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Horror at Home: February 2015

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We are officially over a month in to 2015. So now is the perfect time to take a look at the horror films that will be be unleashed on DVD and Bluray this February. Enjoy.

Kicking off this months horror releases is Peter Roberton‘s made for tv thriller ROAD KILL which is released on the 2nd. Starring Oliver James and Eliza Bennett, the film follows a group of friends decide to go on a road trip through scenic Ireland only to run down and kill an old gypsy woman. WIth her dying breath she places a curse upon the group that sends for a gigantic bird of prey known as a Simuroc to deliver their punishment: death, one at a time. From the look of the trailer the film doesn’t leave a great impression but then this is a made for tv.

Also released on the same date is Kevin Greutert‘s vodoo thriller JESSABELLE. Set deep within the swamps of Louisiana, Sarah Snook plays Jessabelle, a woman who returns to her childhood home to recuperate from a horrific car accident. As she begins her recovery she reconnects with a long-tormented spirit from her past that has no intention of letting her escape. Very reminiscent of The Skeleton Key this film has an incredibly strong trailer (see below). We have high hopes for this film which comes to us from the director of Saw VI and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter.

Released on the 9th February comes a lesson about gorilla filmmaking from down under with THROWBACK. Set deep within the remote Jungles of Far North Queensland, two modern-day treasure hunters played by Shawn Brack and Anthony Ring run into a ferocious monster known as a Yowie, Australia’s answer to Bigfoot. This one might not be as polished as other adventure thrillers out there but there’s denying the skilful direction of Travis Bain who does an incredible job to make the most of its minimal budget.

Hailed as one of the best horror films of 2014, Jennifer Kent‘s chilling thriller THE BABADOOK is an intriguing look at the intense relationship between a single mother and her socially difficult child. We caught this film when it played during last years Film4 Frightfest and although the incredibly creepy trailer does mislead its audience into thinking its a deeply disturbing supernatural horror, this does not stop the film from engaging audiences in some incredibly haunting ways. With an impeccable and in our opinion Oscar worthy performance from Essie Davis, this film certainly deserves your attention.

From John R. Leonetti, the cinematographer of 2013’s terrifying The Conjuring, comes the horror prequel ANNABELLE which comes to DVD and BluRay on 23rd February. Starring Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton as a married couple whose home is invade in the middle of the night by members of a satanic cult unaware that an evil spirit has possessed a doll that was purchased as a gift for their unborn child. In desperation to escape the supernatural occurrences the pair flee to an apartment complex only to have the spirit of the doll follow them. Certainly no where near as effective as The Conjuring this is a film to check out even if it’s only to say that you have seen it.

On the back end of such haunted house chillers as The Woman in Black, the classic English ghost story is revised by Director Adam Wimpenny. Starring Ed Stoppard, Sophia Myles and Russel Tovey, BLACKWOOD is a chilling story about a family who relocates to the countryside in search of a fresh start. Plagued by spectral visions, Ben Marshall (Stoppard) becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth that appears to be putting the life of his family in danger. From the looks of the trailer this film appears to have lots of tension built on a foundation of dark empty corridors and strange noises, we’re interested and wouldn’t mind checking it out.

Also released on 23rd February and rounding up the months releases is the the black vampiric comedy SUMMER OF BLOOD will be released on DVD and BluRay from Monster Pictures. Directed by and starring Onur Turkel in the lead role the film follows Erick Sparrow, a negative guy who bumbles his way through life only to be bitten by a vampire in the process. Eric’s sex appeal rockets but there’s only one way he can rid himself of the excruciating pain in his stomach… to drink human blood. Full of quirky charm the film is described as ‘deprecating and rude and hilarious’. We can’t wait to sink our teeth into this one. Check out the trailer below.

Horror of the month: The Babadook

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A Short Mission: Vincent

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What do you say about a phenomenal director who has lost the plot a little bit? Yes, I’m talking about Tim Burton – that electric haired genius whose flare for the gothic and macabre excelled in the late eighties and nineties. The man was an icon, especially to a generation of odd ball kids who couldn’t fit in. Spawning Henry Selick’s A Nightmare Before Christmas, gifting us with the Michael Keaton’s Batman and making us blub along with Edward Scissorhands. Now it’s all become a little boring. Even Burton boffins who guiltily enjoyed Sweeny Todd had to admit that, by the time we got to Dark Shadows, we had to call it quits.

But going back over his legacy, one that spans generations and still teaches them to be unafraid of their darker quirks, Burton is an icon. Though met with mixed acclaim with his recent Big Eyes (which is a shame because he really tried to do something different,) you can’t help but be impressed that it all kicked off thanks to a dead dog and a little boy named Vincent.

This stop-motion, black and white drenched animation is everything that Tim Burton means – a defining short as compelling as Edward and as ghoulish as Frankenweenie. With his defining pointed jaws, big eyes and swirling spirals, Vincent is a delightfully grim small film. Revolving around the titular character, whose last name is Malloy, this is the story of a nine year old boy who wishes to be horror master Vincent Price.

The short is told in this excellent narration, all in rhyme and a deep rolling elegance by Vincent Price himself, Vincent is a great example of how Burton can enthuse his gruesome imagination and translate it well to an audience. Very much a celebration of Vincent Price’s career, and immortalises the idol relationship, it is shaped by Burton’s love for horror and twisted little children. In a great way, the short is brimming with this chilling yet exuberant nature and striking imagery as though Edgar Allen Poe had emerged, rapping on the door like the raven.

Definitively Burton, the memorable moments within the film are visionary and harken of future projects years from the 1982 project. Obviously a testament to Burton’s love for crooked stop-motion animation, Vincent is a wickedly clever project. And though now, the director is running his uniquely flared movies into tedium, he did have a couple of moments and decades where all he could produce were original excellence. Vincent is one of them.

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A Short Mission: Caldera

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Conveying mental illness on screen is a tentative process. Even bigger pictures that have scored Academy Awards do some injustice to those suffering, allowing stereotypes and tropes to perforate our daily life. Some films can do it well; Short Term 12 and Filth immediately spring to mind of accurately depicting people coping (or, in the case of the latter, falling apart) with a mental illness. Speaking candidly, as someone who is going through the motions of getting treatment for my old “broken brain” – figuring out what emotions are truthful, what thoughts are accurate and how to move forward with a diagnosis, a bottle of meds and therapy. More importantly, the fear of losing myself in the bleakness of pills or keeping the world a little bit vibrant but with troubling aspects.

Which brings us to Caldera – a stirring short film by Evan Viera – and the decision that weighs heavily on many. Focusing on our heroine, Caldera follows her journey as she abandons her medication and with it the bleak metropolis around her. She does so in pursuit of her fantasies that come with it beauty and pain. Can she find the perfect balance between the harsh truth and the dangerously captivating dream?

What is stunning about Viera’s Caldera is the core character. Her facial expression just hum of different levels of depression, mental illness and schizophrenia. It’s the sad dwelling in the bleak metropolis and the unnerving relaxation of the increasingly vibrant and alluring worlds that her mind concocts that strikes an echoing tone with our character. This feeling of disturbing euphoria, as someone unwinds because the fantastical world seems safer or more colourful than the norm is portrayed acutely in this brilliant short narrative that makes the character feel flesh and bone instead of computer code.

Viera’s work here is phenomenal. Within 11 minute he travels visual to these vivid and imaginative areas of her psyche. From cities with plant growth, blooming into flowers and animals to nebula journeys within the milky ways of her mind, this is a visionary film that is sublime in its artistry. It adds depth to the story as you understand why our protagonist is tempted to stay there contrasted against her grey world. It’s a rich tapestry of animation that transcends into this dreamscape effectively well.

Helped by Chris Perry and Chris Bishop, this is Viera’s testament to a, hopefully, lengthy and incredible career as he writers, directs and scores this exquisite and award winning film.

 

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Harvey & Risk set for Highland Horror ‘REDACTED’

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Fans of the short films Dysmorphia, Split and Ink get ready as there has been some pretty awesome and exciting news released regarding our favourite award-winning Scottish director Andy Stewart‘s latest project REDACTED. Not only does this project mark a change in direction for Stewart as he will be embracing Sci-Fi and Fantasy but his latest short will also star two genre icons Laurence R. Harvey (The Human Centipede 2 & 3, The Editor) and Tristan Risk (American Mary, The Editor, The ABC’s of Death 2).

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Laurence R Harvey (The Human Centipede 2 & 3) and Tristan Risk (American Mary & The Editor)

Described as an “exploration of the darker side of human nature when confronted with something strange and otherworldly” REDACTED will see Laurence R Harvey play an unimposing Man that stumbles upon a humanoid creature with alluring female qualities. While fearful and in apparent need of assistance, The Creature oozes sexuality and danger but it is unclear where the danger really lies…

“It’s a slightly different direction for me this time, a brief step away from body horror and into sci-fi or fantasy” says Director Andy Stewart“I am absolutely over the moon to be working with both Tristan and Laurence on this project. Having Laurence on-board is hugely exciting and a little daunting to me. I cannot wait to see what he does with the role. Tristan and I have talked about working together for a while now so I’m very happy to be bringing her to Scotland for this”.

REDACTED will see Stewart re-teaming with BAFTA-winning cinematographer Alan C. McLaughlin and the Special Make-Up Effects will again be designed by award-winning FX artist Grant Mason (HardwareSleepy HollowBride of Chucky, Clive Barker’s Nightbreed) who also created the make-up and gore effects on Split and Ink. The film will also be produced by Gordon HollidayRemo Catani and Austin Hayden.

Filming is set to begin in June 2015, with a crowdfunding campaign to launch in the next week. In the meantime, If you’re anything like us and enjoy a satisfying slice of horror then I invite you to join us in wishing Andy Stewart, Laurence R Harvey, Tristan Risk and the rest of team REDACTED all the best as we can’t wait to see more.

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A Short Mission: Duet

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When you look back at your childhood, there are many masters who held your imagination and gloriously displayed it on the big screen. For Disney, there was one man who made our favourite characters come to life in this beautiful and artistic way. He took us under the sea with The Little Mermaid, went just around the river bend with Pocahontas and saw the lights with Rapunzel in Tangled. Creating these unique animations, Keane has filled our cinematic lives with colour and personality in this sublime films.

Exquisitely, he also made this wonderful short named Duet. This 2014 film that sees Glen Keane direct his first film, despite supervising animation in Disney for many years. Duet was originally released as an interactive film, where Motorola phones could freeze certain aspects and explore the scenery in the moments, and the result meant that the animation was downloaded by over a million uses. The simple story tells the birth and death of man but it’s the visual effects that really enhances the film. The technical effects, that are better explained here, give spiritual life to the animation.

Though the lack of interaction is the following Youtube clip may take away from the flow, the endearment is there. This spectacular hand-drawn animation is simply heavenly to watch. The contrast between the chalky characters against the night sky blue makes them effervesce. It’s a dance of the soul through the power of art, combining the elements of the spectrum with life and making it divinely dance across the screen. Keane’s efforts here are phenomenal and whilst the story does lack, it is the way that it is told that is spectacular. Beauty in its purest form, Duet is a short film worth singing about.

 

 

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A Short Film: Lights Out

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Even at the age of 25, I find it impossible to walk from downstairs to upstairs with the lights completely off. Perhaps it’s from taking one too many punches with horror movies and their “darkness is full of murders” attitudes. Or maybe it’s because I am a bit of wimp. But if you don’t launch yourself up the stairs the minute you flick the living room lights off. Or lunge across the landing for your mid-morning piss, then you are a braver person than I am.

Lights Out a film by David Sanberg and Lotte Losten was the first film to crop up on a somewhat haphazard Google search. Written for B Horror Challenge Who’s There? this is a two minute effective short that spooks you during the daylight as well as the night. A woman turning off the light to turn into the bed sees a figure at the end of the hallway every time she flips the switch…..

The idea is really simple and that’s probably why it is effective. Playing on a fear that everyone experiences, unless you are Chuck Norris, Sanberg and Losten cram a lot of terror into a handful of minutes. The slight shadow, the unnerving way it doesn’t move and that “less is more” aspect allows little claws of fight to scrape down your back. As the small jolts and jumps build, the film becomes ghastly. Lights Out keeps that element of fear as a residual effect from childhood of monsters in the shadows, lights that are saviours and that ultimate hero – the blanket. It’s a small but it will make you shit yourself. Not one to watch before you go to bed.

You’ll be rocketing up the stairs in the quickest way.

 

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A Short Mission: Super Zero

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How would you survive a zombie apocalypse? Would you run for your life? Or maybe you’d hole yourself up with a lifetime supply of beans? Perhaps you, like me, will accept your inevitable fate and go out in a blaze of glory and epic one-liners, killing as many people as possible so that you’re loved ones could escape. Of all the endless possibilities of the eventual doom that will reap the souls of Earth, I bet the one thing you didn’t think off is having a debilitating spine cord disease that makes zombies believe that you are already dead. Enter the magnificent Super Zero.

The story follows engineer Josh who received a dreaded phone call: he is dying. After much contemplation, he has resigned himself to that and instead of living life to the fullest, he lounges around mulling over his misfortune. However, when a space rocket crashes back to Earth, it brings an extra-terrestrial virus along for the ride that turns the people into monsters the minute they come in contact with it. Josh, after be-friended a group of survivors including the love of his life, discovers that his machines make great weapons and his disease is an almighty plus.

Super Zero is the kind of short film that packs an almighty punch and is just begging for an entire series of fun and action. This could possibly be the best superhero origin story without there being dead parents or spider bites. Josh is the kind of character you immediately empathise with because he seems wholly realistic. He’s a nerd, spending the first half of the film being undeniably droll, sarcastic and lazy thanks to his lack of will to care. Helped by actor Umberto Celisano’s talent and a fully fleshed script, Josh is an amazing protagonist to follow.

Mitch Cohen combines different elements here to make it all work. Able to balance comedy and gruesomeness alongside a rather darker theme (dead man walking hero verses, well, dead men walking), Cohen’s awareness of small bites of fright and hilarity give Super Zero this fresh edge. It pulsates with this wholly original spirit that overblows on one component. Combined with a stellar cinematography, wondering machinery that has us nerding out and an abundance of great characters; this is Firefly meets The Walking Dead with just a little dash of Kick-Ass. Phenomenally done, Cohen’s Super Zero not only needs a huge fanbase – it demands it.

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A Short Mission: Skinship

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Most of us yearn to be touched. We spend a large proportion of our lives trying to feel just a brush of skin. After all, we live in a hyper-technological state (which I am fully aware I’ve mentioned before but as filmmakers are utilising it for all their films, I kinda have to). Anyway, people’s hands spend more time attached to a metallic box that has swipey functions and a camera than they do locked into someone else’s. If you spend most of your time without contact, you could feel as cold and distant from the human race as a phone or laptop.

If you feel like this, then do not be afraid, Skinship is a film that will bring you back to your senses.

Directed by Nicola Wong, this is a beautiful and entirely sensual film about an almost dystopian world where human contact is pretty much nil. A woman feeling lost in this unfeelling and callous life, where even her husband doesn’t touch her, finds a way to feel like herself again. She visits a mysterious woman who, for a small price, reconnects her with her senses.

Wong’s utterly captivating film will send shivers down your own skin and that is largely the point. The narrative, filled with this exquisite imagery and drenched in these outstanding colours that enhance the experience, is sublimely done. Wong juxtaposes the colour of the sessions with the black, white and grey world that is abundant in our lead’s life – which adds more heat to the moments between the two women. There, Skinship focuses on this intense empty emotion and fills it up slowly. Like teasing the audience with this delicate feather, Wong is careful not to allow too much to slip too quickly – especially with the character who feels all her urges burst at once when she is finally attended too. Now, this may sound like it’s leading to sex but that’s where Wong’s direction cleverly works. This isn’t about sex, this is about tantric and sensual connection. It focuses on this fingertip brush that allows you to feel alive again. Pulled along by the riveting performance by Anna Marie Cseh, who captures the isolation and alien feeling as well as the re-vitalisation so beautifully.

Skinship is an awakening – evocative in every sense of the term – and the powerful short film is completely breath-taking.

Skinship is making it’s ways around festivals – make sure you feel alive again 

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A Short Mission: Bachelorette

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Arguably, everybody in the entire world has probably seen a short film. It all depends on your outlook of the genre. If an advert is crafted well, it can become this mini story of epic proportions only with an agenda to sell you stuff (which, with the abundance of product placement and the state of blockbuster films, is pretty much what features do anyway…cough cough…Frozen.) But what about the music video? Now, we’re not talking about the ones where girls in scantily clad outfits grind up against men in da club or the ones where boybands dance around yachts and islands talking about gorgeous ladies.

I’m talking about the music videos that tell a story alongside their songs. One of the few artists who utilises the art of the music video, whilst roping in some of the best directors around, is Bjork. She carves out some of the most excellent pieces of art that transcend just representing the music and becomes this mini-films of brilliance. Though there are many of her music videos that you could choose, a particular favourite is Bachelorette.

Directed by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’s Michel Gondry, Bachelorette is a succession from previous characters in music videos such as Isobel and Human Behaviour, seeing the “Isobel” character head off into the city after finding a self-writing book that dictates her life. Falling in love with a publisher, the book becomes a success and is soon developed into a musical.

Not only is the song fantastic, a poetic and great depiction of love and loss, but Gondry’s visuals fit into incredibly well. Taking a surrealist tone and stage setting as the Bachelorette repeats her situations that get smaller and smaller as the film progresses, Gondry astutely captures the spirit of the song whilst also conveying the claustrophobia of losing love. Drenched in wonderful colour that spring to life when the “Isobel in the woods” comes out of her black and white settings, the video greatly comes into vivid life. As the world becomes bigger, it’s clear the Bachelorette feels as though she is losing herself and Gondry cleverly creates this wonderful visual piece to match Bjork’s evocative song.

It’s one of many examples of making a short film out of a music video.

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A Short Mission: Eaten Horizon s

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There is a fine line between surrealist cinema and throwing a bunch of images together and calling it art. It is the same with any art, really: someone can shit stain toilet paper and people get nuts but what is the meaning behind it all? Sometimes with exquisite masterminds such as Salvador Dali, those random images can coherently string a meaning together that evolves over time (for example, his work with Luis Bunuel in Un Chein Andalou is one of the best). So Danish filmmaker Jørgen Roos and Wilhelm Freddie around the 1950’s, teamed up for Eaten Horizons (which you can, and will, make pretty comparisons with the other two jokers previously mentioned).

So as this is a surrealist movie, there is not much in the way of plot – what makes Eaten Horizons quite an impressive short? Well, for one, it has been likened to Cronenberg’s experience with body horror and for that, it’s worth a gander. As for the themes, there is actually quite a lot you can take from it. It’s an amalgamation of the body in the nude form. Which is mostly female and if we were going to go down that route then I suppose it’s either a celebration of the feast that is a supple nude lady or indeed, that is exactly how men see us – but that’s a complete in-depth scene by scene analysis for another time. Yes, that’s coming. The entwining of bread and meat with the body in this succession of oddities highlights both the importance of food or at a deeper level, how the life is “eat or be eaten.” There is penance within jail and that imagery is likened to being trapped without the simple pleasures of life (sex and hearty meals). It’s in this that the film becomes this impressive short that is delectable in themes.

At under four minutes, the film does a lot of greatness and gives you enough to chew other. Though, if surrealism isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll be left with a bad taste on your tongue – mainly, you will lap up its (debatable) messages for a while.

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Marvelguy’s Favourite Horror Films of 2014

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With Christmas only a few days away now is the perfect time to look back on what has been an interesting year for horror. Now I say interesting because this years calibre has been a bit of a mixed bag. There have been some incredible titles released this year that were shown in cinemas and on the festival circuit but there have been others like Ouija, Annabelle and Devil’s Due which all fell short and deserved to have gone straight to video sentenced to life in the deepest darkest corner of hell and forgotten about (if they haven’t been already).

I will say one thing though and 2014 has been a wonder for independent horror especially on the festival circuit as there have been some horror films that not only met expectations but exceeded them leaving me wishing that one day modern horror films will once again become scary and original again. The reason I say this is that thanks to franchises like Paranormal Activity and Saw which famously churned out sequels and their lesser somewhat cheaper imitations since have tainted the minds mainstream audiences making them forget what a scary movie actually is.

Call me a horror snob or not but I can’t stand it when a film tries to be scary by throwing a shedload of jump scares accompanied with a loud blast of music. This is not scary, it’s just annoying! As a genre fan I want to be creeped out, to have my level of acceptability challenged and have icy cold chills down my spine. Or I want to enjoy a solidly crafted slasher film or creative monster movie. I don’t however want to watch the same studio produced horror-by-numbers which is something I’ve seen a hundred time before. So reading this it should come as no surprise that the majority of titles in this list were seen during the UK festival circuit.

So which 2014 horror films ticked the boxes for me. Which ones stood out from the crowd and cemented their place in my black heart? You’re about to find out but before I start to list the ten films that I think deserve the title of Best Horror Films of 2014, here are three honourable mentions that are certainly worth checking out (when you get the chance to).

2014_wolfcopWOLFCOP
Director: Lowell Dean
Starring: Leo Fafard, Amy Matysio, Sarah Lind, Jonathan Cherry
Seen at: Grimmfest 2014

One part dirty harry one part wolfman, Wolfcop is directed by Lowell Dean and stars Leo Fafard in the title role. The film follows an alcoholic cop who is called to investigate a disturbance in the nearby woods only to be caught up in a ritual sacrifice and is cursed to become a werewolf. A definite crowd pleaser, the film features some truly hilarious moments and a werewolf transformation that begins in a place you will never have imagined. It’s a Troma-esque film with a much bigger budget where every bit is enjoyable and inventive.

2014_marrowDIGGING UP THE MARROW
Director: Adam Green
Starring: Adam Green, Ray Wise
Seen at: Film4 Frightfest

He took us to the swamp to battle the villainous Victor Crawley in his Hatchet trilogy, he had us pinned to our seats when Shawn Ashmore and Emma Bell were stuck on a chair lift in Frozen but in his latest project Digging Up The Marrow, Director Adam Green will have us pondering one question… do monsters exist? I refuse to reveal anything further about this film and with good reason as I believe without doubt that this is Adam Green‘s best film to date. It’s fun, It’s scary and is a must see for any self respecting horror fan. Look no further for spoilers online, just seek out the film, sit back and enjoy every minute of this gem that I am certain will become a cult classic.

2014_ExistsEXISTS
Director: Eduardo Sánchez
Starring: Samuel Davis, Dora Madison Burge, Roger Edwards
Seen at: Film4 Frightfest

The Grandad of found footage, Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project) returns to the genre once more for his latest effort Exists. The film follows five friends who are on their way to a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend of fun. But, on their arrival they quickly discover that the cabin is located inside the lair of the legendary Bigfoot. Featuring outstanding special effects and a monster that seemingly has a sense of intelligence and rationality about it, Exists is thoroughly entertaining and twice as scary as last years Willow Creek. It also has one of the most effective jump scares i’ve seen all year round.

Now before we get to the films that I think deserve to be hailed as the best horror films of this year I want to remind our readers that this is based on my own personal taste and will most probably differ from others. That said, I would like to bring to your attention my favourites which I believe are the Best Horror Films of 2014 (in no order).

2014_whatweWHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
Director: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Starring: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh
Seen at: Grimmfest

This mockumentary from the team behind the popular TV series Flight of the Chonchords is best thought of as the Spinal Tap of vampire films. Not only does it stand neck and shoulders above other vampire films but does so with respect to the very material it plays homage to. There’s a killer Lost Boys reference that will have you howling like a werewolf at the moon and a joke that will change the way you think about a sandwich. But what is very pleasing about this film is that it possesses the ability to keep its flow of jokes consistent. That said, when you have Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement in front of and behind the camera you simply can’t go wrong. So if you like your horror with a double serving of comedy then What We Do In The Shadows is fangtastic and just for you.

2014_sacramentTHE SACRAMENT
Director: Ti West
Starring: AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, Gene Jones
Seen at: Glasgow Frightfest

Inspired by the shocking events of the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, Director/Writer Ti West teams up with Eli Roth for his stab at the found footage sub genre. With a solid script and superb direction, West commands attention from his audience quickly and holds it firmly in a vice-tight grip thanks in part to the sense of isolation and heightened anxiety that gradually develop into a terrifying sense of dread. It’s cast are equally as good. AJ Bowen delivers a solid performance but it is Gene Jone’s performance as the compound’s leader that steals the spotlight. He creates a villain with the ability to literally draw you in to his way of thinking as his motives come from a place of reason. Intriguing and harrowing, The Sacrament still holds its power on repeated viewings and it is for that reason I recommend you to check it out.

2014_latephasesLATE PHASES
Director: Adrián García Bogliano
Starring: Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, Lance Guest
Seen at: Film4 Frightfest

When you discuss a werewolf film inevitably comparisons are made with such classics like An American Werewolf in London however very few manage to fully capture its sense of creativity or ferocity. Well in this case Adrian Garcia Bogliano comes incredibly close to doing so with Late Phases, a geriatric werewolf horror. Telling the story of Nick Damici (Stake Land) as a war veteran who moves into a gated retirement community only to survive an attack by a large wolf like beast. With his neighbours concerned over his sanity Ambrose (Damici) must figure out a plan to stop the monster from attacking again. Both Damici and Ethan Embry (Cheap Thrills) do a fantastic job to sell the realism of the film but the true star is its special effects. The wolf transformations are fantastic and are done mostly practically which I thought was amazing.

2014_afflictedAFFLICTED
Directors: Derek Lee, Clif Prowse
Starring: Clif Prowse, Derek Lee, Michael Gill
Seen at: Glasgow Frightfest

Winner of Best Special Effects Award at the Sitges Fantasy Festival, Afflicted is the lovechild of Canadian filmmakers Clif Prowse and Derek Lee and sees the the duo play best friends that find their one in a lifetime trip thrown up in air when one is struck by a mysterious illness. In desperation to find the source, the duo must come to terms with what has happened before things spiral out of control and the chaos consumes them both. Utilising the conventions of the found-footage sub genre this film puts the audience right into the middle of the fray making the experience thrilling and that much more enjoyable. For example, a chase sequence on a rooftop perfectly blends CGI effects with filmed footage to create an unforgettable sequence that will leave your jaw on the floor. Simply put, Afflicted does for horror what Chronicle did for superheroes.

2014_creepCREEP
Director: Patrick Brice
Starring: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
Seen at: Celluloid Screams

If you were low on cash and came across this little ad in the paper offering $1,000 for a days filming would you do it? Director Patrick Brice does in his claustrophobic chiller Creep. Without using foul language, excessive gore or constant threat of violence to shock its audience, Creep instead builds its scares naturally through solid acting and some very out there moments that are simply unnerving. Speaking of acting both Brice and Mark Duplass show amazing chemistry on-screen demonstrating their true acting ability. As a typical Blumhouse film you can expect quite a few jump scares but fear not these only serve to heighten your vulnerability as its vice-tight grip on you never dissipates. Just keep an eye out for PEACHFUZZ.

2014_springSPRING
Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Vanessa Bednar
Seen at: BFI London Film Festival

No one can ever accuse Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead of never delivering something different to your average horror film because they certainly do. Their previous effort Resolution was a real genre-bender and nothing changes with their latest effort Spring. Effectively combining the sweet romance of Before Sunrise with horror elements inspired by An American Werewolf In London, Benson and Moorhead have delivered a truly unique love story that you will remember for years to come. Benson’s script is intelligently written and his co-direction with Moorhead is superb. Together the duo show plenty of artistic flare that is difficult to resist as a genre fan. Overall, I absolutely fell in love with this film and I’m confident you will too.

2014_theeditorTHE EDITOR
Directors: Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy
Starring: Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney
Seen at: Celluloid Screams

Inspired by such Italian Giallos as The Beyond, Opera and Tenabrae, The Editor is the latest project for the Canadian film collective Astron-6 who have written, directed and starred in this thoroughly enjoyable homage. Also starring Paz de la Huerta, Laurence R. Harvey, Tristan Risk and genre legend Udo Kier, the film utilises vivid colours, bizarre angels and throws in black-gloved killers and gruesome death scenes to perfectly capture the spirit and feel of the Giallo. Admittedly I am not a fan of the Giallo but it says something when a film as fun as this has made me want to return to the sub-genre to revisit a few more titles. Overall, The Editor is a satisfyingly fun film and truly deserves more viewers so check it out when you can.

2014_dersamuraiDER SAMURAI
Director: Till Kleinert
Starring: Michel Diercks, Pit Bukowski, Uew Preuss
Seen at: Film4 Frightfest

Till Kleinert‘s impressive German horror Der Samurai has been hailed as a gay liberation piece and features a fantastic performance from from Pit Bukowski as a sword wielding menace and from Michel Diercks as Jakob, the young police officer with the task of bringing him down. Packed with mystery and blood thirsty carnage, Der Samurai is expertly directed by Kleinhert and looks beautiful on screen. This film may have some very graphic visuals that might affect those of a nervous disposition but for me this film is a compelling thriller and it is for this reason that I recommend checking it out.

2014_oculusOCULUS
Director: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Karen Gillan, Katee Sackoff, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane
Released: 13th June

Mike Flanagan‘s flair as a director and screenwriter is remarkable. With Oculus he has constructed a strong concept at its core which he executes masterfully catapulting his audience on a roller-coaster ride that is not easily forgotten. Yes there are a few jump scares scattered throughout the film but the intricacies of its interweaving timelines in the last hour make Oculus truly compelling viewing. The cast are fantastic. Karen Gillan is effective in the lead and it is great to see her in something other than Dr. Who. The real star of the film is Katee Sackoff as she delivers a solid performance and as such, I would love to see more of her on the big screen in future. Creepy and unsettling, Oculus for me was one of this years most strongest horror films.

2014_canalTHE CANAL
Director: Ivan Kevanagh
Starring: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Rupert Evans, Steve Oram
Seen at: Grimmfest

If you haven’t heard about this one yet then you will soon. Director Ivan Kevanagh‘s The Canal is one of very few films that truly managed to scare me. Following a film archivist whose life is turned upside down when his wife goes missing, The Canal is incredibly tense and unbelievably scary. Flawlessly directed and superbly acted by Rupert Evans and Steve Oram, this film is a whole package. Containing some of the most horrific imagery that still sticks to me to this day, I guarantee you that it will send icy cold chills down your spine as a result. The Canal is a highly engaging and incredibly tense horror and it is for this reason that it makes this list.

So there you have it ten of my favourite horror films of 2014. I would like to thank you for reading and before you go, I would also like to recommend that you to check out Chad Archibald‘s Splasher The DrownsmanZack Parkers shocking Proxy, Tommy Wirkola‘s excellent undead sequel Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead and Jennifer Kent‘s The Babadook which has a phenomenal performance from Essie Davis that can only be described as outstanding.

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