For almost a decade, it’s seemed as if horror movies were only great on opposite years. 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 were all fantastic years for genre films while the years in between them seemed to lag. And with how slow 2012 was and how great 2013 was for genre movies, I naturally expected 2014 to be a bit slow. I could not be happier that I am so wrong. Because 2014 has been great so far and there have been some incredibly diverse films to come out already.
5. ODD THOMAS
Odd Thomas is an odd movie, but that was to be expected. And it definitely works in the movie’s favor. It taught me to keep an open mind with new movies. I’m not a huge fan of writer Dean Koontz, who wrote the Odd Thomas books. I’m also not a particular fan of director Stephen Sommers (whose previous movies include The Mummy, Van Helsing and GI Joe) and yet I really enjoyed Odd Thomas. It’s very non-traditional. It’s about a short-order cook who can communicate with the dead and who is now trying to stop the end of the world. It’s big horror-action-comedy done on a refreshingly small scale. There are some great performances by Anton Yelchin and Willem Dafoe and overall it’s a fun and quirky mixing of genres.
Tusk is a movie that has to be seen to be believed. Inspired by a Craigslist ad and the resulting podcast Kevin Smith did about the ad and its possibilities, Tusk is about a podcaster who interviews people with interesting stories and gets more than he bargained for when he meets a man who wants someone to wear a walrus costume (because the best friend he ever had was a walrus) and in no time at all, slowly begins to turn the poor podcaster into a walrus with horrifying results. It’s like The Human Centipede in a way, but somehow the concept is even weirder and the movie actually has some kind of substance. In a way. Almost. It’s Kevin Smith’s second foray into horror after a full career in comedy but more than anything it feels like just another great and imaginative indie horror, even with such a major league cast. And the cast is really what makes the movie. There are great performances all around, even some pretty unexpected ones.
3. ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE
Lucky McKee made this movie twice, but it was worth it. He took his first, essentially student film and revisited it years later after he’d cemented himself as a great new talent in the genre. This is a horror movie about the high school pecking order told virtually exclusively through the female perspective. A group of “friends” die and are brought back via witchcraft, but while they have five functioning and motor skills, they have developed a taste for human flesh. It’s actually innovative and smartly written, and makes the most of its concept.
2. THE SACRAMENT
Here’s the most remarkable thing about The Sacrament. Going back to the beginning, all you really need in order to automatically sell a movie are the words “based on a true story.” Nowhere anywhere on The Sacrament poster or DVD are those words used, and yet it is extremely true to the events of the infamous Jonestown mass suicide. This movie happens to realize that it is a fictional retelling of the events. It’s not a bad use of generally overused found footage and it feels like a fully-fledged film in a way many found footage films don’t. That is largely due to Ti West’s talent as a director. The cast is also doing a really good job, with both Bowen and Swanberg in realistically good guy roles. It’s horrifying because of the way it portrays a well-documented case of terrifying unnerving it is, it doesn’t touch on the horror of what happened.
Based on the book by great horror author Joe Hill (son of Stephen King) Horns is a great concept that is refreshingly played to its fullest. After being blamed for the murder of his girlfriend, who he loved, a young man who’s life can’t seem to go any worse begins growing horns on the top of his head. Nobody but him seems to really care. When people see his horns, they are compelled to tell him their most awful secrets that they have been keeping to themselves. He begins to realize that he can use this to track his girlfriend’s killer and at least find out what happened.