For Your Consideration: The Limited Release Horror Film Chainsaw Award Nominees of 2014!Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
As loyal FANGORIA readers know, voting for the Chainsaw Awards is no easy task. However, sometimes even nominating films for the Chainsaw Awards is difficult, especially in 2014 when the pool of genuinely great independent flicks was as wide as it was. Yet in our choices, we had to include limited releases that truly made a mark on the staff and horror community as a whole, and even that task made us debate what films were genuinely considered “horror.” In any case, FANGORIA did eventually narrow the list to five fright flicks, which we want to present in a little greater detail below for your consideration.
Of course, the two most argued titles among our omissions was E.L. Katz’s CHEAP THRILLS and Adam Wingard’s THE GUEST; while some supported these choices (and even submitted nominee ballots had both films dominating multiple categories), the reluctance of the filmmakers and distributors to label the films as horror ultimately left them unqualified for Chainsaw consideration. Another film that was controversially left off of the list was STARRY EYES, which resonated greatly with horror fans and yet divided the FANGORIA staff, and could potentially be a dark horse in terms of the write-in categories. Meanwhile, even though select FANGO staffers supported having ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, AFFLICTED and LIFE AFTER BETH in this category, neither could receive the universal support that the below films achieved as “Best Film” material.
So without further ado, here are your FANGORIA Chainsaw Award Nominees for Best Limited Release Film…
THE BABADOOK, dir. Jennifer Kent
A surprisingly polarizing title among horror fans considering the intense hype surrounding the film, THE BABADOOK was among one of the critically celebrated horror films of 2014, making 3 of the 4 “Top 10” lists here at FANGORIA and even receiving high praise from William Friedkin. But despite what has been said about the film, the reason Jennifer Kent’s debut feature is becoming a indie horror phenomenon is because it’s offering something different than any horror release on the market. It’s introduced a new boogeyman in the horror lexicon while offering a unique and terrifying look into a woman’s psychological breakdown. Even fervent detractors admits that the film’s imagery sticks with you, and that the blending of reality and fantasy has rarely been as effective anywhere else.
THE BATTERY, dir. Jeremy Gardner
Another divisive offering among fright film fans, THE BATTERY is a fresh take on a saturated genre as it adds a contemplative and inspired spin on the reality of a zombie apocalypse. Made for only $6000, THE BATTERY offers an authentic sense of character and humanity, filling in the spaces that most horror films would avoid. But THE BATTERY perhaps is a real horror underdog due to how much intensity can be wrought from dwindling hope and quiet moments, hitting visual and narrative cues with the expertise of a veteran filmmaker. And the film also marks the first Chainsaw Award nomination for Scream Factory, the longtime specialty horror distributor that took a gamble by bringing the film into the DVD/Blu-ray marketplace for general consumption.
HOUSEBOUND, dir. Gerard Johnstone
Another film that made 3 of FANGORIA’s Top 10 lists, and the last of the directorial debut’s to earn a Limited Release nomination, Gerard Johnstone’s HOUSEBOUND was this writer’s top horror film of 2014 for good reason. It’s genuinely hysterical, creepy and clever in high order, offering an unpredictable horror tale that is unafraid to turn the tables or switch tones at a moments notice. It’s a horror comedy that puts as much emphasis on the horror as it does the comedy, and features superb performances from across the board. Frightening, funny and shockingly well-made, HOUSEBOUND is destined to be a cult classic that doesn’t need to hinge its comedy on cynicism or meta-humor.
THE SACRAMENT, dir. Ti West
A brutal look into the darkest recesses of human desperation, THE SACRAMENT is a bona fide showstopper from Ti West, who once again delivers his trademark style of patient and unnerving horror. THE SACRAMENT, however, works so well because of West’s focus on drama and naturalism, which helps ground the performances in a very real and empathetic place. Yet it’s that focus that makes the film so disturbing once the curtain is pulled back and the story reaches its heartbreaking climax, especially considering the faux-documentary format of the narrative. It’s a horror film that hits you where it hurts, and another testament to West as one of the genre’s most impressive cinematic voices. THE SACRAMENT also introduced many horror fans to Gene Jones, whose terrifying and believable performance as “Father” rivals even the strongest mainstream performances of 2014.
UNDER THE SKIN, dir. Jonathan Glazer
An utterly unsettling film evocative of Kubrick and Roeg’s horror work, UNDER THE SKIN is art house horror at its best, offering a perpetual state of dread from start to finish. Ambiguous, beautiful and occasionally upsetting, UNDER THE SKIN examines many different types of internal and external horrors, and presents it all in a way that is organically hypnotic. Jonathan Glazer composes some of the most haunting imagery of the year in UNDER THE SKIN, much of which comes alongside a physical and stunning performance by Scarlett Johansson. It’s a rare breed of horror film: a technically astounding independent film that rides the line of good taste until evolving into a nightmare of festering inhumanity.