Check out our 2013 article right here!
Louise’s Pick: The Babadook
Honourable Mentions: Nightcrawler, Birdman, Selma
You know, it took me three tries to get through The Babadook.
And there’s a fucking good reason for that, too – Jennifer Kent’s monstrous family horror is one of those beasts that demands every inch of your emotional investment and then makes you pay for handing it over. It holds your peace of mind at gunpoint, and then pulls the trigger. It’s fucking brilliant, and I am so glad that it exists.
Horror and trauma, as I feel like I’ve been writing a lot about recently, are just natural bedfellows; what are our worst nightmares, after all, but a manifestation of what we’ve already been through?
The choice to explore the trauma of loss and grief through the lens of a sinister
LGBT icon imaginary monster that a grieving mother’s son has apparently invented is already a juicy premise, let’s be real – but the choice to take away the usual deifying of the mother figure and allow for something more fractured, more dangerous, and far more disturbing. Essie Davis, as the mother around which the story revolves, puts in an exhausting and gruelling and utterly unforgettable performance, and watching her work through her demons with the help of an actual, you know, demon lets the film go to some dark places without offering easy answers to the questions that it dares to pose.
It took me three tries to get through this film because it’s simply one of the most painful, powerful, cathartic emotional experiences ever committed to cinema, as far as I’m concerned. But damn, I’m glad I got through it in the end. Even if I’ll never watch it again.
Kevin’s Choice: Oculus
Honorable Mentions: John Wick, The Babadook, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Gone Girl, Guardians of the Galaxy, Nightcrawler, The Lego Movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Inherent Vice, Enemy, The Guest, Under the Skin
Fuck me, I didn’t realize how good a year 2014 was. The reason that there are so many honorable mentions is that I could have picked any one of those films as my film of the year. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner and the rest will have to settle for joint second place.
Much like Louise, one of my ways to measure a possible favorite is by how much it totally fucks me up, and Oculus fucked me up. I’ve already waxed lyrical about Mike Flanagan being the best horror director of the decade, and Oculus is still his finest achievement on the silver screen.
Like every great horror movie the Oculus is about trauma, the trauma of a family ripped apart by a possessed mirror. Yet Oculus is so much more than your average haunting -Flanagan crafts a narrative that that spans two timelines that slowly start to bleed together. Think of it as a masterful dry run for the rest of his career.
2014 may be the year where Keanu was really back, a poignant story was told through Lego, and Michael Keaton brilliantly dealt with his own bizarre career, but nothing compares to two orphans battling a mirror in a a room. Or, if I could say it in the most pretentious way possible: that’s cinema.
(header image via Bloody Disgusting)