Now that we got that unpleasantness of the Worst of 2014 list out the way we can focus on some of the films that made 2014 a great year for horror. I view 2014 as a kind of turning point from previous years. Surprisingly we didn’t get as many remakes, sequels, or 3D horror offerings as we’ve gotten in the last few years. The found footage-style of film is still going strong and to my surprise we actually got some really strong entries that made my top 10 list (I’m more surprised than anyone!!). I will say that compiling my top 10 list was difficult this year. I had to binge watch a lot of 2014 releases in the last two weeks just to be able to fill ten spots. But I’m glad I saw these ten films and I think you’ll like them too.
I included the link to my full review of each film (just click on the titles of the film) so you can read in more depth why I loved these films. One of the films has Deggsy’s link for the review because he reviewed it and I agree 100% with his review. Hope you enjoy and please let me know in the comments section below what films you think I left off this list and/or which films you think don’t belong on it. Please note this list is in ascending order leading up to my favorite film of 2014. Let’s get to it:
10. KILL ZOMBIE!
I know, I know … I’m totally breaking my own rule about only including movies from the year in which I’m making the list, but honestly I couldn’t find another 2014 film to include and KILL ZOMBIE! deserves to be included on this list. KILL ZOMBIE! was made in 2012 and is an all around fantastic film. It’s a bizarre, bat shit crazy zombie film full of great characters who have great chemistry with each other, fantastic dialogue, and is overall one of the best times I had watching a horror film in 2014. It’s streaming on Netflix which makes it even better because you don’t need to try and track this one down (it was made in Amsterdam). Don’t miss it!!
9. CRAWL OR DIE
If you think THE DESCENT was claustrophobic then you better bust out the oxygen tank and brace yourself!! CRAWL OR DIE is an indie film made on a less-than-micro budget but feels and looks like a million bucks. It’s a simple plot but is executed brilliantly. The head of a special ops team (Nicole Alonso) is crawling for her life from some sort of monster. The only problem is that she’s in an underground tunnel system and the tunnels keep getting smaller and smaller. I had to stop this one a few times to catch my breath!! You can find this one online and streaming on Hulu.
The first ABCs OF DEATH was fun but the producers got serious with the second installment. The stories are stronger, bloodier, and overall better made. The same format is followed as the first one where twenty-six different directors get a letter of the alphabet and must come up with a particular nasty short film on a way to die based on their letter. Don’t miss this one!!
7. WILLOW CREEK
WILLOW CREEK is the first of two Bigfoot-themed films on this list. That’s pretty amazing in itself, but this film is also one of three found footage films on my list (I’m more shocked than you are!!). WILLOW CREEK seemed to divide audiences in half. Some hated and some loved it. I loved what Bobcat Goldthwait did with this film and thought it was a very welcome addition to the Bigfoot sub-genre. This film never makes it clear if the two protagonists are being threatened by Bigfoot until the very end of the movie (like literally the final five minutes). Goldthwait here creates such amazing tension and atmosphere that even if you don’t like the ending you’ll love the ride getting there. The twenty minute uninterrupted, continuous shot in the tent is worth the price of admission alone. Don’t listen to anyone or any reviews on this film; check it out and decide for yourself.
Here’s another film that divided audiences in half. Kevin Smith came up with the idea for this film during one of his podcasts but there’s gotta be a huge HUMAN CENTIPEDE influence in there as well. Horror fans will no doubt compare this to HC but to either like or hate TUSK based on HC isn’t doing this film justice. I think TUSK is a way better made film and is way more effective than HC. I actually cared about Justin Long’s character in TUSK. I couldn’t give two shits about the characters in HC. But Smith proves he can make a disturbing, funny, dark horror film. Love it or hate it you’ll be thinking about TUSK days after seeing it.
Do you like your films gory, violent, fast-paced, and fun? Did you love the first DEAD SNOW? If you answered ‘yes’ to either question than DEAD SNOW 2 is gonna be right up your alley!! This sequel picks up directly where the first one left off and it doesn’t take much time for those Nazi zombie bustards to start their campaign of horror once again. This time they’re setting their sights on nothing less than world conquest. Luckily Martin (Vegar Hoel) has some help from an American zombie hunting squad … well they mean well, anyway. DEAD SNOW 2 is a whole lot of fun and will have you laughing hysterically one moment and cringing the next at all the gore. Don’t miss it!!
Here’s the second found footage film on my best of list. If not for a very persistent friend I would have never watched this one. It’s found footage and a possession flick (usually two warning signs for me). But damn if I wasn’t blown away at how well made and executed this film was. The acting is stellar and Jill Larson, who plays the titular role, steals the show. Her performance is one of the best I’ve seen in any film this year. Co-writer and director Adam Robitel utilizes the found footage aspect the way it was meant to be used … not as a gimmick but as just another element of the movie. It actually contributes to the story and advances the plot instead of hindering it. This is a nut see!! You can find this one on Netflix.
This is the third found footage and the second Bigfoot-themed film on my best of list. EXISTS, simply put, is the most fast-paced, kickass film on this list. Unlike WILLOW CREEK that keeps the existence of Bigfoot a mystery, EXISTS, as the title suggests, lets the audience know in no uncertain terms that Bigfoot does indeed exist and you shouldn’t fuck with it. Directed by Eduardo Sánchez, half of the team behind THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, and written by Jamie Nash, EXISTS moves at a blistering, break-neck speed and doesn’t let up until the final scene. And just like with THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN, the found footage is used to advance the plot and becomes part of the story, not something that takes you out of the moment. I can’t say enough great things about EXISTS!!
2. THE BABADOOK
The link here is for Deggsy’s review but we couldn’t have agreed more on this film. THE BABADOOK is the surprise of the year. I read a lot of reviews after seeing this (please don’t read anything about this films until after you see it) saying how it’s the scariest film of the year. No … no it’s not. I didn’t find it scary at all but that’s okay because that’s not what THE BABADOOK is all about. It’s not supposed to be a scary, bloody horror film. This is more of a psychological horror film that will crawl under your skin and burrow there for days after seeing it. The success of this film rests squarely on the script, its execution, and on actress Essie Davis, who plays Amelia, a woman who is at her breaking point. Even though the title of this film suggests the horror in this film comes from a creature, the true horror comes from the human mind. This is the type of film you’ll benefit greatly from watching it more than once. I watched it three times in twenty-four hours and loved every single viewing. See for yourself … you’ll thank me!!
Aahhh yes … CIRCUS OF THE DEAD. Not only is this my favorite horror film of the year but it was also my most anticipated film of the year. I was eagerly waiting to see CIRCUS since 2012 and it’s great when a film doesn’t just deliver but exceeds your expectations. Billy ‘Bloody Bill’ Pon presents a morality tale soaked in sadism, blood, violence, and horror. The script is brilliant and hooks you from the opening scene. Actor Bill Oberst, Jr plays the lead as the sadistic clown Papa Corn. But don’t think this is your typical “killer clown” flick. Pon redefines and reshapes what a “killer clown” is and doesn’t fall into any of the cliches that have unfortunately defined this sub-genre. Parrish Randall plays a father who comes into the crosshairs of Papa Corn’s odd view of morality. Just wait until you see what Papa Corn puts Randall through. CIRCUS has been killing it on the festival circuit and is currently finding distribution. I’ll keep you all updated when it’s widely available. Billy Pon is a name you want to remember … he’s gonna be a force to recon with and will prove himself to be one of the saviors of the future of horror!!
That’s my Best of list for 2014. I’m dying to hear your thoughts and read your opinions!!