It wasn’t exactly a stellar year at the movies, more like a middling one.
One exception was the horror genre, which more than delivered the devilish goodies in 2016 and did it without much fanfare.
Here are just five standout horror films that came out this year, ones worth seeing beyond “The Witch,” “Hush,” “Green Room” and “The Invitation.”
- “Train to Busan”: Tired to death of zombies? I know I am. But this South Korean walking dead thriller with a workaholic daddy fending off flesh cravers to save his daughter breathes life into what’s evolved into an overworked, overdone subgenre. Kick-ass director Yeon Sang-ho doesn’t do anything terribly new, but boy does he know how to put the biter back into nail-biter. This E-ticket ride was one of the best times I had at the movies in 2016. Don’t miss it!
- “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”: Andre Ovredal is no one trick pony. The talented Norwegian director gave us the crazy-good “Troll Hunter” (streaming on Netflix) in 2010. This, his American feature film debut, proves he’s here to stay. Ovredal does crank up the gore for his claustrophobic nightmare featuring father-and-son coroners (Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch) dealing with a temperamental corpse who has plans of her own. Prepare to get the wits scared right outta ya.
- “The Eyes of My Mother”: No other film freaked me out more (except for maybe “Elle”) than Nicolas Pesce’s ferocious debut, a B&W American Gothic chronicling the making of a female psychopath. Atmospheric and bleak, it took us to very dark places and beyond.
- “The Monster”: An addict (Zoe Kazan) hits the road with her sweet daughter (Ella Ballentine) on a dark and stormy night and once her car stalls she’s forced to confront demons both literal and figurative. Bryan Bertino’s creature feature is frightening, but it’s also quite moving. Kazan gives one of the most underrated performances of 2016.
- “Evolution”: French auteur Lucile Hadzihalilovic amps up the atmosphere in this weird, surreal tale featuring women who only sire sons. Narratively, it’s not always successful, but this it’s still quite effective. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what it exactly means for days.