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!
#1 RAW #1
Why is RAW #1? Out of all of the horror films I’ve seen this year, RAW takes the cake at being a horrifying character piece as well as a movie that resonates long after you see it. There are scenes in here that evoke classics like CARRIE, but it never feels like a cheap ripoff. This is body horror and cannibal horror done with a sophistication that I haven’t really seen since Cronenberg wore his horror pants. RAW is something special and you won’t forget it after seeing it. Sure, you have to read those pesky subtitles, but this film is hands down, the best horror this year has to offer. Plus the film was just made available on Netflix, so it’s easily available! You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon here!
Available from Focus Features!
aka FREAKING, GRAVE
Directed by Julia Ducournau
Written by Julia Ducournau
Starring Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella, Laurent Lucas, Joana Preiss, Bouli Lanners, Marion Vernoux, Thomas Mustin, Marouane Iddoub, Jean-Louis Sbille, Benjamin Boutboul, Virgil Leclaire, Anna Solomin, Sophie Breyer, Danel Utegenova, Bérangère McNeese, Morgan Politi, Alice D’Hauwe, Pierre Nisse, Maïté Katinka Lonne, Amandine Hinnekens, Sibylle du Plessy, Denis Mpunga, Alexis Julemont, Lich Jaas, Helena Coppejans, Charlotte Sandersen, Christophe Menier
Find out more about this film here, @Rawmovie, and on Facebook here
There’s horror with monsters or slashers and then there’s a more sophisticated style of horror not unlike the films of David Cronenberg that delve into the horror of the human condition. RAW is the latter and it’s got more power and shock than most horror films you’re going to see this year.
Justine (Garance Marillier) is a young French girl about to leave home for the first time and attend a veterinary college. She’s a waify little thing and a die hard vegetarian. Her whole family is as her mother attests vehemently in the opening moments when a lunch lady serves a chunk of meat in Justine’s mashed potatoes. But when Justine begins rush week at the school and is forced to east raw meat in order to be accepted by her peers, she begins having cravings for meat stronger than anything she has ever felt before. Soon, she is overcome with this compulsion to draw blood—an act supported by her sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) who is an elder classmate at the school and is more than hard on her little sis during this delicate time of self discovery. Thus begins the coming of age story of a young cannibal.
There is a level of gross this film achieves that I don’t think has been achieved since Cronenberg claimed the mantle of king of body horror. The gore in this film is not over the top. But there are scenes that actually made me feel nauseous and usually, I have a pretty cast iron stomach when it comes to gore on film. Maybe it is the fact that I dissected animals in school or maybe it’s the fact that I had a class in college that often visited the cadaver (most likely because my sadistic professor wanted to see our reactions to it), but this film got under my skin on so many levels that I am still twitching about it. There seems to be real cadavers of dogs and cows are used during these scenes, which skeeved me out because I know what that smells like. There is a scene where one of the students is armpit deep in a cow’s asshole that I can’t unsee. But while the animal stuff is gross, the cannibal stuff is even more so because it is done in such a microscopically intimate way. You see Justine first taste the blood, go into an orgasmic fury once she tastes it, and then she feverishly gnaws at the flesh in one scene. Because this scene is so up close and personal, it amplifies the grossout factor all the more. This is a film that those who get queasy easily will want to avoid at all costs.
But this is not some brainless gorefest. I don’t know what it is saying about vegetarianism–maybe that it is an immature act in itself that eventually gives way to a more mature appreciation for meat. Or maybe it’s just an allegory about a girl becoming a woman and trying to control her sexual urges. I think it might be a little of both, but filmmaker Julia Ducournau makes every second of this film count with an electrifying soundtrack (one scene where Justine makes out with the mirror is erotic as hell set to a French rap song) and all kinds of vivid colors being sloshed around. Thematically and visually, this film is an absolute feast.
There are little homages to films like CARRIE here and there in RAW as well as some themes that also arose in both the Mexican and American versions of WE ARE WHAT WE ARE, but this film is a powerhouse. Little Garance Marillier dazzles with innocence personified in one second and then turns up the heat to sizzle by showing her bestial and sensual sides. While it’s a little hard to believe this film takes place during one pledge week of school, the transformation you see Justine undergo is mesmerizing every step of the way. This is a film with layers. There is a visceral grossness to it, but below that, there is a vivid and vibrant life full of metaphor, real character development, and a story that resonates off the screen. RAW is the odd type of film that dares you to look away from its brilliance and often does to grotesque lengths to try to get you to turn your head, but it ends up being so engaging that you simply can’t take your eyes away from it. Fantastically acted, realistically gory, and intelligently realized, RAW is a film you will never forget.
Here’s the Best of the Best in Horror 2017!
#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
#12 – IT COMES AT NIGHT
#11 – SWEET SWEET LONELY GIRL
#10 – SAVAGELAND
#9 – GET OUT
#8 – THE VOID
#7 – CAPTURE KILL RELEASE
#6 – THE AUTPOPSY OF JANE DOE
#5 – IT
#4 – THE DEVIL’S CANDY
#3 – THE EYES OF MY MOTHER
#2 – THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
#1 – RAW
Well, that’s it! My top 31 horror films of the year since last October 1, 2016! Below are my top picks from previous years and in those posts are more suggestions for the best of the best in horror for each year. Hope you had as much fun counting down the horrors as I did!
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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