Coming across new, high-quality horror media is undoubtedly a tough quest. There’s plenty of horror fiction that comes out yearly, but most are uninspired, poorly made, and/or unoriginal. Though there were plenty of examples of bad horror fiction that came out in 2015 (Unfriended, The Visit, and Poltergeist come to mind), there was a surprisingly large amount of good, and even great, horror movies, comics, and even video games. What follows is a list containing my top five absolute favorite pieces of horror fiction of the past year.
5. Crimson Peak – Co-Written/Directed by Guillermo Del Toro
Perhaps Crimson Peak tells a tale that is simple. Perhaps it’s one that you’ve heard many times before. Perhaps you could predict the outcome of the story by the halfway point. All of these plot misgivings aside, Crimson Peak is still one of the best movies of 2015. Crimson Peak doesn’t succeed due to its plot, no, but instead because of its design. Visionary director Guillermo Del Toro takes a tale told time and time again, and makes it interesting by creating a wonderfully beautiful Victorian-era world of ghosts, forbidden love, and Gothic design. This film includes some truly astonishing cinematography, along with the year’s best set and costume designs. The plot may be thin, but everything else about the film is so effectively executed that it’s easy to look past the shortcomings in the story. For more on why I believe that style is actually more important than substance in Crimson Peak, read my original review of the film.
4. Wytches – Written by Scott Snyder, Art by Jock
Wytches is a six-issue comic series from two of the best talents in the industry today. It tells the tale of Sailor Rook, a young teenage girl whose family has recently moved to a small rural town after a terrible incident occurred between Sailor and her former bully Annie, who is now missing and presumed dead. Sailor witnesses Annie’s death, which seems to have come at the hands of some mystical creature. Though she has moved to a new town, the evil power that killed Annie has followed Sailor to her new home, too. Writer Scott Snyder creates a world with a magnificent history and writes well-rounded, interesting characters to inhabit it. The story is genuinely creepy, and when paired with Jock’s scratchy, imaginative artwork, you get one of the best horror comics you’ll likely have ever read.
3. The Gift – Written/Directed by Joel Edgerton
The Gift is maybe the most unsettling movie of 2015, and damn is it good. Even months after having seen it, thinking about it right now has me feeling uncomfortable. The Gift centers around Simon and Robyn, a seemingly happy couple who moves from Chicago to L.A. into a beautiful house near Simon’s old hometown. It isn’t long before they run into Gordon, one of Simon’s high school classmates. Gordon is played by first-time writer/director Joel Edgerton, and he absolutely steals the movie. Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman give great performances, too, as the couple, but Edgerton does a stellar job being the often creepy and mysterious Gordon. The Gift features some surprising twists, one after another, and has a wholly powerful ending. It’s a film that should satisfy, but at the same time stick with you for much longer than you wish it would. For my more detailed feelings on The Gift, check out my original review.
2. Until Dawn – Developed by Supermassive Games
Until Dawn is probably my favorite video game released in 2015. In a year filled with amazing video games, that’s saying something. Until Dawn is just a tremendously crafted, well-acted, and truly fun horror game. Never before has a video game felt so much like you’re literally playing a horror movie. It’s almost like you’re watching a horror movie, but instead of having the exact same story each time, since you have player choice in Until Dawn, each playthrough should and will feel at least a little bit unique. You spend time playing as eight characters at defined points during the game, and by the end, you can end up with all of those characters alive, dead, or anywhere in between. I played through the game once by myself, and another time with a friend, and both times I had an absolute blast. I just wish that the player choices made more of an impact on the overall story, as the main plot is basically the same no matter what. But it still is really interesting to see how many variations there can be in the scenes and how they play out. Until Dawn is heavy on tropes of the horror genre, but it is also just one of the most fun horror stories that I have experienced in years. I’ve already written up my detailed thoughts on the game, so check that out if you are interested in reading more about Until Dawn.
1. It Follows – Written/Directed by David Robert Mitchell
As soon as I saw It Follows early in the year, I knew it would not only be my favorite horror movie of the year, but my absolute favorite movie of 2015. As of today, that still holds true. It Follows is an interesting and inspired film about a murderous being that stalks its prey after being transmitted through sexual intercourse. It’s a film that is bolstered by excellent cinematography, a cast of likeable and relatable characters, and a moody synth soundtrack. I’ve seen this movie multiple times since it came out, and I still notice new things each and every time. There’s a lot to dig into in this movie, theme-wise, and because of that, I’ve enjoyed some of the most involved conversations I’ve ever had about a film. It Follows is a modern classic of not only horror cinema, but cinema as a whole. For more on why I think It Follows is one of the best horror movies of the 21st century, read my previous post about it.
— Michael Lane, Blog Editor