Andy Deen’s Top Ten Films of 2015
So here we are , a little later than planned, my Top Ten horror films of 2015. The year was a strange one as it started pretty well especially with It Follows then it went very quiet until of course Frightfest kicked it and then all hell broke loose !! Some absolute amazing horror films that have really stretched the genre, there is so much thought now going into horror making for far more intelligent viewing than in many years previously.
So I am a massive fan of Paul Hyett’s début feature The Seasoning House, which if you haven’t seen it then check it out, so I was really looking forward to Howl. Full of fantastic British actors and set in the confines of a railway carriage Howl brings the werewolf genre a new and fantastic addition. Funny, claustrophobic and full of wonderful physical effects , Howl looks amazing and the cast work so well in such a confines space. Well worth checking out and keep an eye out for Paul Hyett and his new feature coming in 2016!
When UKHS writer Nick Trenchard reviewed Reel , he just raved about it and said in his review “A must watch for any horror fan”. So with REEL being available to watch online and for FREE I did just that. Anyway I am not a huge found footage fan nor am I a gore hound , so I was not expecting to like REEL but I loved it. The story of an online horror critic Todd Smith who is stalked by a deranged obsessive . It is a phenomenal feature especially as the budget was an incredible $4000. The practical effects are jaw-droppingly nasty and look out for Reel 2 soon. And watch it for free here – http://hiddenhorizons.net/reel/ .
The first night at Grimmfest threw up Bloodsucking Bastards which was a film I had very little knowledge of and beforehand Grimmfest big-cheese Simeon told me to expect The Office with vampires ! And that’s exactly what it was. Bloodsucking Bastards is a horror comedy that really does almost all the right notes. From the start we are introduced to a group of slackers working in an office call centre and then a new office manager takes over and all hell breaks loose. At times laugh out loud funny and with lashings of blood , it is definitely a film for a weekend night with a few beers and a few friends.
The first of a few films on this list that I saw at Grimmfest. We had already got a review of Landmine on UKHS before I had seen it plus an interview with the director, so I knew what I was going to see! RUBBISH! Landmine Goes Click starts with a trio of young American tourists exploring the gorgeous Georgia countryside, then while posing for a photo one steps on a landmine. So where does the film go from there? Well you will just have to track this down and watch for yourself as Landmine Goes Click is one of the most unusual, hard-hitting and thoroughly nasty films you will see , yet it is in equal measure beautiful. A Must See as it goes to places you would never expect!!
One of the big releases this year The Gift follows the story of a married couple Simon & Robyn (Jason Bateman & Rebecca Hall) who move to a new home and Simon bumps into an old & creepy schoolmate Gordo (Joel Edgerton). After Gordo takes a present and they have an uncomfortable meal, Simon decides enough is enough and tries to put an end to their new friendship. But will it be that easy? A superb and immensely tense thriller that is full of twists and turns. Bateman is brilliant as Simon who while being initially the victim is immensely unlikeable from the start while Joel Edgerton gives a wonderful turn as the socially awkward Gordo and as director gives one of the finest débuts in years.
Another directorial debut is Merlin Dervisevic’s Cruel and Unusual. The story of a man who is wrongly convicted of the murder of his wife. He is then incarcerated in an unknown location where he is forced to relive her death for eternity. Cruel and Unusual was a recommendation from a friend, and the only place I could find it was on Amazon UK on VOD. I rarely watch anything online but I plumped for it and by god it was a good choice. A stunning piece of cinema that is both utterly bleak and yet full of hope. Cruel and Unusual is a film that must be seen and WHY is it not available on DVD? It might not be everyone’s cup of tea , as it is slowly paced and very deliberate. But for me it was beautiful and so very emotional at times. As débuts go then almost as good as it gets.
Where do you start with Turbo Kid? Well I caught it at Grimmfest on the massive screen and holy fuck!! A young orphaned comic book obsessed teenage boy spends his days in a post-apocalyptic wasteland riding round on his BMX scavenging so he can trade for water which is scarce. He then meets a completely bonkers girl called Apple and they form an odd and beautiful friendship. This friendship is put to the test when they cross paths with leader of the wasteland Zeus (Michael Ironside) . Turbo Kid is just a blast from start to finish, it is a throwback to Eighties action and post apocalyptic films but does it far better than 99% of them. Not just that but it is full of OTT action, blood and comedy. A film with a heart , a story and BMXs !! Definitely cult and definitely a classic.
Nineteen year-old Jay (Maika Monroe) has a sexual encounter with Hugh (Jake Weary) , then immediately afterwards he chloroforms Jay and she awakes strapped to a wheelchair with Hugh rambling about how sorry he is and how she must sleep with someone to pass on ‘the curse’ . Hugh also tells Jay that she will she ‘it’ and ‘it’ may take on the form of people she knows. Seriously if you have not seen It Follows where have you been? It Follows is a gorgeous throwback to late Seventies to early Eighties horror. It Follows looks amazing, and the lack of technology (apart from an e-reader) is brilliant . From the time Jay is cursed she sees people coming for her, and she is the only on who can see ‘it’. And when she runs ‘it follows’ . The thing that makes It Follows so scary is the dread! It made me uneasy throughout, I was quite literally on the edge of my cinema seat , yet there are few jump scares but the pacing is just bang on!! Every so often a horror film comes along and is a game-changer, and in years to come It Follows will be seen as such. There is just so much to It Follows that I could rant on for ages and although it is not number one I do think it is the best straight up horror of 2015 and I expect it will grow on me more as time goes on. Oh and the soundtrack is superb.
Anyone who knows me, will understand why Deathgasm is so high in the list. I love horror films (no shit) but I also have a deep love for everything Heavy Metal. SO when a film comes along with a poster as fucking metal as Deathgasm then it had me literally shaking in my boots. I even gave up the chance of seeing one of my fave bands on a reunion tour to see Deathgasm on the big screen at Grimmfest, and I made the right choice. Deathgasm is the story of Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) a metalhead who is moved to a dead-end town in New Zealand to stay with his god-bothering Auntie & Uncle , oh and his obnoxious jock of a cousin. Once there he becomes firm friends with Zakk (James Blake) an off the rails metalhead and they then form a band called Deathgasm with two nerds Dion & Giles. The band unwittingly summon a demon and blood-soaked hilarity ensues . As a heavy metal horror Deathgasm NAILS IT. Funny, bloody, and with the most hilarious music video shoot (Black Metal fans will know what I mean when they see it), Deathgasm is a MUST SEE!
And Number ONE for 2015 is He Never Died. Now I went into seeing HND at Grimmfest knowing absolutely nothing about it. All I knew was Henry Rollins was in it, that’s it! And I was completely and utterly blown away. Henry Rollins plays Jack a curmudgeonly bad-tempered loner. Jack goes to the same cafe every day, sleeps a lot, he visits a local church and plays bingo and oh yeah he is a cannibal. Then a couple of things throw him from his daily monotony. Firstly a couple of local gangsters knock on his door looking for a mutual acquaintance (with brilliant consequences) and secondly his teenage daughter, whom he has never seen, knocks on his door . Henry Rollins just makes He Never Died, he is almost monosyllabic yet delivers the lines with pinpoint accuracy and physically he just throws himself into the role. The acting is superb, the script and dialogue runs so smooth and is near perfect. And finally the whole backstory for Jack just wraps He Never Died into one of the finest horror films of the last 10 years. Just watch it. And finally it is currently being made into a TV series starring Henry Rollins which just makes me so fucking happy.
Below are the honourable mentions , films that I loved yet couldn’t fit on my list. Check them out!
Pay The Ghost
A Christmas Horror Story
Tales of Halloween
The Final Girls
DUD of the year.
I never like to slag films off but each year I always make room for the one film that made me angry. Cherry Tree opened FrightFest and was featured at Grimmfest. How?? Cherry Tree looks amazing and the poster was superb. However it is a dreadful horror film, it is all over the place and features so many horror tropes which it mixes up and spits out all in the wrong places. Faith is a schoolgirl who finds out her Dad is dying and then gets involved with her hockey teacher who is a witch and she tells Faith that she can save her Father’s life. The problem is that Faith (luckily on her 16th birthday) has to get pregnant and give birth to the spawn of Satan!! For me as the film progresses it gets worse and worse, I also really disliked the way the schoolgirls seemed to objectified throughout including an awful girls hockey game. The only good thing in Cherry Tree are the centipedes !! Just steer clear , avoid and don’t watch.