Dread Central’s Best and Worst Horror Films of 2016
2016 ended up being a solid year for the genre. We saw a lot of slick and creepy films hit the market, which makes it a challenge to acknowledge just a handful of films as the best of the best. But I’m going to give it a try, and I’m probably going to surprise a few with some of these choices.
Be My Cat: A Film for Anne – The deeply disconcerting Be My Cat: A Film for Anne is that coveted unique found footage film. It’s really all about obsession and mental detachment, but in order to absorb those problems, we’re subjected to the inner workings of a pure lunatic who lost all grasp on reality the moment he decided to watch The Dark Knight Rises. This flick is so fucking creepy it’s almost too creepy, and if Adrian Tofei’s depiction of an “ambitious” young filmmaker doesn’t make you feel as foul as a steaming pile of shit, you might want to consult a psychologist because you need some fucking help!
The Monster – The Monster really impresses in its ability to isolate psychological terror and chill us to the bone while simultaneously painting a monstrous portrait that’s fit to appeal to the hardcore creature feature fanatic. We get a couple of great characters trapped in what seems to be a hopeless scenario, and we get a big bad nasty thing that’s content in destroying anything that breathes. Bryan Bertino’s ability to make the titular beast so terrifying while showing the viewer so little of said creature is just pure brilliance.
Train to Busan – I’m not saying I hate zombie movies, but I’m pretty tired of them, and they very, very rarely do much to leave me feeling entertained. Enter Train to Busan, a movie about zombies on a train. Truth is, this one is about a hell of a lot more than that. It makes some societal commentary while introducing viewers to a few mesmerizingly awesome personalities and a few characters so grating they’ll have you contemplating punching the screen. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a zombie movie with so many colorful layers, so this one gets immense respect from me because I was beginning to believe I’d never again love a zombie movie. And then along came a movie about zombies on a train.
Green Room – A few years back Anton Yelchin battled his way onto my favorite performer list (along with Clint Eastwood, Clu Gulager, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Bill Murray). Considering Yelchin’s youth and relative inexperience (at least compared to my other favorites), that even stunned me. But Yelchin had something special about him – something that we don’t often see, and I saw that and fell in love with the man’s work. It just so happens Green Room is one of his absolute best. It’s a gritty crime piece with brutal violence, excellent gore, and characters one can really invest in. It’s awesome from the first minute to the last, and that’s where I’m going to bring this paragraph to an end because I can gush on this flick for hours on end.
Don’t Breathe – The big genre flick that actually lived up to its hype, Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe was captivating. It holds a unique distinction in the sense that the title actually inspires the viewers’ response to the viewing experience. Half of the packed theater I caught this one in had turned purple, the tension forcing everyone to choke back exhalation. It’s a super tense movie, and it blurs the lines between protagonist and antagonist to perfection. Who is the bad guy in this depressing but astoundingly impressive film? Better yet, who’s the true villain? Masterful stuff from Fede, who hit a home run and a half by casting Stephen Lang as “The Blind Man.”
I tend to load up my “worst of” portion with all the failed micro films that wriggle into our lives every year, but this time I wanted to put a little focus on some of the higher profile duds. There were a slew of bigger budget shitstorms this year, but isolating the five greatest disappointments should prove fairly easy. Here we go…
Cell – My head is still spinning over this one. I’m not entirely certain how you bring Stephen King, John Cusack, and Samuel L. Jackson together to make a totally and completely lifeless film. Especially after the awesome 1408. Somehow Cell makes it happen. Zero redeeming qualities, and I still can’t figure that out.
The Forest – A dull, tired film that never attempts to be inventive, despite the fact that the story operates within a highly compelling setting. Bland performances, disappointing script, and a run time that feels about 80 minutes too long, The Forest is a mainstream clunker in every way imaginable.
Carnage Park – Carnage Park was supposed to be the indie smash of 2016, but if there was any smash involved in this one, it was the hope of genre fanatics after plummeting back to reality. Mickey Keating has done some great things for horror, and he has a few fan favorite flicks under his belt; I suppose it was about time he ran into a wall. The film does have one good thing going for it, however: It will knock your ass unconscious for an extended period of time… keep that in mind if you’ve got insomnia issues.
Ratter – I’ve seen a lot of really bad found footage films, but most of them look like masterpieces when compared to Ratter. This is a lifeless, boring heap of shit that asks viewers to live inside the mind of a shallow teenie bopper “finding her way” in the world, all so we can see a 10-second “payoff” at the end. What a depressing piece of shit.
The Darkness – I didn’t think it was possible to bring Greg McLean and Kevin Bacon together and produce an atypically predictable and soulless film. That just sounds like an impossibility to me. Yet, it happened here. Watch the first 15 minutes of The Darkness, and I guarantee you that you’ll accurately predict every single beat of the film, right up to the connect-the-dots finale. The Darkness was so bad I’m actually nervous and concerned for McLean’s future in the business.
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