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!
DON’T BREATHE (2016)aka A MAN IN THE DARK
Directed by Fede Alvarez
Written by Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Starring Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici, Franciska Töröcsik, Christian Zagia, Katia Bokor, Sergej Onopko, Olivia Gillies
Find out more about this film here
and on Facebook here!
Review by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
DON’T BREATHE is that kind of rock solid horror film you just don’t often see. Meticulously constructed and tightly written, filmmaker Fede Alvarez and his co-writer Rodo Sayagues have built a masterful play on tension, terror, shock, and awe.
Three young criminals (Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto) stake out the home of a blind man (Stephen Lang), thinking he’s an easy mark for their next heist. But once inside, they realize they have bitten off more than they can chew and find themselves trapped in the dark layer of a madman.
Let’s start with the performances here. Stephen Lang has always proven himself as an actor who will give his all for a role. Be it as the cowardly gunslinger Ike Clanton in TOMBSTONE or sleazy reporter Freddy Lounds in MANHUNTER or more recently as the psychotic Colonel Miles Quaritch in AVATAR, he always stands out as an amazing character actor. But in DON’T BREATHE, he gets to shine brightly as the main menace for the three unsuspecting burglars. Lang is able to convey sympathy in the early moments as he is portrayed as a weak blind man suffering from the loss of his daughter and family. But once the lights go out and revelations are revealed, Lang shows how vicious he becomes and is equally convincing as someone you would never want to mess with.
The rest of the cast is pretty talented as well with young Jane Levy leading the pack as Rocky, the crook with the heart of gold who just wants to get this one big score so she can move to California and get her little sister out of a horrific home environment. Levy was great in Alvarez’s last film THE EVIL DEAD remake and while in that film, she spent the whole time either coming down from drugs or being possessed or both, she gets to show a whole lot more range here. Levy is tough as nails, but still manages to maintain that fragile quality that makes the viewer feel like she can really get hurt here in this situation and is not some kind of cartoon heroine.
And that’s what makes this film so good. It’s simply unpredictable. You don’t know who, if anyone, will survive. Nothing is taken for granted and no convention should be relied upon. Just when you think the characters you’ve been following are safe, suddenly they are back in the middle of a nightmare. Alvarez constructs an amazing nightmare with multiple levels, various threats, and all sorts of surprises. He focuses in on specific details at the beginning of the film, letting us know that these things are going to be important later in the film. Much like Hitchcock, Alvarez shows us his hand. He maps out the hell these characters are moving around in and then with that knowledge, manages to keep us on the edge of the seat waiting for him to use the imagery, props, and tools that he has shown us at the beginning. This is a sophisticated level of storytelling here, as it could become predictable, but Alvarez defies prediction. He may show us a hammer hanging on a wall or a piece of glass on the ground, but we have no idea how it’s going to come into play later. We just know it is there and by letting us know about every aspect of this environment the action is going on in, he puts the viewer on edge as to how it is all going to play out given that knowledge.
On top of the expert construction, this film isn’t afraid to go into areas seldom covered in mainstream horror. One scene in particular (hint: it involves a turkey baster) is something I was shocked to see happening in a big budget theater and the audience I saw this film seemed to be utterly shocked as well. This is a film that feels dangerous to watch because it allows itself to plunge deep into real human horror and feels fearless in how far it will go. For that, I respect DON’T BREATHE a whole hell of a lot.
Exciting from beginning to end, DON’T BREATHE is a really satisfying horror film from a filmmaker I hope has a long career in the genre. Alvarez shows he is able to act as a tour guide through an absolutely horrific situation and fills every moment with all sorts of terrors that are all the more potent because everything is set in the world we live in. In a medium where the only horrors we see are cut and paste haunted house fare from BlumHouse, DON’T BREATHE is a breath of fresh air for the genre.
#4 – DON’T BREATHE
#5 – BONE TOMAHAWK
#6 – LAST SHIFT
#7 – THE SHALLOWS
#8 – THE BOY
#9 – TRAIN TO BUSAN
#10 - KRAMPUS
#11 – AVA’S POSSESSIONS
#12 – BODY
#13 – THE WAILING
#14 – THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE
#15 – DEATHGASM
#16 – 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
#17 – DER BUNKER
#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 you’re having problems with the texts going over the image in this article, refresh the screen and that should do the trick!