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Smucky’s Best Horror Films of 2015

Posted in Best Of, Films That Haunt Me with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2015 by smuckyproductions

The madness that was 2015 has come to a conclusion. Looking back, there is so much to celebrate in horror – a veritable resurgence of this wondrous genre. Now Smucky’s Grave reflects on the favorite horror films that graced the screens this year.



Creature feature, body horror, and possession drama – all in one outrageously fun movie. Born and bred in Ireland, which is full of untapped spook stories, this indie effort shows that monster movies can still be scary. It’s gross and imaginative, but it also has a heart beating at its center.



Found footage is generally the worst. But leave it up to Mark Duplass and the Blumhouse folks to come up with a hilarious, subtle, and ultimately horrific meta-film about loneliness and madness. This quirky piece of terror might be too weird for some folks, but for those who are weird already, it speaks volumes. I wanted to take a shower after the ending.



Dark Sky Films does it again with a wonderfully creepy homage to Lovecraft and Fulci. The fact that those two names show up together is enough to send horror nerds flailing in excitement. What begins as a spooky haunted house flick soon descends into gore-soaked cosmic horror, all while being legitimately scary. A ball of bloody fun, this one.



It’s too much to hope for that not one, but TWO, films reference Italian directors. Guillermo del Toro’s lush, stunning love letter to Gothic romance is dripping with Bava-esque visuals and intense passion that most of Hollywood has effectively killed. While not exactly horror, this film embodies the Gothic tradition so well, and makes for singularly spooky entertainment.



It’s no accident that this film was Austria’s submission to the Oscars this year. Rarely has a film been able to sustain such unbearable tension, all by withholding information – until the brutal, bone-rattling end. This horrorshow seems like a Gothic chiller set in a cold modernist world, but by the conclusion, it becomes so much more. I still shiver when I think of the images here. Not for the fainthearted.



Sure, this film is over-discussed. But there’s a reason for it. In an age when most horror is either a remake or a spoof, this film manages to pay homage to the classics, tear them down, and rebuild them into something new. It’s honestly terrifying, surprisingly beautiful, and uncannily subtle in its presentation of nebulous millennial fears. We have witnessed the birth of a new genre icon here, and a testament to the power of indie cinema. What a way to celebrate cinema.


There are quite a few films that Smucky’s Grave missed this year, including: “The Final Girls,” “Unfriended,” “Krampus,” “The Visit,” “Bone Tomahawk,” and “The Boy.” Here’s to hoping that 2016 allows for more time to explore these well-hyped films.



Dark Musings: MUMBLEGORE

Posted in Dark Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2015 by smuckyproductions

I’ve already expressed a deep love for indie horror, and praised what seems like a Renaissance in the area. It’s difficult to fully encompass the indie scene, though, without acknowledging a rather controversial subgenre that actually makes up quite a bit of the selections. This is not a category that Netflix would acknowledge, but I think it encapsulates the general vibe of this type of film. We will call it MUMBLEGORE.


What the hell is that? you say. I laughed pretty hard when I saw that phrase first, too. It references a movement in indie film – ‘Mumblecore’ – used to describe a movie that is basically just people talking. Well-known examples include “Frances Ha,” “Drinking Buddies” and any film involving the Duplass brothers. These films tend to be the subject of some ridicule because the characters are usually over-hip and a bit (or a LOT) pretentious. Regardless of personal preference, this is a substantial area in low-budget filmmaking, and the pool of collaborators (the Duplass bros, Joe Swanberg, Greta Gerwig, Lena Dunham) have a considerable amount of talent.


And how does this relate to horror? Well, I think it’s easy to acknowledge that horror and comedy are the two easiest genres to produce successfully on a low budget. Thus, these filmmakers switch between both, and take their mumbly-hip style with them, to give birth to Mumblegore. The earliest example is probably the Duplass brothers’ “Baghead,” released in 2008. I saw this film a few years after it came out, and honestly, it ended up frightening me quite a bit.


Following in its footsteps, the scene welcomed the likes of Ti West and Adam Wyngard, who have both slipped solid entries into the genre canon – “The House of the Devil” and “You’re Next,” respectively. Other efforts include “Silver Bullets,” “The Innkeepers,” “The Sacrament” and, arguably, this year’s “Creep” (starring Mark Duplass as a horrifically creepy motherfucker).


Films like these have sparked some pretty intense hatred, because of their slow pace and dialogue-heavy openings (though they tend to conclude in a glorious amount of viscera). I agree with some of the criticism, particularly that the characters are a bit too sharp and snazzily dressed to pass as fully realized people. But horror has always been imperfect, especially the characters, who are usually not even fleshed out beyond their name and the way they die. What matters is the story, the style, and the honesty of the filmmaking.


These three reasons, among others, are why I celebrate the filmmakers involved in the mumblecore/gore movement. They have built a pool of talent that works together constantly and successfully outside of the studio system. Regardless of anyone’s personal opinion on this content, it’s encouraging and exciting to see that such a community can actually exist and thrive in today’s industry. The films that come out of this movement have created their own space in the genre and expound a vision that, while perhaps not everyone’s preference, is undeniably unique. I’m sure some will disagree, but I see this as a beacon of hope for aspiring filmmakers like myself. There is still a space for creators who want to be their own brand.

So, I personally dub the prolific and energetic producers of mumblegore films a group of talent to watch closely. There are quite a few horror projects in development now, including a comic-based television series called “Outcast” (pilot directed by Adam Wingard of “You’re Next”) and a classic-sounding stalk-and-slash flick “The Woods.” Other surprise releases can always be discovered in the Park City at Midnight section at Sundance.

Well, horror fans, what’s your opinion on this rising genre? And what’s your favorite mumblegore film if you have one? Comment below and let the grave know.