Another year has come to an end, which means it’s time for the Dread Central staff to weigh in with their picks of the best and worst of 2015’s horror offerings. What tickled our fancy? What made us pine for those precious minutes we’d never get back? Read on for the results from what was overall a pretty okay year for horror movies.
We’ve also compiled everyone’s picks to come up with the year’s overall winners and losers. We averaged out the top and bottom vote-getters on our collective 12 lists, and here are the results:
BEST: THE FINAL GIRLS
Runners-up: Bone Tomahawk, Deathgasm, We Are Still Here (tied for 2nd); Goosebumps, Spring, Turbo Kid (tied for 3rd)
WORST: THE GALLOWS
Runners-up: It Follows, Muck
- Anthony Arrigo’s Best and Worst of 2015
- Ari Drew’s Best and Worst of 2015
- Debi “The Woman in Black” Moore’s Best and Worst of 2015
- The Foywonder’s Best and Worst of 2015
- Gareth Jones’ Best and Worst of 2015
- John Squires’ Best and Worst of 2015
- Matt Molgaard’s Best and Worst of 2015
- Paul “Nomad” Nicholasi’s Best and Worst of 2015
- Stephen Romano’s Best and Worst of 2015
- Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton’s Best and Worst of 2015
- Todd Rigney’s Best and Worst of 2015
- Trisha Chambers’ Best and Worst of 2015
Anthony kicks things off for us. The other contributors’ lists can be found by scrolling through the pages or clicking the links below.
And on the home video side of the fence, be sure not to miss MattFini’s list of the Top 10 Cult Horror Blu-ray Releases of 2015 to Add to Your Collection!
As much as I enjoy making these year-end lists, they always wind up feeling slightly half-baked because, despite my commitment to watching as many films as possible, there is always a handful of titles I don’t get around to until the following year. So my list usually feels incomplete. Just as with last year, I managed to see a single horror film in theaters (Goosebumps, which I guess counts?) with everything else being viewed on VOD or Blu-ray.
This is because nearly every horror film released to theaters looked like utter crap. I made it through about fifteen minutes of Poltergeist (2015) before calling it quits. There are a number of films still in my queue – Tales of Halloween, Krampus, Cooties, and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, to name a few – but here’s my take on the best & worst of 2015’s offerings I have managed to catch, in no particular order.
If I were fourteen again, this would be my favorite movie ever. Heavy metal. Demons. Babes. A cursed song. A murderous cult. Death by chainsaw up the ass. Two deaths by rubber dildo. This film is a rollicking vehicle of over-the-top violence and satanic mayhem that also manages to work in a little heart… even if it is gushing blood all over the room. From the head-banging soundtrack to the animated sequences and everything in between, I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. All killer, no filler. Bring on the sequel!
This is one of those retro-vibe films that manages to play things right without veering off into parody. It’s self-aware, but not so much that it forgets the first rule is to be awesome and not play up nostalgia to a nauseating degree, nor to get so outrageous that it feels like a cheap pastiche. I’m looking at you, Kung Fury (2015), Hobo with a Shotgun (2011), and recent films by Robert Rodriguez. Munro Chambers is perfectly cast in the lead, Michael Ironside always rules (as well as adding heaps of gravitas), and the soundtrack by Le Matos is one of the best albums of the year. Almost forgot to mention: This movie is insanely violent. It’s Mad Max (1979) meets Rad (1986), and it rules.
Imagine if Patrick Bateman worked in a mundane factory, living in a small town with two pets that talk to him. That’s the gist here, with Ryan Reynolds killing it (literally and figuratively) in this pitch black comedy. Reynolds seamlessly vacillates between chipper and cold-blooded, making the brutality of his kills even more disturbing. Some of the juxtaposed moments between idyllic suburban life and Reynolds’ character’s warped reality are almost Lynchian. I haven’t seen this one getting much love on year-end lists; it should not be overlooked.
Imagine if The Searchers (1956) was a horror film, the enemy Indians are twisted abominations of nature, and it featured one of the most unsettling, grotesque deaths ever. Seriously, there’s a kill in here that’s NSFL. Kurt Russell should be in every movie ever, and he’s this film’s backbone; surrounding him are capable actors delivering some career-best performances. I never knew Matthew Fox could be so good. Patrick Wilson is always a great casting choice. Richard Jenkins, however, steals this movie; he’s Oscar-worthy in every sense. The film slowly builds up tension before arriving at a third act that will have palms sweating.
The Final Girls
This is the best Friday the 13th sequel that isn’t part of the canon. The film so perfectly nails the period, tone, acting, and aesthetics of Jason’s old adventures that I was amazed it could subvert some of those old tropes and elevate old-hat material. There are characters you genuinely care about and a surprising amount of heart that doesn’t feel contrived. My only complaint is the same most fans seem to share: It’s PG-13, and so it lacks much of the blood and boobs that are endemic to slasher films of the ‘80s; however, the fact this film can eschew those elements and still be this great is a testament to good writing and solid direction. Loved the ending, too.
I flirted with the idea of including Ex Machina here – it’s one of my top three of the year – but it’s more sci-fi than anything else. What We Do in the Shadows (the best vampire mockumentary Christopher Guest never made), We Are Still Here (a great love letter to Fulci), and Goodnight Mommy (palpable sense of dread but may not hold up as well on repeat viewings) were other contenders for a spot.
It Sucks, too. I don’t put it here solely to be a contrarian, but what’s with all the hype behind this one? Sure, it looks great, relies on minimalism to tell the story, and has one of the year’s best soundtracks… but I agree with Uncle Creepy that this film breaks established rules up, down, and all around. Early on, the film presents guidelines that sound strict – then it breaks them time and again when it’s convenient for the story. I wanted to yell at my screen whenever these moments occurred because it frustrated the hell out of me. I wanted to love this movie – I really did – but the constant lack of adherence to the boundaries, coupled with a heavy-handed allegory for STDs, tuned me right out.
The horror here is of the circa 2004 gross-out variety, while the attempts at humor never once elicited so much as a half-cracked smile from me. I’d rather spent 90 minutes sitting on the porcelain altar playing games on my phone than watch this one again.
See above. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: If you are going to make a horror/comedy, then make sure one of those elements is rock solid.
Toolbox Murders 2
Films like this inspire me to write a script because if this abhorrent piece of shit can get funding and be turned into a feature, then I’m certain anyone can make a film of their own. This also features the absolute worst performance I have ever seen from a lead waitress, er, actress. Stick with the former.
This film was made as a love letter to John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) – a claustrophobic, expertly-acted, superbly-cast exercise in tension and paranoia, featuring some of the finest practical effects ever committed to celluloid. Harbinger Down is the exact opposite of that statement. Gillis & Woodruff, bolstered by the bungling of their effects work for The Thing (2011), made this film as an excuse to show off practical effects… and, yet, for some reason many of the sights here look like they were sourced out to Amalgamated Dynamic’s b-team. And let’s not even discuss the writing and acting here…
Outside of horror, unquestionably the worst film I watched this year was Terminator: Genisys, further proving if anything needs terminating, it’s this beleaguered franchise.