Horror of 2015 - Co-host's Phil's Top 23:

by Philip C. Perron

March 11, 2016

 

Co-hosts of Dark Discussions, Eric and Mike, have beat me to the punch in doing a write up of what they thought was the best horror and genre films of 2015. On our 2015 recap episode, we each listed off our top films and spoke of them either in passing or with only a quick blurb rather than why they were so memorable to each of us. But we did come up with the Dark Discussions definitive list of what was best. Yet, it should be noted, each of us had various films that stood out a lot more than with the others. I myself had films that were in my top ten that didn't even make the lists of the others. So though these films may have landed up on what became our top 24 films of 2015 for horror, some of my favorite films remained nothing more than afterthoughts when it came to our discussion of what was best.

 

This article is my way of not only explaining any and all of my picks but also to promote some films that remained lower profile in our 2015 recap episode as a result of some differencing of opinions. One last thing to state is the obvious: lists are very subjective. They are in no way definitive. Each of us have various and different tastes. That's why no film, whether it is The Godfather or Birdman, has ever had a 100% concensus of greatness. This grouping of films is only my personal opinion and should be taken as such.

#23 – Muck – This film received a huge amount of buzz since it not only had genre favorite, Kane Hodder, attached to it, but it was being marketed as a throwback horror film that was being crowd funded by fans.  Well, at its release it was trashed by many.  It should be noted, many drive-in and grindhouse films of the past were, too, given such negative reviews on their initial release, but have gotten an audience with their revival on such release companies like Synapse, Scream Factory, and so forth.  If not popular, or even having a large fanbase, a fanbase has indeed grown for many obscure films even if they are considered forgettable.  No matter its quality, Muck is one of those films.  It may be considered a disappointment now, however it will be a film with a fanbase in the future.  Gore, blood, nudity, comedy ... typical 1970's craziness.  That's what it is, and that's what the fans of this film will want when it is rediscovered in ten years from now.  I enjoyed it specifically because it reminds me of a 1970's remastered blu-ray by a company like Synapse or Blue Underground

#22 – Last Shift – supernatural horror films can go either way with me.  In recent years, Sinister would be an example of a high point for such a film.  Last Shift doesn't compete with a film like Sinister, but that doesn't mean it is to be ignored.  If you like psychological horror, this film could work for you.  Definitely not one of my favorites of 2015, but good enough to mention and one that could be of the liking of many horror fans.

#21 – Final Girls – though I have it fairly low on my list, this film was a complete blast.  Another horror comedy of 2015, it also has a beautiful mother-daughter story to tell that would make co-host Kristi Petersen Schoonover cry (maybe).  I loved the soundtrack, the acting was pretty solid, and the story, if not original, was done is a great original way.  Some folks seem to be upset that if it was going to be a parody of 1980's slashers, it should have had that hard R rating of the era, and that's a fair point, but all in all, a fun film with a nice warm story.

#20 – Spring – The Dark Discussions co-hosts weren't all that happy with the flick, and honestly, that's understandable.  The folks that did this film also did Resolution and though that film was also flawed, co-host Eric loved it and as a result this film in some ways felt flat when compared with it.  However, I would say this one was better, but still not necessarily great.  The thing that really struck me was the growing of the film makers, especially Aaron Moorhead, from their debut film.  And Nadia Hilker, the lead actress, was brought into the film in such a great way (again, by Aaron Moorhead's cinematography) that her otherworldly charisma hit me as hard as it was supposed to be to the lead actor.

#19 – Knock, Knock – tough year for Eli Roth?  Some would say so.  But honestly, Knock Knock was a very much overlooked film.  It was better than Green Inferno and yet received a straight to VOD fate.  The reviews were very mixed and some say the story was derivative and even preachy, but the great presentation of the two female leads as throwback femme-fatales worked for me.  This film should at least get one viewing by everyone so folks can form their own opinion.

#18 – Hidden – A producer says "I have no idea what to do with this film so let's just shelf it."  That's the fate of Hidden, a film that was made a couple of years ago but is determined to be not all that good.  Well, wrong!  This was actually a pretty solid film.  What does it have that's pretty popular?  Post apocalype, yes.  Zombies or their derivative, yes.  A semi-popular star, yes.  So what happened?  Who knows, just another dropped ball by "Hollywood".  A fine film that deserved a more thorough release.

#17 – Diabolical – Starring Ali Larter, this film actually was "wounded" from the get go by a pretty pathetic title.  The title means nothing and as a result lands the film in with hundreds of other films that have no meaning when it comes to marketing.  Anyways, I like Ali Larter a lot and she carries this pretty good science fiction horror film completely upon her shoulders.  The twist was pretty interesting and what could have been a typical supernatural thriller is a whole lot more. 

#16 – We Are Still Here – This film really was loved by horror fans.  Most folks listed it as one of if not the best film of the year for horror, and that included co-host Eric.  Well, I fell more in line with co-host Mike who thought it to be a pretty dang good film if not as spectacular as others thought.  I loved the "monsters" in this movie.  Their design was incredible.   The only issue I had that didn't push it up higher for me was the screenplay.  Based off the reviews and how the film was supposed to be a throwback to Italian and Spanish horror of bygone days, that makes sense but alas, it was the one thing that kept it lower on my list.

#15 – Bone Tomahawk – I don't know if this is really a horror film but it was an incredible film.  Great acting starring some of the finest mainstream actors out there including Kurt Russell, Richard Jenkins, and one of my favorites, Patrick Wilson.  Honestly it should have been released at theaters and probably would have made money too.   The reason it is not higher up is because this is a horror list and though at times horrific, it was more a drama and Western than anything else.  Top notch in both categories too.

#14 – Kristy – Another film like Hidden that just sat on shelves for a couple of years.  Renamed a number of times until being straddled with a fairly unmarketable title, this little film by the director of the cult favorite Donkey Punch is actually a pretty tight little thriller.  It does borrow some from such films as The Strangers, Them, and other home-invasion woman-in-distress flicks, but the very slow build up and the convenience store scene kept me fully interested. 

#13 – Wyrmwood – What a complete surprise.  If you do a scan on netflix, there are dozens and dozens of zombie films and almost every one of them I try to avoid, but Wyrmwood was getting a fairly good buzz.  Well, guess what, its pretty dang good.  Action packed, great characters, a small amount of ironic humor, and a whole lot of fast zombies.  Easily could have been higher on my list.  Possibly the best straight zombie film I've seen since Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake.

#12 – Pod – I'm a big fan of the Greys in horror and sci-fi films and the way this film was being marketed, that's what you'd think it was.  But no, it wasn't an alien abduction film at all.  What it is was 15 minutes of setup and then an hour of kinetic nonstop action.  I loved this film.  This is a fine example of independent film making.

#11 – Horsehead – This English language French movie is the definition of an arthouse horror film.  Surreal visuals and symbolism everywhere, the flick definitely left me with a lot of unanswered questions, though I have to say co-host Eric figured this film out "packaged nicely with a big bow on it" when we discussed it on one of our episodes.  If you like those 1970's European exploitation or arthouse films, this fits nicely with them.

#10 – Allelluia – What an absolutely shocking film.  To see our protagonist, a fairly normal and nice middle aged woman, turn into what she becomes was hard to watch.  But watch I did ... for the whole film without turning away.  Amazing screenplay and fantastic acting hold this one up a bit and land it on my top 10.

#9 – Some Kind of Hate – I'm a big fan of the teenage angst film, or maybe better described as a film of alienation.  And though a ghost story, which is by no means one of my favorite types of horror films, it is done in such an original way right in that "angry teenager coming-of-age" film way that it made a fairly good mark on me.  Though some wouldn't see it that way, I saw it as a strong drama as much as I did as a horror film.

#8 – Landmine Goes Click – With its portrayal of a sociopath, this one was going to make me not forget it.  Also, the structure of the film, where it felt like three different films in one, was quite interesting ... or maybe even compelling.  I was also angry right off the bat with all the characters and that too made it feel different than most films as well.  Not for everyone due to the topic and nature of the film, but a very good film for many reasons.

#7 – Krampus – Here's the first major Hollywood film on my list (and maybe the only one) but it was absolutely fantastic.  To make me not like the characters only to turn me around and root for everyone was, if not remarkable, pretty dang good screenwriting.  The last fifteen minutes may have not been as great as the prior hour and half, but still the film was solid and something I will be happy to revisit in the near future.

#6 – The Gift – Joel Edgerton's portrayal of a serial killer back in the film Acolytes was enough to make me know he was going to be a fairly successful player in films going forward.  Well, guess what, he is about to be a superstar if not already.  The Gift, written and directed by him, is just one reason.  One of the best thrillers I saw last year and arguably a film that almost anyone could watch.  This film is not for a selective audience.  It can be enjoyed by anyone who likes thrillers or horror films or even dramas.

#5 – Unfriended – Another team angst film, Dark Discussions co-hosts overlooked it and most of them didn't bother to see it, but what I noticed is that it got really good reviews by mainstream critics and so when it appeared on disc and VOD, I took a shot and this film was fantastic.  I can see why Blumhouse Productions not only bought it from the festival circuit but also released it at theaters.  Scary as hell (my opinion) and what a horror film should be.

#4 – Creep – Another film with one fabulous presentation of a sociopath.  And boy, was it scary but for many reasons.  Besides the horror elements, the film made me squirm in my seat.  I felt fairly uncomfortable throughout and for a low budget film with only two actors involved, that's pretty impressive. One of the surprise films not on my radar prior to the beginning of the year.

#3 – Zombeavers – So the title alone sounds absurd and looks to have a double meaning, especially with the marketing campaign for the flick, but this film is not schlock!  It's a brilliantly made, well written, fantastically acted horror-comedy.  Even with all that stated, it does have its creepy moments.  Folks who collect blu-rays should look on the Best Buy website.  It was at the time of this writing a store exclusive.

#2 – When Animals Dream – A Danish language film that is simply brilliant.  A coming of age tale that says a lot about class systems, bigotry, uncontrollable destinies, and trying to fit in.  I was the only person from the podcast that put this on their list and with its brooding feel, this flick skyrocked up my list almost to the very top. 

#1 – It Follows – What more has to be said about this film.  I'll let it be but all in all an absolute classic and will be remembered for years to come.

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