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For Your Consideration: The Best Wide Release Horror Film Nominees of 2014!

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With voting season now open on the FANGORIA Chainsaw Awards, fans are putting their minds at work to select their favorites out of every potential nominee. However, judging by our FANGORIA Facebook feedback, there weren’t many fans of the 2014 studio releases this year, especially compared to the stellar roster in 2013. And considering that the amount of theaters needed to justify a wide release was 600+, that meant our pool of horror nominees was slim, and even slimmer when looking for quality among the bunch. However, we were able to cull together five nominees who were just a cut above the rest, and now, we’d like to take a minute to shed a light upon them.

Before we get started, we might as well mention the wide releases that didn’t make it on the list this year. Among those hotly debated between FANGORIA brass were PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES and DELIVER US FROM EVIL, as both films carried very few but very vocal supporters; eventually, the votes for and against each selection canceled out their potential nominations altogether. Meanwhile, box office favorites like ANNABELLE and OUIJA didn’t make a lasting impression among those who saw them, and neither carried sufficient scares to warrant a nomination. Some titles were too polarizing for the nominations, with THE PURGE: ANARCHY and TUSK both offer admirable horror elements yet nearly destroying all goodwill in compounded frustration. And lastly, FANGORIA panned both DEVIL’S DUE and NO GOOD DEED, which left them both D.O.A. for this year’s Chainsaw noms.

So without further ado, here are your FANGORIA Chainsaw Award Nominees for Best Wide Release Film…

AS ABOVE, SO BELOW, directed by John Erick Dowdle

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The latest found footage venture from John Erick Dowdle, AS ABOVE, SO BELOW follows a team of archaeologists and extreme tourists who find themselves in a previously unexplored section of Paris’ Catacombs that may be an entrance to hell. Starring Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman and Edwin Hodge, the film plays essentially as a first person walkthrough of the most realistic Hell haunt ever constructed, and features several creepy and claustrophobic set pieces all within the deepest, darkest underbelly of the world. Yet what sets AS ABOVE, SO BELOW apart from the multitude of found footage flicks that hit last year was its use of perspective: not only did AS ABOVE, SO BELOW actually justify its use of rolling cameras, but its ability to alter and twist your point-of-view with its journey offered something new to the tired subgenre.

 

DRACULA UNTOLD, directed by Gary Shore

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A horror story under the guise of a fantasy adventure film, DRACULA UNTOLD is Legendary Productions’ attempt to create a blockbuster franchise from a genre icon. Yet unexpectedly so, DRACULA UNTOLD was one of the most imaginative and compelling take on the vampire mythos in quite a while, offering a surprising violent and frightening film with incredibly strong performances. Luke Evans proves himself a surprisingly capable Dracula, offering a ruthless side to himself unseen in previous performances, while Charles Dance steals the entire film with a predatory a terrifying performance as an ancient vampire. While relatively lean on the gorier and sensual aspects of DRACULA lore, DRACULA UNTOLD was the genre surprise of the year, and one that proved that horror can still pack a punch against an epic backdrop.

 

GODZILLA, directed by Gareth Edwards

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Admittedly, there was a debate among the FANGORIA family on whether or not GODZILLA was considered horror. But with the suspenseful set pieces, the massive body count and the glorious return of the King of Monsters, it would feel wrong to leave out the original FANGORIA cover boy of this years Chainsaw Awards. Though the film has been notably criticized for its underwhelming human element, Gareth Edwards handled GODZILLA’s more frightening sequences with excellence, and truly built up the monstrous mayhem with appropriate gravitas. GODZILLA may not be the scariest film of the year, but for a giant creature feature infused with creepy, quiet set pieces, GODZILLA delivered in a big way.


OCULUS, directed by Mike Flanagan

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A mind-bending and divisive film about psychological scars exploited by a potentially haunted mirror, OCULUS was one of the most effective straightforward horror films of the year. With an experimental timeline that traversed time and space, OCULUS was unlike anything horror fans had seen before. At times brutal, but often quite terrifying, Mike Flanagan brought his unique, Stephen King-influenced voice to a larger production than ever before and created something not easily shaken. And with some of the stronger genre performances out of a mainstream release on full display, OCULUS was one of the few films that was universally nominated by all of the FANGORIA staff.


THE QUIET ONES, directed by John Pogue

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One of the most overlooked mainstream releases of the year, the latest Hammer release incorporated elements of found footage into their story of a scientific team studying supernatural possession. Featuring Hammer’s trademark class and some seriously unnerving tension, THE QUIET ONES offered great performances, impressive production design and atmospheric chills in spades. While definitely the underdog of the wide releases this year, THE QUIET ONES has likely the most compelling story of the bunch and some of the most underrated horror moments of the year.

 

If you would like to vote for any of these films for Best Wide Release Film, check out the full ballot here and send your completed ballot to chainsaw@fangoria.com.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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