Let’s take a look at the best horror movies of 2014. The scary list features the usual mix of sequels (‘Wolf Creek 2’), adaptations (‘Horns’) and original fare (‘Oculus’). Although oddly there hasn’t been a single prominent remake this year. It has been a good one for indies.
25th – Open Grave
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Joseph Morgan, Thomas Kretschmann
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Released: January 3, 2014 (US Dates)
A man (Copley) wakes up in a huge pit of dead bodies with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Fleeing the scene, he breaks into a nearby house and is met at gunpoint by a group of strangers all suffering from the same memory loss. The group tries to piece together clues about their identities, but when they encounter a deadly threat they’ll have to figure out the whole picture before it’s too late… Think Agatha Christie meets ‘The Last of Us’, in fairly uninspired hands. It does a good job of creating mystery by posing intriguing questions, the first 40 minutes are pretty gripping for this reason, and when the solution is revealed it just about holds together. But as the characters are there only to serve the mystery plotting they come off flat and lifeless. When you don’t know who anyone is until virtually the last five minutes, it’s hard to care too much about their fates.
24th – As Above, So Below
Starring: Ben Feldman, Perdita Weeks, Edwin Hodge, Josh Kervarec
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Released: August 15, 2014
Miles of twisting catacombs lie beneath the streets of Paris. When a team of explorers venture into the uncharted maze of bones they uncover the deadly secret of the city of the dead. Descending into madness and terror they will be forced confront their sins head on or be extinguished. From the writer and director of the not-great ‘Quarantine’. The director took a step up with the underrated ‘Devil’. Here they are back to found-footage and fighting to avoid the cliches that go with it. Lifting heavily from ‘The Descent’ and 2007’s ‘Catacombs’, mixed with a bit of ‘Tomb Raider’, this does well on atmosphere and scares. Your enjoyment probably depends on whether ‘REC’ underground sounds appealing or tired at this stage.
23rd – Wolf Creek 2
Starring: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn
Director: Greg Mclean
Released: May 16, 2014
Lured by the promise of an authentic Australian holiday, three backpackers visit the notorious Wolf Creek crater. But their dream Outback adventure becomes a nightmare when they encounter the site’s most infamous local, Mick Taylor (imagine a murderous Mick Dundee). As they flee, he pursues them on an epic, white knuckled rampage across hostile wasteland, and at least one will be dragged back to his lair to witness the true magnitude of his monstrosity. To survive, they must become as ruthless as him. The writer/director of the first ‘Wolf Creek’ returns, as does its star (who’s still a compelling presence). The 2005 original was creepy and disturbing but also a sadistic and depressing movie that dwelt on torture. This shifts focus more toward black humour and suspense-action with a second half that’s part road-chase thriller ala ‘Duel’. However it remains sadistic, with the German backpacker sequence in particular exhibiting a very disturbed psyche. The final scene is implausible and unsatisfying too. Still the movie’s neatly crafted, nicely acted and a well-paced gory ride. Worth seeing – if you enjoyed the first.
22nd – 13 Sins
Starring: Mark Webber, Ron Perlman, Rutina Wesley, Pruitt Taylor Vince
Director: Daniel Stamm
Released: April 18, 2014
A meek social services coordinator who’s drowning in debt and about to marry his love receives a call informing him that he’s on a hidden camera game show where he will receive $6 million for completing 13 tasks. After he agrees, for task one/two, to kill and eat the fly that is bothering him, thousands of dollars appear in his bank account. From there is he led through progressively challenging, degrading, and dangerous stunts by the mysterious caller, to a devastating point of no return. From the director of ‘The Last Exorcist’, this is a remake of the quirky 2006 Thai horror/thriller ’13: Game of Death’. It’s a surprisingly entertaining film that continues to throw satisfying plot twists and interesting scenarios into the mix as it esculates. Watching the protagonist grow in confidence is fun. It has a very similar premise to this year’s equally good but smaller-scale ‘Cheap Thrills’ (although that one’s more thriller than horror).
21st – The Sacrament
Starring: Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Gene Jones
Director: Ti West
Released: May 1, 2014
Two journalists (for VICE magazine’s video documentaries) film their friend’s visit to the Eden Parish, a religious commune where his troubled sister has been living since her drug rehabilitation program. The sister seems healthy and the inhabitants they interview speak of the commune utopia in glowing terms. However they gradually discover there is a sinister edge to the cult that belies the seemingly peaceful setting… From producer Eli Roth and writer-director Ti West (‘House of the Devil’, ‘The Innkeepers’), this is based quite closely on the harrowing Jonestown Massacre of 1978 (the preacher even wears Jim Jones’s glasses). The slow-build-up opening hour features great writing, performances and direction, with effective use of the ‘found footage/documentary’ style. Things turn deadly a bit too abruptly, and while those events are intense, their horror should have been pushed even further – the real life story was far more grand-scale and shocking (1000 died). Watching this unofficial adaptation could have left audiences mentally scarred, but instead it’s simply a solid, cleverly-made horror-thriller with a (cinematically) original premise.
20th – Stage Fright
Starring: Allie MacDonald, Douglas Smith, Minnie Driver, Meat Loaf
Director: Jerome Sable
Released: May 9, 2014
Musical whodunit 80’s-style slasher. Think ‘Friday the 13th’ meets ‘Glee’. Starry-eyed teenager Camilla wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a Broadway diva, but she’s stuck working in the kitchen of a snobby performing arts camp. Determined to change her destiny, she sneaks in to audition for the summer showcase and lands the lead role in the play, but just as rehearsals gets underway, the bodies start to drop. A masked killer who despises musical theater is on the prowl (complete with screaming heavy metal voice, and occasionally electric guitar)… There aren’t many who like both horror and musicals (outside of ‘Rocky Horror’) so the public reaction has been unfairly brutal to this. It’s actually very funny and if you love slasher films, and understand going in that all the deaths will be tongue in cheek, you’ll have a great time.
Horror Movies 2014 (19th Place) >
Horror Movies 2014
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