December 30, 2014

The Best Movies of 2014

It's not easy putting together any sort of Top 10 or "Best of" list, especially when it comes to movies. I'm not really sure that most "Best of ____" lists are really comprised of the best movies, rather they end up being more of a "Movies we liked the best this year" type of thing, or at best, a mixture of both.

The best movies of any year will be expertly crafted, and they’ll entertain us. They’ll scare us, or they’ll make us laugh. Maybe they'll disgust us. Maybe they'll make us think. Maybe they'll even make us feel something.

Once in a while, if we’re really lucky, they’ll do all of those things and more.

2014 may not have been the best year for Horror & Genre movies, but when the good ones did come along, they ended up being really special. Below are the ones that were the most special to us; some were truly the year's best, while I suppose others were just the ones we enjoyed the most. Either way, they're all great flicks that deserve the love. 

*Be sure to click the pics to read our full reviews of each movie, for a more in-depth look into our choices.

As much as Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett's You're Next! underwhelmed us to death, we found their latest effort, The Guest, to be the rare movie that barely misses a beat from start to finish. It's clever, moody, dark, violent, boasts one hell of a soundtrack, and most of all, it's a hell of a lot of fun. Everything about this movie just clicked for us.

If we had to pick one movie in 2014 that was both "The Best" and our favorite at the same time, it would have to be The Guest.

Read our review of The Guest HERE.

We usually don't include movies that haven't received some sort of proper release in the U.S. on our Year End lists, but seeing that Killers is finally being released here in January (after already playing in many other parts of the world) we made an exception. We really don't want to wait another year to be able to praise this movie, because it's just too damn good not to talk about right now.

To put it simply, Killers is a harsh, nasty little look at the nature of people, and what drives them to kill. It's as psychologically terrifying as it is viscerally disturbing, and if you're a fan of violent Thrillers like I Saw the Devil, then this movie should suit you perfectly. When it finally hits VOD on January 23rd here in the U.S., seek it out immediately, and bask in its creepy, nasty glory.

Read our review of Killers HERE.

Starry Eyes is a slow-burn of a movie that builds its main character's desire for stardom into an explosive and shocking finale that still has us reeling. Alex Essoe was great as the girl with starry eyes, and much like the movie itself, she went to some pretty dark and horrific places with her performance.

This is one very sublime, classy, and shocking movie.

Read our review of Starry Eyes HERE.

Cold in July is probably the one movie in our Top 10 that strays the farthest from the "Horror" descriptor, and it probably would have been better suited to our Genre Movies List, but being that it's one of the 10 best movies that we've seen in 2014, we felt that it belonged here. *If Blue Ruin can be talked about in Horror circles, then so can Cold in July!

Anchored by a trio of excellent performances from Sam Shepard, Don Johnston, and Michael C. Hall, and steeped in some pretty disturbing subject matter, Cold in July kicked our asses in the best of ways, like few other movies in 2014 have. The excellent writing/directing team of Jim Mickle and Nick Damici have given us one of the best Revenge Thrillers that we've seen in ages with this one, and we can't recommend it highly enough.

Read our review of Cold in July HERE.

Incredibly gory, blatantly ridiculous, and wholly inappropriate, Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is a barrel full of crazy, zombie fun. Most Horror movies that go the over-the-top route tend to suck, mainly because they spend so much of their time and energy just trying to be crazy, that everything else about them suffers. This sequel, however -which is, by the way, bigger and ballsier than its predecessor- is one demented, shameless exercise in fun that gets it right in just about every way.

Along with The Raid 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy, Red Snow 2 is one of the most purely enjoyable movies that we've seen this year.

Read our review of Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead HERE.

Big Bad Wolves is a slick, expertly-crafted movie, that is as darkly humorous as it is profoundly disturbing. We love how revenge drives the "good guys" in this movie to become monsters on par with the sexual predators that they hunt, even though their cause is "just." And the final shot in the movie is just haunting...

Big Bad Wolves may not be a perfect film, but it certainly isn't far from it.

Read our review of Big Bad Wolves HERE.

On our first watch, The Town That Dreaded Sundown felt like an exercise in style over substance, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but we usually tend to stand on the side of substance. Having seen it twice more since then, its Fincher-esque style thrilled and captivated us even more than it did the first time, and this time it felt much more like an exercise in both style and substance, on an equal level.

It also boasts some gory kills, and an crazy cool killer, so really, it's got everything we need in a slasher flick. Addison Timlin naked would have been nice though... but we digress.

Read our review of The Town That Dreaded Sundown HERE.

For us, The Babadook was a trying watch, but at the same, it was also a clever, fresh, and ultimately satisfying one as well. The themes that it explored are fairly deep and complex, and once the third reel kicked in, the way that the film handled them was truly horrific.

The Babadook seems to be the critical darling of the Horror world in 2014, and while it's not our favorite Horror flick of the year (there are certainly movies in the Honorable Mention section below that we enjoyed far more), we can certainly understand why it has resonated so well with so many people, and we can't ignore just how great this film is.

Read our review of The Babadook HERE.

Despite leaving us with a few unanswered questions, and offering up an underwhelming ending that made us say "that's it?," At the Devil's Door is one hell of a spooky little Haunted House flick. With The Pact, and now this one, Nicholas McCarthy has quickly become one of our favorite writer/director's in the Genre.

We're probably going to take some crap for including this movie on a "Best of" list, but the fact is that this is a twisty, gorgeous, and eerie movie that delivered effective Horror better than did most others of its kind this year.

Read our review of At the Devil's Door HERE.

As shitty as The Purge was, we're grateful that so many people ended up going to see it last summer, because it enabled them to make this excellent sequel. The Purge: Anarchy is superior to the the first movie in every way; it's lean, mean, has a great story that makes sense, has some characters that are actually likable, and it's filled with so much tension, that we basically had no fingernails left after watching it.

If we're being honest, it's most likely Frank Grillo that made The Purge: Anarchy work so well (because the guy is a natural born movie anti-hero), but it also stands on its own as one kick-ass movie that we already want a follow-up to.

Read our review of The Purge: Anarchy HERE.

The movies in this Honorable Mention section are among the best that we saw in 2014, and many of them could have easily been in any Top 10 list, including ours. In fact, some of them were originally in our Top 10 list, but ended up here for one reason or another.

The point is that lists are not definitive, and just because something doesn’t finish Top 10, doesn’t mean that it didn’t deserve to. Placement can be subjective, and does not necessarily speak to overall quality. As long as they're good, who really cares where a movie lands in the rankings, you know?

*Be sure to click the pics to read our full reviews of each movie, for a more in-depth look into our choices.


A few quick notes:
  • As Above, So Below is far better than a lot of critics gave it credit for.
  • Blue Ruin and Cold in July would make for an excellent double feature.
  • The Canal was creepy, detractors be damned!
  • Cheap Thrills had a top-notch cast, and was fun from start to finish. 
  • Honeymoon was eerie as hell, and Rose Leslie is a star.
  • As imperfect as Horns may be, it's still a great movie. Having read the book beforehand, we probably had a better appreciation of what was going on with the story, so its imperfections didn't irk us like they seemed to do with others. 
  • The Houses October Built has its issues, but it's stuck with us ever since we saw it. Creepy stuff.
  • Late Phases was a great werewolf movie. Nick Damici really can do no wrong.
  • For being a bigger studio movie, Oculus delivered the goods exceptionally well.
  • Proxy was a wild, twisty ride that still makes us shiver when we think about it.
  • The Sacrament and Willow Creek are both great examples of how to do Found Footage the right way. 
  • The Taking of Deborah Logan was one hell of an effort, and one that took us completely by surprise.
  • Tusk was stupid by design, and yet somehow Michael Parks' performance elevated it to a legitimately enjoyable level.
  • Finally, Wolf Creek 2 was a great sequel, and we're not sure how it didn't end up in our Top 10. The world is an imperfect place?

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