In remembrance of 2014, we will be highlighting each of our contributor’s “Best of 2014” on an individual basis. This isn’t limited to movies & television either. No, no, this bleeds over into memorabilia, music and so much more. Without further ado…
Deliver Us from Evil
“Deliver Us from Evil” earns a spot on my list because it wasn’t “The Conjuring” and I still haven’t seen “The Babadook.” I know, shame, but there you have it. This movie, honestly, is here because Eric Bana is an excellent actor and, along with Joel McHale, the generic plotline here is knocked out of the park. Why? Because good actors elevate mediocre scripts, and as far as scripts go, this one isn’t far above the median line, but it has more than just great performances boosting its bottom line. The movie is ugly (tone, color, atmosphere) from the start. We don’t go from happy to shitty, but more like shitty to shittier, which reads more realistically to me. Now, take that with a grain of salt, considering it is an exorcism movie and to believe in exorcisms, you have to believe in God, which is a conversation for a different time. “Deliver” relies more on long, tense scenes than cheap jump-out-of-the-dark thrills, which is where “The Conjuring” lost me. Frankly, it’s where a lot of horror movies lose me anymore. For those reasons, this “based on true events” movie gets a leg up and lands on my (limited) movie best-of for the year.
The Walking Dead (television)
You’ll see several television shows on my list, but that’s because I’m a big TV watcher. It fits into my schedule better (okay, let’s face it, it’s also because I don’t like people and tend to stay home instead of going out) and it’s a far more intimate medium than the big screen. Writers can take their time to develop characters and storylines and really bring them home, and “The Walking Dead” is (currently) the best horror TV show running. If you’re one of those people who want to bemoan those episodes with little zombie action, you miss the nuances that really make this show stand out. Every character (that isn’t dead, and even many that are) has changed, multiple times, continuously growing. I could go on and give specific instances, spoilers on how the action, blood, gore, and excellent character development all parlay into spectacular television, but instead, all I’ll say is this: The stories being told in this show truly are our stories. Just go back to the premiere episode from 2010 and picture those double doors with these four words spray-painted on them: “Don’t Open. Dead Inside.” That’s us, friends and neighbors. Me, you, the world in general. Look around, just not at the flowers.
A remake/reboot made my list, which will shock some people that know me. But that’s because they didn’t try to change the “Godzilla” I remember from my childhood. The critics (and many fans) complained that there was a lack of focus on characters and/or character development. To those naysayers… if you want an attempt at characterization in a Godzilla movie, go watch the horrible 1998 Matthew Broderick film where they can’t even figure out how big the damn thing is from scene to scene. Also, characterization was never a strong point in any Godzilla movie and this wasn’t any different. We have a big monster fighting other monsters while destroying a whole bunch of buildings. End of story. And it was awesome to behold. “Godzilla” is a MUST SEE for any fan of the old Godzilla movies. The 2014 version is a big, loud, spot-on update to a classic monster and I, for one, hope they make a few more that are just as big, loud, and non-character driven as this one was.
From Dusk Till Dawn (television)
Let’s talk a minute about “From Dusk Till Dawn,” the show from El Rey and Robert Rodriguez. It’s on my list for two very simple reasons: I love vampires and it’s not “True Blood.” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed “True Blood” for what it was and watched faithfully to the end (ASIDE: seriously, Buckner, how the FUCK do you kill Tara OFFSCREEN?), but they weren’t really the vampires I wanted anymore. To quote Jack Crow: “Well first of all, they’re not romantic. It’s not like they’re a bunch of fuckin’ fags hoppin’ around in rented formal wear and seducing everybody in sight with cheesy Euro-trash accents, all right?” The vampires from this television show are more snake than devil, more evil than not, and there isn’t a single Mr. Northman to be found. Also, let’s face it, the movie “From Dusk Till Dawn” is a classic (at least to me) and the remaking needed to be done well and, little did we know, this was a precursor for things to come. Namely SyFy’s “12 Monkeys” coming in January (based on the film by Terry Gilliam, which was based on the French short film “La Jetee”) and HBOs forthcoming “Westworld,” based on Crichton’s 1973 film. Whether or not those upcoming shows will run through the source movie the way FDtD did remains to be seen. Either way, it’s an interesting trend to keep an eye on.
The Following (television)
I’m not sure where to start with “The Following,” other than to say it’s here because I believe it’s a large part of what’s been discussed as a renaissance in horror programming. Let’s face it, up until 2010, there was little horror on television, and what we made it to series was cut off at the knees before it found its legs. I’m talking true horror television, too, not like “The Vampire Diaries” or “Teen Wolf” or even the stand-alone episodic shows like “The Twilight Zone” or “Tales from the Crypt.” We have a devoted serial killer and his merry band of psychopaths (shades of Manson, for sure) literally hacking their way through prime air play. And the good guys are just as screwed up as the bad guys. Sure, there are people who say Purefoy isn’t charismatic enough to pull off someone like Joe Carroll, but I disagree, which isn’t unusual; I’m one of the few people who want to see Daryl Dixon die. While I don’t think “The Following” will be around beyond its upcoming third season, I think it’s done a more than admirable job of paving the way for more shows that focus on non-supernatural killers or apocalyptic scenarios.