GORE IN THE STORE
FRIGHTFEST GORE IN THE STORE TOP 10 FILMS OF 2020 - PART TWO
In the second of a two-part look back at 2020, regular Gore in the Store contributor Iain MacLeod, picks his favourite 10 films of the year.
5 - POSSESSOR
Long live the new, new flesh! Brandon Cronenberg proved his father’s equal with this nightmarish spin on corporate espionage taken to bloody, mind bending extremes. Andrea Riseborough strengthens her current reign as the queen of cult cinema with an unsettling turn that suggests her character would rather be inhabiting someone else’s body indulging in extreme bloodshed than her own with her own loving family. It was a premise reminiscent of Christopher Nolan crossed with the outrageous, squirm inducing gore of Lucio Fulci. Confrontational yet completely seductive this seems to confidently predict that the family Cronenberg will be treating us to visions of technology insidiously shaping our identities and maybe even our bodies for years to come.
(Available on Digital now and Blu-ray/DVD February 2021)
4 - HOST
The timeliest film of the year was undoubtedly Rob Savage’s lean and mean HOST. Conceived, written and filmed in a matter of weeks during the first lockdown, what could have been a gimmicky premise (séance via Zoom) instead proves that you can still take found footage to exciting and scary new heights as the technology becomes more apparent and dependent in our lives. In just under one hour Savage, with co-writers Gemma Hurley and Jed Shepherd, succinctly establishes a likable cast of characters only to have a demon spectacularly ruin what should have been a fun catch up. Providing expertly timed and executed scares HOST nicely captured a feeling of the helplessness felt across the globe this year and twisted it into something that was equally as fun as it was terrifying
(Available on Shudder now and Blu-ray early 2021)
3 - RELIC
Natalie Erika James not only made the year’s most emotionally devastating horror film but the most emotionally devastating film of the year in any genre with this tale of a family coming to terms with dementia, a horrible situation which may be influenced by a supernatural threat in the forest behind grandmother Edna’s home, which seems to be creeping closer and closer to mother and daughter Kay and Sam. The small cast of Robyn Nevin, Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote as the three generations of the family gave perhaps the most sympathetic performances of the year in this debut feature which pulled off an astonishing tightrope walk of dealing with such an affecting issue and successfully mixing it with the supernatural. For a debut feature it shows the skill of James deft touch, especially in its claustrophobic climax that blossoms out into an overwhelmingly, emotional final scene that refuses to leave the viewers mind even after a single viewing.
(Available on Blu-ray/DVD January 2021)
2 - THE LIGHTHOUSE
Way back at the beginning of this year UK audiences finally got the chance to see Robert Egger’s second feature. That what is basically a black and white film about two men in a lighthouse getting on each other’s nerves still lingers in the mind at years end pays testament to Egger’s skill in taking such a premise, spinning hysterical, disturbing cinematic madness that hints at a Lovecraftian menace constantly lurking in the unforgiving waves that surround the odd couple of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattison. By turns surreal, funny and hysterical The Lighthouse had a menacing atmosphere all its own. If Eggers can make a horror film about lighthouse keepers this spellbinding and menacing the prospect of him tackling Vikings with his next feature The Northman already makes it one of next year’s most eagerly awaited films.
(Available on Blu-ray/DVD)
1 - SAINT MAUDE
Even if Rose Glass’s debut was not one of the last films I saw at the cinema, at Glasgow FrightFest, before the first lockdown and once more in October before the second lockdown, Saint Maud would undoubtedly stand tall in any cinematic year as a deeply unsettling, sad and ultimately electrifying film. This tale of religious fervour and loneliness manages to keep the viewer guessing to the final frame as to the true nature of Rose’s self-righteous spiritual connection to a God who may or may not be working through her. Morfydd Clark gave the performance of the year with her sympathetic turn that could go on to be a defining role in a promising career whilst Glass has crafted a debut film that amuses, puzzles, seduces and terrifies with her tight compelling script and sleek visual style that turns its setting of a Northern seaside town into an otherworldly staging ground for holy terror.
(Available on Blu-ray/DVD February 2021)
Part one of Iain MacLeod's delve into his favourite films of the year can be read HERE.