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The Year in Horror, 2015: Ken’s Top 10 Horror Films!

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Make no mistake: 2015 was the year of horror television. Between stellar seasons of PENNY DREADFUL, SALEM, ASH VS. EVIL DEAD, HANNIBAL and THE WALKING DEAD, there was no place scarier or more fun than the small screen. When you add in the impressive terror titles making their way to high definition this year, the big screen fare of 2015 felt unfortunately like an afterthought. Nevertheless, 2015 did offer a respectable amount of haunting fright fare in the cinemas, much of which still sticks with this writer to this day.

Now, there were a few specific qualifications for these picks this year. I only included films that were in general release, which means festival favorites such as DEAD BODY, THE INVITATION and GODDESS OF LOVE have to take a back seat until 2016. Furthermore, genre-friendly thrillers such as COP CAR and THE WORLD OF KANAKO unfortunately do not qualify for inclusion either.

Lastly, another issue for 2015 was the glut of horror films that were just simply good. While there several impressive genre efforts from Ireland and New Zealand in 2015, the majority of independent and mainstream horror films were either lacking that little bit of magic that makes a good film great or settled for being above average instead of exemplary. In that sense, this was likely the hardest top 10 list to assemble in the three years I’ve written for FANGORIA, but the entries certainly have earned their spot.

Now, without further ado…

Honorable Mention: BONE TOMAHAWK (dir. S. Craig Zahler)

BONE TOMAHAWK almost has it all. Stellar performances from perhaps the year’s best ensemble, a strong script, and jaw-dropping FX work all make BONE TOMAHAWK one of the most effortlessly entrancing horror titles of 2015. However, the film’s decision to go for wider, more theatrical photography as opposed to something more striking and cinematic robs the film from making this writer’s top 10.

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  1. THE HALLOW (dir. Corin Hardy)

Equipped with mesmerizing FX and a bold representation of Irish folklore, THE HALLOW is one of the scariest and most visceral experiences this writer had in a theater this year. And while the “survive the night” structure of the story keeps the narrative from reaching top-tier territory, Corin Hardy effectively posits himself a successor to Guillermo del Toro as a potential master of fantasy-infused horror.

 

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  1. CRIMSON PEAK (dir. Guillermo del Toro)

Speaking of Guillermo del Toro, there were few surprises more pleasant this year than the filmmaker’s return to the horror genre, offering a Gothic romance with a brutal edge. Though one may expect gorgeous visuals and creepy creations from a del Toro film, the unsettling undercurrent of the storyline elevated CRIMSON PEAK beyond expectations while offering something different than the tiring microbudget fare in theaters.

 

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  1. THE NIGHTMARE (dir. Rodney Ascher)

Although this writer was not a fan of ROOM 237, Rodney Ascher proved himself a horror filmmaker to be reckoned with in THE NIGHTMARE. Offering a look behind the curtain of sleep paralysis (and the documentary process in general), THE NIGHTMARE felt as terrifying as it was informative, with Ascher’s filmed recreations serving as a horror benchmark that few 2015 films could meet.

 

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  1. THE BOY (dir. Craig MacNeill)

An unnerving exercise in slow-burn tension, THE BOY is at its most scary when leaving the horror to the imagination of its viewer. Anchored with an atmosphere of palpable dread and inevitable tragedy, THE BOY is a horror film where the other shoe can drop at any moment, making the journey to its shocking finale all the more riveting and uneasy.

 

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  1. THE EDITOR (dir. Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy)

Easily the craziest horror comedy of the year, Astron-6’s loving tribute to Italian Horror impressed this writer immensely with hard laughs, splattery kills and strong production design. It’s a marriage of parody and homage that is punctuated by the bold, unabashedly perverse nature of the proceedings, and it’s one this writer simply could not get enough of in 2015.

 

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  1. WE ARE STILL HERE (dir. Ted Geoghegan)

There are few horror films as fun and creepy as Ted Geoghegan’s WE ARE STILL HERE, a Fulci-esque ghost story with a supremely gory third act. But that petrifying payoff wouldn’t nearly work as well without the great characters and myriad scare sequences that Geoghegan employs to keep his audience on the edge of their seat.

 

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  1. THE FINAL GIRLS (dir. Todd Strauss-Schulson)

While some may be eager to write-off THE FINAL GIRLS as a PG-13 horror comedy, this tale of teens who find themselves trapped in an ‘80s slasher film is propelled to excellence by investigating the nature of loss, grief and closure. Just as likely to make one cry as it would laugh, THE FINAL GIRLS is an unexpectedly emotional experience that is less interested in commentary while doubling down on character.

 

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  1. LAST SHIFT (dir. Anthony DiBlasi)

Cerebral, chilling and clever, LAST SHIFT provided one of the most immersive horror experiences of 2015. Lean, mean and plenty creepy, Anthony DiBlasi subverts expectations around every corner of LAST SHIFT, with the film’s pulse-pounding climactic stand-off robbing the viewer of every and any chance to catch their breath.

 

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  1. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (dir. Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi)

A near-perfect film in many, many ways, this New Zealand vampire mockumentary yielded non-stop laughter while brilliantly saluting one of horror’s easiest targets. From the minds of FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS and EAGLE VS SHARK’s Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS shows off its blood as much as it does its brain, and offers a hilariously inventive comedy that will cement itself in many horror hound’s yearly rotation.

 

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  1. SOME KIND OF HATE (dir. Adam Egypt Mortimer)

Jumping from scary supernatural thriller to gruesome contemporary slasher, SOME KIND OF HATE is destined for longevity within the genre, offering an emotional gut-punch that was all-the-more sold by solid writing and superb performances. And while Adam Egypt Mortimer established himself as the real deal as a cinematic storyteller, the true star of the film is Sierra McCormick’s Moira, a villain whose spine-chilling method of dispatching victims makes her the most memorable on-screen killer in years.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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