I sometimes feel like people are too fussy when it comes to horror movies nowadays. Sometimes, trying to get a good word about any of them is like trying to get blood out of stone. 2015 saw an abundance of wicked genre movies released, and after much deliberation (it’s taken me a while to catch up!), here are my top five horror films of 2015.
The Gift follows married couple Simon (Jason Bateman of Horrible Bosses) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall of Transcendence) who have an unexpected encounter with an acquaintance from Simon’s past. Simon initially doesn’t recognize Gordo, played brilliantly by Joel Edgerton (Warrior), but after an effectively troubling series of events and mysterious gifts, the couples life starts to turn upside down at the hands of Gordo the weirdo.
The Gift builds an effective sense of suspense and disbelief as you are not entirely sure what to believe with each surprise that pops out from every corner. You can never tell who’s actually the protagonist until the final terrifying gift.
Paying some homage to one of the best, Lucio Fulci, We Are Still Here is surprising throwback to old-school horror that delivers on both horror and comedy, in that the comedy didn’t overpower the horror which is my pet hatred in the genre.
Directed by Ted Geoghegan, Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator) stars in this haunted house flick about a married couple attempting to recover from the death of their son. They move to a quiet New York countryside to try to start a new life for themselves, unknowingly moving into a town full of secrets and a house full of vengeful spirits. Soon enough the spirits awaken and hell is let loose. With decent CGI creepies, an interesting story, and classic actors We Are Still Here is definitely worth adding to your collection.
The Green Inferno
Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno is a movie inspired by the ultra-violent and controversial cannibal classics such as Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox.
There are some really hard to watch scenes if you have a weak stomach, and that’s exactly what this movie is going for. However, with the exception of the first kill and eating, The Green Inferno was surprisingly tamer than I’d hoped. I’d have liked to have felt sickened by it after such hype, though it did keep me intrigued and I didn’t take my eyes off the screen. The most interesting aspect of the film was how the villagers were depicted. They were just doing what they know and believed they should do (protecting themselves from what they perceived as a threat) and that idea is pretty terrifying.
Yes, this is a cheat but here me out. While I saw and reviewed The Babadook in 2014, it continued to make waves around the world in 2015, and is personally still one of my favorite horrors of recent times, having watched it a few times now, and I thereby felt compelled to include it.
The lead, played by Essie Davis, offers up so much access to Amelia and her thought process and difficulties in coping with everyday life that you feel just as vulnerable as she. Young Noah Wiseman turns in an incredibly dynamic performance for a 6 year-old and he just enhances the situation. The Babadook is a smart, vivid nightmare, expertly crafted and delightfully eerie, with a fascinating character study. First time writer-director Jennifer Kent nails it in every respect and The Babadook will no doubt continue to be heralded as a classic in years to come.
The Atticus Institute
Anyone who knows me will know that the demonic cub genre is one of my absolute favorites. The Atticus Institute is without a doubt my favorite horror of the year and one that has been overlooked by many. Written and directed by Chris Sparling, not only is The Atticus Institute cleverly made and downright freaky, the lead, Judith Winstead played by Rya Kihlstedt, had me believing every step.
Shot as a documentary with lots of talking head interviews and archival footage, the premise of The Atticus Institute is a very promising one. Set in the mid 70’s, it’s about a group of scientists who are fascinated by paranormal activity, including E.S.P, and psychokinesis. Despite witnessing several noteworthy cases, nothing could have prepared Dr. West and his colleagues for Judith. When she continues to exceed expectations, the U.S. government intervenes and attempts to weaponize her abilities, which proves to have dire consequences. At times, I genuinely felt like I was watching a real documentary and have since watched The Atticus Institute more times than I can even recall.