As 2016 draws to a close, we pause and reflect on the year that was. So many tragedies flooded the news, and it seemed that every day Hollywood lost another icon. But while the year was crummy for most people, the horror genre thrived. Now, we take a look back at the year that was, reliving the terrors that crossed the screen in 2016.
I’m not going to lie; it was hard to narrow down 10 films to fill this list. While 2016 has been a horrific year for most (myself included), it did produce some sensational work within the horror genre.
For the last time this year, I’m opening Filmoria’s Chamber of Horrors doors. Follow the blood drops until you reach the archives. This is going to be one hell of a list.
10. The Purge: Election Year
Years after sparing the man who killed his son, former police sergeant Barnes has become head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.
For me, this was an enjoyable installment, summing up the phenomenon that was The Purge series nicely. An interesting story that stays solid throughout, not seeming to give up with its twists, turns, and overall adventurous, yet at the same time eerie overall execution is the reason this film gets a place on this list.
9. Blair Witch
After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch.
This direct sequel from the 1999 smash hit was hit and miss with audiences. Regardless of your stance, you cannot deny this film was successful. While the first film was more focused on the characters being lost in the woods, this highly anticipated sequel focused on being hunted. The subtlety that carried the first film is long gone; this is now mainstream horror.
8. Dead 7
A post-apocalyptic Western that follows a group of gunslingers as they look to rid a small town of a zombie plague.
This is one film that certainly had a target audience, and it wasn’t for hard-core horror fans. From the mind of Nick Carter and Sawyer Perry, this western zombie flick certainly had its cringe-worthy moments. As for its target audience? Well, three of the films actors – A.J. McLean, Howie Dorough, and Nick Carter – are members of the Backstreet Boys. Also in this film are Joey Fatone, and Chris Kirkpatrick from *NSYNC and Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees. This is essentially a film of 90’s pop artists and the like. And I loved it, especially A.J. who genuinely surprised me with his ability to play a Joker-esk villain. It certainly was Larger Than Life.
Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.
Either you’re a fan of extreme and relentless violence and 31 is a must-see for you, or you’ll completely detest the film for its lack of plot, character background, style or overall lack of taste. I usually fall into the latter category, however I was pleasantly surprised by 31. Not something I’ll go out of my way to watch again, this Rob Zombie film is sheer mindless horror entertainment.
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane
After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.
This is a very clever psychological horror movie with a great twist at the end. The finale is rather open ended, in which you can view it as either hopeful or bleak. An outstanding film that certainly leaves audiences wanting more.
5. The VVitch
A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.
This film is all about atmosphere. Fantastic cinematography, acting by the entire cast, production, low key score. I won’t lie; it’s extremely slow in parts, but worth watching for the excellent and unique atmosphere the director managed to create.
4. Lights Out
When her little brother, Martin, experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie.
The film is as generic as a horror movie can be – Family in peril, check. Ghost/Monster/Creature terrorizing, check. Jump scares/Death, check. Obligatory backstory reveal to said Ghost/Monster/Creature, check. End fight/battle, check – which is not a bad thing at all because most horrors work from this formula. It is how this formula is presented and what new ideas are brought which makes or breaks whether a film is good or bad and new to feature film director David F. Sandberg shows that not only has he a couple of new ideas to bring to the table but he knows how to work the formula to keep things tense and scary. Despite some rather obvious plot holes, this film is certainly worth the watch… with the lights on.
3. The Shallows
A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills.
Do I dare say it? 2016 brought us hope that a decent shark film can be made. The performance of Blake Lively in the lead role is efficient, managing to hold a difficult role in a film centered on the protagonist. The soundtrack has no exaggerations, conveying the necessary tension that the story needs. While the film did overuse clichés that we’ve come to associate with shark movies, The Shallows holds the attention and interest of the viewer, who will be tense and attentive to every detail of the story, waiting for the outcome of the dynamic between the prey and the predator.
2. Don’t Breathe
Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn’t as helpless as he seems.
Two words; Stephen Lang. What makes a horror-inspired thriller good? It’s the suspense, the nail-biting, tense situations the film presents that have the audience at the edge of their seats at all times. And I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this film delivers just that. There is no real hero in this movie, which is why it’s so refreshing.
1. The Conjuring 2
Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by a malicious spirit.
When it comes to sequels, this is the one that needs to be topped. James Wan is a genius. Easily one of the best (if not THE best) horror movies of 2016 The Conjuring 2 could also be considered one of the best horror movie sequels of all time. Bonnie Aarons as Valak (The Nun) is one of the biggest standouts. Chilling, haunting and unbelievably creepy, The Conjuring 2 is my pick for the best of horror in 2016.
Do you agree with my list? What horror movies got your vote for being the best that 2016 had to offer? Hit me up on Twitter (@Ahlephia) and join the discussion.