Ambush Bug counts down the best horror films on AICN HORROR since last Halloween – Number 16!!!
Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its second year in October! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers in search of worthwhile horror, I decided to compile 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. Theaters aren’t where the horror is at these days, I’m afraid. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video on Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay. I’ve also compiled quite a few films I’ve seen advance screenings of at festivals and other outlets, and I’ll try to update you when you can see these films.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year after October 1st (which happens to be the birthday of this little column two years ago!) and worked and reworked a list until I had 31. No real method to my madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween toward my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion for those who can’t get enough horror that has something to do with the film I chose that day.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how right or wrong I am, and come up with your own list…let’s go!
The end of the world is always great fodder for a horror film to delve into. THE DIVIDE starts out rather slowly, but spirals into something twisted and downright evil by the end. Back in December I reviewed the film, and it remains one of my favorites of the year.
THE DIVIDE (2011)Directed by Xavier Gens
Written by Karl Mueller & Eron Sheean
Starring Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B. Vance, Lauren German, Ashton Holmes, Jennifer Blanc, Michael Eklund, Iván González, Michael Biehn, Rosanna Arquette
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Finishing off our cadre of apocalyptic treats is THE DIVIDE which has been making its way around the festival circuit all year and will be released in select cities starting in January. The film was made by FRONTIER(S) and HITMAN director Xavier Gens. While I haven’t seen HITMAN, I have seen FRONTIER(S) and know that the guy can deliver some extremely powerful and horrific imagery, and he does so again here with THE DIVIDE, an apocalyptic thriller that goes ballz-deep into the well of madness before the credits roll.
The film literally opens with a bang as alarms go off in a city, followed by crowds of people scampering for some kind of shelter. Not much is known, but what these people do know if that their lives depend on finding a safe place to hole up in for a couple of hundred years. In the opening moments, a crusty looking Michael Biehn attempts to close a vault door, but not before a handful of random people force their way in. When the door shuts, THE DIVIDE is mostly a one locale nose-dive into madness for these survivors. As the food becomes scarce and the group gets stir crazy and radiation poisoned, THE DIVIDE becomes more like LORD OF THE FLIES than anything else.
The bleak depths this film ventures into is frightening in itself. Seeing HEROES Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Eklund go off the deep end is the true highlight here and makes for some of the most disturbing moments of the film. Eklund’s “moment”, when he repeats “It’s in the hair…” as he shaves his body bare and blames the radiation poisoning slowly eating them all away as residing in his follicles (eyebrows and all), made what little hair I have on my own head stand on end. I applaud both Ventimiglia and especially Eklund (who I’ve never seen before, but will look for in future films) for pitch black performances above and beyond the call of duty.
Courtney B. Vance attempts to be the conscience of the group, while Rosanna Arquette comes out of hiding as a mother pushed over the edge. HOSTEL PART II’s Lauren German rounds out the cast as the only sane mind of the group. All of the performances by this cast are top notch.
At times, things are somewhat contrived and occasionally characters do something out of the ordinary just to push the story along, but THE DIVIDE is an amazing character piece/one locale story allowing the actors to shine despite the dingy setting. With some truly harrowing moments and bold and brave performances from a top notch genre cast, this apocalyptic yarn is a must see when it goes into limited release next month.
Today’s alternative pick is another tale of isolation, except this time it’s a cabin in the woods filled with grown up high school buddies. THE CORRIDOR is a nice metaphysical horror film dissecting friendship between men as well as the horrors of growing up and leaving the past behind. I wrote my review of the film here and it’s definitely a haunting film.
The Countdown so far…#17: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3
#18: LITTLE DEATHS
#19: THE TALL MAN
#20: KILL LIST
#21: MOTHER’S DAY
#22: THE INNKEEPERS
#23: THE SNOWTOWN MURDERS
#24: THE PACT
#25: THE WRONG HOUSE
#26: SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE
#27: SPIRIT STALKERS
#28: THE MOTH DIARIES
#29: THE SLEEPER
#30: THE AGGRESSION SCALE
#31: SICK BOY
See ya tomorrow, folks, with number 15 of the best of the best covered in AICN HORROR since last year!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
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Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Oct. 16, 2012, 10:42 a.m. CST
It seems to be missing the scare factor
Oct. 16, 2012, 10:45 a.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
I don't know what to tell you.
Oct. 16, 2012, 1:10 p.m. CST
by Kill List Hammertime
I don't know whether I enjoyed it, but it was well directed and acted. And it's got Michael Biehn in it, who automatically elevates anything to watchable. Not a patch on Frontier(s) however.
Oct. 16, 2012, 1:47 p.m. CST
...the very cool fire stunt at the end.
Oct. 16, 2012, 3:03 p.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
There's something so creepy about that line and the delivery of it by Michael Eklund.
Oct. 16, 2012, 4:26 p.m. CST
by Collin Armstrong
Basically, it's ninety minutes of people suffering. Gens hasn't found a great project yet, but I honestly think he will - he's clearly a talented director. All his work looks gorgeous, and especially here and with Frontier(s) he manages to solicit some very brave performances from his cast. Michael Eklund is bonkers good in this, btw. That's a guy I'd like to see working more often.
Oct. 16, 2012, 4:27 p.m. CST
by Collin Armstrong
Oct. 16, 2012, 7:24 p.m. CST
Better than The Innkeepers???? Good God, man, opinions are opinions an' that, all that like, all that's well and fine and I'll be th' first to, but... In what universe is The Divide better than either of those two films? Even throwing "better" and "worse" to blazes, how could you as AICN's resident horror sort place something as derivative and clumsy and poorly executed as this over two of the most distinctive, inventive, frightening, and (in the case of Kill List at least) iconic horror pictures of the last ten years? To hell with genre, even, those are just two of the best films of the past decade of any sort. (Alright, maybe The Innkeepers is harder to argue for there, but I guarantee Kill List will be on a fair few Best of the Decade run-downs). Oh well.
Oct. 16, 2012, 7:34 p.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
I felt it was completely overrated and while it had a few cool scenes (the tunnel scene in particular), I felt THE DIVIDE was much better. KILL LIST was ok but felt way too derivative of THE WICKER MAN in my book.
Oct. 16, 2012, 7:58 p.m. CST
I dunno (and also, I came across far pissier just now that I meant to. Self-righteous, even, you would say. Apologies.), I think the Wicker Man comparisons have become incredibly reductive. Folks are in danger of stamping "derivative" over something which is in fact pulling threads from that earlier picture into all sorts of fascinating and original shapes. No one dismisses Wild At Heart as being "way too derivative of The Wizard of Oz" (although they should dismiss it as being a misogynistic, cowardly piece of old ballbag, but that's another story), you recognise and are supposed to recognise the correlation. That doesn't make it "derivative" (ok maybe in the truest sense of the word it makes parts of it derivative, but that's not the sense we're employing here), and if film unfolds in the shadow of Summerisle, its a shadow that's fallen on some wholly alien stretches of land altogether. The Divide, to me, was a hugely self-regarding, blandly directed, and quite hateful piece of work that toyed with a lot of imagery I didn't feel it earned the right to toy with. The same is true of Frontier(s), but it got by on sheer blind brutality, and never felt as self-important as this does. Which isn't to say there isn't an element of black comedy at work, here, too. Just that's it not funny, and it's stifled by an overwhelming air of self-satisfaction and adolescent nihilistic sniggering. Just my says, them.
Oct. 16, 2012, 8:01 p.m. CST
First of all, Kill List will never be memorable, unless it's for the lamest ending for a movie, ever. The Divide was one I enjoyed, and it better fits the definition of Horror than Kill List (that is, if either one really qualifies as such). Quick description for The Divide: an adult Lord of the Flies in a basement
#17: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 #18: LITTLE DEATHS #19: THE TALL MAN and this before 'Kill List' and 'Snowtown'. 'The Sleeper' on that list at all. Well, just Fuck. And this was a pretty poor B movie with a couple of good performances, there were about 20 of these films out. I'm betting 'bright/hell' comes in somewhere as well. The same kind of bland, serious but ultimately pointless film making.
The fact that you say 'the tunnel scene' is one of the couple of 'cool' scenes really explains what type of critic you are- That is a 'Horror' critic- and that only. I love horror but I don't pigeon hole what I like, if something looks like a horror film and turns out to be a bit of something else I don't have a big fit about it, like a lot of horror fans. So many times 'Horror' critics seem happy to score a film based on how many 'cool' horror scenes there are. It's childish at best.
Oct. 16, 2012, 10:38 p.m. CST
...but I'll be damned if there's not a lot of utter crap on this list. The Sleeper was only successful if you consider it to be an homage to terrible movies. The Mother Diaries was mediocre. Mother's Day was all right but nothing special. Kill List is garbage that thinks it's something profound. The Tall Man is a boring piece of crap that stupid people think is smart and The Divide is good if you hate the world and have a horrible view of humanity. Of the ones on this list that I've seen so far (11 of them), I'd say that Aggression Scale, The Pact and Snowtown were the only memorable ones. I liked Inkeepers too, but the ending was so anticlimactic that I can't really get behind it.
Oct. 16, 2012, 11:28 p.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
We all can come up with one. As I said above, I'm fully interested in hearing the lists of the Talkbackers. Though it doesn't seem like anyone cares to do one. Instead it's much more fun and brave to rip on someone who did the work, right? And "scaryjim", I don't consider myself a "Horror Critic", I consider myself someone with an opinion. KILL LIST in my opinion was mediocre and wasn't my cup of tea. Glad it was yours but I found it to be way too derivative of too many other films. It had some nice foreboding scenes and the aforementioned tunnel scene was intense. Nothing more about it stood out to me. But I'm full of shit for not having your exact opinion, right, scaryjim. Oh, the world according to scaryjim. What a correct and awesome place.
Oct. 17, 2012, 1:43 a.m. CST
Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how right or wrong I am
Oct. 17, 2012, 8:55 a.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
Still haven't seen your crazy awesome list though.
Oct. 17, 2012, 12:51 p.m. CST
Next! Kill List would easily be in my top 10
Oct. 17, 2012, 2:30 p.m. CST
So it shared a plot with WICKER MAN? There's worse films to share DNA with. I give THE DIVIDE a punt on the basis of this review though - Michael Biehn's loooooong overdue some love.
Oct. 17, 2012, 2:45 p.m. CST
to have a list like this. No matter what I feel for the few films I've actually seen on this list thus far, I am appreciative because now I have a lot of cool flicks to find and watch. So, thanks, ambush bug.
Oct. 17, 2012, 10:51 p.m. CST
...I'm not sure if your comment was directed at me as well as scaryjim, but I want to make it clear that I don't begrudge you your list at all, and I love that someone sat down and did this, I just personally haven't loved a lot of the movies on the list. I also fully realize that when you're doing a genre-specific list it's going to be a lot harder to find 31 good flicks. Keep up the good work and I'll try to be less snarky if I post again.
Oct. 18, 2012, 9:18 p.m. CST
by Killdozers Evil Twin Brother
about respecting the technical control and craft of the film, but losing a bit of focus on the story. Gens is immensely talented, but this movie made me think that he either gives into studio pressures too easily, or he's intentionally being cryptic. One glaring frustration about this film (which I DID enjoy) was that one of the more sinister elements of the plot (involving the small girl) was just flashed in front of us, then never resolved. What the hell were they doing with her? That wasn't treatment. Why would Gens just ditch that?
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