A special article in English this time. We are not yet at the end of the year so I can’t do a top and flop of 2016’s movies, so I decided to do a little top of genre films (horror, fantastic, science fiction, weird) since 2010. Only movies which deserved to be seen!
AMERICAN MARY (Jen and Sylvia Soska – 2012)
The first film directed by the Soska sisters, and probably their best film so far. The story is simple, but directing and the actors are all great. A small budget, filming took only 15 days, but a film made seriously, and not that visual despite its themes (body modifications), but creepy. Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) is just perfect, as always.
ANTIVIRAL (Brandon Cronenberg – 2012)
The film first directed by Brandon Cronenberg, the son of David Cronenberg, isn’t perfect, but is really interesting, kinda disturbing, and also not that far from reality. People here agree to pay lots of money just to have a disease a star had. Yup, it’s a critic of our modern society. Directing is interesting, Caleb Landry Jones was the perfect choice for the character, it’s slow and intriguing. Maybe a bit too long near the end, but original enough so you’ll remember it a while after watching it.
BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (Panos Cosmatos – 2010)
One of my biggest surprise lately, especially as it was directed by Panos Cosmatos, the son of George P. Cosmatos, director of First Blood Part 2, Cobra and Leviathan. One thing for sure, Panos Cosmatos hasn’t the same style as his father. Not one bit! Beyond the Black Rainbow is a very experimental science fiction film, it takes place in 1983 in a kind of weird clinic where a girl is locked in. There’s not a lot of dialogues (almost none), and its last few minutes are garbage, but oh boy, before that! It’s a journey, a unique experience, with a wonderful cinematography, an awesome music, strong scenes! If you’re not afraid to see something weird and very slow, I recommend that one!
BYZANTIUM (Neil Jordan – 2012)
Neil Jordan already did a few wonderful in the past, like Company of Wolves (1984) and Interview with a Vampire (1994). He’s back to vampires but this time, once again, the myth is not the classical one. Far from it. Here, vampires aren’t called vampires, they can walk under the daylight, they don’t really have fangs. The story isn’t particularly gory, it’s more psychological and based on the characters, but it delivers some very strong scenes, and Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, Brooklyn) is perfect. Maybe the end isn’t that great compared to the rest, it looks more like a regular B movie, but oh well!
THE CONJURING 2 (James Wan – 2016)
I like James Wan! His films aren’t perfect, far from it, I always thought he had a problem with ending, ridiculous or way too fast. But he has a style, he knows how to film, and he knows how to take his time to set a nice atmosphere and scares us. And again, that’s exactly what The Conjuring 2 delivers. A strong story, a nice atmosphere, a few jumpscares that work actually. Still, it’s probably too long (more than 2 hours) and the end is way too fast again, but the rest is great, and far more subtle that most PG13 movies out there (even if I think this one is Rated R).
CONTRACTED (Richard England – 2013)
Contracted was a very nice surprise, as I wasn’t expecting much from it. I just read the story, saw a few pictures, and I said « hey, why not ». And what I’ve seen was definitely great. Not perfect, because some people would say the story is too slow, or that the character sometimes acts stupidly, but Eric England really has a way to film things, a beautiful way. And Najarra Townsend was impressive in it. Sadly, they did Contracted Phase 2 last year, and it sucked!
THE CORPSE OF ANNA FRITZ (Hector Hernandez Vicens – 2015)
Again a nice discovery. The story itself was weird and so I had to see it. I was expecting in fact something vulgar and gratuitous. And not at all, it was way more subtle than I imagined. Because yeah, admit it, the story of three guys who rape a corpse and in fact she’s not dead, it’s not a gentle story to talk about at a dinner. In the end, it was not shocking at all, it was more like a nicely written thriller. Ok, the story is not the best ever, characters are kinda cliché, but it works, it’s short and it has a nice tension.
If the previous film was subtle, this one isn’t. Here it’s gory, it’s messy, it’s sexual, and it hurts. An actress is stressed by her work, by Hollywood, and so she starts to eat herself. Yup, as simple as it sounds. The film isn’t perfect, some situations are not that good, but Meggie Maddock did a great job, the gore is impressive, and Jimmy Webber, who directed, wrote, composed and edited the film did a nice job. The film is definitely his!
EXCISION (Richard Bates Jr. – 2012)
Another nice and sometimes gory film. Excision is like the perfect mix between artsy drama and gory horror. It’s based on a short film by the same director (Richard Bates Jr.) and it has a very nice cast (Annalynne McCord is excellent, we also have Traci Lords, Roger Bart, Malcolm McDowell, John Waters and even Ray Wise). And the mix between drama and horror works pretty well here, it won’t let people just watching it and then forget about it.
EXHUMED (Richard Griffin – 2011)
The biggest surprise this year for me. I discovered the work of Richard Griffin thanks to Sarah Nicklin, and Exhumed is definitely his masterpiece. It’s wonderfully filmed, the script by Guy Benoit is excellent, actors are all great, so is the cinematography. The black and white is very esthetic, the musical theme haunting, and the mystery of the film will haunt you too, especially as it’s finally a very sad film. I still remember these final scenes! I’d like to see way more films like this one.
GREEN ROOM (Jeremy Saulnier – 2015)
Not really horror, but a strong thriller, with a nice tension that never leaves till the end, even if the end is not as good as what was before. Also, it’s always nice to see Anton Yelchin (RIP) on screen. Patrick Stewart as the bad guy was pretty impressive, always calm. This film almost only takes place in one room (yup I know, the Green Room from the title), and it works all the time, thanks to the directing. And of course, it’s a very violent thriller. Violence appears when you don’t expect it, it’s short but intense!
HORSEHEAD (Romain Basset – 2014)
We’re not pretty good in France with horror films. A few are good of course, but it’s rare, and it’s hard to produce here, producers are scared by it. So when a guy decides to do one, he chooses to film it in English for a very small budget. The result? A very weird film that mainly takes place in dreams. The story is quite simple, maybe too simple in fact, but shots are gorgeous, Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux is perfect, and the few people who know people know how much I love dream sequences in film. This one had a lot!
Another movie taking place in dreams. III is a Russian film about two sisters. One of them is sick, so the other one will try everything to cure her. And by everything, I mean even to go into her sister’s subconscious to find out why she is sick. Maybe the movie isn’t perfect, like the second half was way too fast, but visually, it’s stunning, and the experience is quite interesting. Also, its running time is only 80 minutes!
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (Steven R. Monroe – 2010)
Yup, a remake, in that list! And a remake done by a guy who directed a lot of Syfy films like Ogre or Mongolian Death Worm… And yes, I Spit on Your Grave was pretty good. Dark, violent, shocking, sometimes gratuitous, but good. It’s an intense ride here, a realistic one. Sarah Butler is impressive, as a victim and then as the killer. Compared to the original film from Meir Zarchi, the revenge part here is more elaborated, it sometimes looks a little too much like Saw, but still it was good.
JOHN DIES AT THE END (Don Coscarelli – 2012)
Not really horror, but a crazy fucked up film. And with Don Coscarelli (Phantasm) writing and directing, it can only be good. Touché! It is good. Very good even. From the first shot till the last, it’s crazy, ideas are coming out from nowhere, it’s very funny, and it’s never boring. There are always some new ideas to make it even more entertaining as it was. Shame for some bad special effects near the end, but oh well. Still good!
MOTHER’S DAY (Darren Lynn Bousman – 2010)
I think Darren Lynn Bousman simply did his best film here. Ok, it’s a remake from a Troma film, but a very different one. The story takes place in only one house for almost 2 hours, and Bousman succeeds to give us a really good atmosphere. And as it works, the violence hurts even more. The mother, Rebecca De Mornay, is impressive! Some scenes are predictable, but who cares, we had exactly what we wanted!
THE NEON DEMON (Nicolas Winding Refn – 2016)
Not really horror again, more like a mix of genres. Drama, horror, some disturbing scenes, some funny scenes, a surprising ending. Well I’m a huge fan of Nicolas Winding Refn, and he didn’t disappoint with this new film. It’s visually stunning, Cliff Martinez gives us maybe his best score, Elle Fanning is gorgeous, even if the most interesting character is Ruby (Jena Malone), and Keanu Reeves is good too, even if we see him for five minutes!
THE SINS OF DRACULA (Richard Griffin – 2014)
Richard Griffin and Sarah Nicklin are in this top again, with the horror comedy The Sins of Dracula. I’ve read on the web a lot of bad reviews, of people saying it was boring, and not a vampire movie! Well, it’s a comedy, it’s low budget, deal with it! I thought it was really funny, dialogues and situations are well done, actors are good, especially the two leads (Jamie Dufault and Sarah Niclin) and Michael Thurber as Dracula, and we have some blood when needed!
TRUTH OR DARE (Jessica Cameron – 2013)
Truth or Dare is the first feature directed by Jessica Cameron, the scream queen. And she did really well with what she had. The story is simple but goes in interesting direction, and everything starts slowly (with a lot of truth), characters finds out stuff about their friends they weren’t aware of, and then, it becomes more disturbing, gory, visual with dares. Actors were pretty good to makes us believe to the story, and I was really entertained by it!
TURBO KID (François Simard, Anouk et Yoann-Karl Whissell – 2015)
I was a little afraid by it in the beginning, because it worked as a short film, and now, it’s a feature. Can it still works? Indeed it does! Pretty damn well, it’s funny, the soundtrack from Le Matos is more than awesome, characters are lovable (especially Apple), Michael Ironside is the bad guy, and we have a lot of fun, a lot of gore, and that’s good for me!
THE WOMAN (Lucky McKee – 2011)
A lot of people loved May, the first feature from Lucky McKee, but a lot seemed to hate his second feature, The Woman. I found it pretty interesting, and pretty disturbing also. And it was made a weird way, with some kind of rock songs all the time in the background, a tensions that never seems to explode, and then, the final. Maybe too gory compared to the rest and the movie, but it was a great film. To me at least.