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 BOY (2015)aka HENLEY, CHILD
Directed by Craig William Macneill
Written by Craig William Macneill, Clay McLeod Chapman (novel)
Starring David Morse, Jared Breeze, Rainn Wilson, Bill Sage, Mike Vogel, Zuleikha Robinson, Aiden Lovekamp, David Valencia, Sam Morse, Andres Echavarria, Maria Luisa Ruiz, Amalia Santamaria, Manuela Guerra, Hong Kyu Park, Victoria Escobar, Susana Jaramillo, Tomas Eastman,
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
If you get this film confused with the mannequin movie with THE WALKING DEAD chick you’re going to be sorely disappointed. THE BOY is a tense and engrossing psychological nightmare through the eyes of a wide-eyed and widely receptive young mind just waiting to turn to darkness.
Ted (Jared Breeze) lives with his father (David Morse) in a rundown motel off of the highway. With no other friends to play with and his dad busy running the motel, Ted spends his day having adventures by himself and collecting a quarter for every dead animal he collects off the highway. Little does his father know that Ted is collecting this money to save for a one way bus trip to Florida, the place where his mother left for when Ted was young. Ted cheats a bit by tossing trash and feed into the road to entice the animals to go out, eat, and eventually get squashed, but his plan to reunite with his mom works a bit too well as his bait lures a deer out into the road, causing passerby Colby (Rainn Wilson) to wreck his car. This accident leads to a series of events that seems to awaken what looks to be a budding psychopath growing within Ted.
THE BOY is a film which draws its power from its silences. As a viewer, we simply follow Ted on his enthusiastic, but tedious day to day attempts to rectify his boredom. Left on his own, of course, Ted gets into mischief. But as much as this might be the beginnings of a serial killer who may rival Norman Bates one day, filmmaker Craig William Macneill smartly avoids clumsily and simply tossing in symptoms of the homicidal triangle. Ted does end up torturing animals (off screen, for you sensitive types) and setting fires, the bed-wetting isn’t really delved into, but Macneil spaces out these factors throughout the story and makes it integral and more complicated than simply ticking off symptoms on a scorecard. Ted’s acts of violence towards animals come from his desire to collect money to see his mom, and since his dad paid him to keep the road leading up to the motel clean, his father sort of encourages this behavior, not knowing it will take such a grisly turn. Ted first gets the idea of burning things from talking with Colby (Wilson), a passerby who is endeared to the boy and reveals his wife died in a fire. It’s not like Ted all of a sudden starts being a psychopath. We see it all unfold evenly throughout the film in a mesmerizing and quiet fashion. Every beat, every turn, every decision Ted makes is understood because we spend so much time with him in this film, and Macneil isn’t afraid to just let the camera linger on Ted’s fascinating day to day to foster that understanding.
Jared Breeze is fascinating as the titular Boy. Breeze isn’t so much giving a performance as he is simply being a young boy doing young boy things for much of the film. The ominous music and dead silence convey a much more insidious undercurrent to his actions, but much of the time the film feels almost like a wildlife video where a kid is filmed in its natural environment left on his own. Breeze’s wide eyes soak in every little action from his father and latch onto anyone else who stays at the hotel. Morse gives the usual silent and strengthened performance that has made him famous. His stilted attempts to connect with Ted feel genuine, and I likethat this film didn’t go for the stereotypical abusive father route. Morse’s character truly feels for Ted, having grown up with his own father who ran the motel before him, and sympathizes with him because of it. Wilson also surprised me in a restrained and serious role here as Colby. He goes through a ton of emotions in this film that I’ve rarely seen from the actor, and does so convincingly.
THE BOY is mesmerizing, engrossing, fascinating, and a billion other words that all boil down to just plain good. It is a patient film that slides its knife into you and twists it so slow that you don’t really know you’re dead until long after it’s too late. Smartly written and acted perfectly, THE BOY is one stellar bad kid film.
#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!