So we’ve finally come to the end of this tumultuous, rather terrible year. I’d say I’m happy, except I think the next four years have the potential to make 2016 look like child’s play. The silver lining? Some really great horror movies came out this year, and I bet we’ll have enough nightmare fodder for many, many more in 2017. So that’s sort of a silver lining if you like being scared all the time (I do, though I prefer my scares to be fictional).
To be completely honest, I temporarily lost my taste for horror movies over the last couple of months; I think real life became so horrifying that it made it difficult to willingly subject myself to anything even remotely gloomy. Luckily I’m bouncing back, if gradually. Even so, I’ve missed some of the most lauded horror films of the latter half of 2016 (The Eyes of My Mother, Under the Shadow, The Wailing). Hopefully I’ll get to those soon, but because I feel like I’ve missed a lot of goodies, I’m refraining from doing a best-of-2016 post this year. Apologies, but I would love it if readers would leave their personal favorites of the year in the comments.
So this is my last post of 2016 – but I promise to be back with a vengeance come January.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016). Everyone is raving about this one, and for good reason. It’s an enigmatic, suspenseful, original little slice of horror that’s a joy to watch unfold. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch have great chemistry playing father and son; as things get worse and worse, we see them confront challenges in tandem with an unspoken rapport that seems entirely authentic. The story is mostly confined to the morgue and these two characters, so that chemistry is essential. But even Jane Doe (played by Olwen Kelly, who used yoga techniques to contort her body and control her breathing) made a lasting impression without ever speaking a line.
Trash Fire (2016). I haven’t seen this movie getting a lot of love from the horror community, but I absolutely adored it. The cast of unrepentantly horrible characters is totally my cup of tea, and Adrian Grenier, Angela Trimbur, and Fionnula Flanagan all knock it out of the park as deeply unlikeable, selfish, neurotic people. I also love the strange roles AnnaLynne McCord has been trying on recently in movies like this and Excision. The ending of the film is a bit underwhelming, but at the same time it seems like it couldn’t possibly have ended any other way. The ending is inevitable, final, and probably the best-case scenario if we’re being really honest.
Always Shine (2016). This is another under-the-radar one that I really enjoyed. Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin Fitzgerald are both excellent as actresses attempting to resuscitate a friendship that’s been all but destroyed by jealousy and insecurity. But it’s Davis who steals the show as the less successful (but technically better) actress who seems typecast as the angry, aggressive sideshow in her own life. It’s a fascinating, somewhat depressing depiction of the many ways women are expected to contort themselves to “fit” in this world.
The Monster (2016). I wasn’t as taken with this as I hoped I would be, considering it’s directed by Bryan Bertino. I suppose my expectations were misplaced, though; I was hoping for a slow-burn suspense, much like Bertino’s The Strangers, and what I got was a full-on monster movie. That’s just my fault for not taking the title at face value. Even so, I never felt fully immersed in this monster-flick-slash-mother-daughter-drama; the two elements felt a bit too cobbled together, and the many flashbacks only served to take me out of the present story. Not a bad movie by any means, but not one I think I’ll remember.
Evolution (2016). This was weird and beautiful, but possibly too weird for me to fully enjoy it. I don’t know. I generally like small horror movies that are billed as “folk tales” in whatever respect, but folk tales usually have a moral to them and I’m not sure what this movie was trying to say. I don’t know if I didn’t get this movie or if it didn’t get me, but I think we’ll just have to agree that we’re both great and we need to see other people in order to be fully appreciated.
Pet (2016). This is pure trashy exploitation, and fun enough if you let it be. That’s really all I can say about it. A good midnight movie, assuming it’s free.
Blair Witch (2016). I wanted to like this, I really did… but I did not like this. I’ve said it all before, but most found footage horror movies are so painfully generic, so painfully beat-by-beat familiar, and this one is no exception. It just read like an amped-up version of the original Blair Witch Project, stripped of its realness and suspense. I will say that the tunnel scene with Lisa had me curled up in a ball (claustrophobia!), and the weird way time morphed in the woods added an interesting element, but I wasn’t crazy about anything else in this reboot/sequel.
Morgan (2016). I think I called it on this one. Morgan is fine, albeit entirely predictable and a bit nonsensical (someone is going to need to explain Paul Giamatti’s character’s motivations to me if I’m ever going to be able to like this movie). Anya Taylor-Joy deserves better. Hell, the entire cast – Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kate Mara, Rose Leslie, the aforementioned Paul – deserves better. These people are too good to be in something so basic.
When the Bough Breaks (2016). Let me preface this by saying I love Single White Female, the Lifetime channel, and all 90s-esque thrillers. This movie ticks all three of those boxes, because although it’s not technically any of those things, it could easily be any of those things. A cheesy fun time (but yes, objectively Not a Good Movie).
Yoga Hosers (2016). To be fair, I only watched the first half hour of this. Thirty minutes in, I’d reached my limit on bad accents, wooden acting, and cringe-worthy references to teenagers and their technology. I hoped it would be endearing, but it was definitely just annoying. Weirdly enough, it kind of made me want to revisit Tusk (an impulse I will surely regret). I hate to hate on Kevin Smith – Red State is my jam – but this was insufferable.
What have you watched lately? What were your favorites films of 2016? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!