Amongst the disappointments, the trash and the blockbuster bullshit of the past year, there were five films that stood out to me as clever, inventive, super scary and worthy of many a re-watch in the future. These are my top five of 2014, these flicks have made an impact and will stand the test of time. Most importantly, they deserve to hold a place in your home collection. Here are my top Five of 2014.
Kevin Smith’s Tusk is an acquired taste for sure, and it bombed at the box office (not surprising really, since it deals with a man being unwillingly turned into a walrus). Depending on your sense of humour, you’ll either find it totally hilarious, or scoff at the fact it was borne of a weed-laced episode of the director’s hugely-popular SModcast, and refuse to give it a chance. Although it isn’t quite as effective as his previous foray into horror, Red State, Tusk is funny, freaky and an admirably brave piece of work from a director known mostly for creating characters whose central preoccupations are drugs and dick jokes.
4. The Guest
Adam Wingard‘s follow-up to You’re Next is an eighties-style, no-nonsense thrill ride, boasting a fantastic central performance from Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens. It has the coolest score of the year, alongside a load of crazy carnage and some of the snappiest dialogue this side of Wes Craven. An homage of sorts to the great John Carpenter, The Guest plays like the film the great auteur would’ve made if he were just starting out now. And it is exactly as badass as that sounds.
3. Cheap Thrills
Reuniting The Innkeepers‘ dream team Pat Healy and Sara Paxton, this balls-to-the-wall crazy tale of two men competing in tasks of ever-increasing danger and stupidity for the delight of a couple of snooty rich folks was a sleeper hit at Frightfest 2013. It’s finally made its way onto DVD and Blu-Ray this year and it deserves a spot in every discerning horror fan’s collection, regardless of whether it sounds like “your” kind of film. Everything we wanted Would You Rather to be and more, with some of the most impressive gore and SFX of the year, Cheap Thrills is an absolute gem.
2. Late Phases
The schedule for Frightfest 2014 was packed with werewolf fare, from the mental Wolfcop to the snooze-inducing Blood Moon but it was Late Phases that stood out thanks to boasting more bite, frights and heart than all of its competitors combined. Nick Damici gives a stunning performance as the blind and grumpy war vet battling the werewolves who are plaguing the retirement community he now calls home. The transformation sequences are also, arguably, the best since Landis.
Digging Up The Marrow
If you’ve heard anything about Digging Up The Marrow, Adam Green’s follow up to his cult Hatchet series, thus far, forget it because this movie is best viewed with absolutely no prior knowledge of its content whatsoever. With that in mind, I won’t say anything, except that it stars Green as himself, alongside Ray Wise, and is a mockumentary of sorts about proving whether or not monsters exist in the real world. With no musical cues to speak of, the scares come hard and fast, and they are the most effective in modern horror by a long shot. It’s also furiously funny, with a succession of Green’s buddies lining up purely to disbelieve him, and gives a great insight into the everyday workings of his production company Ariescope. I know I’m cheating with this one, because it won’t be released theatrically until next year, but I couldn’t resist. Those of us lucky to catch it at Frightfest (and other select screenings) know that this is a very, very special movie indeed. Digging Up The Marrow truly must be seen to be believed. And hopefully, in 2015, it’ll get the audience it deserves.