GORE IN THE STORE

REVIEW INDEX

FRIGHTFEST GORE IN THE STORE TOP 10 FILMS OF 2021 - PART ONE

 

In the first of a two-part look back at 2021, Gore in the Store regular contributor Iain MacLeod picks his favourite ten films of the year.

 

After a year where we seemed to be crawling back to some degree of normalcy, we now find ourselves once again in uncertain times. After a winter of being locked down we finally found ourselves able to get back out to the cinema again, enjoying a steady backlog of delayed films from 2020. Some were worth the wait, a couple of which are included here, while some not so much. Like last year though there was a very interesting mix of genre films; some taking big risks that paid off very interestingly and others that stuck to the tried and tested ways. Horror seems to thrive in times of turmoil and this year was no exception, seeping through to the mainstream in many ways, whether it was the astonishing success of the Battle Royale inspired Korean Netflix smash Squid Game or the gothic ghost story inflections that ran through of all things the Princess Diana biopic Spencer. Even superhero cinema was affected with James Gunn’s gloriously gory spin on The Suicide Squad which had touches of Stuart Gordon style splatter and a giant rampaging kaiju. Thinning it all down to ten films was a difficult, but fun, task showing that the genre is still thriving, showing no signs of going anywhere for a while yet. Again, it looks like the upcoming year has many promising genre prospects in store for us. In the meantime, let us look back at the last twelve months, beginning with…

 

10 - FEAR STREET

 

 

It might be considered a cheat to place three films in the first spot here, but this slasher trilogy worked as a cohesive whole on several levels. Beginning in 1994 with a SCREAM inspired riff that later develops into something more supernatural. Winding back to 1979 for the second instalment that celebrated summer camp slashers and the third chapter set in 1666 that revealed the cause of the intergenerational carnage before snapping back to ’94 for a wickedly fun climax that proved the series was more than just a series of cinematic cover versions. This Netflix experiment paid off for long time slasher fans and younger viewers who have never experienced the pleasure of watching various masked madmen stabbing teenagers for their moral transgressions, a cliché that was nicely played upon in many ways here. Contains perhaps the best death by bread slicer you will ever see.

(Available on Netflix)

 

9 - LAST NIGHT IN SOHO

 

 

Edgar Wright’s time bending love letter to its titular location displays all his usual tricks, razor sharp editing, smart soundtrack choices and zippy camera work to the usual high calibre but drops the comedic tone. Despite this the result is his most entertaining film since SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD. As fashion student Eloise investigates the seemingly grisly demise of 60’s showgirl Sandie, her sanity comes under threat as her immersion into the 1960’s becomes a threat to her life in various ways. As a double act separated by six decades, Thomasin Mackenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy more than proved their already high-class reputations but Diana Rigg’s final performance sealed the film with a touching and melancholy air that perfectly complemented the films infatuation for a bygone age.

(In cinemas and available to rent online now)

 

8 -  FRIED BARRY

 

 

Not a film but “A Ryan Kruger thing” according to the credits. Whatever it is, FRIED BARRY was a singular experience as we followed drug addict Barry after being abducted by aliens and having his body hijacked.  “Barry’s” odyssey through a South African city is an eye opening and trippy journey that plays out like a mix of Aphex Twin and John Carpenter but debut director Kruger somehow also manages the tricky act of balancing extreme, surreal cinema with heart-warming family drama. Gary Green’s near mute performance with his lanky frame and expressive face was one of the most singular this year in one of the year’s most unique and entertainingly outrageous films.

(Available on Shudder)

 

7 -  THE EMPTY MAN

 

 

It seems a miracle that THE EMPTY MAN exists at all let alone in this lengthy cut that was unceremoniously dumped in US cinemas for a couple of days at the height of COVID then quietly dropped onto Disney Plus over here with zero fanfare. Debut director David Prior, a regular collaborator with David Fincher, delivered a dread filled mix of cosmic horror and 1970’s conspiracy cinema. From its extended Tibet set prologue, which could work as a creepy short on its own, through to its tale of ex-detective James Lasombra’s search for a missing girl, only to run into urban legends and creepy cults, all with links to the otherworldly figure of The Empty Man, this was an ambitious dread filled extravaganza that after its botched release is gaining its own well-deserved cult like following.

(Available on Disney Plus)

 

6 -  NOBODY

 

 

“I’m gonna fuck you up!” As statements go it’s a bold one. Especially when facing off against five drunken thugs on a bus and even more of one when you look like comedian and actor Bob Odenkirk does here. But that is exactly what he does in the year’s best action scene as he sheds his downtrodden suburban dad persona for a magnificent dealer of death in the year’s most surprising and wittiest action film. Ilya Naishuller proves himself, and then some, as one of the most exciting action directors in some time with this sly and subversive take on middle aged action heroes and the catharsis they gain in shooting and hurting lots and lots of bad people. Worth the price of admission alone for the sight of an aged, shotgun toting Christopher Lloyd.

(Available to rent online and on Blu-ray and DVD)

 

 Part two of Iain MacLeod's delve into his favourite films of the year can be read HERE.

 

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