Top 10 Horror movies of the 2010’s (So Far)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Halloween’s here! Well, almost here. Every October, I like to take some time to talk about horror movies or Halloween-themed movies. This year, I decided to discuss my top 10 favorite horror movies I’ve seen since 2010. This has been a great decade and for me, it revived the horror genre.

The 2000’s seemed obsessed with torture porn, zombies, and found footage. Granted, we’re still stuck with a myriad of found footage movies, but we’ve also seen several cool aesthetics I hope to see more of. Horror movies are relying less on cheap scares and gore and more on psychological terror. We now have directors who are paying homage and splicing the genre with other genres.

Enough babbling, let’s get down to it!

10) V/H/S 2 (2013) – Yeah, I bashed a little on found footage and have a found footage movie on here, so what? Unlike its predecessor, V/H/S 2 has segments that flow better and each one increases its scares and visceral impact. The most standout segment is one where a guy films his bike ride on a GoPro, is attacked by a zombie, then we see his zombie rampage through the GoPro POV. If you’re going to make a found footage movie, take a some notes here.

9) Green Room (2016) – Those who follow my reviews and know me personally have heard me rave about this white-knuckle punk siege movie. It’s more of a realistic horror move, depicting just how potentially vicious, albeit incompetent someone might get in a fight-or-flight situation. And that’s all I’ll say since this might make my top 10 at the end of the year.

8) I Saw the Devil (2011) – It’s a Korean  revenge horror film about a spy versus a serial killer. With an insane body count, some memorably gruesome moments, and a surprisingly powerful story, I Saw the Devil is one of the more character-driven horror films in recent memory.

7) The Conjuring (2013) – I hate movies that pull the “Based on a True Story” card, but leave it to a horror geek like James Wan to win me over. This is a rare horror film that focuses more on suspense than cliches. What I like the most about The Conjuring is that it’s part horror film, part family drama. We spend time with the Warrens (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) and see they’re a lovable couple, and maybe the first to make exorcisms look romantic (jokingly speaking).

6) ParaNorman (2012) – An animated horror film that’s a tribute to the 70s and 80s horror era, ParaNorman also features an investing Sixth Sense-style story. It’s an animated horror film that’s more for kids, ages 12 and up, but that’s okay. Horror can be for all ages if executed accordingly.

5) Oculus (2014) – Like The Conjuring, Oculus derives away from horror movie cliches. Director Mike Flanagan uses editing to trick the viewer into feeling like they’re hallucinating, like the main characters. It’s a disturbing movie about a pair of siblings trying to prove that a possessed mirror killed their parents, but the most frightening aspect is its ambiguous ending.

4) It Follows (2015) – How scary would it be if you contracted an STD in the form of a ghost that stalks you until it kills you? It Follows answers that question. It’s a blend of arthouse filmmaking and a John Carpenter tribute that had me looking over my shoulder repeatedly after seeing it.

3) The Cabin in the Woods (2012) – Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard delivered one of the funniest, bloodiest, craziest, and most twisted horror movies I’d seen in years. I watched this on Netflix after avoiding it and was blown away. I don’t want to say much for those who haven’t seen it, so just watch it!

2) The Babadook (2014) – The Babadook is a horror film that still gives me nightmares to this day. It’s an unsettling psychological study about a mentally unstable widow and her equally unstable son, and whether or not you believe the Babadook is real or imaginary, that’s part of the fun. Kudos to first-time director Jennifer Kent for using a minimum budget to design one of the creepiest creatures to date.

1) The Guest (2014) – Not many people have seen or even heard of Adam Wingard’s underrated gem. It’s an odd combination of 80’s slasher movies and action movies, making Rambo look like Michael Myers. It focuses on a soldier named David who befriends a family. He begins helping them make their life better, but once they realize he’s a supersoldier, the body count increases. It’s more thriller than horror, but its style and pacing qualify it as a brilliant horror homage.

Those are my favorite horror movies of this decade. Do you agree?

2016’s Top 5 Summer Movies.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In a surprisingly disappointing summer movie season, there were still a select few movies worth recommending. Here are my top 5 summer movies below:

5) Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping/Sausage Party – That’s right, a tie! Both Popstar and Sausage Party made great uses of vulgarity, musical numbers, and satirical commentary, making them the smartest (and funniest) comedies of the summer.

4) Hell or High Water – “Why isn’t this higher?!” Some might ask. Hell or High Water is a masterpiece, but not the best summer movie (I’ll explain at #1). However, in a summer full of lackluster action movies and unnecessary sequels, it was refreshing to see a modern-day Western filled with both heart and cynicism.

3) The Nice Guys – This was a flop, given it was released the same weekend as Neighbors 2, and only two weeks after a certain ensemble superhero movie. Too bad because The Nice Guys is a funny and consistently entertaining revival of the buddy comedy genre, benefiting from Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling’s performances.

2) Kubo and the Two Strings – Laika does it again, delivering a beautiful (and emotional) animated film that’s part horror, part melodrama, and part samurai tribute. Move over, Pixar!

1) Captain America: Civil War – You surprised? I named this #1 because it has everything I look for in a summer movie: intelligence, spectacle, epic grand scale, and humor. Civil War manages to improve upon its predecessors in those categories, making it the best of the franchise. With so many disappointing franchise installments this summer, Civil War is the only summer sequel that came out on top.

Honorable mentions: The Conjuring 2Hunt for the Wilderpeople, & Star Trek Beyond.

That’s my thoughts on the summer of 2016. What were your guys’ favorite movies this summer?

 

Top 10 Overrated Movies

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After my recent Top 10 Hated Movies list, I bet you were all curious what movies I either disliked or at least found overrated. If a movie is on this list, that doesn’t mean I disliked the movie. It means it wasn’t worth its hype or praise. Here we go!

10) Charlie & the Chocolate Factory  (2005) – This was one of my favorite books as a kid and I love the Gene Wilder version. This one? Terrible. Johnny Depp overdoes portraying Willy Wonka as an insubordinate, parent-hating sociopath, and there was no charm or magic to the script. The Chocolate Factory in the original was fun and whimsical. The Chocolate Factory in this one looks like a bad drug trip, and this version is unnecessarily cruel.

9) The King’s Speech (2010) – The King’s Speech won Best Picture and Original Screenplay at the 2011 Academy Awards. What’s the plot? A man (Colin Firth) filled with great potential needs to seek therapy so he can face his fears, inspiring his washed-up therapist (Geoffrey Rush) in the process. Sound familiar? Well, it should because this is nothing more than a well-polished remake of Good Will Hunting (1997). The Social NetworkBlack SwanThe Fighter, and Inception all lost Best Picture to this rehash?

8) The Kids are All Right (2010) – I found The Kids are All Right to be a nasty movie filled with unlikable characters. The only characters worth caring about were the kids (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutchison). The main couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) are terrible people with Bening being a selfish, high-strung workaholic and Moore sleeping with a man out of spite. It’s implied these two work through their problems, but personally, they both could have done better.

7) They Live (1988) – Full disclaimer – I love John Carpenter’s movies and consider him one of my favorite directors, but I can’t stand They Live. Yes, Roddy Piper and Keith David have an amazing fight scene, but Carpenter got carried away spouting his political views. There are way too many redundant jabs at the news and Republicans, and the self-indulgent “screw you” Carpenter gives critics in the end doesn’t work very well. It could have worked as either an action movie or a satire, but not both.

6) The Tree of Life (2011) – Critics praised it as one of the most beautiful and epic movies about life. Yet Sean Penn didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing in this movie, and neither did I. People still think Terrence Malick is a great director? He’s not if his actors don’t know what they’re supposed to do. The only scenes I liked were the scenes with the kids torn between Jessica Chastain (their mom) and Brad Pitt (their harsh father). Both actors are exceptional, but Malick doesn’t have a lot of restraint, so it’s hard to tell what the point was in this movie.

5) Cars (2006) – Pixar set high standards with their concepts through Toy Story (1995), Monster’s Inc. (2001), and The Incredible’s (2004), but Cars is just too damn simple to enjoy. It doesn’t feel like a Pixar movie at all, but more a Dreamworks animation (hacks) movie. It’s also a formulaic plot – the top celebrity is at the bottom and must work his way back to the top? Pixar movies should have at least a little more imagination than talking cars (which was done in a series of commercials), and a celebrity story.

4) The Gift (2015) – I originally gave The Gift a favorable review last summer, but it’s one where I changed my mind over time. Joel Edgerton wrote and directed this thriller, casting himself as a psycho stalker named Gordo. He wants revenge against a successful and handsome high school friend (Jason Bateman), dragging his wife (Rebecca Hall) into his own scheme. It’s an unpleasant experience with an ending that’s over-the-top, unbalanced, and plain disgusting. It also rips off Oldboy (2004), which was brilliant. I love twisted thrillers, but Edgerton’s self-indulgent rape fantasy could have been more if it had some class.

3) Life of Pi (2012) – So, let me get this straight: A man tells another man a story that he was stranded on a raft with a tiger until they landed on shores, was rescued, gave a statement that he was actually on a raft with a racist, murderous chef who murdered his family? And depending which story you believe determines whether or not you believe in God? Okay… Not buying what you’re selling.

2) Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) – All Star Trek Into Darkness is, is just a rehash of Star Trek II and some of the greatest episodes, with a small dose of Indiana Jones. Narrative-wise, it feels like a fan film rather than a refreshing installment like its predecessor was. However, I still enjoy this one because of Cumberbatch.

1) Snowpiercer (2014) – Why does everyone love this movie and say it’s a sci-fi masterpiece? Yes, the production design, cinematography, action sequences, and acting are great, but that doesn’t excuse its bad pacing, plot holes, and pretentious conclusion. The plot is like any other dystopian tale – a lower-class hero leads a revolution against the upper class for equality aboard a train during an ice age. But it ends with basically everyone dying? Also, things seem to be too frustratingly convenient. How does the imprisoned engineer (Song Kang-ho) know the snow is melting if he was locked in solitary for so long? How do the enforcers enter the back car without the protein bar maker noticing them?  None of this is explained clearly, which is a pet peeve in science fiction.

And those are my top 10 overrated movies! Thanks for reading! What movie do you think is overrated?

Top 10 Hated Movies

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, I learned recently that everyone was curious what my favorite hated movies were. Man, I had to think about this long and hard because I rarely find a movie that I hate. Let the comments and backlash begin because here are my top 10 favorite hated movies!

SOME SPOILERS REGARDING ENTRIES.

10) Pacific Rim (2013) – People were expecting more depth to Pacific Rim, given Guillermo Del Toro matched style with substance in Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). They didn’t want cheese action movie one-liners or cliched voiceover narrations, but have they seen giant monster movies? Monster movies are meant to be cheesy and Del Toro embraces the cheese factor, delivering one badass and visually stunning monster movie. Seriously, why was The Lone Ranger (2013) nominated for visual effects and not this?

9) Funny People (2009) – With Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen acting alongside each other in a movie about stand-up comedy, there was hype. Audiences were ultimately disappointed when they got a drama about a cancer-diagnosed narcissist; the 2 1/12 hour-running time didn’t help either. This is Adam Sandler’s last good movie and one of his best. Yeah, there are times it feels like we’re watching Adam Sandler, but we’re mostly watching a guy who doesn’t know how to be a good person. Judd Apatow also wrote the script as a tribute to his and Sandler’s friendship, resulting in a very personal movie.

8) Licence to Kill (1989) – Back then, no one liked the gritty and realistic Bond movies because of how unconventional and hapless they were. Licence to Kill is no exception, as we follow the polarizing Timothy Dalton seeking revenge against a drug cartel for maiming his best friend. This is one of the best Bond movies because he doesn’t rely on gadgets or liaisons. He relies on his wit and charm, going undercover as an assassin for Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), the cartel leader. Also, that final showdown between the two shows how capably ruthless Bond is, which is the best kind of Bond.

7) Vanilla Sky (2001) – Everyone saw Vanilla Sky because it had Tom Cruise, but it left critics and audiences shrugging their shoulders. Guys, Vanilla Sky is fantastic. Cruise delivers one of his most convincing performances as a playboy who loses his mind, Cameron Diaz gives her best performance as Cruise’s stalker, and the surreal imagery, soundtrack, and Sci-Fi twist result in one crazy nightmarish experience.

6) Titan AE (2000) – Titan AE bombed in the box office and critics felt the story of an orphan searching for his lost father in the galaxy was too generic. Well, duh! Star Wars made that plot generic. But between the traditional animation blended with CG and the Dredge aliens’ design, it’s quite an experience. Plus this movie has a lot of heart, which is hard to find in genre movies these days.

5) Shutter Island (2010) – I remember posting my praise for Shutter Island on Facebook after seeing it in theaters and how everyone was telling me I was wrong. Either horror fans were disappointed in the slow-burn character study, or Scorsese fans felt it was too conventional and predictable for a Martin Scorsese picture. For me, it’s all about how you interpret the ending. If Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) was crazy all along, then yeah, that’s a let-down and cliched ending. But what if he was sane and the hospital staff manipulated him, then it’s quite a mind-trip.

4) The Cable Guy (1996) – I hope people still don’t think The Cable Guy killed Jim Carrey’s career. If anything, this movie showed Carrey had range! The Cable Guy was misunderstood due to its dark tone, mean-spirited nature, and Carrey playing a psycho stalker. The main issue was it was ahead of its time. Carrey is brilliantly creepy and darkly funny as the titular character, combining meta humor with pop culture references and physical comedy. Also, the satirical subplot with Ben Stiller as the celebrity accused of murdering his twin brother that everyone is watching on TV: genius.

3) The Fountain (2006) – Critics laughed at The Fountain, finding it pretentious. Audiences said aloud, “What the hell?” The Fountain is unrestrained at times (especially in its last twenty minutes), but the anthology of a man (Hugh Jackman) searching for immortality through three life spans kept me intrigued until the end. Especially with Present Jackman and Future Jackman’s stories because we get the impression they’re the same person. If you like hard sci-fi like I do, give The Fountain a shot.

2) Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom (1984) – I find it hard to believe people rank Crystal Skull over Temple of Doom. Yes, Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) is a terrible and sexist character, Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan) is a caricature, but he’s still a badass sidekick, all things considered! Driving Indiana Jones out of gunfire? Saving him from possession? Also, Temple of Doom has a more grounded story than Crystal Skull and doesn’t feel like a cop-out in its revelation like Crystal Skull. Plus the tunnel chase and bridge showdown are still thrilling today as they were when I was six!

1)  Watchmen (2009) – Too violent? Too long? Too faithful to the comic? Well, Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel is a dark and epic tale that demands length and faithfulness in an on-screen adaptation. Zack Snyder reaches Kubrick levels of showmanship with his cinematography, fight scenes, and music choices. The opening credits is still one of the best opening credits sequences to date, and almost every cast choice (excluding Matthew Goode) was perfect, especially Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach.

Honorable mentions: Prometheus (2012), Tomorrowland (2015), Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990), Starship Troopers (1997).

I know you’re all wondering now what acclaimed movies I disliked. Well, stay tuned for my top ten overrated movies!

The Best Movies Of 2015

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s my favorite time of year and my favorite review to write – MY FAVORITE MOVIES (OR FILMS) OF 2015!!!! This year was a solid year, especially in the genre films department. Now I have a couple of disclaimers.

  • I go see at least three or four movies a month, but it’s hard to catch everything. So films on other peoples’ lists like Straight Outta Compton, Room, and Carol won’t be on the list.
  • I really wanted to see The Revenant, but it won’t be out until a week after the new year, so it’s unfortunately not a contender.
  • There are a few movies you’ll see on this list and think, “Hey, why didn’t you review or mention this?” It’s because I either saw them before I launched this blog or after they were released on video.
  • A grade doesn’t mean I have to rank an A+ over an A. There’s even a movie I gave an A+ that’s not on the list at all!

On that note, I have some honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut, but are still worth mentioning:

  • Beasts of No Nation (the only A+ movie not on the list) was a beautiful and harrowing war film about innocence lost, featuring Idris Elba’s finest performance to date.
  • Creed restored my faith in the Rocky franchise, thanks to Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone.
  • The End of the Tour is the best road trip movie I’ve seen in the last few years and featured Jason Segel’s finest work.
  • Ex-Machina was a disturbing and suspenseful sci-fi thriller that had great commentary on objectification.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service – was the best spy movie I saw in a year loaded with spy movies, and featured one of the most innovative and memorable fight scenes to date.
  • Trainwreck was a very funny and surprisingly dramatic comedy that introduced me to the talented Amy Schumer.

And now let’s get down to it! My top 10 favorite films of 2015 are:

10) It FollowsIt Follows may have the ridiculous concept of a dark sex comedy, but it’s also a very disturbing commentary on teen sexuality and a strong message to young kids about safe sex.

9) Sicario – Perhaps the darkest and most nihilistic movie on my list, Sicario shines through the darkness, thanks to Denis Villeneuve’s visceral direction and powerful performances from both Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro. This is one cartel thriller that isn’t for the faint of heart.

8) The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino’s newest Western is also not for the faint of heart, but still an absolute blast. Part murder mystery and part classical Western, Tarantino’s beautiful direction brings out the best work from its cast, particularly Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins.

7) Love & Mercy – I hate music biopics, but Love & Mercy is more of an engaging psychological study of a broken man than a generic Brian Wilson biopic. Paul Dano plays young Wilson with frenetic energy while John Cusack portrays the older fragile version of Wilson in this unique music film.

6) Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – Thank you, J.J. Abrams, for giving us a great Star Wars movie for Christmas. New and old blood, nostalgia mixed with more character-driven storytelling, Star Wars ranks among the best Star Wars installments to date.

5) The Martian – Ridley Scott returns to form and directs the year’s most optimistic movie featuring this year’s most likable protagonist, Mark Watney (Matt Damon in his best performance). This is a survival sci-fi tale that will have viewers laughing while engaged in science and disco music.

4) Steve Jobs – Director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin crafted the best film that no one saw this year! Shame on the film goers for skipping a visionary fast-paced biopic, featuring a brilliant performance from Michael Fassbender as the titular character.

3) Spotlight – Likely this year’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight is a gripping and important journalism piece that follows people (not heroes or villains) and their struggles writing an investigative piece on molestation in the Catholic Church. Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel MacAdams all deliver standout performances as our protagonists.

2) Inside Out – Pixar is back with the very beautiful, funny, and emotional Inside Out. Director Pete Docter (Up, Monster’s Inc.) continues to combine basic genre formulas with innovative storytelling in the form of an animated film. In this case, a disaster movie with insight on emotions.

1) Mad Max: Fury Road – What a film! WHAT A LOVELY FILM! That’s the fanboy part of me talking, but the reason why Mad Max is #1 is because George Miller rebooted his own franchise and topped his previous installments. Between the action sequences with stuntmen and reliance on basic props for visual effects, we rarely get an action movie with as much effort put into it as Mad Max: Fury Road. Also, I can’t remember the last time I saw an action movie that treated an ensemble of female characters as powerful people and passed the Bechdel test. These reasons are enough to please all film goers and not just action fans.

Thanks a bunch for reading this countdown! At the bottom, tell me if you agree or disagree with my list. Also, what was your favorite film of 2015?

 

The Worst Movies of 2015

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s that time again… Reluctantly speaking… Time to share the crappiest, worst movies of the year, so none of you have to see them! If you skipped them in theaters, good!

10) The Loft – I’ll admit I’m a sucker for erotic thrillers (see my Knock, Knock review), but there’s nothing erotic about The Loft. Five guys rent a private loft to have extramarital affairs? One rapes prostitutes? One has feelings objectifies a prostitute? One films his friends’ affairs as a fetish? All of this is gross and none of it works.

9) Chappie – Another movie that shows Neill Blomkamp (District 9) is a one-trick pony. Chappie makes us sit through an unintentionally funny ultra-violent tale where we have to root for a gun-toting engineer who gets away with threatening his coworkers in the office, another engineer with a god complex, an overly childlike robot, and Die Antwoord. The worst part of Chappie is it’s nothing but a two-hour Die Antwoord music video.

8) Taken 3 – The silliest and most soap opera-y installment in the franchise and it’s just as lazily directed as Taken 2. We clearly didn’t need a second Taken and we sure as hell didn’t need a third one.

7) The Gunman – I couldn’t put my anger over “buying” a Redbox copy aside thanks to Sean Penn’s half-assed action sequences and overkill on shirtless scenes. What’s even more sinful is casting Idris Elba in a very pointless role and Javier Bardem in a very hilariously melodramatic character who dies after 45 minutes of onscreen time.

6) Unfinished Business – Unfinished Business screams poor taste by picking on the mentally disabled, homosexuals, disabled veterans, and glorifying infidelity while trying to make us sympathize with three unlikable morons. Further insult to injury is added due to its uneven balance of mean-spirited humor and attempt at being inspirational with Vince Vaughn’s bro-ish logic.

5) Jupiter Ascending – It’s sad knowing that the creators of The Matrix have fallen. They had some interesting ideas, but they’re lost in a frenetic, plot hole-fueled epic that features the year’s worst performance (an embarrassing Eddie Redmayne).

4) Lost River – Did you guys know that Ryan Gosling tried to make a surreal noir film reminiscent of David Lynch and Nicolas Rending Refn? It’s just an expression of Gosling’s weird fetishes that will make you shrug your shoulders in the end.

3) Fifty Shades of Grey – It would be a waste of breath and finger strength to type out fifty reasons why you know this is a piece of crap.

2) The Green Inferno – Eli Roth is officially the Michael Bay of horror movies in this poop-stained, weed-drenched, idiotic, pretentious, anticlimactic gorefest. Not only couldn’t Roth execute his promising artistic pitch, but he couldn’t even gross me out effectively. Also, if you start to see the cast’s twitter addresses in the closing credits of movies from here on, you can thank Roth for the tacky product placement.

1) Fant4stic (Fantastic Four) – This movie makes me sad every time I think this was the worst movie of 2015. There was such potential with Josh Trank’s (Chronicle) vision and cast. Well, I’ll give this to Fox – they did a great job in the trailers covering up the movie’s messy effects, poor pacing, wooden acting, rushed narrative, and lack of personality.

That’s it for 2015, thanks for reading! What were your picks for the worst movies of 2015? You can share in your comments below!