GORE IN THE STORE
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans
TOP 10 FILMS OF 2022
This time last year, after cinemas were safe to get lost in once again, we seemed to be in the middle of a flood of films finally getting released after delays caused by the pandemic that affected 2020 and a large chunk of 2021. This year in comparison showed more signs of the delays but in the complete opposite way. Studio films, particularly the effects driven and franchise-based entries are caught up in a logjam of post-production delays causing a trickle of cinema that resulted in a meagre summer season. Thankfully horror cinema did not face this problem, resulting in yet another exceptionally strong year for the genre. More than a couple of films listed here premiered at this year’s FrightFest, a completely stacked event that heralded not only a return to social normalcy but an exciting reminder of the possibilities that genre cinema is still more than capable of. Like last year I have only included films that were on general release in the UK this year. It looks like yet another promising year ahead but let us take one more look at what I thought were the best of this year’s films.
10 – THE NORTHMAN - It may not have been the blockbuster smash that some were expecting but we should still rejoice that Robert Eggers got a chance to play with a big studio budget and delivered a historical Viking epic that still very much felt of a piece with his previous films. Mixing deeply researched historical accuracy with flights of fantasy and horror this tale of a prince avenging his fathers murder at the hands of his uncle was a full-blooded revenge tale with more than its fair share of visually stunning sequences; a mesmerising cameo from Bjork as a prophecy spouting witch and the climatic fight within an active volcano being just two examples that bode well for Eggers upcoming take on NOSFERATU. Streaming on NOW and available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K.
9 – DASHCAM - One of two films this year using the screen life format, the other being the also excellent DEADSTREAM, this year featured yet another self-obsessed “personality” running into the supernatural much to the delight of her audience sounding off in the running on screen commentary alongside the shuddering camera work. Playing a heightened version of herself, the already aggravating Annie Hardy plays an anti-vaxxer, conspiracy theorist proudly displaying her MAGA cap and offending absolutely everyone that gets in her way including the demonic presence that ends up in the back seat of the car she has stolen from her friend. Divisive and confrontational, Rob Savage’s follow-up to HOST is an incisive snapshot of the politically divided times we live in as well as an expertly directed exercise in immediate horror that’s as in your face as its often-vile protagonist. Streaming On Demand.
8 – SPEAK NO EVIL - The year’s least enjoyable film is also one of the best. Christian Tafdrup’s tale of a Danish family re-uniting with the Dutch family they met on holiday is the bleakest and most disturbing film in years. Sowing seeds of discomfort right from the beginning, what starts off as an exercise in social discomfort gradually descends into something utterly horrifying with a shocking conclusion that refuses to leave the viewers mind after a single viewing. Not that multiple viewings will be on the cards for most of you I would think. Expertly directed, it manages to grip the viewer with its unrelenting vision of the darkest aspects of humanity. Horrible, yet impossible to stop watching. Streaming on Shudder .
7 – A WOUNDED FAWN - After GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR and JAKOB’S WIFE, two fine films in their own right, nobody was quite ready for what Travis Stevens had in store for us with A WOUNDED FAWN. Stevens takes the woman in peril from murderer premise and turns it completely inside out with a hallucinatory vision that is equal parts giallo and modern art with Greek mythology thrown in for good measure. With his bold and fearless direction this could well signal an entirely new direction and style for Stevens and makes the prospect of his future works even more exciting. Also contains one of the most satisfying end credits sequences ever. Streaming on Shudder,
6 – X - While we still wait for the release of sequel/prequel PEARL (March!) we can at least re-watch the first entry in what is now going to be a very interesting trilogy. Ti West’s welcome return to directing was a glorious revisit to the glory days of regional slasher cinema. What could just be an excuse to revisit retro slasher tropes, particularly those that made Tobe Hooper’s name, was anything but that with an interesting near existential edge and motive for all the bloody carnage that ensues as the result of a porno shoot in an elderly couples barn on the outskirts of Texas. As much an indie hangout movie as a horror, Ti West’s return to the genre with new regular acting collaborator Mia Goth, made for one of the years most entertaining and bloody experiences. Streaming on Amazon Prime and available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K.
5 – BARBARIAN - Zach Cregger’s debut was one of the years biggest surprises. Released by Disney with a trailer that seemingly gave away most of its premise turned out to be loaded with many more twists and turns and a narrative structure full of surprises. As well as generous helping of shocking gore and a witty script. Cregger’s script navigates the ins and outs of male and female relationships in the 2020’s with all their inherent social pressures and dangers before delving into the abhorrent actions of two very different predatory figures in a manner that was as gory as it was funny. Expertly timed shocks are matched by wickedly funny laughs and a socially conscious scrip that engages and enrages its viewers in equal measure. Streaming on Disney Plus.
4- BONES AND ALL - Underseen by an audience who still maybe refuse to forgive him for his SUSPIRIA remake, Luca Guadagnino nonetheless managed to make a tender and completely engrossing tale of two young cannibals driving across the America and falling in love. Guadagnino’s arthouse cinema lens matches perfectly with the 1980’s set story and surprisingly he does not shy away from the gory and often ruthless actions of those who eat their own. Timothee Chalamet and Mark Rylance provide the usual high standard of their acting here but newcomer Taylor Russell easily matches them with her sympathetic performance of a flesh-eating teenager, maybe the best female performance in a horror film in a year that was full of them. Now playing in cinemas.
3 – THE INNOCENTS - This year’s most terrifying protagonist was not the return of Pinhead, Ghostface or even the blank faced murderers at the heart of SPEAK NO EVIL but a lonely young Norwegian boy looking for friends in his apartment building. Writer and director Eskil Vogt realises the potential for evil has no age restriction then throws in psychic powers on top for this tense and sometimes punishing horror that expertly combined the fantastical with the realistic. As a young psychic boy lashing out at everyone around him Sam Ashraf gave a nuanced performance of a villain who was as sympathetic as he was villainous, while also matched by the even younger Ellen Dorrit Petersen whose own cruel actions take a turn for the defensive when her non-verbal sister comes under threat once her own psychic powers begin to manifest. The only time this year I saw a cinema usher slowly release their breath with a wide-eyed look once the end credits began rolling. Streaming On Demand.
2 – NOPE -The first trailer for Jordan Peele’s third outing behind the camera provided much fodder for internet theories as to what we were in store for. With many expecting a run of the mill UFO film but we got something else that was not quite that but even more thrilling. Peele’s directorial showmanship, reminiscent at times of JAWS, was also a sly commentary on, among other things, spectacle cinema. That it also worked as a perfect example of this, especially with its impressive IMAX action sequences, was one of the years highlights in a season that sorely lacked smart and entertaining big budget cinema. Seemingly disparate elements, such as the 90’s set Gordy sequence, fit in altogether more impressively on repeat viewings while the rain soaked night-time attack and western styled climax more than prove Peele’s place with the rest of the big-budget auteurs is more than well-deserved and NOPE places him ahead of his contemporaries. Streaming On Demand and available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K.
1 – SOMETHING IN THE DIRT - “What do you think happened here? With all the phenomenon and all of that?” asks an offscreen collaborator towards the end of Benson and Moorhead’s dizzying look into unexplained phenomena. Even after repeat viewings there is no easy answer apart from perhaps that absolutely everything is connected to a floating ashtray in a rundown LA apartment inhabited by Benson’s Levi and the ensuing documentary his neighbour John, played by co-director/writer Moorhead, collaborates on with him. SOMETHING IN THE DIRT is a lot of things at once; a supernatural mystery, a look at the difficulties young men have making connections in the twenty-first century and a lack of direction filled in by looking for answers in online media to impossible questions. Thrown on top of all of this are the secret societies and advanced civilisations that may be looking to connect with our protagonists and the manipulations employed in the media we all consume, resulting in what is Benson and Moorhead’s most ambitious and entertaining film yet. Filmed at the height of the near worldwide lockdown SOMETHING IN THE DIRT may have been made with minimal resources but is a fantastically realised guessing game full of enticing riddles that demands repeat viewings and manages to entertain every time and that Benson and Moorhead may be just about to enter a whole new exciting phase of their own unique storytelling. Streaming On Demand and available on Blu-ray
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans