2014 was the year that the horror genre fully utilizing VOD and streaming as means of effective distribution. Before the dawn of the internet if a movie wasn’t on the big screen it was dumped straight-to-video on the video rental shelf and passed by as potential viewers search for the latest copy of Fried Green Tomatoes (Yes, to the best of my knowledge, prior to the internet you could only watch FGT…). Out of my 10 favorite genre flicks of the year only 1 was a major release. That’s not to say I’m some kind of hipster movie snob (Although I do wear skinny jeans and only drink bubble tea…) that can only like small release films. Everyone one of these movies reached a large audience and performed pretty well. It’s as if the powers that be realized that marketing directly towards specific audiences can pay off!?!? Did I leave something off, get something wrong or messed up in any let me know what you think in the comments below!
10) The Shower – Alex Drummond
The Shower is the one movie on this list that has not had an official release (current plans are for 2015), but I saw it at Motor City Nightmares 2014 so it makes the cut. Writer/Director Alex Drummond hammered out a solid indie horror/comedy on a shoe string budget and even while directing his 7 month pregnant wife ( a job that proves Drummond has balls the size of grape fruits!). The Shower is a fun, fast paced ride that knows how to walk that line between horror and comedy. A job most people fail at, but Drummond handles with ease. Definitely keep your eyes posted for this one next year.
9) The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Remake/Reboot/Sequel Thing) – Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
I rolled my eyes when I first saw the trailer for Town that Dreaded Sundown remake. I figured Blumhouse Productions was just cashing in on remakes and this would quickly become a forgotten. Holy hell was I wrong! TtDS was one of the most original and creative reboots that Hollywood has ever been farted out for us. To be fair TtDS is not a remake and it doesn’t really fit into the reboot mold either (to be honest I have no idea what separates the two). All that said it mostly meets the sequel criteria, but even that doesn’t feel right. Playing off the unsolved true crimes that inspired the 1976 version and even incorporating the 1976 movie as a pivotal plot device. Add in a top-notch cast, a brutal, no holds bared killer and plot that is smart with a twist ending that is (almost a bit to convoluted) that wraps it all up.
8) At the Devil’s Door – Nicholas McCarthy
Nicholas McCarthy is an unsung hero of the genre world. He has only made two flicks to date, but each one has lingered in my grey matter like the remnants of burnt toast hovering in the air. I went into At the Devil’s Door with almost zero idea what the movie was about (much like how I went into McCarthy’s first flick The Pact) and within in the first 10 minutes knew nothing good was going to come. McCarthy is able to scare the hell out of his audience without relying on cheap jump scares or big special effects (although the movie has some top-notch SFX). He toys with his characters and layers the tension until just before the breaking point and right when you think you can’t stand it anymore that’s when McCarthy hits the pedal to the floor. I dig what this man can do and can’t wait for his next flick.
7) Exsists – Edaurdo Sanchez
Eduardo Sanchez is one of the co-directors of the Blair Witch Project. While he wasn’t the first to do a found footage horror flick, it is safe to say he definitely made it popular and proved that super low-budget horror films ( budget for BWP was between 15-30 thousands) can turn a huge profit (grossed 180 million). Even with the insane success of BWP Sanchez steered clear of found footage flicks for more than a decade. Then just like when Bob Dylan went electric and Sanchez came to his sense and returned to the sub-genre he helped craft. So does this mean that Sanchez just tried to rehash what he and Daniel Myrick did with BWP? Absolutely not. Where BWP was slow burn and basically watching people freak themselves out in a tent, Exists is more action and a fast paced horror flick. Did I forget to mention the man antagonist is Bigfoot? I’m not talking a guy in a ape suit, either. Sanchez was able to make the big guy scary again and after you have a reality T.V. show dedicated to him I didn’t think this would be possible.
6) Oculus – Mike Flanagan
I’m not going to lie here. A solid 60% of why I wanted to see Oculus was because my undying love for Karen Gillian. Besides being a complete knock-out, she was The Doctor’s companion. Nuff said. After sitting down in the theater and trying my damnedest to not let my wife know of my borderline unhealthy obsession the unthinkable happened: I forgot about my red-headed crush and began to get sucked into the movie. A creepy story of a haunted mirror that tricks people into doing brutal acts on themselves and loved ones. Mike Flanagan was able to tell a nonlinear story containing two separate timelines with ease and eventual blend the two together almost seamlessly. Lets not over look that Flanagan delivered the only wide release horror flick to make it on my list (an honor that I’m sure Mike is very excited to receive…).
5) The Guest – Adam Wingard
After last years You’re Next totally rocked my socks off I had high expectations for Adam Wingards follow-up The Guest. It received nothing but positive reviews from the festival circuit and Wingard and company were staying tight-lipped about the plot. All we knew for sure was that a family wrecked with grief over the death of their son in Iraq gets a house guest claiming to be the deceased sons military friend. Being that it was Wingard and long time writing partner Simon Barrett I knew I was in for a wild ride and that’s exactly what I got. Add to that a badass 80’s synth soundtrack and standout performance by Dan Stevens (playing David the house guest) and you got one of the best genre movies of the year.
4) Cheap Thrills – E.L. Katz
The rich exploiting the poor is a theme that a lot of movies have tackled and really is kind of played out. That is until E.L. Katz brought us Cheap Thrills. Katz is able to make a statement about the social class in this country and… rich people…poor… Who the hell am I kidding?!? If there was a political statement in this movie I missed it. What I did catch was fun and twisted movie that begins harmless and has an ending that hits like a sledge-hammer.
3) Afflicted – Clif Prowse & Derek Lee
Afflicted is another film I knew absolutely about prior to sitting down with it. And by nothing I mean it. I wasn’t even sure who the director was. Turns out it was two directors, who happened to star,write and edit the film. As the film opens it appears to be another in a long line of forgettable found footage horror films. BUT as the story evolves we see that Lee and Prowse have a few tricks up their sleeves. Not only does the Afflicted feature some damn impressive action sequences (especially considering it is a found footage flick) , It also features one of the gloriously disgusting vomit scenes since David Cronenberg’s The Fly.
2) The Babadook – Jennifer Kent
What can I say about The Babadook that you haven’t heard (or read) a thousand times. I will say that for her first feature film Jennifer Kent shows she is a hell of force and is most likely looking at a very promising film career. The Babadook scared me. Something that doesn’t happen to me often as I watch an offensively large amount of horror films. But The Babadook did it in such a way that I wasn’t entirely aware of it happening until I paused the movie for a bathroom break. As I was walking towards the bathroom of my quiet and darkened house I found myself hesitant to enter the shadowy hallway. So like any reasonable adult I turned on every light in my house, took a leak in an empty Gatorade bottle and finished the movie during daylight hours.
1) Dead Snow 2: Red VS Dead – Tommy Wirkola
I’ve written a review, we discussed it on the podcast and I even interview the director and star (Tommy Wirkola and Martin Starr in episode #90 of the SJP Podcast CLICK HERE to check it out). Having done all this it was known that I am a big fan of Dead Snow 2. Wirkola looked at Dead Snow and said I have to top this. And that is just want he did. Colin from Monster Movie App brought up a good point regarding why he felt this wasn’t as good as the original. No Blumpkin (Google at your own risk or watch the first film). Even without gross (but weirdly enticing…) sex acts Dead Snow 2 is the best horror flick of 2014.