2015 gave us four amazing horror flicks that spanned the many avenues horror can travel down. For example, Krampus. Starring Adam Scott and Toni Collette, Krampus tells the story of the terrorizer of those who have lost their Christmas spirit, the half-goat/half-demon Krampus. In the film, Adam Scott, as the father of the Engel family, is gathering his crew for some holiday cheer. Unfortunately for them, their Christmas party tends to go as lots of Christmas parties do, swirling. As the cousins torment Adam Scott’s son, the Krampus arrives along with a blizzard that covers the town and kills the power. Things get outrageously silly from there with demonic toys and over the top jump scares. This film is very well shot and acted and manages to deliver an outstanding message about family amidst all the chaos. Definitely worth your time and a film to consider as a new holiday tradition.
Down a different route we find The Witch (stylized as the vvitch). This film is stark and lonely and crushing in its application of those two aspects. The plot goes that a family, separated from their church and community in a New England town in the 1600’s, is being haunted/hunted by something in the woods beyond their farm. The family was ostracized due to a religious dispute and are therefore alone. One day while tow of the kids, oldest daughter Thomasin and newborn Samuel, are playing a game of peekaboo when the baby suddenly disappears. We see a mysterious woman take the baby and sacrifice him to make hallucinogenic salve called Flying Ointment. As one would imagine, the baby’s mother does not take this well and slowly loses her grip on reality. The father meanwhile, remains convinced that a wolf is responsible for the taking of his newborn son. As the rest of the family looks to move on, Thomasin begins to unravel the mystery of her brother’s disappearance. The revelations she discovers lead her down a path to witchcraft which causes the ultimate destruction of her family. It is a powerful story about loss and perseverance that contain little joy among its run time. Nonetheless it is a movie you must see when you have some time to digest it properly.
Switching gears from witchcraft to gothic horror/romance, we cast a light on Crimson Peak from Guillermo Del Toro. It stars Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowski as an author who begins to live in a house with her fiance and his sister. They move to this remote mansion in England because Hiddleston has developed a machine for mining clay that he believes is the key to his fortune. Wasikowski, as author Edith, is an heiress and natural target for Hiddleston. His sister, played by Chastain, is slightly off and the wildcard of their group. And all of this would be fine if Edith had never seen and received messages from ghosts warning her of the crimson peak at home and other spirits in her new place. Things get quite twisty and turny from there with more and more being revealed about Hiddleston’s prior relationships/schemes and the true story of his dilapidated mansion. It is signature Del Toro and an absolutely beautiful film.
My favorite flick from 2015, and believe me I was just as surprised as anyone, was a film from M. Knight Shyamalan, The Visit. M. Knight had had quite an interesting career up to this point with some really great films, The Sixth Sense/Unbreakable, and some pretty terrible ones, Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender. This movie though, is a stripped down, personal story that stars five people total. The story goes that a mom, Kathryn Hahn, sends her kids to visit their grandparents. The only catch here is that mom and grandparents have been estranged for the entirety of the kids lives and they’ve never met them. The kids are excited though with the daughter, Becca, deciding to make a documentary of the experience. There is no way to talk about more of the plot really without completely ruining the signature Shyamalaness of it all. Regardless, this is an awesome movie that took me completely by surprise. It is wonderfully acted and shot and the script is fantastic. I love it when a movie shatters expectations and The Visit did exactly that. Check this out ASAP.