So, here we are in 2015, another year, another resolution and another year for endless gut-spilling movie watching. And we all know the best way to prepare ourselves for another film-infested year… Look back at last years best and worst. There wasn’t an abundance of horror films available last year – some say it was a bad year for the genre, but I’d disagree, as there were some truly horrifying, unique and psychologically frightening films released.
The feat of deciding my final ten wasn’t easy as I’m not one to detest a movie that perhaps isn’t too memorable, but alas, I whittled it down to those that evoked the worst emotions in me. There were also a few movies I simply thought were shit, and they’ll be listed at the bottom, where shit films go. Anyway, let’s see what 2014 horror films managed to make this badass tremble…
10. The Taking Of Deborah Logan
Recently the sub-genre of possession films has increased rapidly, with more being churned out but lacking any real substance. Obviously there are a few exceptions and in this case it’s The Taking of Deborah Logan, a film that takes a brilliant turn.
The film focuses around Deborah, an Alzheimer’s patient, who is participating in a documentary about the disease. The progression of the disease seems aggressive and leaves Deborah in an agitated state, which causes her family and the crew distress. As they research her background in switchboards they uncover a sinister secret revolving around sacrifice and snakes.
Jill Larson plays Deborah and perfects the state of cationic, demonic and all round creepy as fuck. This is a possession film that has a unique plot starter and carries that theme on until the end. There’s a particular scene near the end that genuinely left me making a *please refer to emoji* face, but that sickening scene made the whole film horrifically brilliant.
9. The Guest
I suppose I’m biased on this film because Adam Wingard currently stands as one of my beloved directors, but it’s still intense. Some say this film is a thriller, and you could put it in that category but it definitely felt more like a horror, so it’s on the list. What I found most surprising about this film was that Dan Stevens, who plays protagonist David, was in Downton Abbey playing a posh toff.
After the loss of their son in Afghanistan, the Peterson family are interrupted by an unexpected guest, David, who claims to be a close friend of their deceased son. He’s welcomed with open arms, and manages to give the family comfort during their grieving process. However, as deaths begin to become more than coincidental, it seems David might not be the charming and polite man everyone thought he was.
What I loved the most about this film was I could never make up my mind about whether David was genuinely a ‘heart in the right place’ kind of guy or just a calculated psychopath. The atmosphere in this film was mysteriously sinister and had a 70s thriller vibe to it. If you like horror that holds an eerie feel, and gives you a variation of defined characters, then you should have a peak.
8. Cheap Thrills
You cannot beat a good comedy horror, and especially those that feature dark humour rather than the cheesy stuff (they can be good in some instances!). Torture films are always fun but there’s definitely something even more exciting when you get to watch someone torture themselves. That’s what we get with Cheap Thrills.
Craig loses his job and receives an eviction notice on the same day, which results in him drowning his sorrows in a dingy bar. An old school friend, Vince, shows up, but the party doesn’t begin until a rich couple present a unique opportunity. Colin and Violet proceed to offer the men money, but only one of them will get it and they must complete a challenge first. They start out as small tasks such as drinking shots, but as the party continues, the tasks take a gruesome turn.
This film questions how far we’d really go for money; how much money is worth mutilating yourself or even doing something awful to a friend? Combine this dark theme with some well-placed humour and this film is a bloody hilarious watch.
7. The Sacrament
I’m always a little two sided on Ti West, as some of his films were highly enjoyable but his segment in The ABCs of Death was pretty distasteful and disgusting. However, I might just let that slide due to how gratifying The Sacrament was.
We follow news team Vice as they enter a remote commune where one of the team members sister is currently staying. At first it seems the people there are happy and adore their confined community, but slowly it becomes apparent that something strange is going on. As they meet with the leader, the atmosphere plummets into dangerous and eerie. The commune harbours a depraved secret that the team will unwillingly discover.
Vice happen to be a favoured news outlet of mine, so of course I was going to love the fact they were the news team in this. Also, I have a major soft spot for A.J. Bowen, so that helped. The Sacrament takes a while to find it’s pace, which might put some off, but if you writhe in intense creeping atmosphere, then it’s fine. When you see the dramatic climax of this film, you’ll know it was worth it.
6. Crawl or Die
If any of you have claustrophobia (are small spaces enjoyable for anyone?) then you’ll know that feeling of being trapped, isolated, your chest tightening, your breath shortening and your heart exploding. Crawl or Die might not be a perfect film at all, but it replicates and personifies claustrophobia wonderfully.
Set in a dystopian future, a specialist team are sent to deliver a ‘package’, which happens to be the last surviving fertile woman. They need to transport her to a safe location through endless crawl space tunnels, whilst being hunted by a ferocious alien. Badass leading lady, played by Nicole Alfonso, soon realises that the deadly beast might be less troubling than the declining size of the tunnels.
Although the story was a little dry in places and wasn’t very engaging, the intense panic that filled me when watching this made up for it. I was pretty much hyperventilating and freaking out at the size of the tunnels – some made from metal and others just dirt. There hasn’t been another film this year that genuinely made my palms clammy and also made me squeal.
You’ve probably heard of Afflicted as I was bombarded with people raving about how good it was going to be. Fortunately, the rumours were true and what first seemed like it would be about some sort of virus, quickly whipped round in another direction.
Best friends Derek and Clif embark on a journey around the world to film for their travel web blog, even through Derek has a life-threatening condition and is advised not to. After meeting a curious woman in Paris, Derek displays some concerning behaviours, which baffles Clif. They continue with the journey, seeking medical help for his ailment, but it soon becomes clear this might not be cured with pharmaceuticals.
This found footage film uses the concept of modern journalism to create a great reason for why this strange occurrence would have been captured on film. As Derek has his condition, it’s hard to tell at first whether or not the bizarre effects could be due to that. But once blood and distorted facial features come into play, it’s certain that he’s not just caught a nasty STI from the French girl.
4. The Borderlands
It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a paranormal / satanic /demonic etc film that has managed to make me hide behind a pillow. I can honestly say I was absolutely shitting myself for the majority of The Borderlands. The only reason I managed to watch the end was due to my friend saying I couldn’t be a pussy.
Deacon, Gray and Mark are Vatican investigators sent to a church in the British West Country to debunk claims of paranormal happenings. They believe that the priest is trying to pull off an elaborate hoax, and keep their skepticism, but that unfolds as the events do. After they discover the church is built on a labyrinth of underground tunnels, all hell is unleashed.
The Borderlands is intensely creepy, with growing suspense that made me clutch the pillow until my fingers were numb. The church itself is ominous and haunting, without the malevolent being that dwells inside. Tense and chilling throughout, but with a flavoursome amount of witty and crude humour, you’ll be laughing one minute then cowering behind your pillow the next.
Never in my life did I think I’d be preaching about a film that centres on a bloody walrus, but thanks to Kevin Smith, I am. You can never be too sure what you’ll get from a film with a premise like this, but this was one of the most comically repulsive films.
Wallace travels to Canada in order to record part of his podcast, but is let down whilst there and on the look out for an equally intriguing story. In a bar, he finds a hand written note from someone looking for a lodger and an ear for his many stories. Wallace takes his opportunity and winds up meeting an old decrepit man, who tells him the tale of how a Walrus saved his life. After being drugged, he wakes to find he might become closer to the story than he hoped.
The idea of morphing a man and a Walrus together might seem absurd and slightly silly, but when it comes together it really is a nightmare. On first sight I was like “Hahaha!” and then I was like “Oh god, eurghhhh!” and that’s the best way to describe it. You’ll be ensued in hilarity for a moment and then engulfed in disgust – it’s a disorientating combination. Laced with typical Smith humour, this is definitely a shocking body horror.
2. The Babadook
I wanted so badly to list The Babadook as my number one, but that couldn’t be done, so it’s going here. For me, horror isn’t always about being terrified or seeing limbs scattered about, it’s often about darker areas of horror – real life horror. There’s nothing more frightening than what humans do to humans and this film portrays that.
Single mother Amelia, is haunted by the violent death of her husband, and by the terror her son has for imaginary monsters. As if her grieving process wasn’t debilitating enough, Samuel’s behaviour becomes severely difficult, leaving her frustrated and almost catatonic. The situation escalates as Amelia realises Samuel’s monster might not have been as false as she thought.
When we think about monsters, we think of those deformed creatures that hide in our wardrobe, but the real monsters tend to be us, and The Babadook demonstrates that. Plagued by the Babadook, it seems Amelia and Samuel have a serious monster problem, but by the end we see the film delves into deeper human emotions. A dark and twisted film that shows the effects of negative circumstances in our lives.
This film shocked me to the core – it left me speechless, reeling for more and wishing it was a never-ending film. Proxy opens with an absolutely brutal scene that drags you in and already you’re questioning the motives of everyone. This psychological horror protrudes your brain and really twists until you can’t even remember how you ended up there.
Esther is expecting, when she is subject to a disturbing attack, which changes the course of everything. She joins a group for those who have a lost a child and meets the beautiful yet melancholy Melanie, who claims to have lost her son Peyton. As their lives become entwined, many sickening secrets are exposed and the real truth behind these women’s deranged motives are brought to light.
It’s hard to give a synopsis of this film without giving too much away, so that’s all you’re getting. It might be a little time consuming, but you’re pulled along into a mental whirlwind of perplexing parental fantasies that shouldn’t exist, but unfortunately are at the forefront of their distorted minds. My jaw was on the floor for the whole film and every scene made me question what was going on. Not as gore packed as I usually prefer, but this is horror at it’s best.
NOTE: I have not seen every film listed in 2014, so once I have, this list is probably not going to be in the same order, but oh well.
NOTENOTE: Some of these films are listed as being released 2013, however, I’m under the belief that was when they were doing the festival circuit – so not available to the average Joe until 2014.
NOTENOTENOTE: There are about another ten that I wanted to be on this list, but they’re not because there’s not enough room! God damn!
WORST HORROR FILMS OF 2014
Due to me despising most of the films here, I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of a mini-review, so they’ll get a sentence.
Annabelle – Nothing original, once again. It had the potential to be quite good, but definitely lacked on its promise.
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero – The first Cabin Fever was fucking brilliant, the second not the greatest and this one, the third one, is just awful. Don’t bother.
Lord of Tears – There was so much hype around this film that I didn’t even doubt it being brilliant. I was wrong, so wrong, it was a big disappointment.
Oculus – Trailers looked decent, but the film was just boring. It lacked any real story line and let us all down at the end.
Willow Creek – So many people are raving about this but it was dire. I was looking forward to a Big Foot film, but this tried too hard to be The Blair Witch.