Rosie Gibbs’ Top 5 Horrors of 2015

Rosie Gibbs’ Top 5 Horrors of 2015

deathgasm5 – ‘Deathgasm

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!

iood4 – ‘In Order of Disappearance

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!

wloucover3 – ‘What’s Left of Us’ / ‘El Desierto

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!

howldvd2 – ‘Howl

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!

housebounddvd1- ‘Housebound

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…

sotd1Soldiers of the Damned

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!

Howl (2015) DVD Review

howl1Howl (2015) DVD Review

Director: Paul Hyett

Writers: Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler

Stars: Ed Speleers, Holly Weston, Elliot Cowan

UK DVD Release October 26th from Metrodome

When passengers on a train are stranded in the middle of nowhere, when the train breaks down they are attacked by a creature, they must band together in order to survive until morning.

I love British horror films, I love Werewolf films… Add these two together and you get the brilliant Howl. Much in the same vein of American Werewolf in London and more recently Dog Soldiers, Howl has a decent mix of humour and horror.

howl4Directed by Paul Hyett, who directed 2012’s fantastically brutal The Seasoning House. Looking through IMDB I discovered that Hyett’s CV is wickedly impressive. He has mainly done special make up effects for around 70 films which include The Descent, Doomsday and Attack the Block. Credit where credit is due, Hyett comes across as an incredibly ambitious director. He used brilliantly creative camera movements and frames shots beautifully; A few shots in Howl reminded me of David Fincher’s directing in Panic Room, with lots of zooming through walls and ceilings.

Story-wise Howl is pretty simple. But it’s a werewolf film at the end of the day. As long as there is good make up effects on the Werewolves themselves and an attractive cast for said Werewolves to chew on and turn… what more do you really need to be entertained…?

howl3The cast of Howl all play their parts well. The “nice” characters are really likable and you don’t actually want any of them to die and the “bad” characters are there to piss you off and make you pray for their gory demises. The lead character Joe is played by Ed Speleers, of Eragon fame…. remember Eragon… No? Good for you…… He is probably the most likeable of leads I’ve seen in a horror film for ages. I was rooting for him from the start right through till the end. The main female character Ellen is played Holly Weston who’s biggest role was being in 176 episodes of Hollyoaks. I didn’t like her character at first after she rejected the advances of Joe.

But when the Werewolf carnage began… She certainly became a more interesting character and I was praying for her to make it. The “big baddie” other than the Werewolves of course, is Adrian, played by Elliot Cowan. I wanted this prick to die from his first appearance on screen. He was horrible and I detested him with a passion. Other characters are rounded out by Shauna Macdonald, from The Descent and the one and only Sean Pertwee has a nice little cameo as “Tha Driva”. Pertwee’s brief cameo seemed to me like a nice nod to his role in Dog Soldiers.

howl2The make-up effects in Howl are the most impressive thing about it. The Werewolves have a really interesting man-wolf hybrid look to them. They walk on two legs which bend backwards. There is the odd bit of gore but nothing fantastically extreme, I’d compare it to the gore of Dog Soldiers which I mentioned earlier.

If you love British horror films and enjoy a good Werewolf romp, please watch this as soon as you can. Support British horror at all costs. With The Seasoning House and Howl under his belt, things can only keep going up for Hyett. He is definitely going to be a director to watch. The only complaint I would have is that they could’ve gone all out with the gore. Give us horror fans some more blood. Satisfy our need for the red stuff. Other than that Howl is a perfectly awesome addition to the British Werewolf film genre.

Rating 8/10