Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its fifth year in October! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers, I have once again compiled a list counting down to my favorite horror film released since last October and covered in this here AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Some of these films might be new to you since there isn’t a lot of horror in theaters these days that aren’t toothless remakes or watered down sequels. The theater just doesn’t seem to be the place where the horror is at these days, I’m sad to say. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video On Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay or digital download.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year since October 1st, 2013 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column five years ago!) and worked and reworked a list until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth noting or missed being on the list by a little bit for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own list…let’s go!
#8: BLUE RUIN!
You can find BLUE RUIN on Amazon here and on Netflix here. Below is my review of BLUE RUIN!!
BLUE RUIN (2013)Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Written by Jeremy Saulnier
Starring Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David W. Thompson, Brent Werzner, Stacy Rock, Sidné Anderson
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
While this one is not high on the list for feel good comedy of the year, it is one of the most powerfully gripping tales of revenge to hit the small and select wide screens this year. Jeremy Saulnier's tale of Dwight (Macon Blair) an empty man living destitute out of his car who finds himself refilled with a healthy dose of vengeance when the murderer of his own parents is released from prison. Starting up the car and arming himself to the teeth, Dwight sets off to track down the murderer which turns into a game of tag with bullets between Dwight and his murderer's family until there are very few left alive to play the game.
The film plays like a teapot on a stove, slowly increasing in pressure throughout. Unlike other films which like to razzle and dazzle every ten minutes or so with an action peice, the tension in this film grows and grows from the opening scenes of Dwight living a quiet life in a field next to a beach and begins its slow trek to a conclusion which is somewhat telegraphed, but still surprising the whole way through. Along the way, you befin to find out more about Dwight, whose patience is inspiring as if he were a vengeful worm hiding out in that cocoon of a car, counting the days until he can emerge as a wrathful butterfly to rip apart those who wronged him.
As we follow Blair as Dwight, through nothing but silent scenes of moving here to there, it's a testament to Blair's skill as an actor to communicate through mounds of facial hair emotions that are undeniable. I have never really noticed Blair; who has a sort of harmless, Bud Cort kind of style and demeanor, in his previous smaller roles in MURDER PARTY and HELLBENDERS, but this is a star making role for the actor and the power of this film rests on his thin and sloping shoulders. He is terrifying once he is armed to the teeth as we know by the time he ammos up that he will stop at nothing until vengeance is served. All of that effect, though, comes from the first fifty minutes of the film where your heart goes out and eventually breaks knowing this is a man on a path he can never come back from.
But what I love most about BLUE RUIN is that it is a simple film. But one man killing another man for killing another has been a part of the human condition since the dawn of man. Because this is such a universal and simple concept, it makes this story so much more relatable and forces you to ask yourself what you would do given this situation. Exploring those possibilities to its fulest extreme is what this film does time and again during the runtime. The final deafening silence highlights the apex of Dwight's reason for staying alive for this long as he descended into mental illness and solitude years before when his parents were killed. Appreciating this film for the explosive ending is one thing, but I love this film for the tender and intimate silences that help us walk in the shoes of someone who has nothing but payback to live for. BLUE RUIN does this with such finess that all involved have me interested in what they have up their sleeves next. And while there are very few laughs or moments to relieve the tension built by BLUE RUIN, which is the cinematic equivalent of slowly tightening a guitar string until it eventually snaps and smacks you in the face.
Worth Noting: THE BATTERY!Playing almost like the flipside of BLUE RUIN which opens in an old abandoned car, THE BATTERY ends in one and while it did show up pretty high on last year’s column, it was released on BluRay recently and worth checking out if you’re in the mood for an original zombie film that I felt was the best one to shamble my way since 28 DAYS LATER.
Check out my full review of the film plus an interview with the director here and you can check it out here on Amazon!
#30: STALLED (worth noting: CHRYSALIS)!
#29: RIGOR MORTIS (worth noting: I AM A GHOST)!
#28: GHOST TEAM ONE (worth noting: HYSTERICAL PSYCHO!
#27: THANATOMORPHOSE (worth noting: CONTRACTED)!
#26: LIFE AFTER BETH (worth noting: EVIL FEED)!
#25: AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR (worth noting: THE DEVIL’S MUSIC) !
#24: CHIMERES (worth noting: THE RETURNED) !
#23: AFFLICTED (worth noting: DEAD WEIGHT) !
#22: TUSK (worth noting: BENEATH) !
#21: FOUND (worth noting: RABID LOVE) !
#20: DEVOURED (worth noting: CRAVE) !
#19: DELIVERY: THE BEAST WITHIN (worth noting: THE HUNTED) !
#18: THE MACHINE (worth noting: BLOOD GLACIER) !
#17: GRAND PIANO (worth noting: OPEN GRAVE) !
#16: WILLOW CREEK (worth noting: WOLF CREEK 2) !
#15: ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE (worth noting: THE SEASONING HOUSE) !
#14: THE SACRAMENT (worth noting: HOLY GHOST PEOPLE) !
#13: CRAWL OR DIE (worth noting: BENEATH) !
#12: PIECES OF TALENT (worth noting: EVIL IN THE TIME OF HEROES) !
#11: PLUS ONE (worth noting: THE DEMON’S ROOK) !
#10: CHEAP THRILLS (worth noting: THE POISONING) !
#9: THE GUEST (worth noting: TORMENT) !
See ya tomorrow, folks, as I count down the best of the best covered in AICN HORROR since October 1st, 2013!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 13 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
Be sure to tell your comic shop to order his new comic PIROUETTE (out now!) from Black Mask Studios!