Horror is our jam… The ever increasing A-Z of horror series should let you in on that one, and again horror has had a fantastic year. As usual, we have forgone the top ten malarkey and just highlighted some of the films that we think you should have given your time to. Now to come out with it from the top, there hasn’t been a chance to see Censor (as we are sure it would have been on this list) and any horror film released from November (time wasn’t our friend) though when we have caught up, we will possibly update the list! For now, enjoy!
The Boy Behind the Door
Rife with nail-biting tension, Lonnie Chavis and Ezra Dewey is phenomenal in The Boy Behind the Door. With a simple story done exceptionally well, directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell have created an excellent film that takes no prisoners and leaves you as exhausted as its characters, one hell of a memorable film and another that shows that putting trust in actors so young, isn’t always a bad idea.
It is a horror satire that delights itself in poking questions about free speech, censorship, and the need for validation in an ever-increasing online world. As sharp as a knife Ivo van Aarts The Columnist goes down that dark, twisted path that many people who have encountered trolls and online abuse would wish to go. But, asking the questions and never entirely trying to answer them, this is a movie that leaves you pondering amidst all the blood.
For The Sake of Vicious
Welcome to your new favourite cult midnight movie. For the Sake of Vicious is a film that wears its bloody heart on its sleeve and, after a tense filled opening half, let’s loose in ways that will either have you winching or clapping your hands in glee. Writer/director duo Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen have made an astoundingly brutal film, and thank goodness they did.
A Ghost Waits
A low key black and white film that absolutely nails every aspect with such ingenuity that you can only appreciate it. Natalie Walker and MacLeod Andrews are a delight as they carry us through the most unlikely spiritual relationships. Director Adam Stovall’s debut takes some fresh steps in a sub-genre that is over-reliant on the stereotypical. Yet, for this horror-comedy romance film, it is those touching and softer moments that strike you far more than anything else, bringing an incredible amount of unexpected emotion. There is so much to love about A Ghost Waits that it would be a shame to spoil more of what goes on; check this one out, a delightful surprise.
In Search of Darkness: Part II
Do you love your 80s horror and didn’t quite get your fill the first time around? Well, luckily for us this year, we saw the sequel, which may have just been better than the first. Crammed full of information, we are left truly satisfied with a documentary that makes itself an essential watch for horror fans. Who knows, there may even be a film you have missed in there too. The final In Search of Darkness should come out way next year, so keep an eye out for another four or so hours of wonder!
Phil Tippett has created a nightmare, a wonderful, gloriously gruesome and relentlessly horrifying nightmare that leaves you with your jaw firmly on the ground. Simply put, you will have never seen anything like Mad God, an unforgettable and brilliant piece of cinema. Audacious in its use of stop motion, it is a minor miracle that this film got made. Revel in it; you won’t see anything quite like it again.
Racked in pent up grief, Martyrs Lane is a beautiful yet heartbreaking ghost story that at times takes your breath away, paced to perfection. Told through the eyes of the brilliant Kiera Thompson, this is a film that you cannot miss out on. Ruth Platt has made a special film here that connects with audiences in a multitude of ways, an exquisite heartfelt slow burner of a film.
Kourosh Ahari’s The Night is a throwback of a horror that allows for its ample tension to build, coupled with a great script and two fantastic performances; this is a film that never lets you settle. By adding small touches to his film with influences from Kubrick and Hitchcock, Ahari allows the entire piece to become something more than expected.
A Nightmare Wakes
Nora Unkel’s feature debut, A Nightmare Wakes, is a stunning piece of film that unsettles the audience from the start while remaining true to its core story. While it is a twist on the biopic, it is still quite the humanist tale. By focusing on why Mary Shelley wrote what she did and keeping true enough to the events, we are presented with quite the horrific tale of the pains of miscarriage and the emotional ripples it sends out to everyone affected.
With the emergence of CGI over the past few decades, it can be easy to forget and underappreciate the skill and creativity of practical effects. Steven Kotanski has created a monster (literally) of a practical effects extravaganza here in Psycho Goreman. However, there has to be something to the story to help carry it through, and boy who would have thought a story about an alien overlord having to do what a child says could be as thoroughly entertaining as this. A modern 80s flick that delights you from beginning to end.
Thought that Rubber had an… interesting premise? Elza Kephart’s sharp horror-comedy Slaxx gives us a film we never expected nor knew we needed. A pair of possessed jeans take their anger out on everyone in a chic clothing store. The jokes are aplenty, and this becomes a fantastic watch as one by one, the staff members of CCC are taken out in ever-increasingly fun ways, yet despite all of the absurdity, has a clear and pointed message.
Sound of Violence
Alex Noyer’s Sound of Violence utilises its horror graphically well. Yet the movie shines most when it explores what is under the pools blood left behind with a story full of tragedy, desperation wrapped around PTSD and addiction. A welcome original film that, as expected, has a stunning sound design. We have a movie that triumphantly balances itself with a complex narrative to bring us as effective and confident a film this year.
A tragic tale about a woman who couldn’t quite find her place in the world, we are given a stunning debut from Jill Gevargizian. Her ideas are expanded skillfully from her 2016 short and are somehow, thanks to Najarra Townsend’s performances, bringing us a genuinely empathetic killer. It could be quite simple to present Claire as the girl who doesn’t fit in, but there is a great deal of layers brought forward that have you enjoying the story leaves The Stylist standing out from the crowd.
We Still Say Grace
Brad Helmink and John Rauschelbach’s We Still Say Grace is a tremendously effective horror thriller that does everything possibly right. This is a slow-burner that reels you in with some great performances from Bruce Davison and Holly Taylor. Without a doubt, this is a must-watch film that deserves to find as wide an audience as possible.
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
A wondrous deep dive into all things folk horror, Kier-La Janisse’s Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched takes us on a marathon three hour plus journey, one that is full to the brim with information, yet you are never bored due to some excellent pacing. An absolute essential watch for genre fans.