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.
Very rarely does a movie affect me so much that I find myself continuously thinking about it even several days after having seen it. The Gift is one of those movies. It’s the eerily ominous antagonist who continuously stalks the protagonists that won’t get out of my head. It’s the superb acting from the three leads who all show tremendous versatility. It’s the incredible, hauntingly ambiguous ending that I keep going back to, wracking my brain for what I believe may or may not have actually happened. The Gift isn’t perfect, but it is an original, surprising take on the suspense thriller genre from first time writer/director Joel Edgerton.
The Gift centers around married couple Simon and Robyn, played by Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall respectively, who have recently moved into a new home in the suburbs of Los Angeles for Simon’s job. Things seem to be going just fine for the couple early on. Simon has a great job, they just bought this beautiful new home, and the love between Simon and Robyn feels genuine. Then Gordo shows up.
Gordo (Joel Edgerton) approaches the couple at a housewares store claiming to know Simon. It’s clear that Simon has no recollection of Gordo until he gives up his name, and the two catch up a bit. It isn’t long before you’ll start to feel uneasy whenever Gordo is on screen, as even this introduction scene is a little off-putting. Although he seemed like a nice, normal guy in their first encounter, Gordo increasingly feels “off” as he begins to leave gifts outside the front door of Simon and Robyn’s house. Neither of them ever gave Gordo their address. Then, he begins to show up unannounced while Simon is at work and Robyn is home alone. On the surface, he looks and seems like a nice enough guy, but there’s always something a little off-putting about his character whenever he’s around.