There were tons of great horror films in 2016 and even more that were absolutely atrocious. I made it a habit this year to watch as many terrible looking horror films as I could get my hands on so it was hard to sift through my miasmac memories to decide which were the worst of the bunch. Even more difficult was remembering the ones that actually didn’t suck. But here we go, everyone… my Best and Worst of 2016!
5) Mercy – This film didn’t actually catch my attention until it popped up as a suggestion on my Netflix account. I hit “play” without really knowing anything about it and was glad I did. A family gathers around an ailing mother figure, and slowly but surely a deeper plot unfolds. Mercy is at the top of my list for “best plot twist” in a film in 2016.
4) Lights Out – David Sandberg’s name was on many lips this year as a killer breakout star in the Hollywood directorial world. From humble means as a short filmmaker, David was noticed by the right people and given the chance to work with a much bigger budget. As feature film debuts go, Lights Out is fantastic. It was far more hilarious than I ever thought it would be, but the humor blended brilliantly with the terror of the film’s villain. In my opinion Lights Out was the best PG-13 horror flick to come out this year.
3) The Conjuring 2 – I was fortunate enough to see The Conjuring 2 in theaters and am very glad I did. James Wan is really in a position to be one of the greatest horror directors of his time. His films are masterfully shot, very entertaining, and above all still manage to be scary. The acting in The Conjuring 2 was great, and as soon as I walked out of the theater, I was ready to watch it again.
2) The Wailing – I have always adored foreign films, and when it comes to horror, Korea is always near the top when it comes to quality. The Wailing is steeped in mystery from the very beginning. You’re not entirely sure what’s happening until much later in the film, and even then you’re still not sure whom to trust. This ambiguity takes your attention and holds on tight to it until the very end. Bonus points: Shaman ritual battles are crazy fun to watch.
1) Don’t Breathe – At this point in my horror watching career, there aren’t many films that give me much trouble anymore. I say this because Don’t Breathe was a major exception to the rule. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Don’t Breathe made me physically uncomfortable watching it in theaters. Fede Alvarez’s attention to detail is exceptional, and I left theaters thankful that it was over. And I mean that in the best way possible. If a horror movie was so horrifying that you’re glad to be freed from its clutches, it’s done its job.
Honorable Mentions: Morgan, Train to Busan, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Boy
5) The Neon Demon – This is one of those films that are incredibly polarizing in people’s responses to them. It’s an art film, which can be hard to critique in the first place. In the beginning it is creatively shot and drew me in almost instantly. However, as the plot evolved and the twist was revealed, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth.
4) The Forest – I’ll be one of the first to admit that Natalie Dormer is exceptionally beautiful and an agreeable actor to boot. It was because of her that I was tentatively looking forward to watching The Forest when I first heard about it. And if it hadn’t been for her, I definitely wouldn’t have watched as much as I did. A boring romp through what is otherwise one of the most horrifying real-life locations, The Forest literally put me to sleep.
3) The Good Neighbor – Want to watch a couple teens neglected by their parents do harm to an old man to make them feel better about themselves? Want to watch them “haunt” him, all under the guise of filming the next Paranormal Activity? Want to watch the old man’s life unravel all because these kids have nothing better to do? Then give The Good Neighbor a watch. Personally, I’d like that hour and thirty-eight minutes of my life back.
2) The Final Project – Found footage films. When you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all… generally speaking. In The Final Project a bunch of students attempt to film a movie about a haunted plantation. The successive “assembled footage” falls smack dab in the middle of found footage films you’ve already seen. A few spooky jump scares later you’ll wish you could give these kids an “F” yourself if they weren’t already dead.
1) The Witch – Art films that are as equally enjoyable to watch as they are groundbreaking can be hard to come by. The Witch initially seemed like it might fall into that category for me, and then… the actors opened their mouths. I have a unique perspective in the industry being that I’m hearing-impaired. When I first saw The Witch, I did not have the luxury of subtitles and therefore missed damned near everything in the film. The shots were great, the subjects were intriguing, but the inability to understand what anyone said ruined the entire thing for me.
Dishonorable Mentions: I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Invitation
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