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Ambush Bug counts down the best horror films on AICN HORROR since last Halloween – Number 3!!!

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

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!

Why is THE INVITATION #3? You’re not going to find a more pitch perfect examination of paranoia this year than THE INVITATION. This film prolongs the inevitable until the very last second and keeps you guessing if there is something really going on or is it all just in the protagonist’s head. Karyn Kusama teases us with the truth over and over again until the heart-wrenching ending. And that final scene is about as shocking a reveal as you’re going to get this year. Pitch perfect filmmaking. You can find it here on iTunes, on Netflix here, and Amazon here. Here’s my review of THE INVITATION from March 25th!


Directed by Karyn Kusama
Written by Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Starring Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michiel Huisman, Tammy Blanchard, John Carroll Lynch, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michelle Krusiec, Mike Doyle, Toby Huss, Karl Yune, Lindsay Burdge, Marieh Delfino, Aiden Lovekamp, Jordi Vilasuso, Danielle Camastra, Jay Larson, Trish Gates
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Some of the best horror taps into human emotion and amplifies those feelings of discomfort to fever pitch levels. There have been many films that rely on a heavy dose of paranoia to work. Recent films such as THE CONSPIRACY, and ENEMY, and classics such as JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING, REPULSION, and ROSEMARY’S BABY push the paranoia to deafening levels of intensity. Another film can be added to that list of nerve-shredding paranoid masterpieces: THE INVITATION.

Accepting an invitation from an ex and her new husband to join old friends for a dinner party, Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his new girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) arrive at the lavish home of Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and David (Michiel Huisman) to find it full of their friends, partying and greeting them with smiles. As the night goes on, there is obvious tension in the group and it eventually comes out that Will and Eden lost their child, which ended up breaking up their marriage. This being the first time they have seen each other since the breakup, it’s obviously somewhat uncomfortable, but pleasantries are used by all--that is, until Eden and David start talking about a new life betterment program they have been following. As the night goes on and the wine begins flowing, Eden and David begin to push their newfound spiritual awakening on the group, playing a video of the spiritual leader (Toby Huss from CARNIVALE) in which a woman embraces death and dies on the video. This of course unsettles the group, but doesn’t seem to bother Eden and David, who feel it is a beautiful moment. Writing this off as some kind of eccentricity used to cope with the loss of Eden’s son, the group moves past it and continues with the evening’s drinking and feasting--save for Will, who from the get-go has a dreadful feeling that something evil is going on. But is Will being paranoid and insecure, having been confronted with his ex-wife and their loss, or is there really something horrible transpiring? The answers are given by the end of the film, but it keeps you guessing for most of the film’s runtime.

What this film achieves so masterfully is the sinking feeling that something is off. By focusing the camera on Will through this film, casting him as the outsider in this group of friends, THE INVITATION does an amazing job of making you question if the scenes we are seeing play out are suspicious because we are seeing this from Will’s depressed and troubled perspective or if this really is reality and something horrifying is happening under the partygoers’ noses. So many scenes focus on Will looking around corners, sneaking through the hallways and witnessing snippets of conversations that, again, could be taken either way. The masterful way in which this film teeters on either being a story of a paranoid man or a truly dire situation for such an extended period of time is what grabbed me by the collar and pulled me in off the edge of my seat and as close to the screen as possible.

Those who like the slam-bang style of action horror where there’s a jump scare every two minutes that you can giggle at into your sweetie’s shoulder will definitely want to take a pass on THE INVITATION. This is a film you must allow to slowly creep in to enjoy. It’s a film where you have to give up the need to release that tension that is building in the situation before you. The release will come, eventually, but the beauty in THE INVITATION is the way it patiently holds back the answers until the very last minute. That doesn’t mean that once the answers are given, the credits roll. It means that you don’t know if the situation or Will is nuts for quite a while, but once the ball is dropped, the resolution is definitely worth the wait, with a final scene that is infinitely powerful in its simplicity.

THE INVITATION conveys a sense of paranoia so strong it cannot be denied. It’s a film that deftly plays with your expectations and amplifies the senses to a level where you are suspicious of everything. The performances are fantastic, especially that of Marshall-Green and Blanchard as the former couple who are familiar with who each other were, but not who they have become. Add the always amazing John Carroll Lynch in yet another creepy-ass performance and you’ve got a cast of characters who we will look back on one day and recognize as the first time we’ve seen these superstars in action. If you’re the type who gets a thrill about movies that make you slowly look over your shoulder in fear, THE INVITATION is a film that accomplishes both an excellent build-up and an equally amazing resolution.

If you like horror and love testing your limits, check out this documentary (of sorts) about people who seek out the most extreme of terrifying experiences and the underground project called THE BLACKOUT EXPERIMENTS which mentally and physically torment these people to the limits of their sanity. This one is a weird one, but it’s an interesting examination of our fascination with fear. Check out my full review of the film here. You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon here!


#8 – THE BOY
#12 – BODY
#18 – HUSH
#28 – EMELIE
#29 – BASKIN

Best of lists from previous years;
2015 #1 – THE CANAL
2014 #1 – PROXY
2013 #1 - MANIAC
2012 #1 – THE WOMAN

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 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

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…)!

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

Finally, if you’re having problems with the texts going over the image in this article, refresh the screen and that should do the trick!
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