As I stand on the threshold of 2017 and look back at 2016, I have to admit it was a good year for horror flicks. Sadly, I’ve seen far fewer of them in the last twelve months than I’d like.
Of the movies I did manage to watch, here are my top five favorites in no particular order:
Banished from their New England settlement due to religious intolerance, a farmer (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie) and their five children build a home for themselves in the wilderness. Right away they sense something evil lurking in the dark forest nearby.
Paranoia sets in when the baby, Samuel, disappears while his teenage sister, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), is playing with him near the edge of the forbidding woods. Twin siblings, Mercy and Jonas, accuse their older sister of witchcraft – and soon suspicion starts to unravel their lives while unsettling things continue to plague the family. Did someone make a deal with the Devil? Is the witch in the forest real, or is she living among them?
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
You don’t see too many horror movies these days set entirely in a morgue. This flick pulls it off in an admirable way. I was surprised to discover that Norwegian director Andre Ovredal was responsible – having seen his movie Trollhunter, which was so completely different. (And I liked it, too.) On a dark and stormy night (so appropriate) in a family-owned mortuary, a father and son (played by Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch) perform an autopsy on the body of a Jane Doe, found at a violent crime scene. The mysterious victim has a lot of secrets to tell, and as the night progresses, things become more and more sinister for the two men who are trying to uncover the startling truth.
A bit of a twist: intruders break into the house of an older blind man, and they end up being terrorized by him instead. The gentleman has issues, and that means more fun and chills for viewers – and at least one truly shocking scene that I won’t soon forget. (Jane Levy and Stephen Lang are both awesome.)
Train to Busan
Probably my favorite zombie flick of the last five years, this Korean film by director Yeon Sang-ho is non-stop, nail-biting entertainment. Divorced manager Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) is too busy to attend his daughter’s singing recital. To make it up to her, for her birthday he gives in to her request to visit her mother in Busan. But as they board the train in Seoul, a plague breaks out that threatens to destroy all the passengers – and the world.
10 Cloverfield Lane
This sequel to Cloverfield is nothing like the original film, which I liked, but I am willing to say that it’s much better. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up after a terrible accident to find that she’s locked in a cellar with a doomsday prepper, who insists that he saved her life and that the world outside is uninhabitable following an apocalyptic catastrophe. Uncertain what to believe, she becomes more and more suspicious and determined to escape the hideout no matter what might await her on the outside. John Goodman is fantastic in his role as the father figure survivalist who “rescues” her.
Other movies I have not seen that have been recommended by friends and critics alike:
The Eyes of My Mother
The Conjuring 2
The Neon Demon
Happy New Year! May 2017 be a stellar year for horror once again.