Saturday, January 2, 2016

End of the Year Notes (2015 edition) By Jules Brudek, STICKY BOXES This year turned out the gory goods with a ton of great horror film offerings. As a horror fan, I couldn’t have been more pleasantly frightened. Horror film audiences saw the shift from “Found Footage” Indies and haunted Blumhouses to genre-bending, genre-expanding, films like BONE TOMAHAWK and IT FOLLOWS. The unprecedented variety of horror movies that graced the big and small screens this year was impressive. I enjoyed nearly every horror film in some way because I looked for the silver lining in each film. What can I say? Horror is my passion. Critics and moviegoers alike encouraged the value of the comedy horror FINAL GIRLS or cursed the screen after a late showing of KNOCK KNOCK, “Where’s the blood, Eli?” What a triumphant year in the life of a horror film addict and staunch supporter. PG-13? Bring it on! Sequels? Sure, why not! Every time a horror film goes to the screen, regardless of the pitfalls, it is time indeed to celebrate! Look how far we’ve come! Looking back at such an imaginative year, I had trouble narrowing my list down to five horror films. The following list of horror films defined the genre or pushed the genre into courageous, new territory, making it possible for horrific future explorations. Enjoy! 5. KRAMPUS Michael Dougherty, the writer and director of Trick ‘r Treat (2007), co-wrote and directed this holiday horror. Now, as a lover of all things Christmas evil, I have to admit I loved the film before I even saw it. Of course, die-hard fans of the authentic Austrian/ Germanic folklore will be disappointed because Krampus (2015) fails to adhere to the mythological figure’s pre-Christian origins. However, if you can overlook that misstep, you are in for some twisted holiday cheer because Krampus delivers a fun satire about our greedy, judgmental culture. Also, it’s a family adventure and nothing says family like the holidays. Let’s be honest. If your family contained as many different personalities as mine, it would be outrageous for everyone to get along. Krampus reminds us that tolerance is the only way to love. Final thoughts: KRAMPUS equals NO BABES. Yeah, that’s one way to get your film a PG-13 rating - get rid of the only sexually active female in the first ten minutes and save yourself from having to objectify her sexually. This is family fun and sadly, that means: no hotties in this horror. 4. MAGGIE Although this was the perfect drama, horror fans are likely the only ones that will truly understand Maggie. Admittedly, the brooding contemplative drama about familial responsibility disguised as a zombie flick isn’t for everyone. Unexpectedly, I found it to be an authentic piece of art with an enriching message. Critics have characterized Maggie as too slow and/ or boring. Tonally, it does appear slow moving, but only as an artistic choice to build tension skillfully until the climatic final act. I guess some folks can’t be bothered. Final thoughts: True, I was skeptical about Arnold playing a stoic farmer, but he pulled it off. I just melted with this softer, gentler Arnie. 3. THE GREEN INFERNO Say all you will about cannibal films but we need them. I need them. Welcome back. Thank you Eli Roth! See this after a big dinner!
Final thoughts: I could have done without the silly pot scene. As someone who has smoked a lot of bud, I find it hard to believe the entire tribe got high enough for mental impairment on that tiny supply. And who gets high the first time anyway? Dumb. 2. GOODNIGHT MOMMY Foreign films are great because they dance a razor’s edge of the mysteriously unfilmable. Visuals can be felt and sounds can be tasted. Foreign films ask, “What are you feeling?” as opposed to, “What are you thinking?” You’d know exactly what I mean if you saw Goodnight Mommy, an Austria film that knows how vaulerable we feel when we can’t see someone’s face.
Final Thoughts: If I fell asleep tonight and dreamt about The Twilight Zone’s episode “The eye of the beholder” and Brian 
De Palma’s Sisters, the mash-up would explode into Goodnight Mommy. And that’s an amazing thing! Disturbingly brilliant!

1. IT FOLLOWS Everyone has an opinion on this film. When I describe to people I relate it to a bad case of HIPSTER HERPES. Honestly, I hope I don’t catch it. Final Thoughts: The pool scene alone will make you lose your shit!

Thoughts on Tarantino:Hateful Eight Retitled: It’s DECAF A long, boring film about Coffee. If I had written it, Damergue would have fought Marquis to the finish with no talk of Blow Jobs. She would claim victory, but only by a hair. Once she escapes the cabin into the blizzard, (The need for 70mm would be apparent with this sequence, trust me) she comes face to face with a wounded, near dead, John Ruth. Their fight scene would result in her death, finally. John Ruth would die clutching the “Lincoln letter” and he’d die knowing it wasn’t a forgery, after all. Worst horror films of the year: THE VISIT If you are going to enter the world of found footage, your story’s premise must be (at least) believable. So many story elements hinge on our belief that what we are seeing is, in fact, real. If the filmmaker fails to set up a realistic premise in the first act, the film derails. Now, I can believe a lot of stuff. I can buy a lot of bullshit. BUT a mother letting her kids go to her estranged parents home without speaking to them ONCE, I cannot do it. No way! She never got them all on Skype? She didn’t make sure? Yeah right! M. Night, you must not be a parent. SINISTER 2 I wanted to love this film so badly because I loved the concept and the execution of the first film. I was pulling for the goofy cop and the family he’s protecting but I just couldn’t fully get onboard because the story was all over the place. It was like a Lifetime movie about child abuse fused with the sadistic killings from SAW. I think only Clive Barker could have pulled it off properly. Yikes!

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