Top 10 horror movies 2015
10. A Christmas Horror Story
Starring: George Buza, William Shatner, Zoé De Grand Maison, Jeff Clarke
Directors: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
Released: October 2, 2015
Anthology of four interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, sewn together by a hard-drinking festive radio host (Shatner): A family chopping down a Christmas tree accidentally bring back a changeling instead of their son, a student documentary in the bowels of a university building awakens a ghost, Krampus the anti-Santa hunts down a family of sinners, while an axe-wielding Santa has to deal with his elves becoming zombies in the North Pole… From the team behind the ‘Ginger Snaps’ trilogy. Unlike ‘Tales of Halloween’ there isn’t a weak link here, the Santa story is the highlight while the teens in the basement is the most generic, but they’re all effective and tie together well. By limiting it to four stories instead of ten, and cross-cutting between them, it feels pacey and each has enough room to breathe. It’s all very entertaining. Shatner is a national treasure.
9. Before I Wake
A husband (Jane) and wife (Bosworth) take in an orphaned boy whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps. Annabeth Gish plays the case worker assigned to the young boy. The story will explore the enduring bonds between parent and child and promises sequences of intense, visceral terror that only a child’s imagination could conjure. From the director of ‘Oculus’, which placed number 2 on our list last year, he has demonstrated a mastery of the genre and the flair to do something new. Expect ‘Before I Wake’ to be haunting and emotionally absorbing.
Four men (Russell, Wilson, Fox, Jenkins) set out in the Wild West to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers. Russell is the sheriff. Wilson is the driven and thoughtful cowboy whose rise to foreman of a cattle outfit is interrupted by an accident that reshapes his life. Fox is the eloquent gentleman whose dark inclinations have put him and his polished weapons at the very edge of the western frontier. This is written and directed by a first-time filmmaker, but as the likes of ‘Ravenous’ showed us, cannibalism and the Old West go well together. The last time Russell signed on to appear in a Western the result was 1993’s ‘Tombstone’, a film which has since acquired a reputation as a genre classic. Russell knows how to do badass sheriff, and with the terrific supporting cast this indie horror/thriller should be something a bit special.
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Released: October 16, 2015
Gothic ghost-chiller set in 19th century northern England. An aspiring author (Wasikowska), who is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider, tries to escape the ghosts of her past but is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds …and remembers. Released just in time for Halloween, director Del Toro, who also co-created the idea, says “It’s a classical romance ghost story, but it has scenes that are really disturbing in a very modern way. It’s a proper R rating. And it’s adult.” The word “kinky” has been used. His aim is to honour large-scale horror like ‘The Innocents’, Robert Wise’s ‘The Haunting’, and ‘The Shining’. “I think people are getting used to horror subjects done as found footage or B-value budgets,” he says. “I wanted this to feel like a throwback.” Amen to that. But does the elaborate set not look more like ‘The Haunting’ remake? Will style drown out scares?
Starring: Allison Tolman, Emjay Anthony, Adam Scott, Toni Collette
Director: Michael Dougherty
Released: December 4, 2015
Twisted horror-comedy about a mother (Tolman, from TV’s ‘Fargo’) and son (Anthony, kid from ‘Chef’) who come under attack from a pagan Santa Claus-esque ancient entity. It’s up to the boy to save the day. Traditionally Krampus is a beast-like creature, demonic in appearance, from the folklore of Alpine countries, who punishes children during the Christmas season who have misbehaved. He also captures particularly naughty children and drags them off into the black forest. In the likes of Austria and Romania people dress up as the Krampus every year. The film’s writer-director previously tackled the Halloween holiday with his anthology ‘Trick ‘r Treat’. He did a solid job with that, and the visuals here look like a step up, so expect this to be a most capable festive horror – with a tone on the dark side of ‘Gremlins’.
A young man (Pucci – 2013’s ‘Evil Dead’) in a personal tailspin flees the US to Italy, where he sparks up a romance with a woman harboring a dark, primordial secret. As they grow closer, they near her day of reckoning. This is a much better movie than its trailer might suggest (and she’s not a vampire it’s more interesting than that). The acting is effortless and natural while the script is wonderfully free-flowing and sometimes a little profound. It’s a moving story against a scenic backdrop that’s nicely filmed and scored. The biology of the creature is confusing at first, she doesn’t quite come across as the old soul that she is, there’s no antagonist, and don’t expect frights or much in the way of gore, but this might be one of the beautiful monster movies you ever see.
4. The Voices
A chirpy loner (Ryan) spends his nights talking with his cat and his dog in two-way conversations that are all in his head. The dog is supportive and positive, while the cat pushes aggression and self-satisfaction. At his new factory job he is enthusiastically pursuing his workplace crush (Arterton), but when she stands him up for a date, things turn sinister. His life spiralling out of control, the persistent interest of another woman from accounts (Kendrick) might pull him back to the right path… if he doesn’t behead her. This is a black-comedy horror along the lines of ‘American Psycho’. There are no big laughs, rather a peversely upbeat atmosphere conveying the world through his unmedicated eyes. Ryan Reynolds gives a fantastic performance full of nuance and complexity that carries the audience’s sympathy despite increasingly frequent moments of deeply sinister menace – somehow by the end you love the character but still want him to kill himself. Reynolds also does excellent, virtually unrecognisable voicework for the cat and dog. Sometimes it’s incredibly sad and bleak but overall ‘The Voices’ is a really interesting watch.
New loner kid in town Brodie and bad-boy Zakk quickly bond over their mutual admiration of heavy metal. When Zakk takes them to break into the home of their metal-thrashing icon, they end up with a satanic verse which, when they unwittingly perform it as a song, turns the neighbours into demonically-possessed maniacs and summons an ancient evil entity known as The Blind One… New Zealanders are the reining kings of comedy-horror with ‘What We Do In The Shadows’, ‘Housebound’ and now this. It’s little surprise that this is directed by an fx artist who worked under the man who started the NZ tradition, Peter Jackson. Thankfully ‘Deathgasm’ is not the Rob Zombie metalhead depiction, rather it’s closer to Bill & Ted. The possessed monsters are copied wholesale from ‘Evil Dead 2’, but it’s done so well it feels like a welcome sequel. ‘Deathgasm’ sports inventive gore, thoroughly likeable characters, and razor sharp comic timing.
2. What We Do In The Shadows
Horror-comedy mockumentary about four vampires turned in different eras sharing a house in Wellington, New Zealand. Viago (Waititi), Deacon (Brugh), and Vladislav (Clement) are hundreds of years old, but still have to keep up with household chores, dress well without being able to use a mirror, get into nightclubs when they need to be invited in, and overcome flatmate disputes like “who let the vampire hunter in?” When a modern day New Zealand lad is turned and joins the household with his human friend Stu, they appreciate Stu’s knowledge of the internet but find the new vampire’s insistence on showing off difficult to deal with. On the horizon is the big vampire ball and a fateful run in with some local werewolves. Directed and written by stars Clement and Waititi (who also starred in and directed ‘Flight of the Conchords’ respectively), this is the best vampire-comedy ever made, underpinned by its social satire, high-spirited performances, keen knowledge of vampire mythology and heartfelt pathos.
1. It Follows
What if a curse could be sexually transmitted? For one 19-year-old (Maika Monroe), life should be about school, boys and weekends out at the lake. But after a sexual encounter she finds herself plagued by strange visions and stalked by eerie, slow-walking figures whose touch brings instant death. The only way to be rid of this ‘STD’ is to pass it on, by having sex with someone else. This is an expressionistic teen horror movie that mixes the tone of ‘The Virgin Suicides’ with John Carpenter. The film’s star previously demonstrated an appealing effortless-cool in ‘The Guest’. The writer/director is coming off the back of 2010 coming-of-age drama ‘The Myth of the American Sleepover’. ‘It Follows’ is scary, unsettling, inventive and beautifully filmed.