Archive for December, 2016

Hayley’s Top 10 Horror Movies of 2016!

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Ghostface Girls, Horror Festivals, Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

With only a few days of 2016 remaining, it’s that time again to reflect on the genre movies that left a lasting impression this year. Horror-wise, 2016 was off to a slow start but once festival season hit as always a number of gore-tastic gems from all over the world proved that there is still innovative and captivating horror out there.

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This has been a pretty difficult list to rank as the latter end of the year saw several sinisterly superb genre movies, all eerily excellent in their own ways, making them tough to choose between. Viewing the year as a whole, horror movies have sure been eclectic offering up something to satisfy everyone’s bloodthirst!

**Please Note that this list is a reflection of my own personal opinion and taste. If you agree or disagree with my picks, feel free to comment below, tweet me @hayleyr1989 or head over to my facebook page. Let me know your fang-tastic favourites of 2016.**

10. Cat Sick Blues (2015)

  • Directed By: Dave Jackson
  • Country: Australia
  • Australia Release Date: 21st September 2016
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 21st October 2016

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Cat Sick Blues is the feature length version of the short film of the same name. Ted (Matthew C. Vauaghan) suffers a breakdown when he loses his beloved pet cat which sends him on a horrific killing spree in the search for nine lives in order to resurrect his precious feline friend. At the same time traumatized Claire (Shian Denovan) has also lost her internet sensation cat under disturbing circumstances. Their paths cross and events take an even more twisted turn. It’s like Pet Semetary goes warped and is not for the faint hearted. Cat Sick Blues pushes the boundaries in both violence and sexual violence, placing the audience in an uncomfortable position where it’s unsure whether to laugh or be horrified. The tone is strangely unbalanced but is what makes the film compelling. Unapologetically unpleasant, Cat Sick Blues has clawed it’s way onto this list for being an unforgettable viewing experience this year.

Check out our Ghostface Girls Video from Celluloid Screams 2016 discussing Cat Sick Blues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC1HPsxpUz8

9. Creepy (2016)

  • Directed By: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • Country: Japan
  • UK Release Date: 25th November 2016
  • Seen at the Abertoir Horror Festival: 17th November 2016

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Creepy is a slow burning, atmospheric chiller from Pulse director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. A former police detective, Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is summoned by an ex-colleague to examine a case surrounding a missing family six years earlier. At the same time, him and his wife, Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi) move to a new neighbourhood and get more than they bargained for when they come across their strange, enigmatic neighbour Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa). What is he hiding? Have the couple unwittingly found themselves in grave danger? Filled with mystery and an incredibly intense tone throughout, Creepy is a movie that kept audiences on the edge of their seats in 2016. It doesn’t rely on blood and guts but it has nail-biting tension that keeps the audience engrossed from beginning to end. With a two hour run time, Creepy focuses on strong character development while keeping us guessing where the narrative will head next. Teruyki Kagawa gives a terrific performance as the potentially crazy neighbour sharing an antagonistic chemistry with Hidetoshi Nishijima’s Takakura. Creepy is a polished thriller, layered in intrigue and a must-see of 2016.

Read my full review on LoveHorror.co.uk: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-reviews/creepy-2016-review/

8. Train to Busan (2016)

  • Directed By Sang-ho Yeon
  • Country: South Korea
  • UK Release Date: 28th October 2016

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If you thought the zombie sub-genre was tired by 2016 then this highly talked about South Korean flick without a doubt turned it around. Train to Busan is a character driven, action packed zom com that allows for plenty of humour as well as depth and emotion. It centres on a young girl Soo-an (Soo-an Kim) and her workaholic single father Seok Woo (Yoo Gong) who board the fast train to take them to their destination. They however become derailed when a zombie outbreak occurs, now it’s time for the passengers to band together in a fight for survival. Train to Busan shares a typical plot line with every single film of this kind out there but what makes it so entertaining and so moving is the character depiction. The group of unlikely survivors work well. Soo-an and Seok come across a bickering married couple who are expecting a child, Sung Gyeong (Yu-mi Jung) and her husband Sang Hwa (Dong-seok Ma). With a child and expectant mother involved the stakes are raised allowing for stomach churning moments however the female characters prove strong and resourceful despite their circumstances. It’s young Soo-an who steals the show with a heartbreaking performance. It gears up towards an unforgettable finale with gallons of emotional impact. Train to Busan proves why the zombie flick when placed in the right hands can still be an excellent staple of horror.

7. Night Of Something Strange

  • Directed By Jonathan Straiton
  • Country: USA/Canada
  • UK Release Date: 22nd November 2016
  • Frightfest Screening: 26th August 2016

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Paying homage to all that 1980’s gory goodness Jonathan Straiton’s Night of Something Strange is a gross-out horror comedy that plays on the trope of why having sex in a horror movie is a really, really deadly idea! A group of unwitting teens become the victims of a sexually transmitted virus that runs rife transforming it’s victims into the living dead! It’s a love letter to 80s flicks and B-Movies such as Night of the Creeps (1986) and Evil Dead 2 (1987), it also features a typical slasher premise in the form of killer Cornelius (Wayne W. Johnson). Night Of Something Strange is a wild gore-fuelled ride from beginning to end. Expect all kinds of bodily fluids thrown at the screen, as this is a movie that certainly doesn’t hold back on the carnage. It’s a  movie made for gore enthusiasts and appreciators of 1980’s horror, Jonathan Straiton understands his target audiences and delivers exactly what they want. Night of Something Strange is the stand out comedy/horror of 2016.

For my full Frightfest Review on LoveHorror.co.uk, visit:

 http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-reviews/night-something-strange-2016-review/

For my interview with director Jonathan Straiton visit:

http://lovehorror.co.uk/interview/interview-jonathan-straiton-director-co-writer-night-something-strange/

6. Dearest Sister (Nong Hak) (2016)

  • Directed By Mattie Do
  • Country: Laos
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016
  • Seen at Abertoir Horror Festival: 17th November 2016

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Dearest Sister is one of the films I have covered heavily this year and is not one to be missed. Dearest Sister is Mattie Do’s second feature horror film and the second to be produced in Laos as a whole. In an authentic and cultured genre film, Dearest Sister tells the story of a young Lao woman’s place within her family as she cares for her visually impaired cousin Ana (Vilouna Phetmany). It transpires that her cousin’s impairment triggers a unique ability to communicate with the dead in which Nok (Amphaiphun Phommapunya- Chanthaly (2013)) uses for her own gain. Fantastically acted, emotionally driven and beautifully shot, Dearest Sister is a different, one-of-a-kind piece of genre cinema.

Read my full review fresh from Celluloid Screams including a link to the Ghostface Girls interview with Mattie Do and the film’s producer Annick Mahnert: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/celluloid-screams-2016-dearest-sister-review/

Check out my piece on Dearest Sister from my Abertoir Horror Festival Coverage: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-features/abertoir-horror-festival-2016-part-three/

5. Trash Fire (2016)

  • Directed By: Richard Bates Jr.
  • Country: USA
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016

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Richard Bates Jr. (Excision, Suburban Gothic) served up his best film to date with the deliciously venomous Trash Fire. Centring on a young couple who share mutual resentment towards each other, the time has come to either make or break their relationship when they receive life changing news. In one last ditch effort at redemption, Owen (Adrian Grenier) must face his long lost family at the request of girlfriend Isabel (Angela Trimbur). With a witty, razor sharp script and detestable dialogue, Trash Fire is an unrelenting horror comedy about family and making amends. The core cast display compelling performances from the two leads to the ghastly grandmother played by Fionnula Flanagan and the timid, secretive, disfigured sister played by Annalynne McCord. Trash Fire has it all, it’s engaging from start to finish with brilliant performances and a gut wrenching finale you won’t see coming. If you liked Excision and Suburban Gothic then you’ll absolutely love Trash Fire.

For my full review fresh from Celluloid Screams visit: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/celluloid-screams-2016-trash-fire-review/

Ghostface Girls talk Trash Fire here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3mPNiBfN14

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4. The Unseen (2016)

  • Directed By: Geoff Redknap
  • Country: Canada
  • Seen at Abertoir Horror Festival: 19th November 2016

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As recently discussed in my Abertoir Horror Festival coverage, The Unseen was one of those unexpected gems where you enter a film with very little expectation and come out pleasantly surprised. This Canadian horror is very much a character driven piece with themes surrounding the importance of family and reconnecting before it’s too late. The Unseen featured some of the greatest visual effects in the genre this year as it literally depicts a man physically fading away. The Unseen centres on a father trying to make amends with his teenage daughter after abandoning her under mysterious circumstances several years previously. Aden Young and Julia Sarah Stone provide powerhouse performances, conveying authentic characters that the audience can get on board with. The Unseen isn’t outright horror and holds a more wide-scale appeal, it incorporates a fantastical subtext for it’s subject matter but at the heart of it it portrays an issue that many can identify with. Not one to be missed, The Unseen is a film that captures how we deal with extraordinary circumstances.

For my Abertoir Coverage and lengthier review of the Unseen, check out Love Horror: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-features/abertoir-horror-festival-2016-part-five/ 

3. We Go On (2016)

  • Directed By: Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton
  • Country: USA
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016

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We Go On is hands down the most unsettling movie of 2016. It’s a film that challenges our innermost universal fear of death. The premise surrounds a troubled and extremely phobic man named Miles (Clark Freeman) who is willing to pay $30,000 if the existence of an afterlife can be proved much to the concern of his over protective mother Charlotte (Annette O’Toole). Again, We Go On proved to be very much character focused, with Miles being written complexly; he is too afraid to live in the moment without any guarantee of a certain outcome, that there’s something beyond his own mortality. It takes on a difficult subject matter and plays it out beautifully. We Go On is haunting and unnerving and featured one of the most creepy moments in a horror movie that got under the skin this year. We Go One resonates really well and leaves a lasting impression long after viewing. The performances are believable in this incredible, effective and chilling piece of modern supernatural horror.

For my full Celluloid Screams Review, visit:

https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/celluloid-screams-2016-we-go-on-review/

2. The Devil’s Candy (2015)

  • Directed By: Sean Byrne
  • Country: USA
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 22nd October 2016

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Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones) returned with a surprising second feature film that is far removed from his début, grizzly  Australian offering. The Devil’s Candy takes on a familiar premise centring on a family moving to a new house that isn’t what it seems. What sets The Devil’s Candy apart from similar movies is the strong characterization and excellent performances from it’s core cast. From the beginning the audience flawlessly become invested in the characters. There’s metalhead/artist dad Jesse (Ethan Embry), his hard working wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and chip off the old block daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). The family dynamics are irresistible to watch and as the plot unfolds we learn what lengths they will go in order to protect each other. The Devil’s Candy showcases characters that are fans of dark material but come across as the most down to earth people imaginable, smiting against the stigma that anyone who gravitates away from the norm has endured. The film incorporates some stunning yet satanic art work and a rocking heavy metal soundtrack plus gallons of nail-biting tension. The Devil’s Candy is one of the most solid films this year that has mass appeal.

My Celluloid Screams Review: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/celluloid-screams-2016-the-devils-candy-review/

Honourable Mentions: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), The Neon Demon (2016), Monolith (2016), Let Her Out (2016), 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). 

  1. Raw (2016)
  • Directed By: Julia Ducournau 
  • Country: France/ Belgium
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016
  • Seen at Abertoir Horror Festival: 18th November 2016
  • To be released: March 2017

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It was the movie that generated copious amounts of controversy but we will forget all that because Raw is a truly awesome film and deserves to be talked about. It’s Ginger Snaps meets French art house horror in a coming of age tale about taking your first bite! Naive, vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) begins her first semester at veterinary school but is soon seduced by the hardcore rebellious lifestyle of her peers including older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf). When she is pressured into consuming fresh meat for the first time her darker side begins to materialize to a jaw-dropping effect. Raw is tastefully shot, allowing for enough gore but leaving much to the imagination. Garance Marillier brings in the performance of the year making Justine a character that is equally likeable and detestable. It knowingly get’s under the skin while being surprisingly comedic in it’s own darkly twisted way. It embraces female sexuality in an empowering light which is refreshing to see from a genre piece. Raw is a gore-geously artistic film that contains a compelling narrative. It’s a shame the film has been plagued with unnecessary hype which clouds the fact that it is completely fantastic in what it does. I’ve been lucky to see Raw twice this year and I can’t wait for it’s official release in March so I can taste another pound of flesh!

Read my full review here: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/celluloid-screams-2016-raw-review/ 

Abertoir Horror Festival Raw Coverage: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-features/abertoir-horror-festival-2016-part-four/

Thank you for reading. Comment below if you agree or disagree with my picks. Keep it subjective.

What a year it’s been for the genre, let’s look forward to what shocks and scares await us in 2017!

Thank you to all of you who support Hayley’s Horror Reviews and share the horror love along with me. Have a bloody, gory, fantastic happy new year!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

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What’s Your Favourite Scary Movie? 20 Years of Scream.

Posted in Anniversary Pieces with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

It started with a sinister phone call and ended in a bloodbath. The genre-defying horror movie of the 1990’s turned twenty years old this week commemorating it’s USA release on the 18th December 1996. It wasn’t released in the UK until May 1997. Scream was one of the first films that pulled me into horror and without a doubt has left a lasting impression. Back in 1996 following the surge of popcorn slasher flicks throughout the 1980’s, the genre fell into a rut. It’s very common to hear that Scream was the film that had revitalized the slasher film as it challenged and critiqued all the tropes and conventions fans had become all too familiar with. While the early 90’s did produce some great horror films such as Candyman (1992), Misery (1990) and of course Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) which broke new ground and brought the Elm Street franchise into a fresh new light, Scream is always the film that is viewed as the turning point for horror.

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What stands out about Scream is it’s slick, post-modern and scary. It brought the slasher film into an updated setting ready for the next generation of gore lovers. Both the tension and comedy aspects are well balanced in equal measure. At the time the most striking element of Scream was it’s ability to re-create a traditional slasher narrative while being self-referential and poking fun at itself. Having characters who knew and loved the genre well and used their knowledge to survive was ground-breaking stuff. Of course, the most iconic moment is the opening sequence which made the statement that “all bets are off” and “absolutely no one is safe”. The killing off of Drew Barrymoore’s Casey Becker was a genius idea proving that Scream wasn’t afraid to take risks.

DREW BARRYMORE Film 'SCREAM' (1996) Directed By WES CRAVEN 18 December 1996 SSI32760 Allstar Collection/DIMENSION **WARNING** This photograph can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above film. For Editorial Use Only

I can’t recall a time where I wasn’t aware of the existence of Ghostface. The costume was always popular around Halloween season and seemed to draw my attention. I actually did go trick or treating as the character complete with my fake knife and voice changer at a young age, further fuelling the fascination. I had wanted to see the Scream films for the longest time in the hope I would get absolutely terrified.  The opportunity finally came when I had not long turned twelve years old. The film was screening on Channel 4 in a late night slot and by then I had my own TV in my room which became the staple of late night horror movie watching. Whether consciously or not I had always gravitated towards darker media and have previously spoken about being freaked out by Nicholas Roeg’s The Witches (1990), re-watching Return to Oz (1985) and getting nightmares from an obscure CITV episode titled Frighteners (1996, TV) during childhood. However now was the time to experience some real, adult horror films, it was time to see if this highly anticipated movie would actually make me Scream!

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Instantly, I was impressed. Scream showcases some exceptional set pieces. It’s an exercise in pure tension that builds up really well before going for the jugular! The death scenes were well crafted and suspenseful but most of all the characters were multi-layered and easy to invest in. This was probably down to them being written with self-awareness which made them feel less generic. Neve Campbell plays Sidney as a final girl an audience can root for and gave an emotional performance. However the character who stood out the most was of course fan favourite Randy (played by Jamie Kennedy). Randy was the underdog, he never got the girl but what he did know was his horror movies and used his knowledge as a tool to survive, all these qualities make him endearing and to a degree somewhat relateable to horror obsessives. The “horror movie rules” party scene is cleverly constructed establishing that Randy is the character to take advice from in surviving a maniacal killer.

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The killer reveal is an absolutely twisted, jaw-dropping moment. It questioned the idea of does a killer really need a distinct motive to drive him/her to murder while the other side of it being rooted in pure revenge. The whole plot and build up of two years of torment from the killers is harrowing ending in a brutal cat and mouse game that leaves the audience reeling. Instead of being afraid of the on screen events I was deeply fascinated and realized it was possible for me to watch and enjoy horror movies. I’d tasted blood and wanted more!

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Scream was pretty much my introduction to the horror genre. It led me literally where I am today. It encouraged me to seek out all the films it referenced, I couldn’t wait to discover the fiendish frights of Jason and Freddy and from then on a whole lot more, there are so many great horror films I’m still discovering. Scream as a film and as a franchise has a very special place for many fans. It’s one of those where I remember exactly where I was and what I experienced when I first saw it. Twenty years on it’s still very much a significant film and a staple of the genre. Thank you Wes Craven, thank you Kevin Williamson for introducing me to horror and ultimately changing my life.

Happy 20th Anniversary Scream.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.