It’s that time of year when it is traditional to list the films that cut the mustard during the year, so here are my choices for my favourites of 2015. The only rule I had was that the films must have had a theatrical or home entertainment release this year, as a lot of the films that I saw or reviewed were festival rollovers from last year that got a wide release this year. Enjoy!
10. Night of the Wolf: Late Phases (18)
Werewolf movies tend to be a bit hit-and-miss, with the best of the genre being brilliant (An American Werewolf in London/The Howling) and the worst being totally worthless (Werewolf: The Beast Among Us/The Howling: Reborn), but in 2015 we were treated to a couple of lycanthropic gems in the shape of William Brent Bell’s Wer and this, Night of the Wolf: Late Phases. But whereas Wer approaches the werewolf legend from the angle of a medical condition, Night of the Wolf: Late Phases takes the form of a character study as a blind Vietnam vet hoping for a peaceful retirement has to infiltrate his local church group to flush out the monster responsible for a series of nighttime killings. Featuring a respectable transformation scene that doesn’t rely heavily on CGI and an excellent performance from Nick Damici in the lead role, this is a werewolf movie that harks back to tradition, updates the legend successfully and treats the subject matter seriously, making it the best werewolf movie for quite some time.
Read my full review of Night of the Wolf: Late Phases on the FrightFest website here.
9. What We Do in the Shadows (15)
Another attempt at spoofing the vampire movie but with What We Do in the Shadows it appears that somebody got it right. Mixing a fan’s knowledge of vampire movies, slapstick comedy and a sense of irony not utilised so well since The Office first appeared on TV, WWDITS was a faux-documentary following the lives of a house full of vampires and detailing how they have adapted to modern life. Full of gallows humour and bang-on performances the film manages to maintain the high level of quality throughout and proved that comedy doesn’t have to rely on gross-out humour to be funny.
Read my full review of What We Do in the Shadows on the Flickering Myth website here.
8. We Are Still Here (18)
Supernatural ghost stories are two-a-penny these days and it takes something pretty special to get noticed above the slew of Paranormal Activity sequels and CGI-heavy, direct-to-DVD titles that fill up the bargain bins every week. Luckily, We Are Still Here rose above the rest of the pack simply by being made by somebody with enthusiasm and an obvious love for genre. It isn’t perfect – in fact, you could call it shoddy in places – but it grips you from the outset and remains consistently entertaining throughout, with a final 20 minutes that ranks as one of the most mental climaxes in a mainstream horror movie for a good few years.
Read my full review of We Are Still Here on the Flickering Myth website here.
7. Spectre (12A)
It seemed like a long time coming but the world’s favourite spy returned to the big screen in spectacular style in Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as 007. Following on from Skyfall‘s hammering home of the James Bond legend, Spectre expanded the nostalgic narrative of world-dominating supervillains and shady criminal organisations mixed with a touch of humour that Craig’s turn as the character had so far lacked, but it also didn’t skimp on the action as a spectacular opening scene gave way to a sprawling epic that finally gave long-time Bond fans the confrontation they had been waiting for. It may not have pleased everybody by being nearly three hours long but nobody could deny that the scope and scale of the Bond universe is as appealing and exciting now as it has ever been.
6. Mad Max: Fury Road (15)
It was a long time coming but 2015 finally saw the arrival of a new Mad Max film. With Tom Hardy replacing Mel Gibson as the titular Max, director George Miller’s fourth instalment is basically a two-hour car chase across the Outback as Max and Furiosa (Charleze Theron) go up against a ruthless warlord. Stunning visuals, amazing stunts and non-stop action guaranteed the film’s success and showed that not all belated franchise sequels have to be mainstream-pandering rubbish.
5. Spring (15)
A romantic poem set to the template of a horror movie, Spring is a totally engaging love story with a Lovecraftian twist that will appeal to a broader audience than your usual coming-of-age creature feature, if that is such a thing. Beautifully shot, well acted and directed with a dream-like quality that never loses focus, Spring seemingly came from nowhere and was one of the nicest surprises of the year because it’s a wonderful film.
Read my full review of Spring on the Flickering Myth website here.
4. Discopath (18)
There have been many attempts to replicate the slasher movies of the ’70s & ’80s over the last few years but most of them never quite got the formula right. Discopath puts you right back in the era of flared trousers, glitterballs and the sleazy streets of New York, and is a glorious celebration of what made those original slashers so much fun. Caked in blood, sweat and pushed along by a funky soundtrack, Discopath will easily fit in with any slasher movie marathon you care to indulge in.
Read my full review of Discopath on the Flickering Myth website here.
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12A)
Well, this one sneaked out unnoticed, don’t you think? Of course, it’s Star Wars so the hype was always going to be huge but with original creator George Lucas no longer at the helm a lot was riding on this. Luckily director J.J. Abrams knows his Jedi from his Sith and The Force Awakens was a triumphant return to the universe that Lucas created back in 1977 without any of the cold, soulless CGI worlds of the more recent prequels. Old hands Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew returned to pass on the baton (lightsabre?) to impressive younger stars Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and John Boyega in style and, for the time being at least, Star Wars seems to be in capable hands.
2. Turbo Kid (18)
Many have tried it but few have succeeded to this level of authenticity. Turbo Kid tapped back into the Cannon Films way of doing things and gave us a loving homage to low-budget 1980s sci-fi/action movies featuring the legend that is Michael Ironside as the main villain and in Laurence Leboeuf’s Apple we got one of the most endearing and lovable characters in recent film memory. A total blast from beginning to end, this violent and blood-spattered adventure hit home like no other retro movie has done so far.
Read my full review of Turbo Kid on the FrightFest website here.
1. Bait (18)
Dominic Brunt’s second feature film was an exercise in pure revenge terror and violence with very little fat on it. Two women borrow money from a loan shark not knowing the consequences that lay ahead when they don’t meet the terms and conditions, and Brunt does not hold back in showing us what happens when you don’t pay what you owe. A grim and gritty British thriller full of excellent performances and some juicy violence, it’s no wonder it went down a storm at FrightFest in the summer.
Read my full review of Bait on the FrightFest website here.