Rosie Gibbs’ Top 5 Horrors of 2015
Taking the cultural staple of heavy metal and the Devil naturally going hand-in-hand as its theme, this inventive horror romp was unleashed this year, from director Jason Lei Howden and starring Milo Cawthorne as loveable ne’er-do-well metal devotee Brodie. Our hero unwittingly releases an evil entity from Hell itself during band practise in his uncle’s garage, and along with his girl-next-door crush Medina and his misfit bandmates, he must save his normally sleepy New Zealand home town (and Earth!) from certain self-destruction. This is a no-holds barred giggle-along which is sure to become a modern classic – if you’re in the mood for in-your-face blood and guts by the bucket, witty dialogue and a killer black (or is it death?) metal soundtrack, this definitely delivers the goods on all that – essential horror viewing from 2015!
More of a black comedy / thriller than a horror outright, ‘In Order of Disappearance’ still presents us with a subtle measure of gore and there’s no denying this story still qualifies as a killing spree! Stellan Skarsgard plays Nils, a mild-mannered Swede who resides in Norway, earning a quiet and peaceful living as a road maintenance and clearance worker. After his only son is mistakenly murdered by local drug barons, Nils sets out for revenge – and by his hand (and with the assistance of his huge mother of a snow plough), bad guys aplenty of various nationalities and creeds start dropping all over the place. Hans Peter Molland directs this very enjoyable piece, and the beauty of snow-blanketed Norway doesn’t exactly work against it visually. Skarsgard is wonderfully understated as Nils and the supporting cast are top notch also, and while the storyline isn’t highly original, the film doesn’t try to present it as so – it’s simply a murder revenge tale outlined in classic subtle Scandinavian style, and all the better for it. ‘In Order…’ delivers an enjoyable and satisfying thrill for a good night in and deserves a place in any horror DVD collection worth its weight!
This one’s the hidden gem for me – it didn’t get a particularly wide release in cinemas but I was fortunate enough to get to review it this year for UKHS and it’s really something rather special. In Christophe Behl’s feature film directorial debut, we meet 30-somethings Ana, Jonathan and Axel, who have found themselves holed up in a well-barricaded Argentinian apartment after surviving your typical infection-based apocalypse. Over the weeks and months together, we see struggles unfold between the three as they cope with their isolation and co-habitation, with inevitable tensions arising. This film is a breath of fresh air from the usual dose of jump scares and high-end terror – if you want ‘less is more’ horror that makes you think and includes well-acted, engaging characters, this ticks those boxes. It also features the must-mention of the best, most original ‘zombie’ acting I have witnessed in a decade or two! ‘What’s Left of Us’ is well-worth seeking out – you’ll be very glad you did!
What can I say? This for me was the highlight of Manchester’s Grimmfest festival 2015. Director Paul Hyett this year brought us a tour-de-force, edge-of-your-seat belter of a werewolf tale with excellent special effects (that will last), on-point pacing, well-developed characters and a fresh storyline. Never before have I become so involved in a horror protagonist’s struggle and rarely have I been so thrilled by the sheer action in a horror film! Ed Speleers does an absolute star turn as put-upon rail worker-turned hero Joe and I was literally cheering him on under my breath during his final big push to escape the furry foes. The whole cast in fact is fantastic, particularly Rosie Day, Sam Gittins and good old Duncan Preston, and the werewolves are brilliantly designed. This is all in all an absolute must-see for every horror fan – so strap yourself in, prepare to be blown away and JUST SEE IT!
My absolute favourite of all 2015 horror releases (although it very nearly lost out to ‘Howl’!) is the simply excellent ‘Housebound’. Director Gerard Johnstone’s tale of coming home, secrets uncovered, reconciliation and ingenious use of household objects as defence weapons is an absolute joy and one of the best films I’ve seen in the last few years. Morganna O’Reilly and Rima Te Wiata are fantastic as the at-loggerheads mother and daughter trying to co-exist and crucially, work out whether or not their house really is haunted – and their quest leads to creative scares, moments of bonkers yet not over-blown humour and genuine pathos. Add to this its brilliant set design, unpredictable plot twists and likeable, well-acted characters – and viola, the result is perfection! Get hold of it, see it, treasure it!
‘Dud’ of 2015…
In this film directed and produced by Mark Nuttall, we see Major Kurt Fleisher and his men stationed in Romania in World War II, instructed to escort a professor on her search within a secret forest location for a highly powerful occult artefact desired by one Heinrich Himmler. This is the one this year that sadly really didn’t cut it for me – it starts off promisingly with a few well-paced opening scenes but soon loses its way due to a rather confusing plot, wooden acting in places and clunky dialogue, mixed with uninspired scares to boot. Overall even at 99 minutes it felt far too long and as I said in the review, it’s not one I’d ever re-visit!