It’s that magical time of the year where I get to make a list and people get mad. With the New Year just a few days away I’m putting down my favorite horror films of the year down below for you to agree with, judge, and mock. Let the criticism fly so we can start the New Year fresh.
Also, some of you might say “Didn’t this film come out in 2014?” And you’re probably right. A lot of these films had festival premieres in 2014, but I’m counting when the film actually had a real theatrical release or got put on VOD.
10. We Are Still Here
I have mixed feelings about this film appearing on my list. I found the acting to be extremely stiff and the story to be a bit disjointed, but there was a charm about the film that grew on me over time. They took a typical haunted house story and added some spice to it by utilizing some great ghastly creature effects and buckets of delightful gore. It’s not my number one recommendation, but it’s something I would urge most people to watch. It won’t win everyone over, but there’s something to this film that’ll appeal to at least half of you out there.
There’s nothing original about a killer bear attacking campers who ventured too far off the beaten path, but “Backcountry” does an excellent job of placing that story in a pretty package. The film is beautifully shot and well paced with tension supplied by both nature and humans. You won’t get a whole lot of surprises out of “Backcountry”, but it’s execution is well worth experiencing.
More than any other film on this list, I’ll probably get a lot of hate for including “Unfriended” on my top ten. If you don’t like found footage then there’s nothing I can say to convince you that “Unfriended” is better than the other found footage films out there. However, “Unfriended” takes a familiar concept and places it in an innovative context. The entire film is shot from the perspective of one person’s computer monitor.
I know it’s not the first film to do that, but I think it’s best iteration of that idea thus far. The majority of the story is conveyed by characters talking to each other over Skype, but from our perspective we see the story play out through chat messages, Google searches, news articles, LiveLeak videos, and so on. The film pulls you in by placing you in the character’s point of view and making you feel as trapped as they are. My only gripe is with that final shot. If you’ve seen it than you probably know what I mean.
7. Jurassic World
There was a lot of pressure riding on “Jurassic World.” After “Jurassic Park 3” most people considered the franchise dead and the constant rumors of reboots, restarts, and dino/human hybrids left people more pessimistic than hopeful. Ultimately, I don’t think “Jurassic World” won everyone over, but it was still a staggering success and one of the more entertaining films of the year.
The Indominus Rex proved to be an awesome addition to the Jurassic mythos. It was, essentially, a dino slasher villain with a vicious mean streak. And, unlike “Jurassic Park 3”, “Jurassic World” didn’t crap on the previous dinos to try and make the Indominus cool. And they did so by creating an incredible action sequence that must’ve come out of a 10 year old’s mind. And I mean that in the best way possible.
It’s been awhile since we’ve had a seasonal horror film and “Krampus” managed to remind us that we’ve really been in desperate need of one. Unlike most Christmas horror films “Krampus” wasn’t simply a film set at Christmas time. It embraced the Christmas spirit and twisted it into a fun and malicious caricature.
“Krampus” blended comedy, horror, and the yuletide spirit in a way that’ll ensure this film remains a holiday tradition for some for years to come.
I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves wondering how many kids could we take on at once if we had too. Personally, I think I could successfully fight off at least 20 kids at once. In “Cooties” we actually get to see that scenario play out to great comedic effect. The film is filled with excellent comedic actors and Leigh Whannell who manages to keep up with the rest of the cast. In an era where zombies plague us at every turn, “Cooties” is a fun and refreshing take on the subject.
4. It Follows
What’s left to say about “It Follows” that hasn’t been repeated adnauseum by critics and fans the world over? It’s an innovative film with a fantastic soundtrack and great visual style. It managed to be a throwback to films of old while still being new and inventive. Just don’t let the overwhelming hype out there taint your expectations for this film. It’s one of those situations where all the praise might lead you to believe this is the greatest thing ever, when in reality it’s just a solid movie.
3. The Final Girls
While something like “Cooties” might be more comedy than horror, “The Final Girls” is more heart than terror. “Final Girls” is an emotional story about the bond between mother and daughter and how that transcends life and death. The film has a great twist where modern day characters are projected into a classic “Friday the 13th”-style slasher film. This leads to some nice homages to the classic slasher genre and it pays a loving tribute to those characters who we never got to really know before their untimely demises. It’s a wonderful film that should be shared with the whole family.
2. The Gift
Full disclosure, this isn’t really a horror film. “The Gift” is actually a psychological thriller, but those kind of films tend to get mixed up with the horror genre and I just really want to praise “The Gift” once again. In “The Gift” a man has a chance encounter with a person from his past and the two become entangled in a disturbing cat and mouse game with devastating repercussions. The film was directed, written by, and stars Joel Edgerton who turns in a fantastic performance as the troubled and unnerving Gordo. “The Gift” is as thought provoking as it is entertaining, it’s the kind of genre film horror fans would appreciate.
1. Bone Tomahawk
If you know me then it should come as no surprise that “Bone Tomahawk” wound up being my favorite film of the year. Not only am I a huge Kurt Russell fan boy (aren’t we all?), but I love the western genre as much as I love horror. “Bone Tomahawk” was the perfect marriage of all three and turned out to be an excellent film. The movie is filled with great personality driven characters, a bunch of terrifying cannibals, and some solid gore. Including probably one of the most gruesome deaths of the year. The film’s use of quick and dirty violence along with the escalating tension kept me on edge throughout. It’s a good horror film, a great western, and just an all around excellent film.
Best Non-Horror Movie That I Talked About All Year:
Of course I couldn’t leave this post without talking about my other favorite film of the year: “Mad Max: Fury Road.” With Mel Gibson absent from the project many feared that “Mad Max” would be dead on arrival, but Tom Hardy managed to step up to the plate quite nicely as the infamous road warrior. Charlize Theron also turned in a fantastic performance as Furiosa that made her feel as naturally badass as Max. The film also features some of the most incredible action of the year with high octane car chases and white knuckle practical stunts. “Mad Max” has been successfully reborn and I can’t wait to revisit this apocalyptic wasteland.