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!
#13 THE SIMILARS #13
Why is THE SIMILARS #13? This is the closest thing to pure TWILIGHT ZONE wonder and weirdness. Director Isaac Ezban continues to provide offbeat and intriguing stories that balance between science fiction and true horror. THE SIMILARS is goofy at times, yet downright terrifying during others. Experience this film. It’s pretty amazing. You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon here!
Available On Demand and on iTunes from XLRator!
THE SIMILARS (2015)
aka LOS PERECIDOS
Directed by Isaac Ezban
Written by Isaac Ezban
Starring Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Luis Alberti, Carmen Beato, Fernando Becerril, Humberto Busto, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Alberto Estrella, Pablo Guisa Koestinger, María Elena Olivares, Catalina Salas, Santiago Torres
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Eight people; a rambling homeless women, a man rushing to see his pregnant wife in the hospital, a spastic paranoid man, a pregnant woman, the ticket seller, the cleaning lady, and a mother with a very peculiar child, find themselves trapped in a bus station with a raging storm outside and no buses or taxis running anywhere. News reports on the radio state that the storm is freakishly occurring around the world and causing a worldwide panic. Outside, people are beginning to act irrationally and it seems to be seeping inside the bus station. The group think they are safe from the tempestuous happenings outside, but something truly odd and unusual is happening to them one by one, turning them against one another in a deathly manner.
The premise of THE SIMILARS is something that feels like it was ripped straight from an episode of the TWILIGHT ZONE and I can think of two episodes in particular that this film reminded me of, but telling you the names of them will reveal way too much than I want to about this absolutely riveting descent into oddity and madness. The choice to film in black and white also makes the film feel much more like a lost episode of that classic series rather than something fresh and new. Still, despite its similarity to one of my favorite TV series ever, it manages to feel both relevant and thrilling from start to finish thanks to director Isaac Ezban’s quirky yet unsettling way of filming this movie. The look of this film feels like a stage play, but much of the decisions to the simple set the actions take place in seem intentional to give the viewer a sense of unease. Diagonal squares in the ceiling and floors sandwich our actors into this space causing a sense of utter unease. Ezban’s camera swoops and twirls around this set as the action unfolds making every scene feel vibrant and tension filled.
Films like INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS are definitely going to come to mind as this film plays out. Every scene is steeped in paranoia and confusion as the madness begins to spread and those trapped in the bus station begin to form alliances and turn on one another in rapid succession. Without revealing too much, this is a film that at times feels rather ludicrous, but the performances are so good that you believe them. It makes you believe that, should the insanity that occurs in this film actually happen, you would probably react to this bizarre situation in the same way. It’s a film about lack of trust in your fellow man and how easily society can fall apart if something simply unexplainable happens.
Like TWILIGHT ZONE, THE SIMILARS is the type of science fiction that isn’t done anymore. It’s not laser swords and fantastic set pieces. It’s a sci fi that asks “What if?” and then sees how human nature reacts to the unnatural events unfolding. As a fan of TWILIGHT ZONE and old sci fi comics, I absolutely loved every tension-filled minute of this odd masterpiece of paranoia and horror. Ezban dazzled me last year with the movie ouroboros that was THE INCIDENT (reviewed here and inexplicably still not released yet). Here the writer/director proves that his first film wasn’t a fluke. Ezban is a fresh and talented new voice in cinema of the bizarre. His films seem to be both harkening back to sci fi stories of old, while reminding us why those stories were so good in the first place. All at once, THE SIMILARS is a throwback and a breath of fresh air in a genre that forgot that you don’t need a big budget to tackle big ideas.
Worth noting: EL INCIDENTE (THE INCIDENT)!
I can’t believe I missed this film being released, but there’s no better place than this very spot on the countdown to classify Isaac Ezban’s EL INCIDENTE as something definitely worth noting. This film is a rubik’s cube wrapped in a map folded incorrectly—a time loop film where the characters live the same events, yet grow older and wiser and more frustrated with each step. I absolutely loved this movie and those who love puzzle films like CUBE, PI, and TIME CRIMES are going to want to dive on this one. I found this film hidden deep within Netflix’s selection of sci fi films (though it has great elements of horror as well). You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon here!
EL INCIDENTE (2014)
aka THE INCIDENT
Directed by Isaac Ezban
Written by Isaac Ezban
Starring Raúl Méndez, Nailea Norvind, Hernán Mendoza, Humberto Busto, Fernando Álvarez, Gabriel Santoyo, Paulina Montemayor, Héctor Mendoza, Leonel Tinajero, Marcos Moreno, Luciana Villegas, Adrián Ladrón de Guevara, Leticia González y Magda Brugengheim
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Films like PI, CUBE and TIME CRIMES often come to mind when talking about innovative and low fi takes on sci fi standards, using innovative concepts to tell a tale that is one step beyond what we call reality. I dare to add EL INCIDENTE to the list of sci fi films that folks will be talking about for years and years to come in terms of engrossing ideas and innovative ideas about space and time.
A pair of hoodlums make chase away from a police officer into a stairwell. A family sets out on a road trip along a desert highway. Two scenarios that aren’t all together original, but once in motion, these two parallel stories start moving grows to a rapid pace quickly and dangerously. Soon all parties involved realize that they are caught in a loop of both space and time in an infinite flight of stairs and a never-ending stretch of road.
EL INCIDENTE follows the confusion, shock, and disbelief of these people when they realize the path they are on has been travelled over and over in a manner that illustrates this mixed bag of emotions subtly and clearly. Given the age and status differences in the cast, it’s fascinating to see how the cast reacts to being stuck in a non-stop loop. Some crack. Some die. Some persevere. And some grow. This story illustrates all of that with so much finesse that not one moment is wasted. And while the realization of being stuck in such a predicament is where any normal TWILIGHT ZONE or even in a substandard sci fi movie would leave off, this film is just getting started. Just wait until we fast forward 35 years and check back in on our stranded parties in the hamster wheel. It’s absolutely astounding where this story goes.
The resolution of EL INCIDENTE is bound to leave a few people scratching their heads and if I were only half watching this film, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it myself. But this movie is too engrossing to half-watch and if you’re paying attention, even though it is a bit broad and meta, I think you’re going to enjoy how this film wraps up as much as I did.
EL INCIDENTE is the type of sci fi that would make Bradbury, Serling, and Wells stand up and cheer. It’s a sophisticated take on the redundancy of life as well as a lesson in physics, psychology, and the human condition. Horrifying at times—mesmerizing all the way through, I was in awe of how clearly writer/director Isaac Ezban makes these complex and abstract concepts easy to follow without dumbing things down one bit. EL INCIDENTE is an intelligent and terrifying trip into a new kind of TWILIGHT ZONE. It’s a film once seen you’ll want to tell others about and one you definitely will not forget. Blending sci fi, philosophy, psychology, and horror gently, expertly, and skillfully, EL INCIDENTE is a masterpiece in modern science fiction and should not be missed.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#31 – THE DEMOLISHER
#30 – PLANK FACE
#29 – LAST GIRL STANDING
#28 – DEVIL IN THE DARK
#27 – HELL HOUSE LLC
#26 – XX
#25 – THE SUBLET aka THE RESIDENT
#24 – PATCHWORK
#23 – Morgan Spurlock’s RATS
#22 – SPLIT
#21 – ANNABELLE 2: CREATION
#20– I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE
#19 – THE GREASY STRANGLER
#18 – IT STAINS THE SANDS RED
#17 –SEOUL STATION
#16 – 47 METERS DOWN
#15 – THE TRANSFIGURATION
#14 – THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
#13 – THE SIMILARS
Best of lists from previous years;
2015-16 #1 – THE VVITCH
2014-15 #1 – THE CANAL
2013-14 #1 – PROXY
2012-13 #1 – MANIAC
2012 #1 – THE WOMAN
2011 #1 – THE LAST CIRCUS
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.
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Really dug The Similars and loved the throwback quality of everything…and while the good by far outweighs the bad, I think this would have been tighter as a 60-minute episode of The Twilight Zone or something similar. The last 20 minutes or so didn’t do as much for me, as I think the point had already been made by then. Nonetheless, loved the visuals, music, and old school feel!
Never heard of El Incidente, but you had me at “films like PI, CUBE and TIME CRIMES”. I’ll have to check it out.