Wednesday, 21 December 2016

My top ten British horror films of 2016

In January I will do my annual round-up of British horror releases, once again totalling more than 70 films. For now, here are the ten (well, eleven) best that I’ve seen among this year’s releases, listed in chronological order.


dir. Steve Lawson
Gripping horror-thriller about an enraged hunter chasing a young woman through a forest after a tragic accident. Shot as Rites of Passage. Theatrical release (as Survival Instinct) in February. UK DVD with third title in June.
  • My review: “Helen Crevel is simply awesome in the lead role, capturing the confusion, realisation, horror, hope and determination of an ordinary person suddenly facing an extraordinary, potentially lethal situation.”

The Other Side of the Door

dir. Johannes Roberts
Spooky ghost story set and shot in India, with echoes of The Monkey’s Paw. British theatrical release in March, US disc in June. Watch out for Jo Roberts’ shark film 47 Metres Down in 2017.
  • My review: “Without going into detail, things get worse and worse, deadlier and deadlier. Jo does a great job of twisting the knife, showing his years of horror film-making experience.”

Fluid Boy

dir. Jason Impey and Wade Radford
Disturbing, transgressive three-hander in which an actress auditioning for a zombie film is abused by her potential co-star while the director does nothing. Echoes of Fight Club, maybe? DVD in March.
  • My review: “Even by Jason Impey’s standards, Fluid Boy is a nasty piece of work: a brutal, unpleasant, unbelievably misogynist film which is as simple and stark as it is violent and revolting. … It bolsters Impey’s position as an important name in the British Horror Revival.”

Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown and Hollower

dir. MJ Dixon
Two prequels to Slasher House, both released on DVD in August. Cleaver is a stylish Halloween homage, Hollower is a disturbingly creepy police procedural.
  • My review: “What appears at first to be a straightforward coulrophobic slasher turns out to have layers that are revealed in the third act. Not everyone is who we assume they are, or doing what we assume they’re doing. Plus of course there’s plenty of blood, decapitation and screaming.”
  • My other review: “Stylish, spooky, slick and seriously disturbing in its finale, Hollower is an accomplished piece of film-making that shifts the Mycho team of MJ Dixon and Anna McCarthy up a gear.”

Video Killer

dir. Richard Mansfield
A woman receives mysterious VHS tapes showing crudely animated, disturbing cartoons and brief glimpses of real violence. US disc released in September.
  • My review: “The result is genuinely creepy, a fascinatingly unnerving tale of justified paranoia (helped by an absolutely cracking central performance, full of credibly wide-eyed terror).”

The Girl with All the Gifts

dir. Colm McCarthy
Superlative zombie film with intriguing, original premise and great cast headed by Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and Glenn Close. Played UK cinemas in September.
  • No review from me. It’s running at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Under the Shadow

Dir. Babak Anvari
Awesome supernatural horror film set in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War. A woman struggles to protect her daughter from a djinn as Iraqi missiles rain down. Won three BIFAs and could seriously get an Oscar nom. In UK cinemas in September, US theatres in October.
  • I didn’t review this one, but 98% on Rotten Tomatoes says it all.

Plan Z

dir. Stuart Brennan
Impressively bleak zombie feature centred on a man who has planned ahead for just such an eventuality. American DVD in October and a UK theatrical release in November.
  • My review: “As dour and unforgiving as a Scotsman’s postcard: everything is terrible, life is empty and hopeless, almost everything we know has gone, the rest of our days will be a struggle for existence, if we’re lucky it may be short, weather fine, how are you?”

My Bloody Banjo

dir. Liam Regan
Hilarious, Troma-esque feature about a man whose invisible childhood friend returns to wreak chaos. Originally titled Banjo. Released on VOD in October, US DVD in November.
  • My review: “Banjo is a tasteless, outrageous hoot from start to finish. It’s great that someone in the UK is carrying the Tromatic torch so proudly.”

Zombie Women of Satan 2

dir. Warren Speed and Chris Greenwood
Insane sequel to notoriously insane film chronicling the further adventures of Pervo the Clown. Released on UK DVD in October. Next year’s US disc will be retitled Female Zombie Riot.
  • My review: “Just like its predecessor, Zombie Women of Satan 2 is a sort of three-way bastard stepchild of Rocky Horror, Dawn of the Dead and Viz comic. It takes no prisoners, doesn’t give a wet slap what people think, and has no truck with concepts such as good taste or restraint.”
This is a personal selection. Agree? Disagree? What was your favourite British horror film this year? Leave a comment below.

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