Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its sixth 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 said, there were more on this list that DID have a theatrical run than in previous years which means the horror genre does seem to be on the upswing. 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, 2015 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column five years ago!) and worked and reworked the 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 nothing 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!
HUSH (2016)Directed by Mike Flanagan
Written by Mike Flanagan
Starring Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan, Emma Graves
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
Mike Flanagan first made waves with the simple, yet effective short OCCULUS: THE MAN WITH THE PLAN (reviewed here), which lead to a big budget version of the film from the director. Now, Flanagan goes back to his simple roots and offers up one of the most perfect stalk and slash films you’re bound to see this year with HUSH.
Kate Siegel plays Maddie, a deaf but independent writer who lives in a cabin in the middle of the woods (always a bad place to be in horror movies), who is struggling to complete her latest novel. While debating which of her many endings she has written up to use, a masked stalker (played by John Gallagher Jr. from 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE) decides it’s prime time to play fucked up mind games with her—toying with her and threatening to kill her, seemingly just for the sport. Now Maddie must use her wit, gumption, and noggin to out smart the assailant outside, despite her handicap.
What is most impressive about HUSH is its simplicity. In he opening moments, much like HALLOWEEN, we are privy to an assailant outside of Maddie’s home before she is. There are more than one scenes where the stalker is standing right outside of the window in the background while Maddie is going about her nightly chores without a clue death is lingering a window pane away. It’s not suggestion that Hollywood, which really seems to lack any creative bones in its body, is rumored to have hired Flanagan to remake and revitalize the HALLOWEEN series with a back to basics approach as HUSH really does have that perfectly paranoid feel that encapsulated the original HALLOWEEN. I am not criticizing Flanagan for this—I’m actually glad the talented filmmaker might have the opportunity to give his take on Michael Myers and given this film, he has it in him to do the franchise justice. My problem is that how literal HUSH is in it opening moments in comparison to the original HALLOWEEN as Flanagan really does know how to hide the threat in the background in the very same way Carpenter did in the series that made him a haunted household name.
But while HALLOWEEN continues to tell the tale of a faceless murderer stalking an unsuspecting babysitter, HUSH deviates from the mold by having the killer unmask early in the film. While this kind of kills some of the scariness going on as the emotionless mask is quite disturbing, it takes the danger to a much more dire level as the victim has now seen the killer’s face and he simply can’t leave her alive now. This leads to one of the best cat and mouse sequences you’re bound to see. Sure, the killer can break in any time, but the killer here is playing with his victim and the danger that Maddie is but a window pane away from the killer makes every scene in this seemingly glass house all the more terrifying and threatening. Watching Maddie go through one plan after another to escape is maddening as the killer seems to be able to be one step ahead of her the entire time. Flanagan orchestrates this terrifying Tom and Jerry cartoon with finesse most filmmakers simply are unable to fathom, leading to a climax that truly will make you occupy the seat’s edge.
On top of all of the fun tension and danger buildup, I loved the writer’s aspect of this film. Movies focusing on writers always interest me being a writer myself. Seeing how the writer’s mind works is always something of great interest to me and Flanagan exemplifies one of the most important characteristics of the writer and makes it crucial to the plot itself. This understanding of how the creative mind works and ability to articulate it within the story in such a seamless and meaningful fashion makes HUSH doubly impressive. HUSH is a film that excels in tension, terror, chills, thrills, and finally smarts in terms of how a writer seems the world and opposition. Maddie is one of the strongest female characters you’re bound to find in horror this year. I can’t recommend HUSH more to those who appreciate the stalk n’ slash genre as well as those who are a sucker for insight on the creative process. HUSH is a smart, captivating, and downright excellent little film no one should miss and if this film is any indication, the HALLOWEEN franchise is in good hands.
#18 – HUSH
#19 – HOLIDAYS
#20– CARNAGE PARK
#21 – THE CONJURING 2
#22 – THE MIND’S EYE
#23 – DARLING
#24 – SUN CHOKE
#25 – THE HALLOWS
#26 – OVER YOUR DEAD BODY
#27 – SUMMER CAMP
#28 – EMELIE
#29 – BASKIN
#30 – I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
#31 – SOUTHBOUND
2015 #1 – THE CANAL
2014 #1 – PROXY
2013 #1 - MANIAC
2012 #1 – THE WOMAN
2011 #1 – THE LAST CIRCUS
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 15 years & AICN HORROR for 5. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller and on his new website collecting posts for AICN HORROR as well as all of the most recent updates on his various comic book projects on MLMillerWrites.com.
A quick plug for my own work. I have a new comic book coming out this December called THE JUNGLE BOOK HOLIDAY SPECIAL: BAGHEERA’S SECRET. It’s a one shot reteaming my original JUNGLE BOOK artist Carlos Granda and myself (the same team who created PIROUETTE) and it is available to order now via Previews order# OCT162113. I’m getting pages of this book by the day and this book looks absolutely amazing so far. Fans of jungle adventure are going to love it! Please support me by telling your local comic book store to order tons of issues of this comic! Much appreciated, folks.
Look for Johnny Destructo, Stephen Andrade, Christian DiBari, and my own ramblings about random horror films on CultPop/PoptardsGo and Ain’t It Cool on AICN HORROR’s CANNIBAL HORRORCAST Podcast every other Thursday (or so…)!
Finally, if the test is covering the images, refresh the screen and that sould do the trick!