Josh Soriano’s TOP 10 HORROR FILMS OF 2015

68390_10151150539704998_897037894_n2015 was a long and arduous year for a lot of folks. For many of us, movies can be our escape. The year in horror had two films that showcased the economic downfall of Detroit, Larry ‘fuckin’ Fessenden and indie breakouts that surprised everyone.


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IT FOLLOWS
I was not one of these people who read the subtext of David Robert Mitchell’s IT FOLLOWS as a metaphorical warning of pre-marital sex and STDs. To me, it’s an allegory for the death of youth; that collective fear that we all will grow older, lose our innocence and eventually become just another mindless member with the rest of humanity. Personally, what makes the film one of the best of the year, is how it manages to be an amalgam of genres like ghost story, slasher, body invasion and have the creeping subtly of HALLOWEEN, all without feeling like it’s trying too hard. In an age where we’ve become accustomed to ultraviolence, it’s important to remember that sometimes a person in the background can be just as menacing.
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LOST RIVER
I’ll probably get a lot of shit for this one but, no matter how much you try to argue the contrary, you won’t ever convince me that Ryan Gosling’s debut isn’t a form of horror. It’s a haunting and beautifully photographed sinister fairytale featuring solid performances from an amazing cast (that includes the legendary Barbara Steele) and one of the best film scores of the year by the criminally underrated Johnny Jewel. If that doesn’t exactly spell horror for you then how about the women encased in clear sarcophaguses, being stabbed or carving their faces off for a live audience? While it’s not a film I would recommend to just anyone, it’s certainly a film which garnered an unfair amount of dismissal and endless comparisons to David Lynch, which doesn’t allow Lost River a fair chance. Gosling can only get better from here.
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KRAMPUS
Like so many of you, grew up in the heyday of Amblin Entertainment; the whimsical and large-scale adventurous children’s movies that also weren’t afraid to show some teeth. If you’re the type who bores with the over-abundance of computer animated kid’s fare, KRAMPUS feels more like a movie made in the 1980s. You know, the kind of movies that they just don’t make anymore. Throw in GREMLINS, with a dash of LABYRINTH and THE DARK CRYSTAL, top it all off with some RARE EXPORTS, and you’ve got the ballsy Christmas movie that isn’t afraid to kill a few of its young cast. Oh, and that ending!

 

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WE ARE STILL HERE

What struck me about Ted Geoghegan’s haunted house story was how steeped in the 1970s it truly felt. Despite that fact that everyone in cinema is currently referencing decades past, WE ARE STILL HERE was one of the few that managed to not feel reductive. There’s a solid role here for Barbara Crampton where she can show how talented of an actress she truly is. I challenge you to find another film where instead of leaving whispy fog trails, the ghosts leave crackling embers and appear as charred corpses. If that spin on tropes doesn’t impress you, there’s enough bloodshed to be worthy of a Lucio Fulci classic.

 

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UNTIL DAWN 
I’m going to change it up and offer a PS4 title as one of the best horror films of the year because it truly is deserving. Co-written and co-starring horror-fav Larry Fessenden, Dawn starts out as a slasher movie and eventually unfolds into a far crazier and original concept than most recent horror films. In my review I mentioned that it was a video game like no other, the ultimate meta-experience of being forced to make split-second decision for characters in a horror film, the kind of decision that we as an audience normally scoff at when someone makes them. Yes, you too can be a final girl who makes poor decisions but you’ll only have yourself to blame.

 

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THE FINAL GIRLS
It isn’t often that a horror film is touching. It also isn’t often that a horror film makes me cry like a blubbering baby. Todd Strauss-Schulson’s endearing homage to slasher films is far more clever than most meta-horror films of recent years for a multitude of reasons. Schulson shows off some entertaining visuals while writers Joshua John Miller and M.A. Fortin weave a heart-warming story of loss throughout. Add to it all a talented young cast (including an amazing performance by Malin Akerman) and you have a near-perfect film that deserved a much bigger release than it was given.

 

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WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS


Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s vampire comedy was the biggest surprise of the year for me. The trailer didn’t grab me, so I expected very little. The first viewing, I didn’t even finish it. By the end of my second attempt, I had realized that I laughed the entire way through. Waititi is brilliant as dandy vampire, Viago, and it’s impossible to talk about the film without someone quoting on of the film’s greatest lines: “We’re werewolves, not Swear-wolves”.

 

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TALES FROM HALLOWEEN
I couldn’t be happier that anthology films are starting to make a comeback. I grew up on VAULT OF HORROR, TALES FROM THE CRYPT and lesser-referenced titles like TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS and THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD. I wasn’t a big fan of the V/H/S films or ABCs OF DEATH though and I was beginning to think that anthology horror was a sub-genre that had its zenith in the 70s. Tales is a sterling example that the genre can still hold its relevancy. Featuring a multitude of cameos and a directors list of the best in horror, this one is already destined to become a new perennial favorite for holiday viewing.
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EXTRAORDINARY TALES
Poe seems like a tricky one to adapt. Even if you’re a fan of the fun and garish Vincent Price/Roger Corman versions, you’re no doubt aware that the gothic dread of Poe’s writings have yet to see a retelling that properly encapsulates the man’s visions. EXTROARDINARY TALES may be your saving grace. First, there’s the cast: (the late and great) Christopher Lee, Guillermo del Toro and even Roger Corman himself lending their voices. Secondly, you have the visually-arresting animation that captures Poe’s gothic sentiments like no other. If you were also fan of 2007s FEAR(s) OF THE DARK and its collaboration of varied animation styles, look no further.
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DEATHGASM

Let me put this as simple as possible. New Zealand Metalheads raise the dark lord through their music and inadvertently turn their town into minions of the dark. If that’s not simple enough, how about this pitch: EVIL DEAD vs Metalheads. Seriously. I shouldn’t have to sell you on this anymore.

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