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Favorite Things: Horror Films of 2016

2016 was another amazing year for horror. It was incredibly difficult to come up with a top ten list for my favorite horror films from this year. Even harder was putting those ten films in any kind of order. While I have changed my mind on my list multiple times since writing it, I’m going to go with my gut and stick with my current list as it is. Here are my top ten horror films of 2016 in order.

10. Last Girl Standing

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I had the chance to see this gem at the International Horror and Scifi Film Festival (IHSFF). While I didn’t know what to expect, I was definitely blown away. Every time I watch a slasher movie I can’t help but wonder what happens to the survivor after the movie ends. Writer/director Ben Moody gave the audience exactly that in his first feature length film. It’s exciting, mysterious, and shocking in turn. Click here to read my full review.

9. Under the Shadow

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This is another film from the IHSFF. There are so many things I loved about this film. Not only was it very creepy and atmospheric, but it also had a lot of interesting cultural aspects. It was like getting a bit of a historical and cultural lesson wrapped into a very creepy horror film. The mother-daughter duo were also delightful. Click here to read my full review.

8. We Go On

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We Go On was a film that I happened upon at Cinequest. I went in knowing nothing about the film except it was a horror film that fit into the movie schedule I made for myself. I am so thrilled I was able to see this on the big screen. It is such a unique and well acted film. I really can’t rave about it enough. Everyone needs to see it, whether you are a horror fan or not. Click here for my full review.

7. Don’t Breathe

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This was one of the most exciting thrillers that has come out in ages. It was a perfect storm of writer/director Fede Alvarex, actor Stephen Lane, and actress Jane Levy. This trio created a disturbing film that brings such a high level of intensity you almost never get a chance to breathe (no pun intended). Click here for my full review.

6. The Blackcoat’s Daughter

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I had the chance to see this film at Cinequest when it was known as February. Sadly, I missed the showing. Then, luck struck, and the film got picked up for the IHSFF. This is a film that is quite disturbing. It manages to work so well as a film that is not a linear story line. Everything is revealed to the audience in pieces that eventually create a complete, disturbing plot. Click here for my full review.

5. Train to Busan

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Train to Busan is one of the best zombie flicks I have seen in recent memory. It is scary and gory. At the same time the film addresses social issues of human nature and creates a dynamic cast of characters. It’s a film that will excite you while also tugging at your heartstrings. I wish I had seen it sooner, but I’m glad I saw it in time to put in my top ten list. Click here for my full review.

4. The Witch

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The Witch was the first great film of 2016. It is beautifully shot and creates a story of paranoia. Not only was I impressed at the beauty of this film, but all the actors were absolutely perfect (especially the lead, Anya Taylor-Joy). She is clearly an up and coming actress in the horror world, and I cannot wait to see more of her work. Click here for my full review.

3. Green Room

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This film is in my top ten for many reasons. It is an exciting story, it has absolutely stunning practical effects, and it stars the late Anton Yelchin. This film has everything going for it. It is another one that falls more into the thriller category, but as I always say, thriller is deeply rooted in the horror realm. Of the films on my top ten list, this is the one I’m looking forward to watching again the most. Click here for my full review.

2. The Monster

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For a while, The Monster was my number one film of the year. It is still one of the best films I saw in 2016. This film is one of the most gorgeous films I saw this year, filled with amazing cinematography. It also has a plot that drew me in with the deranged relationship between mother and daughter. I loved watching their dynamic and how it changed as they were thrown into peril. Click here for my full review.

1. The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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This film was so fascinating and terrifying at the same time, there was no way it wasn’t going to be in my top ten. What really bumped it up to number one was the insanely realistic practical effects. I also loved how they blended science with the supernatural. It made for a very unique film I can’t wait to watch again, especially since I’m sure there are details I missed the first time around. Click here for my full review.

HONORABLE MENTION: There are a few films that didn’t quite make my top ten I still feel deserve a nod. Those films are Blair Witch, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Lights Out, The Wailing, and Sadako vs. Kayako. While they didn’t quite make the cut, they are definitely great films in their own way and worth watching.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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The Eyes of My Mother

A young girl learns about anatomy and death from her mother who was once an eye surgeon. After a strange man appears and brutally murders her mother, the girl grows up to have many morbid fascinations. The older the girl gets, the more she feels the need to live out these fascinations. She also increasingly has abandonment issues. Eventually the girl’s loneliness comes to a head, and her actions get out of hand.

This is a film that is deeply morbid and visually stunning. The filmmakers chose to shoot the entire film in black and white. This decision adds not only to the unsettling images we see, but it also adds an artistic edge. If the film had been shot in color it would have taken the scenes from dark and beautiful to pure gore and carnage. The plot adds to the strange beauty by having a seemingly innocent girl at various stages of her life doing horrific things. Seeing what happened to her as a child makes you have a certain level of sympathy for the girl, but as time passes she becomes more and more deranged. It creates a very unsettling atmosphere (which, in a way, felt somewhat like the 2002 film May).

While the film is generally interesting and beautiful, it felt like it was lacking a bit in substance. I’ve noticed a common theme among films that focus more on the style of the movie than the actual content. While The Eyes of My Mother falls in with these other films, it at least has enough of a plot to keep the audience intrigued. There are still many times where it felt like the film was moving slowly or there wasn’t anything going on. The fact this film is only about an hour and fifteen minutes long only further shows the lack of content. There are also actions taken by some of the characters that simply don’t make sense to me. For example, the actions taken by the father after the mother is killed are completely nonsensical. It is something you can imagine the daughter doing since she is deranged, but there is nothing in the character development that leads you to believe the father would choose this path.

Much like with the plot, there is not a lot going on in terms of the acting. It makes it difficult to judge. There is really only one actor who has a substantial amount of content in the film. Kika Magalhaes (City of Gold) stars as Francisca. This is only the second role in a film for Magalhaes. Because she has few speaking parts it makes it somewhat difficult for me to critique her acting. I can say that Magalhaes succeeds on portraying a disturbing character with what seems like no conscious, while still making the audience feel sympathetic towards her. The other characters feel more like props in Francisca’s twisted little world.

It is harder to appreciate the practical effects in this film since it is in black and white, but if you pay close attention you can really see how marvelously done they are. While the injuries on the victims are well done, what stands out to me comes before any of the injuries occur. In the beginning of the film, the mother teaches Francisca about anatomy (specifically of the eye) by dissecting a cow head. Even without the advantage of color you can still see how realistic the cow head and the removed cow eye are. It is also a bit of a fun anatomy lesson for those of us that aren’t as familiar with the anatomy of eyes.

This is a film I don’t love, but I don’t hate it either. There always seems to be one film horror critics rave about that I just can’t get on board with. Sadly, this is that film. The Eyes of My Mother delivers on the creep factor as well as some disturbing images. The downside is that it lacks a bit in content and relies heavily on the images. There are some wise decisions made by the filmmakers, such as the use of black and white coloring. If the bloody mutilation had been in color, the film would have felt more like a B-movie than an artistic indie film. Either way, this is a film I would recommend people see at least once, but it doesn’t have great rewatchability.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10

Welcome

Welcome to the Blogging Banshee (that’s me). This blog is dedicated to my love of horror flicks. Keep in mind that everything I write is strictly my opinion so you may not agree with what I say, which is fine and I encourage people to share their thoughts. My goal is to write at least one horror review every week. And don’t worry, I will warn you if anything has spoilers (because I know I hate spoilers). Enjoy!