The Top 10 Horror Films of 2015
That’s right gorehounds, it’s that time again. It’s time to reflect on the best genre films that struck a chord in 2015. In comparison to previous years 2015 on the whole has been underwhelming in terms of its new offerings, however as always a few stunning films emerged that remain long lasting in the mind. This was the year of the psychological horror, slow burners that seep under the skin achieving a shocking effect. Many of the films on this list focused on strong character development and emotional situations while being completely gripping whereas others featured the gory carnage we all love. Let’s take a look back on the fascinating films that 2015 offered up.
**Note: This is a subjective list and purely based on my own opinion, feel free to comment or tweet @HayleyR1989 if you agree or disagree with my choices. Links to full reviews will be provided. 2014 titles will be included that were released over in the UK during 2015.**
10. It Follows (2014)
- Directed By: David Robert Mitchell
- UK Release Date: 27th February 2015
This John Carpenter influenced creepfest was one of the most talked about films amongst genre fans during the earlier part of the year and that praise was certainly not unfounded. Director and Writer David Robert Mitchell took the classic concept of the dangers of pre-marital sex and gave it a whole new stylish make over. Maika Monroe stars as Jay, a young woman who faces the unexpected following a meaningless sexual encounter, contracting a curse that relentlessly follows her until she passes it on to the next unsuspecting victim. A clear subtext is at play, however It Follows is more than just a metaphor. This time around there’s no Jason Voorhees ready to hack a sexually active couple to pieces, the threat comes across as much more eerie. The artistic cinematography accompanying traditional horror tropes made It Follows one of the most unique modern genre films.
Read my full review from July 2015 here.
9. Robbery (2015)
- Directed By: Fire Lee
- UK Premiere Date: 10th November 2015
Robbery is the first of many titles featured on this list that screened at the Abertoir Horror Festival’s tenth anniversary celebration during November. Playing as a midnight film, Robbery is a crazy thrill ride, incorporating a Tarantino-esque visual style and layers of dark comedy. Anybody who has ever worked in retail can appreciate the satire as the action takes place in a 24 hour convenience store. Think a Chinese version of Clerks just with blood shed. Poor Ping (Derek Tsang) is having a terrible time in his new job, his boss is repulsive and he’s having no luck selling that dreaded product focus, but things are about to get much, much worse! Robbery becomes an ensemble piece that introduces a mix of colourful characters in an edge of the seat cat and mouse game. Robbery is an Asian horror that will steal you away! One to keep an eye(ball) out for!.
Read more detailed thoughts on Robbery from my Abertoir Horror Festival Coverage on Love Horror.
8. Deathgasm (2015)
- Directed By: Jason Lei Howden
- UK Release Date: 28th August 2015
Each year there is always that crowd pleasing film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, has fun with its concept and blurs the lines between horror and comedy, this year that film was Deathgasm. Think Evil Dead meets heavy metal and you’d be on the right track in understanding what this New Zealand offering is all about. A tale of the misfit turned hero is at the centre as self-proclaimed metalhead Brodie has his life turned upside down and is sent to live with his less than accepting Aunt, Uncle and cousin. Seeking solace in Metallica and Trivium to name a few, Brodie makes some like-minded friends including the rebellious Zakk and falls for the beautiful Medina who on the surface appears out of his league. Along with Zakk, Brodie forms the rocktastic band Deathgasm, but soon things take a demonic turn when the band perform some ancient sheet music that unleashes hell on earth! Deathgasm is too much fun and doesn’t let up with its bloody brilliant special gore effects. It’s in your face madness and ideal for a festival crowd or getting a gang of friends together with a few beverages. What’s not to love?! News recently emerged that a sequel is in the works, Deathgasm Part 2: Goremageddon.
Check out my full review from this year’s Celluloid Screams Horror Festival here.
7. Fatal Frame (2014)
- Directed By: Mari Asato
- UK Premiere Date: 14th November 2015
Fatal Frame was another stand-out from this year’s Abertoir line-up. The origins of its source material is interesting as Fatal Frame is not only an adaptation of a Japanese video game known as Project Zero, but the plot used in the film version is based from a tie-in novelization titled Fatal Frame: A Curse Only Affecting Girls. The film is stunning for its striking imagery and unnerving tone. It captivates the audience from start to finish. This female-centric tale is set in an all girls boarding school, surrounding the mysterious disappearance of popular girl Aya. When a spooky photograph of her is spread amongst the pupils, girls begin to die one by one, now its up to Michi to discover how to defeat the curse and uncover some disturbing secrets along the way. Fatal Frame is reminiscent of classic Japanese supernatural chillers such as Dark Water and Ringu in tone. It remains eerie without resorting to cheapening the atmosphere with jump scares and a sense of dread is constant. Ophelia’s Song is used thematically throughout acting as its own presence. For a strong video game adaptation with a cleverly woven and engaging narrative, Fatal Frame is one to watch.
Click here for my Abertoir Horror Festival Review.
6. Digging Up the Marrow (2014)
- Directed By: Adam Green
- Released On Demand & DVD in 2015
Despite screening at Film4’s Frightfest back in August 2014, Adam Green’s cleverly crafted faux-documentary wasn’t released On Demand and DVD until this year. For me, this was one of last year’s eagerly anticipated films and its true what they say, its advisable to go into this knowing as little as possible. Digging up the Marrow featured in many top ten lists last year so I’m pleased it can finally be included in my 2015 picks. Ray Wise steals the show as the odd and obsessive Mr Dekker who Green (playing himself) interviews on the basis of discovering some enigmatic underground creatures that Dekker claims actually do exist! Digging up the Marrow completely breaks the fourth wall. There’s phenomenal art work created by Alex Pardee which opens up the imagination in order to envision what the creatures could be like. It’s a compelling and clever mocumentary that provides an insight into the struggles of filmmaking, a look into fandom at horror conventions and to top it all off features cameos from Kane Hodder, Tom Holland and Michael Garris alongside a very curious storyline.
I reviewed Digging up the Marrow back in June over on Love Horror.
5. Tales of Halloween (2015)
- Directed By: Axelle Carolyn + Various
- UK Release Date: 31st August 2015 (Frightfest)
Anthology horror has become increasingly popular over the past few years and without a doubt Tales of Halloween is the most incredible. Its a visual treat that allows us to bask in the traditions and iconography of our favourite season. With segments from Darren Lyn Bousman featuring a devilish Barry Bostwick, there’s the shockingly sick Trick from Adam Gierasch, Pollyanna McIntosh is the wickedest of witches in Lucky McKee’s Ding Dong and Mike Mendez puts an adorable little spin on a Friday the 13th style slasher making Tales of Halloween a campy, blood-soaked treat. Adrienne Barbeau brilliantly pays homage to her iconic role in John Carpenter’s The Fog as she narrates between segments and over the gorgeous opening sequence. Atmospheric and beautifully shot with sleek cinematography that captures the wonder of Halloween with the darkly menacing stories it contains.
Fresh from the Abertoir Festival, check out my review of each segment here.
4. Francesca (2015)
- Directed By: Luciano Onetti
- UK Release Date: TBC
Surprise, surprise, another pick from the Abertoir line-up and this one ended up being an unexpected favourite. While I appreciate the giallo sub-genre and particularly enjoy the work of the master himself Dario Argento I wouldn’t say I’m a hardcore fan. With more recent neo-giallos such as Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears they appear more focused on impressive visuals while the plot thin on the ground. It’s completely subjective but the artier side of film isn’t really to my taste. Francesca was completely mind-blowing as it incorporated the two; visually it was created to look as if it had been made during the 1970’s with grainy filters while the plot centred on a classic whodunnit/murder mystery surrounding the disappearance of the mysterious Francesca. The film teases with the nasty especially the extra sequence at the end credits and builds up the tension well as something grizzly is about to occur. Francesca prides itself on authenticity, displaying the classic tropes and iconography that is associated with giallo. It’s an Argentinian production but the dialogue is spoken through the Italian language, completely impressive.
I covered Francesca on Love Horror as part of my Abertoir Festival coverage, feast your eyeballs on it here.
3. The Witch (2015)
- Directed By Robert Eggers
- UK Release Date: 11th March 2016
By the Spring mainstream audiences will get to feast their eyes on the current most hyped up film from the genre. My advice would be to leave expectations at the door and enter this film with an open mind as it really is engaging, chilling and thought provoking. The critical acclaim it’s already received is completely deserving as its unique in its own right especially in terms of looking at modern horror cinema. Taking the concept of 1630’s New England folklore is unusual in itself however the result is an atmospheric, isolated, disturbing film centring on a family torn apart by hysteria and fear of witchcraft. Its compelling viewing with strong performances especially from the child actors who are just convincing and superb. The Witch is something different and actually left me shaken up once leaving the cinema. Its one that will haunt the audience long after viewing.
The Witch was another highlight from Abertoir, read my full review on Love Horror.
2. The Invitation (2015)
- Directed By Karyn Kusama
- Screened at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2015
The Invitation is an outstanding psychological thriller featuring a superb ensemble cast from Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama. Devastation and loss is at the centre for a group of friends getting together following a difficult tragedy that ripped them apart. Without having seen each other for a couple of years, the intrigue and suspense is upped as to why the time has come for them to meet again. Old rifts materialize and wounds are reopened along with the suggestion of a more sinister agenda. The Invitation is a film to enter in knowing very little as the audience will soon be compelled by the characters and the dynamics of their unusual situation and motivations. Stomach churning, gut-wrenching and unforgettable, The Invitation challenges typical conventions with a plot so captivating it will leave you reeling once the credits roll.
I reviewed The Invitation as my top film shown at Sheffield’s Celluloid Screams Horror Festival, read it here.
- Bait (2014)
- Directed By: Dominic Brunt
- UK Release Date: 4th September 2015
Bait is the second collaborative feature from husband and wife team Dominic Brunt (Director) and Joanne Mitchell (Actress/Writer), their first being the zombie kitchen sink drama Before Dawn. Bait is a completely different beast and was the film of the year that kept the heart pounding and the pulse racing. At the heart of the piece is gritty realism as it centres on two friends played by Joanne Mitchell and Victoria Smurfit who innocently take out a loan from the charming Jeremy (Jonathan Slinger) in order to progress with their new catering business. Events soon turn bitterly sour when Jeremy proves to be more than meets the eye and the two women are embroiled in a terrifying nightmare with little hope for escape. Bait’s (originally titled The Taking) most profound element is that it takes a bleak look at 21st Century Britain, under Cameron’s government and the struggles of the working class. It focuses on well-written strong women who are doing what they can to survive. Its not for the faint hearted and at no point lessens its grip on the brutality.
Bait was the first genre film I viewed this year that completely blew me away and it will be exciting to see what Mitchell-Brunt Films have to offer next following two strong but very different features.
I reviewed Bait in depth pre-Frightfest, take a look here.
Hayley’s Horror Reviews wishes all her followers a happy and healthy 2016, filled with blood, guts and ghouls of course! It’s been a dynamic year for the genre and let’s look forward to which direction horror will take in 2016.
Hayley Alice Roberts.