It was the bloodiest of times, it was the most exhausting of times. Racial strife hit the fan in Fergeson. Israel Genociding Palatine, again. Obama and Putin couldn’t find the time, as hard as they tried, to set their differences aside and relieve their international sexual tension. Along the way horror flicks splattered the screen or, sadly, discarded to direct to video releases. Looking over the list of horror releases for 2014 I am hard pressed to find a theme, outside a renewed interested in the occult and a renewed need put the fear of Jesus in the hearts of the masses. Between found footage and pseudo-religious morality tales 2014 brought us a few special flicks that I know will be lining my blu ray shelf. We also saw the widespread proliferation of horror TV shows. But most importantly 2014 brought you this guy. izombiheartzoey – the only horror philosopher on the internet!
10. Life After Beth
Ever have one of those girlfriends that just won’t die? Even after she goes zombie she still wants to micromanage your hormones. Life After Beth is telling that story. Beth dies from a snake bite on a hiking trip and comes back to shamble around Zach’s life. Demanding and needy and all up in his morning process. The absurd humor in this flick swam between the awkwardly absurd to the screwball as Zach is trying to move on. Is not morning narcissistic? These endless sad thoughts were we muddle in our own pathetic sense of transcendental injustice about something we knew was going to happen. People die that’s what they do. And yet we toil on resurrecting the dead to keep our sadness ripe. Life After Beth plays on this absurd narcissism showing us the follow of our projected self-pity.
9. The Purge: Anarchy
In theory and practice anarchy is a question about how we organize our lives. Do we become a cog in a chain of hierarchy or topple the house of cards holding the world in place? The Purge: Anarchy, rather than portraying Anarchy shows us the grimy underside of capitalism. The structures of society that relegates resources along lines of power. The rich have resources and use the Purge to safely entertain themselves while the poor fight for their lives and try to get by. In the middle are higher guns out to make a buck, psychopaths and folks on vendettas. This chaos is far from anything resembling anarchy, but it sure reminds us of our old friend Mr. Capitalism. While I enjoyed the purge I feel it only teased at anarchy. The group of individuals thrown together by circumstance who fight to maintain their own lives through the scheduled apocalypse.
8. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
I was losing patience with Paranormal Activities money laundering scheme. Four movies in a row with the same gimmick and the same plot. The Marked Ones deviates just enough and attempts to tie in loose threads from previous 4 films. What I find so interesting about this film is that it goes father to step outside the Christian mythos that had it trapped to Ouija boards, witches, and standard variety demons. The last moments of the film are just the right amount of dissimulation.
7. Gone Girl
What I appreciate most about Gone Girl is its commitment to have a cast of unlikeable and unredeemable characters struggling to redeem themselves from the black pit where their soul is being roasted over coals. As the great philosopher Ludacris once said, “I know you like to think that your shit don’t stink, but lean a little closer, see that roses really smell like poo-poo-poo.” Based on the book of the same name Gone Girl tells the bizarre tale of a missing wife and the husband who drove her to drastic measures to force him to change. But as the movie reveals change is only skin deep, and there is something about being intentionally superficial that keeps a marriage together. You think marriage is built out of love? Pffff what you need is fear. Machiavelli would be proud.
Doctors have given Derek months to live, so in order to conquer his existential crisis Derick enlists his best bud Clif on a road trip across the globe. Not only is Clif a traveling companion but he is as going to film the last days of Derek’s life as he contracts a sexually transmitted diseases and wanders Europe. Along the way, Derek realizes that his STD isn’t just any STD but caught the itchy vampire and is craving the blood of the innocent. The takes the found footage to the edge by using body cameras that accentuate Derek’s use of powers and journey to find the boss lady from the one night stand.
Oculus was the first movie that caught me off guard this year. I went into the film blind. After an over chatty 30 minutes the fun starts. Reality slips as two siblings try to unwrap the mystery of their parents death. The Oculus is just a mirror, but the way the narrative spins by portraying simultaneously contradictory narratives and visuals subverts the viewer’s expectations.
4. The Babadook
The Babadook strikes a familiar nerve but has the guts to cut horizontally along the vein. Babadook succeeds in two primary ways, rather than portraying just the collapse of a parent to the horror of a child or a child to the horror of a parent both mother and child slide from sane to crazy multiple times as the film progresses. This leaves the viewer without a stable anchor for empathy with the narrative. Secondly, Babadook takes the well-worn and choked to death themes of some scary thing haunting a house and the people in it and turns it up a couple notches without descending into torture porn. It’s like There’s Something Wrong Kevin where awkward sexual tension is replaced with a demon-ghost.
3. Under The Skin
Before Under The Skin, Scarlet Johansson was not on my radar. Based on the novel of the same name Under The Skin tells an abstract story about aliens and their strange plot to have as many one night stands as possible. Along the way, the film allegorizes the seedy underbelly of male/female relations by switching roles. Scarlett plays the gonzo film director on the prowl while the obvious men are lured into her van.
Read My Analysis of Under The Skin
2. As Above, So Below
Many reviewers dogged on As Above, So Below for being an overly complicated haunted house film. Characters wandered through the dark as the physical reality of the underground complex shifted and ghostliest popped up out of nowhere. What the filmed nailed was the claustrophobic and shapeshifting like nature of trauma. Something happens, shakes up how we know the world, we build networks of meaning to suture reality and protect ourselves from meaningless, but trauma is always under the surface waiting to leap out.
Read My Analysis of As Above, So Below
1. True Detective
True Detective wins for being the most overtly philosophical narrative to hit TV screens in 2014. Rather than beat people over the head with overly abstract notions about true or weird ethical puzzles about trains. True Detective fused existentialism with anti-natalism and created a pessimistic form of atheism free from the trappings of the new atheists and created a radical hopefulness deep in a hardened core of pessimism. One of my favorite moments in True Detective is when Marty asks Rust why if he is an atheist would he have a crucifix in his apartment and Rust responds by telling Marty that he has a crucifix so he can contemplate Christ’s sacrifice. The irony here is in Marty’s reaction where he recoils against Rust’s response, as if Rust’s attunement to Christian is too real for even a Christian or Christ for that matter.
Wer, Snowpiercer, All Cheer Leaders Die, Open Grave, Deliver us from evil, The Pact 2, V/H/S Viral, Devils Due, The Possession of Michael King, At The Devils Door, The Town that Dreaded Sundown, The Quiet ones, Canal, Wolf Creek 2, The Sacrament, Willow Creek, Horns, 13 Sins, Honeymoon, Proxy, The Den, Blue Ruin, The Canal