Last year was such a bountiful one for horror fans that we could probably just keep reviewing 2016’s overlooked fright films ad infinitum. Alas, that would be unfair to 2017, which no doubt has terrors of its own to offer us, so perhaps it’s time to wrap things up. We’ve already discussed at length The Witch and The Invitation, both of which are films well worth the time. Here are a few more.
Out of gas and strapped for cash, punk band the Ain’t Rights reluctantly agree to a play a gig for neo-Nazi skinheads at a dive deep in the woods outside Portland. Returning backstage after the show, the band stumbles upon a murder scene. The guilty skinheads quickly decide to eliminate any and all witnesses, but the band manages to take a bar employee hostage and barricade themselves in the green room. Blood quickly begins to flow on both sides.
More a siege/survival movie than a straight horror film, Green Room has nevertheless shot to the top of many a Best Horror of 2016 lists. Admittedly, there is absolutely nothing new in the setup or in the way the story progresses. The enjoyment lies entirely in the execution (pun intended). Following up on his excellent revenge-flick, Blue Ruin, writer/director Jeremy Saulnier has delivered yet another taut, blood-soaked thriller with some notable performances from the late Anton Yelchin as one of the besieged bandmates and Patrick Stewart (yes, that Patrick Stewart) as the leader of the white supremacists. The movie is bare bones and focused entirely on delivering visceral thrills, which it does skillfully. Still, if you need a moral to the story, perhaps it’s that if you’re not a murderous, dope-dealing neo-Nazi yourself, then it’s probably not a good idea to work for murderous, dope-dealing neo-Nazis, even if you do need the money. The sin of putting oneself unnecessarily in harm’s way and such, you know?
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in The House
Hospice nurse Lily arrives at the home of renowned horror author Iris Blum to care for the dying wordsmith during her final days. As Iris lingers on, however, Lily discovers she’s in for a much longer stay than expected. As the months pass, the easily frightened Lily begins to experience a series of odd occurrences involving both her patient and the house itself. Deciding to investigate the cause of the disturbances despite her fearful nature, Lily starts to uncover clues that Blum’s best known novel, The Lady in the Walls, might not be a work of fiction after all.
Lethargic, slothful, torpid; these are all words that describe movies which move at a much quicker pace than I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in The House. This sophomore directorial effort from Anthony Perkins’ little boy Oz is so deliberate in the way it unfolds that it will test even the most diehard fans of “slow burn” cinema. In fact, the movie isn’t so much an actual moving picture as it is a sustained tone poem. And then, it’s more Annabel Lee than The Conqueror Worm, or even one of the rougher Psalms for that matter. But for those times when only a slow, sad poem will do, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in The House is the perfect choice.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
A father and son team of medical examiners (Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch) are tasked with determining the cause of death of an unidentified murder victim. As the autopsy proceeds, the horrifying secrets hidden within the young woman’s corpse come to light.
And that’s all you’re getting about the plot of The Autopsy of Jane Doe, because discovering what’s actually going on at the same time as the characters is all part of the fun. Sadly, as with so many films that rely heavily on a building tension to generate chills, the payoff at the end doesn’t quite live up to what comes before. That’s a minor gripe, though, for what is overall an enjoyable little creep-fest. Be warned, though, this a movie that doesn’t shy away from the fact that everyone eventually goes the way of all flesh (or of all the earth if you want to translate the verse correctly), so those who are squeamish about a little body horror might want to give this one a pass.
And with that, we’ll end our little outing into the overlooked horror films of 2016.After all, what’s the use in dwelling on the past. As a wise hobbit once said, “Go back? No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do!” So, let’s move forward into 2017 where awaits such treasures as the 7th Wrong Turn film, the 8th Saw film, the 10th Hellraiser film, the 13th Friday the 13th film, and the 19th (yes, the 19th) Amityville film… Yeah. You know what, it’s okay to look back sometimes. That’s what DVDs and Blu-rays are for. Enjoy.