Elliott Maguire’s Top 10 Films of 2015
After being a huge fan of Paul Hyett’s debut The Seasoning House, expectations were high for Howl. And expectations were met! This ticks so many boxes, full of fun, gore and great acting, and is so slick looking it’s frustrating that it didn’t get a bigger cinema release. Swap the setting to the States and shove some CW network actors in there and this gets shown everywhere. Hunt it down on a full moon night with some beers and friends.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Resolution, even though many were, but with Spring, directors Benson & Moorhead have won me over. A beautiful love story set in a terrifying supernatural world, this had the sense to not take its premise too seriously, but it’s characters very much. This is a romance for people who hate romances. Go in with no spoilers.
8. AIMY IN A CAGE
The first of two late additions to my list, I just could not leave this out. It’s like nothing out there, and needs to be experienced. To quote my review: “what if Tim Burton and Hunter S. Thompson had a baby, which then wrote a script, which was then directed by Terry Gilliam, but he gave up halfway through and handed it to Darren Aronofsky, who raised Stanley Kubrick from the dead and let him have final cut?” That still doesn’t sum up this trip.
7. LATE PHASES
Similar in pace to Spring but more definitively horror, Late Phases let’s the fantastic Nick Damici take front and centre as a blind OAP veteran trying to survive in a retirement village that hides some grisly secrets. At once a character study and breathless horror, this is another that tugged at the old heart strings.
I expected nothing from this. The concept of a feature length Skype chat didn’t sit right with me. But imagine my surprise when this turned out to be a lightning paced, fiendishly inventive thriller! The build up to the horror is expert, and the technique allows an intimacy with the victims like we haven’t really seen before.
5. SINISTER 2
I loved this sequel. Sinister is the most terrifying mainstream horror of the last couple of years, so it was going to be tough to follow. But what director Ciaron Foy does here is inject that Stephen King feel that you would only “get” if you read his books. It’s hard to define, but the cornfields, the innocence being manipulated, the mythology, the domestic sub-plot…and any film that involves murderous kids is a winner for me. Beautifully shot, well-paced, and inventive, I want more!
4. WE ARE STILL HERE
Where the hell did this come from?! Take The Shining, and filter it through the blood-soaked eyes of Giallo horror, and you have this mini-masterpiece. The skill here is keeping the story nice and contained, so that lots of time is spent with the heroes. A beautiful throwback horror with some fantastic practical FX.
3. LET US PREY
As soon as the stylish Goth opening kicked in with a Carpenter-esque synth score, I knew this was for me. The always great Pollyanna McIntosh and Liam Cunningham lead us head first into hell, and I’m still in shock at just how ballsy this film was. Every shot could be straight out of a graphic novel, everything moves at breakneck pace, and before you know it you’re swallowed up in a dark, nasty, energetic descent into darkness. Lots of fun for the whole family this flick.
2. CRUEL SUMMER
The second late addition to the list, this micro-budget British thriller inspired by a true story is one of the most brutal, unforgiving but believable films I’ve seen. I won’t go into detail, but find it. For the astonishing direction, brave performances, and uncompromising script. This is the film that Eden Lake and F wish they were.
1. IT FOLLOWS
I’m a big fan of minimalist horror, and loved how spare and direct this film was. The roaming camera work, delirious score, and heavy themes and threat meant you could never relax. When the boogeyman can come from anywhere, and will never stop, how can you get away? Although I would have used the concept slightly differently, there is something about this that stays with me. It feels timeless, yet timely. For sheer re-watchability, this had to be my number one.
No movie on that list can compare to the beautiful horrors that this show has given us for the past three years. Deeply intelligent and uncomfortably profound, this made horror art, it made bloodshed art, it made FOOD art. As the season three finale ended, and the series ended for good after the network cancelled it, I was gutted. But after the way it ended, I kind of don’t want it to come back. It ended in the most perfect, most disturbingly romantic way. Still really going to miss it.
Maybe the hype ruined this for me, I dunno, but I found myself one step ahead of the Babadook from the start. Not scary, with annoying characters…this years Black Swan for me. A film everyone loved but I found insultingly predictable.