If 2014 proved anything for cinema it’s that the horror genre is ready to make its third comeback. We’ve had a rough number of years with just a few hits here and there, and an abundance of sequels. 2014 marked one of the best years for the genre, with a load of great films, all ranging in different styles. While these won’t win any shiny awards, they did win a place on this list.
10. Zombeavers (dir. Jordan Rubin)
Ever since the first trailer came out I had to see this, and much to my dismay I wasn’t able to attend the TriBeCa screening that I had a ticket for due to my real job. However, I did finally get an import copy of the DVD, and watched with glee as these infected beavers went on a killing spree. While not overly original outside of its creature choice, the film offers plenty of laughs and is just a fun little ride. Sadly, North America still has to wait a few more months before the film hits a limited theatrical run and a digital rental release, while folks in Europe can own the DVD and Blu-ray right now.
9. Nurse 3-D (dir. Douglas Aarniokoski)
Oh man, the trailers got my blood pumping for all the right reasons. Boobs, blood and, well, more boobs! While our nurse might not be the general definition of “sexy”, she exudes the trait, and brings her own charms to the role. We covered the film in a podcast, which you should definitely listen to. Sadly, the DVD and Vudu copies are edited from the rental versions we watched on Amazon, so there is less T&A, which is a shame, but ultimately has no effect on its placement in this list.
8. Deliver Us From Evil (dir. Scott Derrickson)
Possession films are so over done, and yet I loved this movie. It’s eerie and maybe a bit predictable, but I freaking loved the films big finale. From the music to the imagery, it really sold the film as a whole. I pretty much said everything about this one in my review, but this was one hell of a ride.
7. All Cheerleaders Die (dir. Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson)
I was so stoked when I got this film for review as it was one of the first “big” titles I got an advance copy of. It’s a mix of a few genes, and there are some flaws here and there, but McKee and Sivertson do a great job of mixing things up. It’s a little Mean Girls with a dash of The Craft. What more could I ask for?
6. 13 Sins (dir. Daniel Stamm)
Maybe this isn’t true horror and is more of a thriller, but hot damn, it was a sick and thrilling ride. A man who is down on his luck gets a phone call and he must perform 13 tasks to win money. The amount he wins increases as the tasks become riskier. This film pretty much came out of nowhere, and I put it on because I was bored watching Netflix one night. I know I recommended it to Branden and Ashe, and both of them loved it as well.
5. Camp Dread (dir. Harrison Smith)
This film reels you in with its fantastic horror cast. Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Danielle Harris (Halloween series) and Eric Roberts come together to make a horror film that is part slasher and part survival flick. The kills are a blast, including one of the most original kills I’ve seen in a long time. The cast is interesting, for the most part, and there is a strong African American character that stole the show for me. Writer/Director Harrison Smith is one to keep an eye on, and hopefully his next two projects are as good as this.
4. Horns (dir. Alexandre Aja)
I really didn’t like the novel that this film is based on, despite being a hardcore Joe Hill fanboy. We have Daniel Radcliffe playing a man whose hit rock bottom. The love of his life is dead, and he’s being blamed for her murder. To rub some salt in the wounds, he wakes up with a pair of horns growing out of his head. A more streamlined and less fluff filled format really helps Horns move at just the right pace, and Radcliffe is excellent here. This was a surprise for me.
3. Stage Fright (dir. Jerome Sable)
Have you ever wanted to see the cast of Glee get murdered by a serial killer? Me too, and while those exact actors aren’t here, wed do get some carbon copies. I adored this film from the second it started, and while the killer’s identity is a bit of a bummer, it’s a hoot watching a slasher musical. While it’s no Rocky Horror, the camp (no pun intended) factor is really high, and part of the film’s charm.
2. Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort (dir. Valeri Milev)
I know, a sequel in the number 2 spot? Not to mention that it’s the only sequel on this list, and it’s the 6th film in a hit or miss series? I know, the world must be ending, or I’ve finally lost my marbles, but dammit, this was excellent. It’s bloody, over the top, and offers incest and boobies. Oh, and the best kill of 2014 is delivered in this film: the enema kill. I’ll leave the rest of it to your imagination, but it’s so good and perfectly executed.
1. The Taking of Deborah Logan (dir. Adam Robitel)
I detest the found footage genre. Sure, there are a small handful of films that are okay, at least on the horror side of things, but most of them make no sense. Sidebar: my grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, so watching Deborah battle this illness brought back a lot of memories, and allowed me to really connect with her. I found the casting here is perfect, and everyone is just likable enough. Jill Larson is fantastic as Deborah, and there’s one ballsy scene for her that just knocks it all out of the ballpark.
The biggest problem with the found footage genre is that the characters keep filming for no reason, and yet The Taking of Deborah Logan gives you a valid reason for the constant footage. What starts as a project obviously turns into something more, but as the film reaches the climax our cast relies on the light from the camera as the only way to see. This leads to a lot of tossing and shifting among characters, but it works so well. The last few seconds of the film feel a bit predictable, but this is one hell of a shocking ride.
There you have my top 10 horror films of 2014. Hopefully there are a few you haven’t heard of in here. Three of them are available via Netflix Instant, and one doesn’t have an official US release yet (Zombeavers), which is a shame. Otherwise, I wholeheartedly recommend these title if you’re a horror fan of any degree.