BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!

It would be an understatement to say 2017 was a great year for horror, it was in fact a landmark year for horror. Particularly when you talk about two of this years easy standouts Get Out and IT. Without retreading too much of  what EVERYONE has been talking about this past year, it has to be said that the runaway success of Get Out and the box office shattering power of IT are a fantastic thing for horror. Get Out being nominated for all sorts of awards and IT becoming the highest grossing horror film of all time is the capper on a year full of stand out horror flicks, so we have two lists here to recap what we liked about this years selections. 

Now Amber and I have tastes that range from similar to polar opposites when it comes to movies, she hates Halloween III and lets me know it any chance she gets, but shes a total closet Chucky fan and don’t let her tell you otherwise. So these lists are a bit different here and there, but I think this year we saw eye to eye on the majority of alot of these films. I selected a choice few films that really stood out for me and she has a bit of a longer list detailing her picks. So lets get to it.

One thing I should say beforehand is The Blackcoat’s Daughter is not on my list this year because it was my number one film last year and it would just be number one again much to Amber’s chagrin, as nothing on this list came close to being as masterfully haunting and creepy as that one was. So yeah safe to say I loved it but it wouldnt be fair to include it again. moving along.

Super Dark Times – While not exactly a horror film in the traditional sense, I feel the sense of impending dread that permeates almost every single frame of this film is a big part of why it earns it’s place on this list. It also certainly has many horror elements as well throughout the film, but overall it is just a superb piece of work that I and Amber (who has been absolutely obsessed with it since seeing the first trailer) have been telling everyone who will listen to watch. The 90’s set coming of age tale about a group of high school friends in a dreary upstate New York town who try to navigate and cope with the fallout of a traumatizing incident hits all the right notes. Everything about the film is top notch, whether it is the outstanding acting, brilliantly authentic writing, stellar direction or beautfiul cinemtography, it all adds up to one of the years best and I hope that everyone who reads this takes a chance and puts this beautifully dark and haunting film on their must see list.

IT – While the original 1990 tv series is much beloved it is hardly perfect, and is mostly remembered for Tim Curry’s unforgettable performance as Pennywise. Unlike the original mini series that intertwined the stories of the Loser’s Club as kids and adults, the new film focused soley on them as kids while moving the story from the 50’s to the 80’s. The group of kids they have assembled here are for the most part excellent and it’s these kids that are the heart and soul of this new iteration of IT. Of course what everyone was wondering was how could anyone top Tim Curry’s Pennywise, the answer is, it’s not topped but it is great in it’s own right, I felt he could have used another scene or two where he speaks some more to flesh him out a bit, but the scene of him attacking the kids in the house is one of my favorite scenes of the year. I have heard a few people say the film ranges from not scary to not even being a horror film, and while I myself have lamented the fact that alot of it’s scares could have and should have been much creepier, for me the film is still very much a horror film and one with a great deal of heart. It is a film that since it’s release I have watched multiple times and I love it more with each watch. I was happy that IT turned into a bonafide phenomenon. I will be looking forward to watching it often as I find it to be the most rewatchable of all of this years films as there is just something about it that clicks for me in mostly all the right spots. I think when all is said and done this is my favorite horror film this year.

Raw – As an early contender for my horror film of the year, RAW took me by surprise as I went in blind for the most part, all I knew was that it had a really great poster and that sometimes is enough to pique my interest. Well as it turned out, the poster was just the start of what would be a totally fresh take on the cannibal genre. This film pulled no punches and it’s French/horror sensibilities were front and center as we are treated to a disturbing tale of one girls coming of age story about coming to grips with her newly found appetite. Raw features impressive performances and direction along with an instantly attention grabbing musical score that is the capper on it all. The horror here isn’t only the heavy and imaginative gore, but it really is about how scary self discovery can be. Without giving anything else away, just watch this movie, it’s great and it will help Amber sleep at night knowing the word is being spread.

Get Out – What can be said about this one that hasn’t been said about this one? If I need to synopsize the film for you, then you are on the wrong site, so I will instead keep it short and sweet, Get Out is a great film and my favorite thing about it is just how easily the audience is put into the shoes of Daniel Kaluuya’s character Chris. The uncomfortable sense of something being not quite right is one of the most uneasy feelings one can have, and it’s this feeling that sits with you for the majority of the films run time. Get Out deserves all it’s accolades and while it wasn’t my personal favorite horror film this year, it still remains close to the top of the list. The best horror often touches upon real life issues and fears and few films do that as well as Get Out does.

Cult of Chucky – While I know Cult of Chucky divided audiences  and fans alike with the utterly insane and bizarre choices it makes, it still delivered alot of what I want out of a Chucky film. While I felt it was a lesser film than it’s predecessor Cult of Chucky, it still boasted some great Chucky moments and kills throughout. If I had any gripe it would be that the focus on Nica in the mental insitute took the focus away from what would have really been the film I wanted to see which was Andy and Chucky in the cabin. The opening scene of Cult is one of my favorite in the series and the dynamic between Chucky and Andy here is something I have wanted to see unfold for years, hopefully the sequel can touch upon it a bit more because THAT is the film that we as loyal Chucky fans deserve. Besides Cult of Chucky also gave us the amazing yet all too brief gift that is short haired Chucky and it is also one of the Chucky films that Amber actually watched and somehow someway admitted to me that she actually enjoyed. (Even though she threw shade on it by not adding it to her list…a list with Alien Covenant on it….)

Creep 2 – The original CREEP was a welcome surprise, a great disturbing film that I watched for the first time late at night in the dark and yes, it did in fact creep me out quite a bit when all was said and done. As a big fan of The League it was great to see Mark Duplass play this kind of role. I never ever expected we would get a sequel. I had recommended Creep 1 to Amber as a flick to watch on a flight she was taking as she hadnt seen it yet, she ended up really enjoying it (because I have good taste in movies even if she likes to say otherwise) well she returned the favor when it came to Creep 2, her excitement with this film was obvious as she texted me about how crazy it was while she watched it. So I decided to watch it on my flight back from NY and she wasn’t wrong Creep took the concept a step further and Duplass’ performance was even more impressive this time around, not to be outdone his co-star Desiree Akhavan was equally impressive. I saw right away why Amber was so impressed with it and I too was just as impressed and can’t wait to see where this series goes next.

Better Watch Out – What started out as as a seemingly run of the mill Christmas themed home invasion flick where the babysitter has to protect the boy she is in charge of, quickly takes a sharp turn into something much darker and I loved every second of it for that. Can’t talk too much about it without giving away what makes it so great, but the writing and performances plus colorful direction make it a superb Christmas horror film that will no doubt become on of those films that is watched annually along with films like Krampus and Black Christmas (and Christmas Vacation, Die Hard and Gremlins of course) It is a bit of a shame it was first released in October, but luckily it’s blu ray release wisely coincided with December. So it deservedly found just the audience it was intended for. If you haven’t seen it definitely check it out.

Tragedy Girls – One of the most polished and entertaining horror films we saw this year was Tragedy Girls. A fun and colorful horror comedy about two girls who are dying to become the next big name in the serial killer game and attempt to do so by kidnapping a legendary local killer to teach them the ropes. The performances by Brianna Hildebrande and Alexandra Shipp anchor the film while selling some of the sillier (but always fun) moments throughout. While it is primarily a comedy first, the horror aspects of the film are never shied away from and the blood and gore deliver for the hardcore horror fans out there that may be wondering if the teenage story may keep the film in pg-13 territory. It does not and Tragedy Girls succeeds on all accounts while easily ending up as being one of the best films in the festival and will no doubt find a big following once it’s full release, and deservedly so.  The easy but apt comparison is Mean Girls meets Scream 4. Once this one becomes readily available on VOD and Blu Ray I am willing to bet it becomes a fan favorite.

Mayhem – Mayhem stars Steven Yeun (yes, Glenn from Walking Dead) as lawyer Derek Cho, who is just so damn likable that the moment he appeared on screen for the first time he received cheers and applause from the Popcorn Frights audience where we first saw this one. The story without getting into spoiler territory revolves around a virus that infects everyone in Dereks’ office building causes people to lose control of their inhibitions and act on their most tempting instincts, many of them violent. After he is wrongly terminated from his job due to a frame up by the higher ups, some shady and violent stuff goes down, forcing him to take matters into his own hands and fight his way to the top to exact justice from his corporate oppressors. That is really all you need to know as far as the plot goes, Yeun and his co-star and partner in chaos Melanie (played by Samara Weaving) have an amazing chemistry and it is this chemistry that makes the film such a great watch. You really are rooting for these two from the second they decide to team up. Both performances are pitch perfect. Yeun being such a great actor and as previously mentioned likable, you don’t think twice when rooting for him even when he is doing horrible (but justified) things. Mayhem’s violence and action is all perfectly balanced with the right amount of heart and humor, while Steve Moore (The Guest) delivers a fantastic and pulsating synth score that elevates everything on screen to another level a lesser score would not have achieved. Mayhem is an exciting, inspirational and fun film that everyone should check out.

 

Amber’s Top 20 Horror Movies of 2017

To prepare for this article, I spent a several weeks researching other lists to see if I had missed any insane movies.  Turns out, I missed a lot.  And even though, I had intensions (and maybe high expectations) of seeing all the critically acclaimed horror/thriller movies of the year, it never happened for me.  Blame actually having to do work at work (go figure).  Never started A Cure for Wellness, It Came At Night and only made it ten minutes into Thelma and even less into Mother!  Not because they were bad films, but because I either fell asleep or knew I didn’t have the time. The first five minutes of Thelma was actually pretty thrilling.

There were movies I felt were good, but not all good as others have claimed ie: The Devil’s Candy, The Amityville Horror & Autopsy of Jane Doe were liked, but not loved enough to make my exclusive list.  Pretty prestigious.

It should be noted that I almost added Savor to this list. Instead I will mention it is a must see :15 short that I have raved about for months. Go take :15 out of your life and go see it!!!

In 2017, I believe we are ready for our next sub-genre announcement.  There has been B-rated, slasher movies, found-footage movies, plot twist horror movies etc.  It’s time we discuss realism horror.  A movie genre exposing oppression, fear, rage, racism, daily struggle and anything mirroring horror in our lives.  Joss Whedon did this best in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  She fought demons relating to actual fears which teenagers face.  Whether it was boys, loss, sisterhood, Prom, friends, Homecoming, or feeling like you can’t go on, he exposed it all through demons, vampires, and the forces of darkness in a perfectly crafted tv show. Many of the movies in 2017 show a deeper meaning through the horror genre.  One such movie proved that to the critics and earned itself a golden globe nomination.

Starting from #1 we have…

Get Out

This is the only movie all year I saw twice in theaters.  I recall seeing the trailer in January and thinking, “This movie will suck, but I will totally see it.”  I was hoping for some B horror fun.  When the first reviews came out, I was pretty shocked with the response.  It was holding the weight of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time and the hype continued to grow.  So, I gathered the Digital Department (a total of three people plus a spouse) and we snuck out of work to attend a 4:30pm showing.  I had to convince one of the coworkers that this was hardly going to be horror and more of a thriller.  She reluctantly agreed.  By the end of the film, the crowd was cheering and I was wondering when I was able to see the film again.  Luckily for me, it was only two weeks later at a 3:30pm showing with another doubter.  This person, too, was surprised at the execution. Horror. Comedy. Thriller. Drama. Reality.  Time to start a new sub-genre of realism horror.  One where society faces scary elements shown in a horror movie film using a different platform.

Raw

Easily one of the best horror movies of the year, foreign films of the year, and overall one of the best films of the year, RAW absolutely blew me away IN EVERY FUCKING ASPECT.  It had gone to theaters earlier in the year as an indie release and sadly I was out of town.  When I spoke to my favorite person, * insert Jason obviously*, he raved about the movie.  Immediately I was skeptical.  Can’t ever take a Chucky lover seriously.  Due to this, I put the movie off for months until I was forced to do some spring cleaning.  When I finally viewed, I was over joyed and literally made 10 people watched is that afternoon.  While there were doubters who swore it was too disturbing, my true friends loved the film.  I swear only Audition tops this in means of foreign horror. This film displayed realism horror in a curiosity turned obsession in the most magical way possible showing the realistic sequence of events I could have possibly wanted in the most shocking way.  I loved Justine so much I went as her for Halloween.

Super Dark Times

Should I spend paragraphs on this movie again or could you just read my other reviews on it?  I swear if Get Out wasn’t Golden Globes nominated and Raw wasn’t in my top five all time foreign horror movies ever, this would have easily blown anyone out of the water.  I personally stalked people on Instagram to get questions answered.  That is a new low for me. insert Jason skeptical face as he has seen me low pretty often* Whatever please go watch this film ASAP.

Creep 2

Sequels work out only due to character favorites and good nostalgia. Cue The Last Jedi.  I feared coming into this movie, they were going to relive the original.  I knew this film could only blow my mind if they provided a new concept.  Thankfully, they gave me what I wanted.  And more. So much more. An original idea that I would never have even thought of.  I was satisfied. Overly satisfied.  Just waiting on the conclusion of the trilogy.  Could be another three years? insert ugly crying face that has only been seen while finding out that Child’s Play 3 takes place at a military academy or when the countdown music in Halloween 3 plays Insert J’s The Office face since he thought maybe he could get through this article without me roasting his two favorite movies insert Jason contemplated publishing this article* insert Amber saying don’t worry because she was nice later on in the article*

Better Watch Out

I am biased.  Horror Christmas movie biased. Who doesn’t love murder during the happiest time of the year!?  It could be stated this movie probably had the highest chance of disappointing me just because of my extreme love for Christmas horror. I walked in with mediocre expectations.  Then 30 minutes in, my mouth was gapped open and I was suddenly aware as to why this was in the PFFF.  Get Shudder just to watch this film.  It will be cheaper then renting it.

Annabelle 2

If you were a fan of the first one, then you need your head examined.  insert Amber believing Jason was a fan and thus just adding this line to insult him* EDITORS NOTE: I AM NOT A FAN, I HATED IT SO MUCH I DIDNT WATCH THIS ONE* Lol jk, but this movie just proves why sometimes taking a real doll and making up a story is better than sharing a very okay one.  This movie like Ouija :Origin of Evil saved a series in the best way.  It was creepy and eerie and made the audience truly terrifyed.  Probably the scariest movie on this list.  

Train to Busan

Huge fan of foreign horror as mentioned before.  Even bigger fan of foreign movies where you forget there are subtitles. This one flew by in the best way.  I’m over the zombie genre (RIP Walking Dead) (RIP Carl) (lol jk I hope he doesn’t rest well because he should have been killed years ago) and yet this film ignited my walking dead spirit.  All of the characters shined especially the main character and his daughter.  No character was safe and it felt real.  I have yet to see the prequel on Shudder, but I have only heard amazing reviews.  This is up there with my favorite horror films and easily would have been the best of the year if Raw wasn’t so fantastic in every way.

IT

While I can’t say this is much of a horror film EDITORS NOTE: YES NOTHING HORRIFIC ABOUT A LITTLE KID HAVING HIS ARM RIPPED OFF, OR BEING USED AS A VENTRILOQUIST DUMMY BY AN EVIL, SUPERNATURAL, SHAPE SHIFTING, MONSTER CLOWN TO TRY TO SCARE HIS GRIEVING BROTHER WHILE ALSO TRYING TO EAT HIM AND HIS FRIENDS, I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU KEEP SAYING THIS ISNT MUCH OF A HORROR MOVIE ARRRRRGH *DEEP BREATHS* it was still so much fun with incredible performances by a very young cast.  The box office spoke to its success and people are counting down until the epic 2nd chapter.  I love Bill Skardgard.  He looked terrifying, but yet when he spoke I understood why children would approach him.  It should be noted I loved this film so much my cat and I made our Christmas card based on Pennywise. Our favorite Chucky-loving friend designed it. insert Jason confused as to why I didn’t just add some Jason hating joke*

Happy Death Day

Just a fun horror movie with lots of laughs.  Sure, the killer was obvious, but I am totally open to a sequel.  Blumhouse keep pushing out B horror films and I will attend every screening.  Keep doing it for me Blumhouse.

The Babysitter   

Minus a handful of films including A Christmas Prince (which you should totally check out because the main character’s name is Amber and also because I love those sappy love Christmas movies that will never happen to me), Netflix films generally can suck.  Like be really bad. Like I’ve turned them off and even gotten through all of Thankskilling bad.  Yet, this one was hilarious and I loved all of it.  Fun twists and a clever storyline.  Plus if Bella Throne is good enough to be in this film then I am good enough to watch it.

Split

James McAvoy & M Night beautifully created M. Night’s old persona.  We missed him.  I sensed there was a comeback after The Visit, but this took it to a different level.  I was beyond impressed and everytime I watch it, I get more amazed by McAvoy’s crazy transition in between his personalities. Hedwig til I die, yo

Berlin Syndrome

Who doesn’t want to see Thersea Palmer nude? insert Jason suddenly interested in this film* If that didn’t sell you on this movie, then her acting will which is also great.  I will admit it felt a bit lengthy, but this movie showed Stockholm Syndrome in its truest form.  This movie deserved more hype.

Alien Covenant

We all wanted more from this movie in terms of storyline and seeing our favorite alien.  Yes, things got weird. Yes, I felt there were obvious scenes.  Yes, I am still not sure why Ridley filmed David wanting to have sex with the clone robot.  No, I didn’t enjoy that.  But the scenes where Ridley Scott was his old self, damn were they near fucking perfect.  No spoilers here, just know I was very satisfied with the shower scene.  Near.  Fucking.  Perfect.  EDITORS NOTE : I CANT BELIEVE YOU PUT THIS ON HERE FOR ONE FUCKING SCENE BUT LEFT OFF CULT OF CHUCKY AND SHORT HAIRED CHUCKY

Prevenge

This movie was on everyone’s list so it could not be ignored. I rewatched the opening four times, just to understand what I was watching.  Suddenly, I understood what was going on. This is one of the few movies of the year that made me laugh out loud.  Just another reason to have Shudder.

Gerald’s Game

Like many of the films on this list, this too was heavily recommended.  I had lower expectations because damn there has been some god-awful Netflix films, but ten minutes in, I was pretty hooked.  I am not a fan of one actor movies (minus Moon because Sam Rockwell is purely amazing), so I was easily going to skip this one.  I was typing this list as I was viewing the film and originally placed it at 18th.  As the climax and ending commenced, I soon jumped it up to 15th.  Fantastic.  First half is good.  Middle is Excellent. Ending is fantastic. Don’t miss.  Although there are two scenes that aren’t for the overly queasy, yet were necessary in the storyline.

Black Coats Daughter

I literally just added this movie to the list so Jason would publish my article.  Plus I love Emma Roberts. Plus I was watching at work so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Plus this movie was on a lot of lists so it couldn’t have been that awful. Oh well. Carry on readers. insert Jason rolling his eyes yet feeling obligated to publish this article

EDITORS NOTE: I HATE YOU

The Real 16- JigSaw

I don’t understand the hate on this film.  I liked the twist and I didn’t feel it was that obvious.  I feel like it finally breathed light into this series and the chances of a revival.  This was the best SAW film since Saw III.  Glad it made some money because I would love to see more.

My Cousin Rachel

Great storyline and even better premise.  The ending 100% makes the film for me.  It’s nothing crazy; it just brings the story full circle.  This film is another realism horror one.   You are unsure if the main character is crazy or if Rachel truly makes men crazy.  It keeps your mind constantly questioning love and how it is viewed and misconstrued by different persons.

Personal Shopper

The storyline alone is creepy as a sister tries to connect with her dead twin brother.  This movie provides discomfort and goes to lengths to get there I would have never imagined.  This is another movie not just on horror movie lists, but also best movie lists of the year.

Tragedy Girls

Super funny. Super enjoyable.  Super well made.  The acting made this film and the cameos gave it a real sense of how important this film will come to future generations.  Again, with my sub-genre of realism horror.  How will horror have related to social media?  This answered it is perfectly.

Mayhem

A fun original concept with fantastic acting and a never-ending action sequence. Makes you wish Glen could have been this cool on The Walking Dead before his death.  Sadly I’ll always feel like Maggie took away his fun filled spirit and ultimately made me wish his death seasons ago. EDITORS NOTE: WHY NOT JUST WISH MAGGIE DEAD INSTEAD?!?!

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