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!
#2: BIG BAD WOLVES!
You can find BIG BAD WOLVES on Amazon here and on Netflix here. Below is my review of BIG BAD WOLVES from last November!
BIG BAD WOLVES (2013)Directed by Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Written by Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Starring Guy Adler, Lior Ashkenazi, Dvir Benedek, Gur Bentwich, Doval'e Glickman, Tzahi Grad, Rotem Keinan, Nati Kluger, Kais Nashif, Menashe Noy, Ami Weinberg
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Most likely one of the best, if not THE best horror film of the year is BIG BAD WOLVES. Though it is not horror in the sense of having monsters with giant teeth and fangs or insubstantial ghosts or walking corpses or handheld cameras, it does convey the horror of humanity in a manner that will hit you hard with a gripping story, powerful acting, and scenes that will most assuredly leave a deep gash in your heart.
Much like their previous accomplishment RABIES, writer/directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado map out an intricately charted tale that involves a lot of moving parts, character intersections, and plotlines that twist and turn in all directions. Though the cast is somewhat smaller than RABIES, the motivations of all of the players involved flow in and out of the story and all seem to come together in the ultra-powerful ending. Keshales and Papushado do a fantastic job of not only juggling these storylines so that they make sense from start to finish with the viewer, they also thread them together in ways you could never guess. Though comparisons are going to be made to Tarantino, I often find his plot construction to be much more obvious and failing in terms of subtlety. More like Hitchcock, Keshales and Papushado deal with multiple storylines, but do so with a gentler, more deceptive handling of suspense and pacing. Scenes which we know will end badly are prolonged to the nth degree just to make the viewer and the unfortunate person strapped to a chair squirm all the more.
BIG BAD WOLVES deals with the theme of child abduction and victimization and how the accusations of these crimes can ruin a person. It also deals with the weight of the crime itself, as well as the reactions we all have when the young are endangered. Looking at this concept from such a broad scope might be difficult to pull off, but the filmmakers do this expertly by casting memorable characters which represent each standpoint. But though each of the characters involved represent one view, the actors Lior Ashkenazi, Tzahi Grad, Rotem Keinan, and Doval'e Glickman portray them as real characters and not just visual representations of an idea.
Though there’s much more to the story, here’s the basics. A series of child abductions and murders have plagued the city for a while now. Lior Ashkenazi plays Miki, a burnt out cop who recognizes the faults of the system and relies on his gut, which tells him that Dror (Rotem Keinan), a school teacher, is responsible for the abductions. Tzahi Grad plays Gidi, the father of a girl who has gone missing and has the same feelings about Dror. Though he isn’t convicted of the crime, Dror finds himself bound in the basement of Gidi’s home. The rest of this film plays out mostly in this basement, and this latter half of the film is made of stuff tighter than the highest trapeze wire.
Though I don’t recognize any of the Israeli actors, all of them deliver performances of the tip toppest of calibers. Ashkenazi is fantastic as the desperate cop whose life is crumbling around him. Keinan juggles the truth like a circus clown, and while one minute you’re convinced he did the crime, the actor flips and you believe he is falsely accused. Grad’s calm demeanor is haunting to watch. He is a shell of a man without his daughter and is out to make someone pay. And despite the fact that he looks somewhat similar to Larry David, Doval’e Glickman is fantastic as Gidi’s father, the comedic relief/voice of morality of the film. Seeing these four actors slam into one another is amazing.
Be they long takes of the camera following a hammer down a long hallway or tight shots of the facial reactions of Dror strapped to his chair or the calm demeanor Gidi seems to have through it all, the filmmakers make every scene count big, working towards an ending that resonates on levels upon levels. I was moved so much by the ending of this film and feel it’s one of the most powerful in modern cinema.
BIG BAD WOLVES doesn’t have big stars or over the top effects, but it is packing some of the most potent emotional power you’re going to find in a film this year. Keshales and Papushado are going to be huge once they hit the mainstream. See BIG BAD WOLVES and their previous film RABIES now and be one of the cool ones who knew them before they broke out.
Worth Noting: MOEBIUS!Another take on the dire consequences of one act of violence and how that sparks one retaliation after another is MOEBIUS a horrific take on familial abuse to one another. The film focuses on one of the most fucked up family’s you’re bound to ever see on film. Not for the squeamish or the literal minded, this is one of the most intricate and intimate looks at abuse I’ve ever seen. The film is without dialog, but still, it is filled with moments of sheer terror, tension, and raw emotion. Highly recommended for those who like their horror with some dramatic heft.
Check out my full review of the film 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) !
#8: BLUE RUIN (worth noting: THE BATTERY) !
#7: THE CONSPIRACY (worth noting: THE BANSHEE CHAPTER) !
#6: HERE COMES THE DEVIL (worth noting: ASMODEXIA) !
#5: HONEYMOON (worth noting: ALMOST HUMAN) !
#4: UNDER THE SKIN (worth noting: ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW) !
#3: ENEMY (worth noting: MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH) !
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!