BJ Colangelo’s Top 10 Horror Films of 2015!

2015 was a pretty difficult year for me. In and out of cancer treatment, I spent a majority of the year highly medicated and trying to get my life back in order. Horror has always been therapeutic for me, and this year offered some incredible flicks to suck away the pain. While they may not be on this list, films like Flesh for the Inferno, Let Us Prey, Turbo Kid, Creep, Goodnight Mommy, The Visit, Last Shift, and Cooties all made me feel a hell of a lot better. However, there were 10 films this year that absolutely won me over and kept a friendly reminder that horror isn’t dead, not by a long shot.

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10) INVALID
Dustin Mills is consistently the strongest voice in the low-budget, underground horror genre and quite frankly, one of the only ones putting out stories other than “naked chick runs through the woods covered in blood.”  He had a great year with films like Black Heart in a White Hell and Applecart, but his shoe-string homage to giallo films, Invalid, is truly incredible. A surreal and sexual nightmare surrounding a young woman named Agnes (Joni Durian), seemingly plagued with the responsibility of taking care of her invalid brother (Brandon Salkil), things take a wild turn when Agnes suddenly begins hearing her brother’s “voice” inside of her head. Fostering truly independent voices like Dustin Mills is important, and Invalid is definitely deserving of a view. (You can find it on Exploitation.TV, FYI.)

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09) KRAMPUS
If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s not to get my hopes up with studio made horror films. However, Michael Dougherty’s Krampus was one of the most fun I had in a theatre in a very long time. What makes Krampus the most magical is not its’ insanely awesome character designs or it’s brilliant commentary on the nuclear family. Krampus will solidify itself as a horror staple because it’s the perfect movie for kids transitioning from family-friendly horror films like Monster House or Hocus Pocus and allows them to take a step up to something a little more sinister like Gremlins or Monster Squad without scarring them for life. Krampus is going to be a film that terrifies pre-teens for generations, and will always be great fun for the more versed horror fanatics.

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08) TALES OF HALLOWEEN
Spearheaded by Axelle Carolyn (Soulmate, The Halloween Kid), Tales of Halloween brings together 11 filmmakers to tell ten stories about the best holiday of the year in a town just like yours, narrated by Adrienne Barbeau as a radio DJ a la The Fog. Horror anthologies have a tendency to feel clunky and disjointed, but Tales of Halloween effortlessly intertwines with one another while celebrating all of the different things that make Halloween so wonderful. Everything about Tales of Halloween is dripping with passion and love for not only the vast canon of horror films, but for the sacred day of Halloween. Never does the film take itself too seriously, but instead reminds us of what we love about Halloween in the first place…it’s fun.

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07) WE ARE STILL HERE
Ted Geoghegan’s Fulci-feeling ghost story was a smash hit amongst the horror crowd this year, and with good reason. What initially feels like yet another bleak and slow-paced indie horror film quickly turns into a wild ride of incredible creature effects, and in insanely powerful performance from Larry Fessenden. The film is clever, nasty, and is armed with one moment in particular that caused me to jump out of my seat and let out a pretty damn audible scream.

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06) DEATHGASM
Brutal. Bloody. Boobalicious. New Zealand is downright killing it with their horror flicks these days, but Deathgasm is going to be one of those films we revisit for years to come. After two misfit metal fans unintentionally summon a demon, This horror comedy has some incredibly smart writing without shying away from the over-the-top splatter roots that New Zealand horror is known for. If you’re into metal music and  zombie/sex-toy fight sequences…you’re going to love this.

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05) THE FINAL GIRLS
Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that proves otherwise, horror is often hailed as a “boy’s genre.” It’s this unfortunate reality that makes films like The Final Girls all the more exciting. On the surface, it’s a movie about a girl sucked into a slasher film, but The Final Girls is so, so much more. This is a coming-of-age film about grieving, survival, and moving past the things that dramatically shake us to our very core. This movie hit all of the right chords for me, and is a film I think about every single day. It’s undoubtedly one of the most perfectly cast film of recent memory, and the film passes the damn Bechdel Test with flying colors. It’s a horror comedy devoid of severe language, nudity, or over-the-top gore, making it the perfect film for younger horror lovers. The Final Girls is the movie I was thirsting for as a teenager, and this is a movie that will influence budding horror fans (especially females) for generations to come.

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04) THE MIDNIGHT SWIM
Sarah Adina Smith’s debut feature The Midnight Swim is one of the most elegantly haunting films of the year. Following the death of their mother Amelia (Beth Grant), The Brooks sisters — Annie (Jennifer Lafleur), June (Lindsay Burdge) and Isa (Aleksa Palladino) — return to their childhood home on the lake to try and make sense of this unexplainable tragedy. As strange events continue to occur, it’s difficult to distinguish if these events are otherworldly, or just a dangerously unhealthy coping mechanism from one of the three sisters. Sarah Adina Smith has showcased immense talent with The Midnight Swim and has offered a completely unique style of presenting cinematic psychodrama. Her etherial and mesmerizing debut is not to be missed, and will likely stay with viewers long after the credits have rolled.

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03) WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
Plucked from the minds of the folks behind the ever-so-brilliant “Flight of the Conchords,” What We Do In The Shadows is a hysterical mockumentary focused on delivering insight to the life of real vampires. Unlike most horror comedies, What We Do In The Shadows isn’t trying to parody the genre. Every joke in this film isn’t being made in spite of the genre, rather, made with the intent to praise and pay homage to its source material. It’s a ton of fun and a film you can revisit many times without it ever losing its special feeling.

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02) IT FOLLOWS
This movie, without a doubt, was my most anticipated film of the year. Everything about It Follows shook me to the core and gave me the creeps. I left the theater second guessing every single person around me, and the mere sound of the score immediately makes my heart start to race. I’m not trying to say It Follows is the second coming of horror-Christ or anything, but it has been a long time since a film genuinely affected me the way this one did. It was well worth the hype, and a film I have watched over and over and have yet to grow tired.

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01) SPRING
I called this as my favorite movie of the year back in March, and my love for this film has remained unwavering.The “Richard Linklater meets H.P. Lovecraft” comparison merely scratches the surface of what SPRING has to offer, but it’s an admittedly fair description.  Benson and Moorhead have successfully crafted one of the most aesthetically beautiful horror films of recent memory. Much like our leading lady, SPRING felt somewhat otherwordly at times, and yet I wanted to wrap my arms completely around it.  By marrying the elements of horror with the audience pleasing “romantic dramedy,”  SPRING is one of those films that horror fans will come across, and it will speak to them on a level that slashers or found footage cannot ever match.  SPRING is a peculiar film, and will more than likely confuse many audience members, but for those that it speaks to, it will resonate within us for years to come.

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