TOP 20 HORROR DVDS AND BLU-RAYS OF 2015
Different than most lists in the horror community, “The Horror Happens Radio Show” at HorrorHappens.com does not base its best of list on anything other than DVD/Netflix/Redbox releases within a year period. We tailor this list to where horror fans and viewers are more likely to purchase, rent or watch horror. We always promote fans to attend and support horror film festivals and screenings but many cannot for one reason or another. So we look to offer this list of the best horror released DVD’s from 2015. Thanks for checking it out and supporting horror!
Ex Machina / Written and Directed by Alex Garland (Lionsgate)
This film was my number one from the moment I left the theater. Brilliant and bizarre performances across the board that keep you off balance especially Oscar Issacs (Nathan), Domhnall Gleeson (Caleb) and Alicia Vikander (Ava) whose characters are so complex, rich and reflections of our monster inside. A mind blowing style and design showcasing a crafted manipulation of fear and isolation that pulls you deep into this experiment. “Ex Machina” creates a surreal vibe through pace and score that mesmerizes you while with whispers in your ear the manipulative words, “Would you give into temptation?” This film looks deep inside yourself and challenges you with that burning question.
Not that dissimilar to “Alice in Wonderland” and the looking glass. The bizarre nature of color and light create a world that you lose yourself to the moment you get off the helicopter and enter through the doorway. Incredible direction and a smart story construction by Alex Garland that shows a maturity, fearlessness and planning in every step of this projects development. Garland’s first screenplay, “28 Days Later”, is one of my all-time favorite genre films tense and palpable! “Ex Machina” is that and more as well as worth the more than a decade wait.
Time Lapse / Directed by Bradley King and Written by B.P. Cooper (Xlrator)
A lot can be captured through the eye of a lens. Memories, emotions and more important stories. With influence from the film style of Hitchcock, writer B.P. Cooper and director Bradley King’s “Time Lapse” was released in 2015 on DVD. Captivating from the start, the story revolves around a trio of roommates (a muse, artist and a gambler) who check on a scientist neighbor, only to find him missing and a large Polaroid camera pointed towards their window taking photos everyday of their activities. With a voyeur’s wall of photos staring back at them, a growing paranoia and the knowledge of what might happen in the future, their lives are influenced by the power and forever changed. “Time Lapse” is a film puzzle presented to the viewer to assemble. The film slowly places each piece into a tense and well-constructed design taking care to pace this mystery. As you watch these characters, secrets and choices, we learn that the image through the lens and on the Polaroid photo is always more than what we see. A dark, scientific and smart thriller, “Time Lapse” fell under the radar in 2015 but by far exceed most of the releases in sci-fi, thrillers and horror. However, you won’t find a better film to watch and re-watch again to capture all the clues and appreciate the noir style and design choices. The characters are all developed and offer your insight into the human monster, my favorite style of horror. Nothing is set in stone as each pop of the shutter goes but one thing can be said for this film, what would you do with an idea of the future and what horror could come?
Maggie – Directed by Henry Hobson and Written by John Scott 3 (Lionsgate)
I was shocked by how powerful and well done this film was… “Maggie” takes place in the Midwest as a husband (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and wife (Joely Richardson) must decide to protect or turn over their infected daughter (Abigail Breslin) to thee authorizes as she slowly loses her fight with life. The battle and struggle of this family to let go is the foundation of this dark drama that presents through the lens of horror issues on everyone’s mind and heart. “Maggie” is horror based on realistic choices and connections that any family faces with the decision of what to do with the ones you love at the end of their life. Brilliant cinematography and use of color gives “Maggie” an epic yet grim and emotional tone. Using a strategic plot to keep the outbreak on the outskirts is intelligent as director Henry Hobson and writer John Scott 3 keep the overall monster in the closet focusing on the micro aspect of the family’s horror rather than the massive wave that could crush them. Scott 3 and Hobson bring the idea of the virus along and present its effects on each of the characters through paced and executed practical FX makeup in the different stages and the powerful performances, especially Breslin who creates a profile of scared teenager growing up way to fast and losing the battle and love she has left. Also, Schwarzenegger as the conflicted father and protector whose performance is filled with duty and pain. It is hard to find effective horror with a dark heart, don’t miss this one and celebrate powerful filmmaking.
Late Phases – Directed by Adrián García Bogliano and Written by Eric Stolze (Dark Sky and Glass Eye Pix)
Adrian Garcia Bogliano is a truly an incredible filmmaking mind. Creating such a diverse and effective body of films including “Here Comes the Devil” and more recently “Scherzo Diabolico”, Glass Eye Pix’s “Late Phases” is part horror film, part drama and part old school exploitation film performed so powerfully by one of the best actors of my generation Nick Damici (Mulberry Street). The story of “Late Phases” takes place inside a secluded retirement community as a blind veteran and father must deal with changes in his life, the relationship with his son and the deadly beasts within the woods outside. Crafting such a powerful and connecting story for me, I have such admiration for screenwriter Eric Stolze and the direction of Bogliano keeping the horror of these beasts secondary to the power in the performances and heavy feel of the drama being crafted. Every character in “Late Phases” deals with personal struggles whether the acceptance of one’s fate, disconnect of a father or dealing with the evil brought onto you with no choice. That is what makes this film captivating, smart and intense. To deal with duty, change and darkness makes this film a conversation piece after you watch and a motion picture satisfying for a film fan. In the spirit of great werewolf films however, the FX work is stellar as the beasts are powerful, visual and visceral in presentation as well as actions. They are effective doses of horror that do not overwhelm the mood, story and pace. Hats off to Glass Eye Pix and Dark Sky Films for another incredible film treasure.
Last Shift – Directed & Co-Written by Anthony DiBlasi and Co-Written by Scott Poiley (Magnolia Home Entertainment)
Anthony DiBlasi as a filmmaker has never let me down. His films range to different areas of horror storytelling such as the dark drama based on the effects of fear “Dread” or the ghost story “Cassadaga”. Even the brutal and obsessed “Midnight Meat Train”. His ability to cultivated horror and fear is smart whether in direction, performances or the visual aspect. DiBlasi creates effective and frightening projects with limited resources which is especially shown on the canvas of the “Last Shift” that presents substance and fright why using the mind as the ultimate weapon. The “Last Shift” is a twisted horror coming of age story surrounding a rookie patrol officer dealing with the legend of her father and the duty of being a cop Jessica Loren (Juliana Harkavy) and the leader of a cult John Michael Paymon (Joshua Mikel) connected on a compelling and dark path.
DiBlasi’s body of work has shown learned lessons of horror filmmaking and writing legends. It is truly, a masterful trick to wrap a quality supernatural/occult character narrative within a true crime frame but this film effectively does it. It excels, not just in one area of film creation but showcases effective strength in crucial areas like sound design, use of the location, framing, character development, disturbing set design and practical makeup. Watching this film several times, his ability to build mood and fear are multi-faceted especially with the sound design of the “Last Shift”. DiBlasi is a true genre talent and a great filmmaker, who I am thankful that he gets different canvases to craft artistic horror films that show the dark corners of a film genre. Haunted house film… intriguing true crime … dramatic dark character profiles… disturbing visual piece… no matter what aspect you love about the LAST SHIFT.
Der Samurai – Written and Directed by Till Kleinert (Artsplotation)
Spring – Directed by Aaron Moorehead & Justin Benson and Written by Justin Benson (Anchor Bay)
The Harvest – Directed by John McNaughton and Written by Stephen Lancellotti (Shout! Factory)
The Town that Feared Sundown – Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Image Entertainment)
Skinless – Written and Directed by Dustin Wade Mills and Written by Brandon Salkil (Whacked Movies)
Dark Was the Night – Directed by Jack Heller and Written by Tyler Hisel (Image Entertainment)
Pay the Ghost – Directed by Uli Edel and Written by Daniel Kay (Image Entertainment)
Extinction – Directed Miguel Ángel Vivas and Written by Alberto Marini and Miguel Angel Vivas (Sony Pictures Home (Entertainment)
The Gift – Written and Directed by Joel Edgerton (Universal Studios)
Berkshire County/Tormented – Directed by Audrey Cummings and Written by Chris Gamble (Vertical)
Bone Tomahawk – Written and Directed by S Craig Zahler (Image Entertainment)
The Editor – Written and Directed by Astron 6 (Shout! Factory)
What We Do in the Shadows – Written and Directed by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi (Paramount)
Suburban Gothic –Directed by Ricky Bates and Written by Ricky Bates & Mark Bruner (Anchor Bay)
American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore – Written and Directed by Stephen Biro (Unearthed Films)
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