA RESURGENCE: Another late entry, but a very welcome one. Look at America’s 1998 Godzilla, which gave us a monster that didn’t look like Godzilla, wiped away his Japanese origins, and replaced it with 96 hours of Ferris Bueller and the cast of The Simpsons. Look at America’s 2014 Godzilla, a movie that somehow thought that 9 minutes of actual Godzilla footage in a 2 hour plus movie was okay. Now look at this movie, which brings on the monster in the first 5 minutes and pretty much keeps him front and centre in the heart of Tokyo, mutating and bringing about mass destruction. The lesson to be learned? Leave the Japanese to make fucking Godzilla movies, please. They seem to know what they’re doing.
So, how about the rest of you, True Believers? Your favourites?