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Dread Central’s Best and Worst Horror Films of 2015

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Dread Central Best Worst 2015


Todd Rigney

The Best

Tag
I’m a huge fan of Sion Sono’s work, and while I’ll be the first to admit that the ending didn’t bring everything together in an orderly fashion, I’m still of the belief that Tag is a fantastic cinematic experience. Featuring special effects work from Tokyo Gore Police director Yoshihiro Nishimura, Sono’s endeavor hits a lot of high notes, but it’s nearly impossible to top the film’s opening sequence. That said, model-turned-actress Reina Triendi steals the show as Mitsuko, a Japanese schoolgirl who finds herself thrust into a situation that turns her existence upside down. It’s a thinking man’s gore flick, for lack of a much better term; and in my opinion, it works. Tag will likely hit the States sometime next year, so if you have a chance to catch it at a festival, definitely give it a shot.

Yakuza Apocalypse
I’ll probably catch hell from a lot of people for including this one on my “best of” list, but I honestly don’t care. Takashi Miike’s yakuza-flavored vampire Yakuza Apocalypse (or is that vampire-flavored yakuza flick?) is easily one of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen all year. And while it doesn’t necessarily hit everything out of the park, it’s the most fun I’ve had watching a movie all by my lonesome in quite some time. It’s not exactly scary, but there is enough action and blood-letting to keep horror fans satisfied for the duration. It’s not as accomplished as Audition, Gozu, As the Gods Will, or Lesson of the Evil, but it’s still a strong effort from a veteran director who continues to impress. Even if you’ve grown tired of Japanese cinema and hate vampires, Yakuza Apocalypse is worth a look.

Bone TomahawkBone Tomahawk
When someone takes the horror and western genres and slams them together, I get excited. Unfortunately, there really aren’t too many noteworthy examples to share with friends and family. However, that all changed with Bone Tomahawk, a film that finds a group of certified badasses battling a group of cave-dwelling cannibals. And, yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds. Not only is the direction top-notch, viewers are also treated to an all-star cast, including Matthew Fox, Patrick Wilson, and of course, Kurt Russell. The film should have made a bigger splash than it did among horror fans, but hopefully this is a movie people will slowly discover as the months and years wear on. Bone Tomahawk is probably one of the best flicks I encountered this year.

It Follows
Although some folks claim that It Follows was nothing more than a lukewarm horror flick bolstered by an incredible amount of hype, I had an absolute blast with the film. The idea of a sexually transmitted haunting is pretty cool, although writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s execution sometimes leaves a little to be desired. That said, Maika Monroe’s performance is engaging, and she’s essentially what helps keep this premise from falling apart at the seams. Had Mitchell given us a cranky, unlikable character who whined incessantly about her plight, It Follows would have crumbled to dust as soon as the relentless supernatural stalking began. I can understand why some people weren’t thrilled with the finished product, but I was thoroughly impressed throughout. What’s more, the movie seems to get stronger with repeat viewings.

Deathgasm
Hands down, writer/director Jason Lei Howden’s Deathgasm is the most fun I’ve had with a horror film this year. Bone Tomahawk may have delivered more thrills and chills, but Deathgasm was an absolute blast from start to finish. The flick is equal parts a love song to the horror genre and metalheads, and it treats each with tender, loving care. And while the film may frequently wear its influences painfully on its cinematic sleeve, Howden and his dedicated cast and crew do their best to deliver the sort of gory horror/comedy that made invokes the best of both Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson — before they decided to start making bloated Hollywood blockbusters. I find myself wanting to watch Deathgasm again and again, which means I need someone to invent more hours in the day as soon as possible.

The Worst

The VisitThe Visit
Not only was M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit one of the absolute worst horror movies to hit the big screen in 2015, it’s an easy contender for the most pathetic attempt at terror in many years. I should have jumped shipped when the dopey white kid started rapping on the train, but somehow I managed to stick with it. The only notable scene involved a messy adult diaper, and instead of generating fear, it evoked a wave of unintentional comedy. If this isn’t the final nail in Shyamalan’s career, then everyone deserves to get screwed when they pay to see his films. Whatever talent this guy had disappeared years ago. It’s time to forget he exists. Unless you’re looking for a comedy, The Visit is certainly one to cross off your must-see list.

The Green Inferno
I haven’t liked an Eli Roth flick since Cabin Fever, but I thought The Green Inferno would finally lend some validity to the hype that surrounds the filmmaker on a regular basis. And while the film has a very promising setup, Roth doesn’t really know how to the handle the cannibalistic aspects of the story. What we get are rehashed ideas from superior movies, a few uncomfortable sequences (masturbation, anyone?), and an ending that suggests Roth and his co-writer had no idea what they wanted to do with their endeavor. The flick isn’t nearly as shocking or revolting as it thinks it is and seems quite tame in this day and age. Besides, director Jonathan Hensleigh’s 2007’s like-minded flick Welcome to the Jungle did it better anyway.

We Are Still Here
There’s a strong possibility that hype may have derailed this one, but the film was so utterly boring that I’m not willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. We Are Still Here certainly sports an intriguing premise, but it takes way too long to get to the point. And by the time its secrets are revealed, they’re so ham-fisted and borderline ridiculous that you feel as though you could have spent your time more wisely elsewhere. I understand I’m probably in the minority here, and the film certainly has its share of fans, but it still sticks in my mind as one of this year’s most surprising disappointments. I love the cast, so it’s a shame the story didn’t give them enough interesting things to do.

Knock, Knock
I imagine that Eli Roth writes most of his movies with a raging and potentially painful erection, and none of his films illustrate that scenario better than Knock, Knock, the second misfire this year from one of the horror genre’s most overrated filmmakers. All of the director’s staples are here, though this time around he forces Keanu Reeves — who looks bored beyond belief — to endure a scenario that seems to have been penned by a 13-year-old boy who just discovered horror and boobs. You can’t fault for Roth pandering directly to his audience (whoever they are), but he could at least give them something worth watching in the process. Knock, Knock is up there with The Visit as one of the worst theatrically released horror movies in recent memory. And, yes, I’m aware the Paranormal Activity series exists.

Stung
Talk about a missed opportunity. Director Benni Diez’s wannabe creature feature Stung is crippled by an assortment of unlikable characters. And while that’s not always a bad thing, the film’s twenty-something hero is so pathetic that it’s hard for the audience to feel anything other than contempt for the guy. And when you sit down with a movie about giant mosquitoes, the last thing on earth you want to feel is bored. Unfortunately, Stung is a 90-minute exercise in what you shouldn’t do with your monster movie. Am I being too hard to Diez and his goofy little flick? Perhaps. But when you bore me to tears and force me to sit through a movie packed with paper-thin, cookie-cutter characters, that’s kind of what happens. I’m sure there are worse movies out there, but I doubt any of them are as dull.


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