Thursday, January 1, 2015

bryan's DEVIANT BEST of 2014


Another Film Deviant year has been lowered into its grave. So, that can only mean one thing: Welcome to the most Deviant year-end extravaganza that can only be referred to as...THE DEVIANT BEST OF 2014! You can search far and wide if you want to...but, this is the only list that tells it like it is. Please enjoy.

2014 was a great year for genre films. I know that's pretty much been the status quo around the interwebz...but, it's true. When scholars and cinema scientists look back at this past year...eons from now, it will be known as a stellar year for debuts and sequels and original content. And there will be only one list that they will study. Probably won't be this list. But, I'm sure you guys will enjoy this list for years to come. 

Now before we get on with the annual festivities, I would like to mention that we did not partake in a "Worst of 2014" list. Mostly because there wasn't any need to do so. And because Cam Gigandet didn't star in any genre films this year. I mean...of course we had the bonafide suckfests that were I, Frankenstein, Annabelle  and Ouija. Those films are pretty much no brainers and if you actually ventured out to the theaters like I did to see them...well, I'm sorry. However, there weren't serious "gouge my eyes out, put me in a pink dress and call me Suzy" type of films this year. Not like in previous years where I had no choice but to showcase the truly terrible in which to plant a flag in the ground as a warning for future filmmakers and movie studios to not tread the same paths. You will also notice that we never bothered to review the above mentioned films because...well, we didn't need to. I knew those films were gonna suck, watched them...and verified that they sucked. But, I didn't feel the need to write about how much they sucked because...honestly, they didn't piss me off. I sorta knew what I was getting into when I sat down to watch these films. Instead, I reserved my energy for films that deserved to be discussed. The ones that really needed conversation. So, as you read the glorious best of the best that screened before my eyes this past year...just know that I, Frankenstein, Annabelle  and Ouija  fucking sucked diseased water buffalo balls and you should stay away from them. Thanks.

Ok...here it is, Ladies and Deviants. The moment you've been waiting for. Without further ado...may I present the DEVIANT BEST OF 2014!




Best Horror Short: Service (2014)


Service  really blew me away when I first sat down to watch it. It has everything you would want in a horror film...never mind a tiny 8 minute film. In fact, Service is full of so much content...it really is hard to imagine how writer/director Jerry Pyle pulls off so much dread and visual tension in such a confined space. Mark my words when I say....we will see so many more good things from Jerry Pyle. Incidentally, my vote for the absolute BEST HORROR COUPLE OF 2014 has to go to...Jerry Pyle and the equally talented Jill Sixx Gevargizian!

I'm really pulling for these two kids.


Best DVD/Blu-ray release: Nightbreed: The Director's Cut



I waited 24 years for this...and, aside from the ridiculous price tag, it is all that I've ever dreamed about and so much more. Nightbreed has always been such a personal favorite of mine that when this thing was first announced...I jumped at the opportunity to own it. Now, I do admit that it did feel like a steep price to pay...especially considering that the "limited to 5,000 copies" feel was quickly diminished when Scream Factory revealed that they where going up to 10,000. But, still...I'm proud to say that I now own the definitive version of Clive Barker's fully realized...Nightbreed



Best Horror Company: ATOMIC COTTON


Full disclosure: Erica and Zach Kaufman are buddies of mine. But...I am not being biased when I proclaim how hard these two work. They very rarely miss a horror convention and they are up day and night cranking out amazingly original works of art that you can wear as a t-shirt, sticker or jewelry. I own several of their shirts and LOVE each and every one of 'em. Great quality and stunning artwork. Artist Erica made the announcement that they are working full time in 2015 to meet customer demands and concentrate on some brand new kickass designs (including a Demons  shirt that will surely be right up my alley). Now...go get some Atomic Cotton HERE!



Hottest Scene In A Film/TV Show: True Detective (2014)


For years I, like most of my brethren, have waited patiently until one actress unleashed her fleshy gifts and bestowed unto our eyes the magical beauty of said gifts. Well, in 2014 A.D., in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ...we were granted that one magical wish when Alexandra Daddario unleashed those lovely gifts of hers in the amazing television show...True Detective. Honestly, the show itself deserves much more praise for being a truly brilliant piece of cinematic awesomeness...but, goddamnit if I didn't watch the one scene where Alexandra unclothes her beauties more than any other scene in 2014. I was in tears the first time that I watched it. Technically, it wasn't necessarily sexually detailed in anyway. I mean...The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears  has more sexuality in 3 seconds of its running time than the couple of minutes of this particular scene...but, the anticipation of what was about to happen alone is not unlike watching the sunrise for the very first time. Magically delicious.



Most Deviant Film: Pieces of Talent (2014)


Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from this film. However, Pieces of Talent  hit me across the face like a sledgehammer of beauty. The film is as gorgeous as it is unsettling. It has all of the hallmarks of the term Independent Masterpiece...and this is a freakin' debut! I cannot wait to see what the sequel has in store! High praise and huge pressure, I realize...but, well goddamn deserved. Pieces of Talent  unnerved me, rattled me, and filled my heart with warmness all at once. The film transcends its synopsis and turns into something much more than the sum of its parts. Pieces of Talent  is the very reason why we continue on with our mission here at Film Deviant. It is the very definition of a Deviant Masterpiece...if ever there was one. 



Best Kill: Dead Snow 2 (2014)

CLICK THE PHOTO FOR A DIRECT LINK TO THE SCENE ;)

There are so many scenes in Dead Snow 2  deserving of this moniker...but, the one that stands out the most for me is the scene where Martin is trying to revive the poor kid with CPR before he realizes that his arm is much more powerful than he bargained for and punches a cavity thru the poor kid's chest. It is a scene that resides in most of our Deviant dark minds...so, it was interesting to see mostly everyone in the theater erupt into laughter when this particular scene unfolded. Great stuff!



Best Director: Jennifer Kent


All I can say is...Holy Fucking Wow...when it comes to what director Jennifer Kent has accomplished with her feature debut, The Babadook. The film is an extraordinary exercise in human deterioration that unravels both in our minds and on the screen in front of us. Kent's ability to tell us such an off the wall story while also balancing genuine tension and creating a truly scary environment...is unparelled in this year's sea of horror. Honestly, I had to double-check her IMDB page to verify that she hasn't been directing feature horror for decades after I watched The Babadook. If Jennifer Kent is the standard of what we should be expecting from Australian horror in the years to come then...you better stock up on your ZzzQuil now because there will be some sleepless nights in our future.



Best Killer: Mick Taylor


As a grown-ass man...I am ready to declare my love for Mick Taylor. I don't know what it is about the guy. He's not particularly lovable...nor is he really all that charming. But, there is something about the character that is irresistible. That laugh, that hat, that flannel shirt - there's no mistaking the man whenever he walks into frame. One of the things that I love about Mick is that one does not necessarily need to provoke him all that much for him to feel the urge to put someone's head on a stick. Hell, sometimes, all it takes is mumbling the wrong sentence or smiling a certain way to provoke the guy. You really don't know what will set him off. Pretty damn scary. Not to mention that Mick Taylor can exist anywhere...not just the Outback. Tie me kangaroo down, sport.



Best Final Girl: Alex Essoe


No other performance in 2014 was as unrelentingly tragic and desperately powerful as Alex Essoe in Starry Eyes. Goddamn, what a dark and revealing performance by Essoe as the cursed Sarah. She truly gives her all and leaves everything out there. Nothing ever goes her way in the film...and when it does...it doesn't. It is an achievement on par with all the amazing genre actresses...ever. I really hope that Starry Eyes gets more recognition...if only for more eyes to witness Essoe's powerful deterioration and rebirth of her character. Alex Essoe will go onto much better things. My only wish is that she does more stuff in the genre. Great, great talent!


Honorable Mentions: I watched a lot of films this past year and while there were so many great ones that I had to include in my best of list, there were those that were really good...but, just didn't make the cut...mostly because the list was pretty crowded as it was. There are also some films that I just couldn't get to, regrettably, and will probably be mentioned in 2015...in a "late to the party" kinda way. I apologize for that. Really wish that I could watch everything that comes out...but, a Deviant can only do so much. Anyway, the films that I'd like to mention are...

While the film ultimately had some problems, Oculus was certainly an amazing sophomore effort by the immensely talented Mike Flanagan and I can't wait to see what is next from him. Despite being flawed in many ways, The Sacrament was the best Ti West film since his amazing The House of the Devil. As Above, So Below...really surprised the hell out of me. It was much better than I thought it was going to be, aside from that unsatisfying ending. Nurse 3D  was much more fun than it should have been. I feel the need to mention Proxy, even tho I gave it a 2 1/2 out of 5, because of how much I LOVED the first two thirds of the film. But, after that infuriating third act...I just couldn't bring myself to rate it higher. That opening sequence really hit me, tho.

And then...it was time for Toronto to drown...in the sweet sorrow of...The Clash At DEMONHEAD!!

Sorry...let's try that again (and be sure to click on the film titles for the full reviews)...







One of my favorite found footage films of the year, Afflicted  proved to be much more than just your run-of-the-mill vampire film. It boasted some really great effects and solid performances. A super impressive debut by talented filmmaking duo Derek Lee and Clif Prowse. Best Moment: The shotgun suicide scene. It's not often when a vampire film handles mortality in such a tragic way...let alone do it correctly. The look of defeat on Derek's face after he truly learns what he has turned into is haunting.




While a bit on the derivative side, Housebound  is so much more than the sum of its parts. Even tho those particular parts are pretty damn intriguing to begin with. Great characters, tense sequences and an impeccable delivery. The Kiwi's definitely have their foot in the cinematic door. Best Moment: When that Teddy Ruxpin motherfucker terrorizes Kylie. It's both...hilarious and frightening!




Certainly the most over-the-top genre film of 2014...and one of the most entertaining ones, as well. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead  straps you into the front seat and thrusts you into an unbelievable world of undead Nazi's and insane set pieces. It is as hilarious as it is engaging and you will totally laugh at stuff you would never dream of laughing at. Best Moment: The epic battle between "good" and evil in the third act. Seriously...everything is thrown into this fight....EVERYTHING.




What a great surprise! I honestly wasn't expecting much from The Taking of Deborah Logan...not that I had low expectations, or anything. But, holy hot damn...what a creepy fucking film that has so many amazing levels going for it. It is a film that has commentary...but, not in a heavy-handed way. It has a flurry of scary imagery...the kind that lingers in your head for days. And, most of all...the film boasts some great performances by everyone. Best Moment: When the one guy drops everything and basically says..."Fuck this...I'm out!" Such a rare thing in horror films of this nature.




Mick Taylor is hands down my favorite character of 2014. He has all of the charm of Freddy Krueger while maintaining the dread of Leatherface. You know the guy is gonna kill you...like, in a really bad way. But, you also know that he's gonna have some fun while doing it, too. There is no film from 2014 that I have watched more. Wolf Creek 2  is an unapologetic hell of a great time. I love the fact that the film focuses on the single most interesting antagonist that the genre has seen in a very long time. Best Moment: When Mick and Paul play an impromptu game of Australian history trivia. It is a desperate scene full of tension that gives us a different look at the darkness of Mick Taylor. 




There are two films that perplexed me beyond my limits of comprehension. Films that I seriously had to watch multiple times until they clicked. Under the Skin  is one of those films. Admittedly, I mostly watch it the first time to see Scarlett Johansson's fleshy goods. Actually...come to think of it...that was my main reason for watching it over and over. I mean...come on, man...Scarlett Johansson. But, a funny thing happened during each of those times. The film started clicking for me. I honestly cannot think of a more tragic being than "The Female" alien. Gave me an entirely new perspective on its human counterpart. Best Moment: Hmmm....let me think about this one for a second. Yup...the naked mirror scene. And, yes...I am a shallow person.




A hundred times...wow. No film hit me quite like Pieces of Talent  did. It is a mini masterpiece of psychotic obsession shot gorgeously for a minuscule budget. While the film manages to display quite a bit of genre tropes that have been done to death, nothing is quite like Pieces of Talent. It is a film that needs to be experienced. At once...ugly and beautiful. Best Moment: When that filmmaker guy shows up to film David's "movie". The things that happen during that one sequence is the stuff of nightmares.




When researchers go back to determine what was so special about 2014...they will pause at Mister Babadook's pop-up book. They will open it up...and look at all the cool pictures and read his words...and forever be haunted by the tall top-hat wearing cloaked monster. It is only then that these researchers will know that 2014 was a year to not be fucked with. The Babadook  is such a refreshing horror film that, not only brings multitudes of genuine scares, but also firmly plants its roots deep within a broken family, thus giving the story a much more personal touch. The execution of first time director, Jennifer Kent, is among the best we've witnessed in the last decade. Best Moment: When we come to the realization that we can never defeat our demons...but, we can certainly learn to tame and live with them. What a great, great climax.




Blue Ruin  is a film that made it onto most "best of" lists this year...and for great reason. It is a film full of so much dread and horrific tragedy. While, one could argue that the film is not full on horror...believe me when I tell you that you will not find this much unrelenting tension in most genre films. I would say that the film is planted firmly on that line of ambiguous horror. Macon Blair certainly delivers, perhaps, the best male performance of the year as Dwight, a tragically doomed character hellbent on revenge. As the details of the story unspool, there is no denying the inevitable downhill arc that Dwight must fulfill. And, while you know in your heart what his character's destiny is, you almost hope for a different resolution than the one you are sure to see. Such a great display of human darkness. Best Moment: I don't think I squirmed more than the arrow in the leg scene. Jesus Christ!




What We Do in the Shadows  is the most hilarious film that I watched in 2014. It is full of everything that I could ever hope for in a mockumentary about old world vampires doing their best to integrate themselves during the changing times. It is the awkward cousin of the next film on the list. The writing is as brilliant as the execution and there is never a dull moment. And, yet...the film is full of so much heart...especially once the character of Stu is introduced. I love that the film also displays a healthy dose of learned consequences, too. It adds a certain layer of significance to an otherwise exercise in bold-faced hilarity. Best Moment: When newly-made vampire, Nick warns a convenience store clerk never to lie about being a witch. I spit my beer out on that one.




If there was to be a more highbrowed relative to the Kiwi vampire flick I just discussed...it would have to be Only Lovers Left Alive. There is no cooler film of the year. Jim Jarmusch's latest combines all the decadence of the age-old blood-sucking monster and brings to it an aura of refined coolness only reserved for people like Tom Waits and Lou Reed. These vampires march to the exclusive beat of their own drummer. And you are not invited unless your are on their elite list. Fortunately, as a viewer, you are invited to their Blood Popsicle-sucking conversations about how the current state of mankind is killing the world. The film really isn't about anything other than just hanging out with this elite breed of vampires as they move around in the world...but, I can't think of a cooler time at the movies. Best Moment: When Eve's sister Ava (the illegally talented Mia Wasikowska) shows up and brings a certain unrestrained animalism to the film. I kinda wished there was more of her character in the film and the bickering between her and Adam is classic.




What an unbridled and totally bonkers experience in new wave Giallo that can only be described as...well...I can't really put it into words. But, if you look at the film for what it ultimately is...it is merely a Giallo mystery made by the creators of Amer. No other film released in 2014 is anything remotely close to The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears. The film tests your endurance...over and over again and never relents until the closing credits. It is as beautiful as it is convoluted. And while it is pretty obvious that the film is not for most...it certainly should be seen by everyone. And just like the number eight film on this list, I watched the film 3 times until it finally clicked for me. There's a sequence about mid-way thru where the main character, Dan Kristensen (an amazing Klaus Tange) goes thru a repetitive series of guilt and self-denial that will surely exhaust the viewer...especially considering that you are forced to watch his saggy balls quite a number of times. However, if you can stick it out...it is a ride that you wanna hop on again and again.  Best Moment: Can I say the entire film? I mean...if I can just pull one element from the film...it is spotting all of the classic shout-outs to to the classic Italian Giallos. That was a ton of fun.




No other film spoke to me quite like Starry Eyes  did. Starry Eyes  was exactly what I was looking for when I first set out my search on January 1st for a film full of demon horror that transcended its own self to become something so much more than just a great horror film. Does that even make any sense? On the surface, Starry Eyes  is merely a cautionary tale about a young girl's ruthless desire to become a star in Hollywood. But, what it ultimately becomes is a symbolic story about testing one's own limits in which to obtain that one elusive missing element while undergoing a malevolent rebirth at all costs. Starry Eyes  is not only my favorite film of 2014...but, it is also that rare movie experience that goes farther than anything else that I've seen this year. Starry Eyes is the real deal and will, hopefully, be seen by more people in years to come. It is not unsubstantiated hype when I proclaim the film to be the DEVIANT BEST of 2014...it is so much more. Best Moment: When Sarah (the brilliant Essoe) drives that fucking knife deep into where it is suppose to go. Because, goddamnit...I loathed that particular victim!




Well, there you have it! The Most Deviant Best of the best for 2014. So many great goddamn films and it makes me a little teary eyed that we were lucky enough as genre fans to be treated to such great cinematic experiences. And what makes this list so great is that you probably have your own list. Maybe Starry Eyes  is closer to the bottom and perhaps Dead Snow 2  is closer to the top according to you. It's all relative, my friends. What truly matters is that these films are all thought-provoking entertainment that took you to another world for a couple of hours. They scared you, made you laugh, made you cry, made you think...and, most of all, inspired you in some way. That's why we do this here at Film Deviant...to shine the light on the stuff that truly matters. Hopefully, 2015 will be just as great. However, that doesn't mean that there won't be a Worst of 2015 list next year around this time. There might very well be. Who knows what's in store. But, that's what makes it so exciting, right? The anticipation in the dark of the theater...waiting to see if you'll be scared. Whatever the case...we'll be right there next to you in the dark feeling all of those emotions with you. 

As always....A HUGE THANK YOU to you...our reader, who continues to click onto our little dark corner of the internet and read what we have to say. We fucking love you. Not only because you read our stuff...but, mostly because you are one of us. A genre fan who deviates from the normal world of film. We look forward to great things in 2015 and beyond and hope that you'll be here with us. Muchos gracias, Desviados!



THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR READING ALL YEAR!




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