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!
LAST SHIFT (2014)Directed by Anthony DiBlasi
Written by Anthony DiBlasi & Scott Poiley
Starring Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel, J LaRose, Natalie Victoria, Sarah Sculco, Kathryn Kilger, Mary Lankford Poiley, Randy Molnar
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
I knew absolutely nothing about this film upon going into it and was subsequently knocked on my ass at the mood, ambience, and pants-shittingly scary moments LAST SHIFT is filled with.
A rookie cop named Jessica (Juliana Harkavy) is assigned to guard the last shift of a closed down police station. But as the shift goes on, strange and paranormal things begin happening linking to a horrific series of event that occurred in the past at the police station.
Simple, succinct, and precise: that’s what this film is in the way it is set up and executed. This is a simple alone in the house story, but LAST SHIFT is done with so much ambiance and attention to light, lack of light, sound, and the absence of sound that it really does assault your senses as Jessica tries to make her way through the labyrinthine station and find out just what the hell is going on. Unfolding almost like a first person shooter video game, we are on the shoulders of Jessica the whole way through, taking every tentative and terror-fuelled step with her.
This film would have fallen apart had the wrong person been cast as the lead, but Harkavy exudes the right amount of grit and innocence to really convince you that she is both a dedicated cop, but also way out of her depth here. As Jessica she is the daughter of a police officer, and through very few lines she is able to communicate the weight she carries to follow in her father’s footsteps. Little beats such as the way Jessica recites the officer’s code when she is entering a particularly terrifying hallway or dark room give you just enough insight into this character who is trying to be tough, but experiencing the most terrifying night of her life. Harkavy is definitely someone we are going to be seeing in more films, as this is an impressive debut for her as pretty much the sole person in this film and the center of attention the entire time.
But there are other creatures in this “abandoned” precinct, and the horrific imagery is truly terrifying. While there is a sort of SILENT HILL vibe going on, the film really does a lot with very little, such as bloody bags over the faces of hanged corpses, the sound of creaking bones as a ghost crawls up from behind, and the pentagram-carved face of the Manson-like killer. This is a film filled with images that will disturb and haunt you.
Paired with the haunting imagery is director Anthony DiBlasi’s expert use of wide shots to symbolize Jessica’s isolation and use and absence of sounds. The film really does everything it can to pull you into this station along with Jessica. It’s a film where those too afraid to watch the screen will have to somehow cover both their eyes and ears as both senses are masterfully taunted and haunted in this film.
This is a simple premise, sort of like an ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 by way of REC, but it is truly excellent in terms of building tension and delivering bone-rattling scares. I highly recommend LAST SHIFT to be placed on your must see list, as it is the type of sleeper hit you’ll be grateful for finding…that is, until the lights go out and you try to go to sleep afterwards.
#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!