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!
THE HALLOW (2015)aka THE WOODS
Directed by Corin Hardy
Written by Corin Hardy, Felipe Marino
Starring Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Michael Smiley, Gary Lydon, Stuart Graham, Conor Craig Stephens, Stephen Cromwell, Charlotte Williams
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
Taking on the same kind of wee beasties Guillermo Del Toro did in DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK?, THE HALLOW handles faeries, banshees, goblins, and other monsters that haunt the European countryside on a level very few monster mashes even hope to achieve.
Adam and Claire Hitchens (Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic), along with their newborn baby Finn, move into a quiet country home in Ireland on the edge of a vast forest. Adam is a environmentalist tree doctor investigating a certain type of fungus that seems to be popping up all over the trees and corpses of wildlife he happens up on during his trips into the forest. Adam scoffs at the warnings from the local folks—including his not-so friendly neighbor Colm (Michael McElhatton), warning him that poking around in the woods will only lead to the woods poking around in his home. His wife Claire does the same when she rips off those pesky iron bars which adorn the doors and windows of their new home. Turns out the legends are true and a breed of faerie fungi begins infecting the home, the dog, and even Adam, all the while unleashing tree-like minions onto the home in order to steal the newborn.
THE HALLOW is a monster movie, so there are your usual scenes of non-believers beginning to believe when it’s too late. There’s the lead-up to the reveal of the monsters, as they are often obscured in shadows and only revealed in snippets through much of the first half, and then there’s the big standoff against the monsters where the final few somehow are able to fend off the beasts that so quickly disposed of the rest of the cast earlier on in the film. All of these factors are front and present, but what makes THE HALLOW distinct is that between these go-to monster movie beats are quite a few really well orchestrated scare scenes crescendo-ing to an all out battle between the family and an army of monsters from ancient lore. Director Corin Hardy has a fantastic knack for setting up scenes that maximize the chills, utilized over and over in this utterly creepy film.
On top of that, and the reason I respect this film much more than Gillermo’s DON’T AFRAID OF THE DARK? is that it incorporates both practical and computer effects in a much more seamless manner. Looking at something like DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK? and CRIMSON PEAK, which were cool, but overly produced and CG-ed, I appreciate this film’s tackling of the same type of gothic, faerie lore in a manner that occurs in the frame with the actors and only utilizes the CG when absolutely necessary. THE HALLOW offers up some truly terrifying monsters—warped and knotted like ancient trees, as well as some very cool rotting, fungal CG which feels much more real than usual. I don’t understand how billion dollar movies look so fake in the frame, which more modest features such as THE HOLLOW can get so much of it right. Less is definitely better in terms of CG and THE HOLLOW follows that credo.
With a strong story of family sacrifice and loyalty and unique monsters that look fantastic, The cast is great too with HEARTLESS’ Joseph Mawle offering up a sympathetic role, and the beautiful Bojana Novakovic offering up the motherly strength to keep you rooting for the best to happen to this family. THE HOLLOW has faerie tale fantasy elements, but it is most definitely hardcore horror. This is one dark film, filled with moments that are bound to make you tremble and jump al all the right times.
#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…)!