M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Four of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2013 and going through September 30, 2014. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2013 and September 30, 2014 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on April 18, 2014. Available on digital download, On Demand, and DVD/Blu-ray!

PROXY (2013)

Directed by Zack Parker
Written by Zack Parker & Kevin Donner
Starring Alexia Rasmussen, Joe Swanberg, Alexa Havins, Kristina Klebe
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here

PROXY was truly one of the most mesmerizing and horrific films I’ve seen all year this year and any year.

There’s something about a pregnant woman that instinctively makes people defensive. We want to protect them from harm. We criticize sharply when we see someone smoking or drinking around them or, god forbid, seeing them do it. It’s one of the few precious and pure images that is almost universally understood. A pregnant woman is a promise that life goes on and there’s an optimistic future ahead for humanity. Maybe that’s why horror films that involve pregnant women are so effective. Think of films like ROSEMARY’S BABY or more recently the found footage shocker DELIVERY and you automatically get a chill because it involves the endangerment of the mother and her child.

PROXY is a raw and unflinching look at the twisted side of mother hood. The places this film go are going to be too dark for some, but I found the horrific depths of the characters involved too terrifyingly fascinating turn away even though every muscle of my body was telling me otherwise. In the opening moments, there is a scene so utterly brutal, it’s going to be a deal breaker for some. But all that opening sequence does is prepare the strong for the harrowing experiences to come.

With its unconventional plot and complex themes at play, PROXY is an ingeniously smart film tacking an intricate disease known as Munchhausen by Proxy which involves the darkest side of motherhood. Those who know the condition understand how horrific it can be. Motherly martyrdom is often the subject of comedy in cinema as the nebbish mother seemingly enjoying the attention she gets from friends in her sewing circle, but it’s never been portrayed in film in such a manner so nerve-shatteringly real.

Zack Parker blew me away with the ROSHOMON-style tale of abuse and neglect, SCALENE last year and PROXY proves that he is filmmaker of spectacular talent. As I pondered this film long after seeing it, I couldn’t help but notice the PSYCHO-esque aspects to the score. Giving it more thought, this very much is a much more psychologically perverse and intimate version of PSYCHO. There’s even a horrific scene in a bathroom. As I realized this connection, I understood that even beyond the visceral shivers this film induces, there’s so much going on thematically as well in terms of comments on motherhood, society’s obsession with notoriety, and relationships as well.

Acted superbly by the entire cast, I was unfamiliar with most of the players in this dark tale, aside from the always great Joe Swanberg who delivers a smoldering and subtle performance. But this is a star making film for all involved especially the ghostly tragic Alexia Rasmussen who fleshes out a character more haunting than any movie monster you can think of. Alexa Havens plays the seemingly perfect housewife to perfection and the gruff and tough Kristina Klebe adds layer upon layer of soul to her role. These four characters and the incredibly knotted way their lives are all intertwined is pure genius from a writing standpoint all the way down to the performances.

PROXY is one of those films that leaves a deep scar after viewing. It’s not the Hollywood horror with jump-scares, CGI, and Don Music head slams on the keyboard for audience reaction. It’s a film that will grab you and shake you and leave you devastated and weary in a manner that feels all too real and all the more tragic. PROXY pulls no punches and is some brave and bold horror that some might not be prepared for, but I hope to see much more of from director Zack Parker, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors working today.

I couldn’t recommend this film more if my life depended on it. Just superb filmmaking from start to finish.

Click here for the trailer!


THE 2013-2014 COUNTDOWN!


#1 – PROXY
#2 – BIG BAD WOLVES
#3 – UNDER THE SKIN
#4 – ENEMY
#5 – HONEYMOON
#6 – OCULUS
#7 – BLUE RUIN
#8 – THE GUEST
#9 – CHEAP THRILLS
#10 – HERE COMES THE DEVIL
#11 – PIECES OF TALENT
#12 – CRAWL OR DIE
#13 – TUSK
#14 – THE BUTTERFLY ROOM
#15 – FOUND
#16 – PLUS ONE
#17 – AS ABOVE SO BELOW
#18 – WILLOW CREEK
#19 – MACABRE
#20 – GRAND PIANO
#21 – RIGOR MORTIS
#22 – ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE
#23 – THE MACHINE
#24 – DELIVERY: THE BEAST WITHIN
#25 – THE SACRAMENT
#26 – THE SEASONING HOUSE
#27 – THANATOMORPHOSE
#28 – DEVOURED
#29 – CONTRACTED
#30 – DISCOPATH
#31 – SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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