Jovy Skoll’s Top 10 Horror Films of 2015!

68390_10151150539704998_897037894_n2015 really brought on a variety of horror films for different tastes. From the low budget IT FOLLOWS to the much larger scale CRIMSON PEAK, there was something for everyone. While there’s plenty of argument as to what works, everyone has their opinion and that variety has also found its place on television. Two of the most popular genre shows are THE WALKING DEAD and AMERICAN HORROR STORY, both that have their fan base and couldn’t be more different from each other. Sometimes I feel that horror fans need to be reminded that this is a good thing. I personally am not a fan of THE WALKING DEAD, but can appreciate that it has opened doors for other networks to pursue horror projects and has proven that mainstream audiences want to be scared on the small screen as well. I have not seen everything 2015 has to offer, but hope to experience plenty more. The following list exemplifies what left me feeling something long after the credits rolled. They are in no particular order, but SPRING would probably be my favorite of the year as it is the most unique in my opinion. If you haven’t seen some of these, then I hope to convince you to do so as I will be checking out others’ lists as well to see what else is out there.


 

 

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THE VISIT

M. Night Shyamalan has a career full of critiques, ranging from the Oscar nominated SIXTH SENSE to the mauled film, THE VILLAGE. He has worked on a few projects in recent years, some that weren’t marketed with his name on the poster like they used to. This year, he returned to the genre that got him famous and it worked. A found footage romp revolving around two kids who visit their grandparents for the first time and something is clearly wrong with Grandma. The trailer emphasized a scene involving Grandma wanting to put the daughter into the oven like a certain fairy tale, but the film actually had plenty of tricks up its sleeve and a twist ending that was both surprising and emotional. Not only that, but it worked!

 

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STUNG

Seven foot tall killer wasps interrupt a fancy garden party, resulting in plenty of gore gags and hilarious scenarios? This was probably the most unexpected likable movie in my opinion. As someone who absolutely terrified of bugs of any form, this movie forced me to close my eyes and sometimes ears several times. I haven’t done that since that sick tarantula sequence in THE BEYOND. What can be really appreciative of STUNG is the use of practical effects, which is rare these days especially in low budget filmmaking. Not only are they practical, but they look real and are the stuff nightmares of mine are made of. I watched this with headphones on and couldn’t tell you how many times I swat at my ears and shoulders thinking something was buzzing around.

 

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EX MACHINA

A science fiction gem where a Steve Jobs-like billionaire creates an artificial intelligence whose interaction with a young programmer is the basis of an experiment that leads to both dangerous and psychological consequences. The movie centers primarily on three characters and they keep your attention to the screen like no other. Screenwriter of 28 DAYS LATER and SUNSHINE, this is a more than an impressive directorial debut of Alex Garland and the promise of more visually engaging films.

 

Jlist3UNTIL DAWN

Although technically a videogame, this Playstation 4 exclusive is more of an interactive movie where the player controls who lives and dies. Seven friends head to a cabin in the woods a year after a deadly incident. They quickly learn they are not alone and their paths are chosen by you as you decide where this story leads and the revelations you learn about these seemingly innocent people. Written by Graham Reznick and Larry Fessenden (who also stars in it), UNTIL DAWN is a great experiment in terror as it demands replay with its butterfly effect devices that cause different events to occur depending on your choices. That strange noise in the basement? You decide if you should go investigate it or call for help. Being chased by a masked killer? You decide if you should run down the dark hall to the left or hide under the bed. What’s even more exciting is some of these choices have to be decided within a few seconds in real time and the motion sensors in your controller are utilized in tense moments where your absolute stillness is a means of survival.

 

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EVERLY

EVERLY is another entry that isn’t a “horror film”, but was just too good NOT to include on this end of the year list. Salma Hayek has proven in the past that she can kick anyone’s ass between movies like DESPERADO and FROM DUSK TIL DAWN. Director Joe Lynch allows her to be both strong and vulnerable as Everly, a woman forced to fight against a variety of assassins while holed up in a single apartment. While her own survival isn’t the priority, her means of saving her daughter and mother are the emotional arc and really give the audience something to root for. Everly is not a perfect woman, but she feels real and her interactions with the colorful characters thrown at us are fun to watch. EVERLY is also the most unexpected addition to an interesting roster of genre-heavy Christmas movies.

 

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SPRING

I heard references to this movie via Facebook and podcasts, but without an indication of what it’s about. After watching it, that’s probably the best way to experience SPRING. After the loss of his mother, a young man travels to Italy where he meets a woman with a mysterious past. That’s seriously all one should know about this movie as it doesn’t feel like anything else I saw this year. The secrets are best kept hidden until seen and it’s difficult to simply say that SPRING is a horror movie. Whenever I tell people about it, I just keep it as the most unexpected love story never told. Their relationship is more effective than most dramas can convey and found myself involved in their relationship in ways I haven’t felt in cinema in a long time.

 

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GOOSEBUMPS

Like many others, part of my love for horror began with R.L. Stine’s book series. I made my mom buy me those books the day they came out and I would devour each story within hours, leaving me hungry for the next. As I experienced more horror as I got older, I noticed the references Stine would incorporate in his books that went over my head originally. A TV show followed that I wasn’t too much of fan of, but this movie more than makes it for it. And how does one make a GOOSEBUMPS movie that’s based on several books? You make it a Meta experience involving Stine himself (cleverly played by Jack Black) where his monsters from all the books literally escape from his books and cause chaos in the real world. Both funny and scary, the movie is a really great time and I really appreciate that Slappy the dummy (one of his most popular characters) is all practical in the film. Also, as someone who refuses to go on Ferris wheels, this movie has a terrifying scene involving just that and in 3D.

 

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SINISTER 2

As an older brother raised primarily by a single mother, this one really hit home. Shannon Sossamon hits the spot as a mother on the run from an abusive husband with her two boys, that eventually leads them to a farmhouse with a dark past. Deputy So and So returns from the first film, this time as the lead and he’s excellent at carrying the film, sometimes providing some light hearted moments as the movie is quite bleak. My anxiety levels ran high during all the home movies as the kills made me shift in my seat. Real props go to the child actors as they also get more screen time now and the brothers have that awful love/hate relationship real siblings carry that’s rarely seen on film.

 

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KNOCK KNOCK

I actually enjoyed THE GREEN INFERNO earlier this year. I say that as someone who hasn’t always been a fan of Eli Roth’s other work. While previous films have felt high concept with a confused execution, INFERNO really exudes his love for Italian horror and cult cannibal films like CANNIBAL FEROX. The influences are strong with his own Eli touch and that creativity seeps into KNOCK KNOCK, a Keanu Reeves starring thriller where a married man gets a home visit by two beautiful girls who give him more than what he bargains for. Roth here proves he can be a patient director, building up tension, both violent and sexual, in one crazy ride of a movie. The script demands plenty of outrageous moments and Reeves proves he’s more than game for it, resulting in a memorable monologue that will be quoted by fans for years to come.

 

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KRAMPUS

Probably my most anticipated movie of the year, KRAMPUS more than delivered when it was released on December 4th. What makes me even happier is that such a strange movie (in the eyes of the general public) became an instant financial success so people can appreciate all that it has to offer. When his love for Christmas fades fast upon the arrival of some unpleasant relatives, a boy learns of the Krampus legend and experiences his reign of terror. There are both horrific and hilarious moments, but there’s a real heart to this movie as the family dynamics are pure. Writer/director Michael Dougherty really loves this family and we do too, which ups the stakes as they’re picked off one by one throughout. I watched it twice in theaters so far and it only gets better.

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