There are loads of horror comedies out there that are amusing, but very few can make you laugh while keeping you on the edge of your seat. Gerard Johnstone’s feature debut Housebound, however, achieves both. And it isn’t a jump scare here and a good laugh there. The comedy and horror of Housebound are so well woven together and expertly tailored to the progression of the narrative that it all feels like necessary and natural elements of this fun, curious situation. This industry, and perhaps the horror genre specifically, needs more Morgana O’Reilly. You’ve never seen a horror heroine like Kylie Bucknell. She’s brash and a big brat, but O’Reilly’s got such an infectious on-screen presence that you come to like Kylie without ever losing the off-putting qualities that make her such a unique main character.
4. The Guest
It’s been exceedingly clear that Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett have a lot to offer for years now, but boy is The Guest a major step up from all of their previous films. Something like The Guest just doesn’t work unless every last bit of it is perfectly in sync – the visuals, the pace, the tone, the music cues, the performances, etc. – and the duo pulls it off exceptionally well in every respect. The Guest is a remarkably refined film that gets playful, lets Dan Stevens go big and makes the score pop at just the right moments to give it significant momentum and the result is a fun, fresh and extremely entertaining thrill.
Honeymoon’s got a pretty eerie scenario at its core, but a big reason the experience has such a powerful lasting effect is because of the time and care first-time director Leigh Janiak puts into building her main characters. Newlyweds Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) are absolutely oozing with affection for one another so when that intense romance starts to fade ever so slowly, you feel every beat of it. Honeymoon is less about what’s happening to the couple and much more so about how it’s changing them, requiring the viewer to engage on a deeper and far more disturbing level.
2. Cheap Thrills
I first caught E.L. Katz’s directorial debut Cheap Thrills back at SXSW 2013, but the film didn’t get a theatrical release until March 2014. I was a bit disappointed when I couldn’t put it on my Top 10 of 2013, but, sure enough, it was just a matter of patience because, yet again, Cheap Thrills is not only one of the best horror films of the year, but one of the best films of the year period. It’s fascinating and suspenseful trying to track Craig (Pat Healy) and Vince (Ethan Embry) as they take on Colin’s (David Koechner) high-paying dares, but you also get the added fun of wondering, would you do that for a large sum of cash yourself?
1. The Babadook
We had an impressive crop of horror films this year, but the moment The Babadook came out, the competition was over. The story can deliver a solid surface level thrill, but for those who want more than creepy imagery and jump scares, there’s another layer that turns it into a fascinating character study as well. Essie Davis offers up so much access to Amelia and her thought process that you feel just as trapped and vulnerable as she is, and young Noah Wiseman’s intense and incredibly dynamic performance enhances that sensation tenfold. The two play off each other especially well, selling a convincing loving mother-son relationship while always highlighting the weight and lasting effect of their past. Jennifer Kent just nails it in every respect. She’s got two standout lead performances, tons of stunning visuals, an unforgettable score and then she’s also got one of the most fascinating villains I’ve seen in years. Mister Babadook’s look, behavior and motives are so spellbinding that The Babadook might not just be the best horror movie of the year, but rather an all-time classic.
For more of our Best of 2014 coverage, check out the links below:
- Best Cinematography of 2014
- Adam’s Top 10 Films of 2014
- Top 10 Scores of 2014
- 10 Best Surprises of 2014, From Emily Blunt as an Action Star to THE LEGO MOVIE Not Sucking
- 5 Great Film and Music Moments From 2014
- 10 Great Films of 2014 You May Have Missed and You Should Absolutely Watch
- Oscar Beat: For Your Consideration – Overlooked Films, Performances, and Directors from 2014 That Warrant Recognition
- Comicbook Countdown: The Best Comic Book Shows of 2014 Including ARROW, THE FLASH, CONSTANTINE, GOTHAM, S.H.I.E.L.D., and THE WALKING DEAD
- 10 Best TV Episodes of the Season Thus Far
- Allison’s Other TV Bests of 2014
- Allison’s Top 12 Returning TV Series of 2014
- Allison’s Top 12 New TV Series of 2014