Charlie is the wandering Sasquatch of the BGH team. He has a proclivity for monsters, ghosts, and things he can't stop with his massive size. He also writes reviews, blogs and is the Co-host of The Instomatic with BGH's own Casey Criswell.
Buried amongst the popularity of American Sniper, Project Almanac slipped into theaters almost unnoticed and didn’t do very well at the box office. The found footage, time travel, thriller is simple at its core and should appeal favorably to horror and genre fans due to its simplicity and gut punch twists. Though not without myriad problems, it features plenty to be curious about.
With the rise in accessible technology to the public, there has been a considerable rise in independent Science Fiction filmmaking. It has never been easier to realize filmmakers wildest thoughts and dreams on camera than it is today. 2014’s The Signal is a perfect example of this. Made with a slim budget of $4 million; writer/director William Eubank was able to get a lot of heavy Sci-Fi with legitimate sets, visual effects and a solid cast most prominently featuring Laurence Fishburne and Lin Shaye.
Possession movies have been hot over the past five years. The most prominent success stories coming from James Wan and Jason Blum with The Conjuring, Insidious parts 1 and 2, Sinister, and of course the Paranormal Activity franchise. Their success has spawned a countless amount of like-minded ghostly or demonic tales; Sinister’s director, Scott Derrickson, contributed another entry to this oeuvre with 2014’s Deliver Us from Evil.
The second high profile found footage Bigfoot movie of the year, Eduardo Sanchez’s Exists, is a stark change of pace from its predecessor Willow Creek. Though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Critics of Willow Creek often lauded the suspenseful atmosphere, eerie calm and the particularly hair raising tent sequence. Though the energy of that film really came down precipitously following the tent sequence and it’s Blair Witch Project similarities really hindered some of the punches it saved up. Exists has the inverse of that problem.
Homage is a challenging subject to tackle. Consistently creative types attempt to capture the magic that they enjoyed when young by mimicking the steps and procedures of their heroes. Regarding Adam Wingard’s The Guest those prior heroes are people like John Carpenter, James Cameron, and the bard himself William Shakespeare.
(Editor's note: Over the rest of this week and next we'll be rolling out our staff picks for the best in horror from 2014, leading up to the official BGH Best of 2014 list and the Year in Review podcast. Enjoy!)
The Top 10
10. Annabelle - Another entry in the possession golden age spunoff from James Wan's The Conjuring. A few twists and tweaks on a familiar formula provides strong scares and a demonic representation.
Director Jim Mickle is what some would call an ‘up and comer’ in the genre filmmaking industry. He began in 2006 with the infection/zombie thriller Mulberry Street, tackled vampires and post-apocalyptic America in 2010 with Stake Land, and then dove into the family cannibal genre with We Are What We Are in 2013. Now he has delivered a gritty crime drama starring Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard and Don Johnson with the vague title of Cold in July; but with this addition to his directorial body of work I would say that Jim Mickle has arrived.
Sequels tend to flourish when they seek out their own direction. They maintain a certain amount of familiarity that was enjoyed with the first film, but raise the stakes and change the dynamics for the characters that helped make the original a success. [Rec] 3: Genesis is an example of a film that goes to that newer higher bar and successfully changes the entire landscape of what we are to expect.