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!
You can find PROXY on Amazon here and on Netflix here. Below is my review of PROXY from April!
PROXY (2013)Directed by Zack Parker
Written by Zack Parker & Kevin Donner
Starring Alexia Rasmussen, Joe Swanberg, Alexa Havins, Kristina Klebe
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
PROXY is truly one of the most mesmerizing and horrific films I’ve seen all year this year or any year, for that matter. There’s something about a pregnant woman that instinctively makes people defensive. We want to protect them from harm. We criticize sharply when we see someone smoking or drinking around them or, god forbid, seeing them do it. It’s one of the few precious images that is almost universally wholesome and promising, as a pregnant woman is a symbol that life goes on and there’s a future ahead for humanity. Maybe that’s why horror films that involve pregnant women are so effective. Think of films like ROSEMARY’S BABY, or more recently the found footage shocker DELIVERY, and you automatically get a chill because it involves the endangerment of the mother and her child.
PROXY is a raw and unflinching look at the twisted side of motherhood. The places this film goes are going to be too dark for some, but I found the horrific depths of the characters involved too terrifyingly fascinating to turn away, even though every muscle of my body was telling me otherwise. In the opening moments of this film, there is a scene so utterly brutal it’s going to be a deal-breaker to some. But all that opening sequence does is prepare the strong for the harrowing experience this film is.
With its unconventional plot and complex themes at play, PROXY is an ingeniously smart film tackling an intricate disease known as Munchhausen By Proxy, which involves a darker take on motherhood. Those who know the condition understand how horrific it can be and motherly martyrdom, while often the subject of comedy in cinema with a nebbish mother seemingly enjoying the attention she gets from friends in the sewing circle, but it’s never been portrayed in film in such a manner that is so nerve-shatteringly real and terrifying.
Zack Parker blew me away with the ROSHOMON-style tale of abuse and neglect SCALENE last year, and proves that he is filmmaker of spectacular talent. As I pondered this film long after seeing it, I couldn’t help but notice the PSYCHO-esque aspects to the score. Giving it more thought, this very much is a much more psychologically perverse and finely crafted version of PSYCHO. There’s even a horrific scene in a bathroom. As I realized this connection, I understood that even beyond the visceral shivers this film induces, there’s so much going on thematically as well in terms of comments on motherhood, society’s obsession with celebrity, and relationships as well.
Acted superbly by the entire cast, aside from the always great Joe Swanberg who delivers a smoldering and subtle performance here, I was unfamiliar with the rest of the players in this dark tale. But this is a star-making film for all involved, especially the ghostly tragic Alexia Rasmussen, who fleshes out a character more haunting than any movie monster you can think of. The other two actresses include Alexa Havens, who plays the seemingly perfect housewife to perfection, and the gruff and tough Kristina Klebe who adds layer upon layer of soul to her role. These four characters and the incredibly knotted way their lives are all intertwined is pure genius from a writing standpoint all the way down to the performances.
PROXY is one of those films that leaves a deep scar after viewing. It’s not the Hollywood horror with jump scares, CGI, and Don Music head slams on the keyboard for audience reaction. It’s a film that will grab you and shake you and leave you devastated, but done in a manner that feels all too real and all the more tragic. PROXY pulls no punches and is some brave and bold horror that some might not be prepared for, but I hope to see much more of from director Zack Parker, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors working today.
I couldn’t recommend this film more if my life depended on it. Just superb filmmaking from start to finish.
Worth Noting: THE BUTERFLY ROOM!Another film you probably don’t want to watch on Mother’s Day is THE BUTTERFLY ROOM, which appeared a few years back in my Best of countdown, but was actually just released this year for all to see. Starring some of the most important women in horror from the classic to the modern age, THE BUTTERFLY ROOM, starring Barbara Steele in one of her best roles, is well worth noting and the perfect double feature to watch with the twisted takes on motherhood in PROXY!
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) !
#2: BIG BAD WOLVES (worth noting: MOEBIUS) !
#1: PROXY (worth noting: THE BUTTERFLY ROOM) !
Well, that’s it! Hopefully you enjoyed this month’s countdown as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you all! Now it’s time to agree with me, tear me a new one, or better yet, come up with your own list to prove me wrong. I look forward to checking out what you guys think was the best of the year!
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!