2016 Year in Review – Part 2: Best Viewings

Now as usual, my list are of films that I’ve seen for the first time this last year. Sorry, but I just don’t have the time and money to keep up with all the new ones that come out during the year. Mainly just the lack of time. But strangely enough, four out of this year’s list is actually from this year. As for the other six, two are from 2014 and the rest from 2015. I think this is a real first  of having mainly all new movies. Could it be that the studios are finally getting around to producing well made horror films? One can only hope. Of course, once you get to our Worst of, then you’ll see that isn’t completely true. So let’s get to them.

For our Best Viewed Movies of 2016, here they are, listed in alphabetical order.

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10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) – There were a lot of internet buzz on this film when it was coming out. Lucky for me, I didn’t really look further than bits of the trailer. I knew there were some saying it had ties to Abrams’ Cloverfield, which I am not a fan of, but tried to steer clear of any of that and went into this with a blank slate. And boy was I impressed. Even though John Goodman is mainly known for his comedic roles, he can play one scary son of a bitch. Even though I did have an issue or two with it, I think it was a good story, a solid cast, and really grabs you by the balls right from the beginning.

bone-tomahawk

Bone Tomahawk (2015) – I watched this a couple of days into 2016. I had been hearing about it but just didn’t get to it that January. If I had, it would have been in my 2015 Top Ten instead of now. But none the less, this is one hell of a picture! This shows that even in his mid-60s, Kurt Russell is still one tough son of a bitch! But honestly, as good as Russell is here, Richard Jenkins almost steals the show here as his assistant deputy. He is one of these character actors that just shines in some of the smallest roles. But really the whole cast is great and the story is one that you wouldn’t expect. It’s gritty, gruesome, and damn gory! But it is one that will draw you in and never let go. Even if you’re not a fan of westerns, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

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Crimson Peak (2015) – I pretty much love most everything Guillermo del Toro has directed. Most everything. When this came out last year, as much as I wanted to experience it in the theater, like usually, just never made it out. But once it hit Blu-ray, I bought it that first day it came out and watched it that very night. And I loved it. Sure, there were some saying it wasn’t really a horror movie and it’s not. Del Toro said he was trying to do an old fashion gothic style picture and I think he did it in spades. It looks stunningly beautiful, has a good story, incredible characters, and just is a treat to watch. A real piece of art.

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Don’t Breathe (2016) – This is one that I didn’t catch in the theaters either, but again was waiting for when it hit Blu-ray because of all the positive hype. Usually that could be a bad omen, but I still went in with high hopes and was not disappointed. Granted, this might have a little to do with the fact that I just love Stephen Lang. Such a great actor and just so much fun to watch on screen. No matter what the film, you know this guy is going to deliver. This a strange story where there really aren’t any characters you’re going to like, but it will entrance you and keep you glued to the TV. Great second feature from director Fede Alvarez. I think this is a guy to watch for.

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Francesca (2015) – There has been a slight resurgence from a few filmmakers in the last few years that are trying to replicate the Italian giallo films of the ’70s, such as directors Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani  with their films Amer (2009) and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (2013), and Adam Brooks & Matthew Kennedy’s The Editor (2014). But with those being either an over-indulgence of style or a seemingly parody of the genre, even though they looked amazing, they just didn’t seem to capture the real feel of a giallo, both in look and story. But the brother team of Luciano and Nicolás Onetti have done just that with this feature. In fact, if you didn’t know anything about Francesca, and I gave you a copy saying it was a lost giallo from the ’70s, you’d have no idea it was made just last year. That’s how good this is. From the look of it, the acting, and even the soundtrack, this movie is like a time machine, and a great one at that.

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I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016) – Several years ago when I was interviewing director Billy O’Brien about his film Isolation, he spoke of an upcoming project that he hopes to do in the near future. It was this film. I hadn’t heard that he actually had started on it until I saw the poster pop up one day online. And to further my excitement, not only did it start Max Records, who O’Brien said that he really hoped he could get him for the lead role, but the film also starred Christopher Lloyd. It didn’t get a theatrical release here other than part of a film fest that I didn’t attend. But a few weeks ago, it became available on Netflix and I quickly fired it up. Much like his film Isolation, I wouldn’t read anything about the film, but just watch it. I felt the performances were great, especially from Records, giving us an inside to a young man who is having sociopathic tendencies . But also from Lloyd, who like John Goodman, is another one most known for his comedic work, is downright chilling here. So kudos to O’Brien for giving us yet another incredible piece of work that, like Isolation, you just never know where this story is going to go.

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Stranger Things (2016) – I debated on listing this here since it’s not really a movie but a mini-series. Then I though, fuck it, it’s my list, so there! There are a lot of films that try replicate a certain era or time frame but just don’t seem to get it 100%, even if it is just the feel to it. But the creators of Stranger Things hit it out of the park, making this not only feel and look like it was from the ’80s, but also making it look and feel like Spielberg even made it! Such great characters that you really felt for and really kept the suspense and tension going. Well done!

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The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) – I tend to hate films that are filmed with the POV style camera, such as Cloverfield, Blair Witch, and any number of those. Yes, there are a few that are good enough for me to forget the obvious, but not too many and not for too long. Which is one of the reasons that I avoided this particular film. But this year, I decided to give it a chance anyway and man was I blown away. First of all, this is one creepy film that has some things in here that will disturb the shit out of you. But the main reason this film works as good as it does is the performance of Jill Larson in the title role. She goes above and beyond here and should have been nominated for an Oscar for her performance. Of course, since this is a horror film, we know that’s not going to happen. So even if you are like me and don’t care for the ‘shakey-cam’, break that rule and watch this one.

the-wave

The Wave (2015) – Now this one really might not fall into the horror category, but more of one of those Irwin Allen disaster movies from the ’70s. But since it is about an impending flood of a small Norwegian town, the suspense and terror is there, with quite a few sequences putting on the edge of your seat. One of the reasons for this is that the characters are well developed and makes you care for them. Always helps in these kind of movies. And what is even scarier about this film, is while this event has not really happened, the people of that area know that it will at some point in time, and still live there anyway! This is directed by Roar Uthaug, who gave us Cold Prey, another title worth seeking out.

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When Animals Dream (2014) – This film comes from Denmark and somehow just slipped in for a brief moment and then seemingly disappeared. I’m really not sure why this didn’t make a bigger impact when it did come out, but I’m trying to change that. Jonas Alexander Arnby gives us a very different kind of story of the werewolf theme here and does it quite well. Sonia Suhl, making her film debut, gives a very impressive performance as someone going through changes they can’t understand. This isn’t your average werewolf movie but one done with a lot of style.

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The Witch (2015) – This film did get a lot of hype when it came out and for good reason. Writer/director Robert Eggers gives us a look at a small New England town in 1630 dealing with the hardship of life back then, as well as their religious beliefs. With incredible performances by the cast, the story draws you in and can frighten you to the core when you realize the possibility of this kind of story really happening way back then. Such a nice change of pace for these kind of movies to show such realism but never giving up on the story.

Here are a few that didn’t make the cut but are more than worthy of mentioning. Oddly enough, every single one of these is from 2015. How strange is that?

Deathgasm, He Never Died, The Hallow, The Invitation, Southbound, Maggie

Stay tuned for the bottom of the barrel….

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