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Ambush Bug counts down the best horror films from AICN HORROR since last Halloween – Number 31!

Logo by Kristian Horn
What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its sixth year on Ain’t It Cool News in October! And what a fantastic year in horror it was! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers, I have once again compiled a list counting down my favorite horror film released since last October 1, 2014 and covered in my weekly AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column.

As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year since October 1st, 2014 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column six years ago!) and worked and reworked a list throughout the year until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness; just my own personal favorites. The only rule qualifying the film for this countdown is that it had to be released to the masses (via theaters, digital download, On Demand, or DVD/BluRay) within the range of October 1, 2014 and October 1, 2015. Anything before or after that span of time doesn’t count in this haunted dojo. I’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 just missed making the list for those who can’t get enough horror.

So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know what you think of the pick, it’s placing on the list, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, let me know your own personal faves from the last year in horror…let’s go!

Why is AN AMERICAN TERROR #31? I trudge through a lot of bad films to find the diamonds in the rough, but AN AMERICAN TERROR is the type of film I look for as I knew nothing about it before seeing it and the film just kept surprising me over and over again. Layered with different levels of evil, this is a film that is part Gus Van Sant’s ELEPHANT and part slasher film. AN AMERICAN TERROR incorporates conventional horror with modern day issues of bullying seamlessly. It’s pretty low budget, but it was a film that should be seen by more people simply for the bold directions the filmmakers decide to take and the unconventional way it tells the story. Here’s my review #30 from December 19th, 2014!

Available on DVD, iTunes, VUDU, and Google Play from Uncork’d Entertainment!


Directed by Haylar Garcia
Written by Haylar Garcia
Starring Joe Abplanalp, Troy Alan, Graham Emmons, Kathryn Gould, Michael Haskins, Taylor Hulett, Louise Macdonald, Patrick Sheridan, Jennifer Wilde
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Holy shit, did this film come out of left field and knock me on my ass!

I hesitate to talk much about the plot of AN AMERICAN TERROR since part of the reason I love this film so much is that it surprised me at every wicked and unexpected turn little turn it takes. Taking a page from FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, the film switches gears halfway through in a way that felt much more seamless than the Tarantino/Rodriguez shock twist. The manner by which this film switches subject matter and tone really does make for an absolutely shocking narrative, but never did I feel as if the filmmakers were doing it just for shock value alone. It just makes for an interesting and unconventional story.

OK, let’s SPOIL this a tiny bit. The story focuses on three teenage outcasts who have had enough with bullying jocks and berating cheerleaders and decide to go Columbine on them all. Much like Gus Van Sant’s ELEPHANT, these opening moments play out with the protagonists silently taking this abuse, then simmering in their homes, playing first person shooter games and watching violent movies and clips on Youtube. The problem is that these outcasts don’t have the funds to get an arsenal of weapons for this school shooting, so they hatch an elaborate scheme to steal a cache of guns from a local trash pickup man who happens to have a pro-gun sticker on his truck. The problem is that the kids don’t take into consideration what kind of person might put a pro-gun sticker on their truck bumper because…the guy’s a frikkin’ psychopath. While one of the kids continues to prepare for Armageddon at the Homecoming dance, the other two scheme to break into the trashman’s home and steal his guns. Things get twisted and weird quickly when the kids uncover more than just guns in the trashman’s underground lair. END SPOILER

What stands out here is the unconventional narrative loops this film takes and how strong it holds up, making every twist and turn both relevant to the story of these bullied kids and engrossing to see play out. There’s a doomsday clock scenario at play here ticking towards the night of the dance that intensifies with every passing second while one of the kids preps for the dance and the others fight for their lives to get the guns to do it. The way this film builds upon itself is a level of tension you don’t often see in low fi filmmaking and it’s a level of sophistication in storytelling that tells me that Haylar Garcia is someone to watch in the world of film.

The actors involved here are very good. The film itself has a kind of punk/outcast quality from its simple method of detailing the lives of these kids to the punk rock soundtrack that plays throughout. When this film gets gory, it does so in an intense and original way and when the action starts it plays out in ways I don’t remember seeing in a film before. AN AMERICAN TERROR is a highly unique and compelling film from start to finish, flipping genres and subject matter in a method that feels natural, but never pulling punches in terms of thematic power or relevant modern social issues. While the subject matter of school shootings is not something to be made light of, when dealt with on a sophisticated and mature level, it’s compelling stuff to see play out. AN AMERICAN TERROR treats this subject matter with respect, but also doesn’t forget to make it all engrossing and imaginative along the way.

This is one horror film that I highly recommend.

Worth noting: SOME KIND OF HATE!
Another film that takes on the subject of bullying through a horror lens is Adam Egypt Mortimer’s SOME KIND OF HATE. This one has some strong performances and a razor slashing ghost that definitely got under my skin. Part slasher, part ghost story/part statement on bullying, this is the type of imaginative horror I can’t see enough of. Check out my full review of the film here and you check out the film here On Demand and it will soon be released on DVD and digital download!

See ya tomorrow, folks, as I count down the best of the best covered in AICN HORROR since October 1st, 2014!

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 6. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.

Find more AICN HORROR including an archive of previous columns on AICN HORROR’s Facebook page!

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