Honourable mentions that would have made the cut, had I not seen so many great films in 2015: A Christmas Horror Story (drunk DJ William Shatner), The Final Girls, The ABCs of Death 2, Tales of Halloween (killer pumpkins!), Krampus (one I really hated cutting off the list), Slumlord and Hangman (entirely different approaches to a similar story). Not to mention such excellent television as Hannibal series 3 and Ash vs Evil Dead. And, were I not sticking to horror films this year, you'd best believe Mad Max: Fury Road would be in there hovering around number one.
in at number ten, shooting from the left field, the biggest surprise of the year. Joel Edgerton's (hi, fellow Joel) Blumhouse directing debut is more dark thriller than straight horror, but it packs more of a punch than most genuine genre efforts this year. All that without a single ball gag or machete in sight. There is a scary monkey though.
In a good year for horror comedies, cutting the list down to a reasonable amount took some doing. Hating children and loving Rainn Wilson/zombies as I do, Cooties makes the cut where others are, regrettably, left off. Rabid schoolchildren are pitted against a faculty of mismatched, weird teachers, bickering among themselves and fighting for their lives. Wilson steals the show (and, unexpectedly, hearts too), while Elijah Wood and the rest of the adults have a blast with one of 2015's funniest scripts. Even if writer/actor Leigh Whannell does give himself all the best lines...
Last year's The Babadook, in that as many will proclaim it overrated and bad as those do the best film of the year. It's just (quite a bit) outside of the top five for me, being an effective supernatural terroriser, but not holding up so well to repeat viewing. Still, it possesses a cracking concept, wonderful cast and some of the purest scares you'll find in a horror film. That soundtrack, though. Phwoar.
Yes, the one about the shower curtain. The first of this year's FrightFest favourites, and one you can't actually see yet. When fed up ex-nurse Danni moves into her new no-frills apartment, she doesn't expect the little matter of her mysteriously disappearing shower curtain to signal the beginning of a terrifying supernatural journey the likes of which horror cinema has never quite seen before. Funny, creepy and moving, it's one of the oddest experiences you'll have with a movie all year. Not bad for a film about a disappearing shower curtain.
Leave it to the Brits; the most brutal horror film of the year comes from Dominic Brunt, aka that lovely old Paddy from Emmerdale (a description the poor fellow must surely be tiring of now). Bleak and upsetting as only us English can muster, this glum slice of Britannia sets two would-be Enterprising enterprising café hosts against a sadistic loan shark determined to wring from them every last penny he's decided they owe. A hard watch but, as its placement on this list suggests, one of the very best.
Keeping with the British theme, this is undoubtedly 2015's most unusual. Part kitchen sink drama, part nature documentary, all grown human beings acting like apes, Aaaaaaaah! (eight a's) is fascinating, compelling and always troubling viewing – a shit daubing, masturbating, chittering, chattering grotesquerie that pulls no punches in depicting its bizarre conceit. Obviously, there's a cameo from Noel Fielding then.
The last of the FrightFest presentations, and the most fun I had with a movie all year. Not since discovering Braindead or Evil Dead 2 have I enjoyed cinematic splatter like Deathgasm, at one point laughing so hard that I spilled my beer all over my lap. We've all heard of splatterpunk, but Deathgasm is splattermetal, being the horror film equivalent of a Steel Panther song or a mosh pit full of zombies. The unfolding carnage is a joy to witness, the soundtrack appropriately heavy and the jokes absolutely hilarious.
What We Do in the Shadows
Another horror comedy, and another one from New Zealand too. That's where the comparisons end though, as What We Do in the Shadows is a very different kind of funny to Deathgasm – or, indeed, any of the other horror comedies this year. Laid back and low key, like a fanciful Flight of the Concords (from which it borrows a founding member and the brilliant Rhys Darby), this mockumentary sitcom is a quotable, adorable, laugh-out-loud hilarious success which I could easily watch season upon season of, should it ever find its way to TV (which it definitely should). Never mind best horror comedy, this is the best comedy movie of the year.
Not to be confused with the one about the racist dog (although it'll make a fine double bill). A sweet, slow and entirely upsetting story of the bond between a girl and her dog. When the two are separated by the former's estranged semi-asshole father (it's complicated), the latter summons a canine uprising which threatens to bring an entire city to its knees. Much as we might love man's best friend, White God reminds us just how terrifying the beasts can be should they put their mind to it. I sobbed.
Cowboys versus cannibals, with Kurt Russell rocking an incredible bit of face fuzz. What more do you need to know? Well okay then, Bone Tomahawk is a gorgeous, brutal and smart combination of Western and grindhouse cannibal feature, with the best character work I've seen all year and the most memorable death sequence we've had in years. True grit, and The Hills Have Eyes prequel (shut up and let me headcanon) I had always wanted.
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Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for HorrorTalk and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.