M.L. Miller aka the @$$hole formerly known as Ambush Bug here! I posted my very first horror reviews on October 1, 2010 and have been posting every Friday ever since on AICN until just recently. I’ve uprooted the show and taken it to my own site just in time for this year’s Best of the Best in Horror Countdown. It’s going to be running all through October, counting down to the best horror film of the year. Some of these films can be found in theaters, but others have unfortunately only seen the light of day on Video On Demand or simply go straight to DVD, BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews where you can check these films out.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked through my reviews over the last year since October 1st, 2016 and worked and reworked the list until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth nothing or missed being on the list by a little bit for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own list…let’s go!
#29 LAST GIRL STANDING #29
Why is LAST GIRL STANDING #29? Because it’s a smart and twisted slant on slasher pastiches. It never fails to be entertaining while challenging what you’ve seen a million times in slasher films. Plus it’s just a gory, creepy little film that deserves to be recognized. You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon here!
Available on DVD/BluRay from MPI Home Video!
LAST GIRL STANDING (2015)
Directed by Benjamin R. Moody
Written by Benjamin R. Moody
Starring Akasha Villalobos, Danielle Evon Ploeger, Brian Villalobos, Laura Ray, Ryan Hamilton, Kelsey Pribilski, JD Carrera, Chad Warren, Christopher Alvarenga, Scot Friedman, Margaret Garza, Anny Ibarra, Rodrigo Lloreda, Shannon McCormick, Amanda Phillips, Fede Rangel, Aaron Walther, & Jason Vines as The Hunter!
Find out more about this film on here or on it’s Facebook page here
Films like THE FINAL GIRLS, FINAL GIRL, HATCHET, and the SCREAM movies have tried to turn the expectations of what a slasher movie is and turn it on its ear to greater and lesser effect. LAST GIRL STANDING attempts to do this as well, but while the aforementioned films utilize comedy rather well, LAST GIRL STANDING takes things with a serious tone and offers up a natural continuation of the slasher that we rarely get to see, making it one genuinely unique slasher film.
Camryn (Akasha Villalobos) is the sole survivor of your typical stalk n’ slash scenario where only she was resourceful and lucky enough to live through the massacre. Five years have passed and Camryn is still haunted by that fateful night. Living a life of solitude and keeping to herself at work, Camryn is taken aback by an outgoing new employee at the Laundromat she works at named Nick (Akasha’s real life husband Brian Villalobos). But as soon as she opens herself to meet new people and form new relationships, Camryn begins suspecting that the killer who massacred all of her friends years ago is back to kill her new friends.
This is a script-flipper of a film that really is full of surprises. First and foremost, instead of following the masked killer from one massacre to the next, the film opens on the final moments of a slasher movie that never was and then flash-forward to what is very much like the first ten minutes of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 where we follow Alice as she tries to put her life back together after beheading Pamela Voorhees and being dragged into the lake by Jason. Stretch that those ten minutes of F13P2 a bit and you have a large portion of LAST GIRL STANDING. As much as this has been attempted in horror, I don’t think it has been done as successfully as it is done here with LAST GIRL STANDING as it really does illustrate how trauma can have a lasting effect to those who survive it.
It helps that this is a wonderfully acted film. Akasha Villalobos is a stunning actress, though does not look like the typical beauty. In fact, none of the actors in this film feel like they were taken from an underwear ad commercial and that’s what makes them all so believable and relatable (specifically both Villalobos and Camryn’s new friend Dannielle played by Danielle Evon Ploeger). Because these actors aren’t airbrushed and siliconed, it makes the danger feel more real. This is a twisted emotional journey Villalobos takes us on and to her credit, she really does carry this film with very little dialog and a lot of gruffness, especially when the killer shows up.
I love the loopy direction this story goes as Camryn and Dannielle set out to bury Camryn’s demons. There’s a twist or two to be expected with LAST GIRL STANDING that really does change the way one might think about slashers a bit. I tried to predict the ending and found myself surprised at where it ended up and I love the idea even though it does go against the iconic way movie monsters were established in the 80’s by focusing on the killer rather than the disposable cast of pretty people. In this film, though no one is disposable and LAST GIRL STANDING is one of the few slashers that has something new and interesting to say about the subgenre. Don’t miss this one.
Worth noting: LAKE BODOM!
Here’s another perfect example that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make a good movie. LAKE BODOM is your typical “killer in the woods” horror tale, but with some deft handling of suspense, some untrustworthy characters, and a truly unpredictable ending, it turned out to be something exceptional! You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon here!
Available on Shudder!
LAKE BODOM (2016)
Directed by Taneli Mustonen
Written by Aleksi Hyvärinen, Taneli Mustonen
Starring Nelly Hirst-Gee, Mimosa Willamo, Mikael Gabriel, Santeri Helinheimo Mäntylä, Pirjo Moilanen, Ilkka Heiskanen, Sami Eerola, Otso Ahosola, Ville Saksela, Iiris Kankkunen, Tommi Korpela, Jarkko Niemi,
Find out more about this film here, @bodommovie , and on Facebook here
This old school slasher film from Finland sure does a lot of tried and true tropes well and still manages to feel fresh and ripe full of scares, thrills, chills, and surprises. LAKE BODOM is something fans of slasher films are going to want to get to the…bottom…of…
Bad puns aside, LAKE BODOM is a potent little horror in the woods tale about a quartet of good looking youngsters who decide it’s a good idea to go to the isolated site where a group of campers were massacred in the 1960. What could possibly go wrong?
While the setup and description I give in the above paragraph, one might think one can predict this horror in the woods flick beat for beat, but what makes LAKE BODOM so awesome is the fact that the entire film is absolutely unpredictable. I had no clue where this was going and once the bad stuff starts happening, the film keeps tossing surprises and twists at you right and left until the very end. This is a film filled with impending gloom that something terrible is going to happen to these teens in trouble and delivers on that promise in spades.
The likable cast is what draws you into LAKE BODOM. Specifically, the two main female leads Nelly Hirst-Gee and Mimosa Willamo. Hirst-Gee plays Ida, a straight-laced introvert with a strict father and large family. She has suffered through a horrible scandal at school where someone took photos of her naked and spread them around the school. Hirst-Gee is gorgeous and exudes an innocence that makes you root for her to make it through this nightmare unscathed. She is a powerful young actress with penetrating eyes and I hope to see more from her soon as she really is a lot of why this film works. Willamo plays Nora, Ida’s more bold and tough friend who sticks up for Ida and is trying to make her life normal again. Both actresses play off of one another well and as the story unfolds and their relationship becomes strained, the strength of these two actresses make all of the typical teen angst feel real, powerful, and important.
I don’t want to spoil LAKE BODOM for anyone and my advice for folks is to go into this one without digging too much up about it. It is a film full of intense moments, crazy surprises, and director Taneli Mustonen offers up sights, sounds, angles, and set pieces that will seem familiar to slasher movie fans until he pulls the rug right out from under you. LAKE BODOM is anything but typical and if you’re looking for tried and true tropes done in new exciting ways, this film is going to be necessary viewing for you.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
I’ve also set up a Patreon Page to help keep this website rolling. It’s going to be crucial in these early stages that we get some kind of funding to keep the lights on, so if you have extra dough, please support me! Also, if there are any people in need of advertising on MLMILLERWRITES, feel free to contact me here and we can talk turkey!