2014: A Year in Movies
To me, it seems independent movies and music go hand in hand. It doesn’t always need to be metal music either. The marriage between independent movies and music has always been there so reviewing movies on this blog makes sense to me. I hope you find something new you here that you forgot to check out this year. All of these are great movies.
These are some movies I enjoyed this year. Most of these are considered ‘independent’.
A found footage vampire movie. This turned me off from this one for a while. I’m tired of both genres and mixing them together appeared to be a disaster. Thankfully, I checked this out and it turns out this is one of the best horror movies of the year! There were two directors in this film and they also star in the movie which was a unique approach. Set in Europe, an infection is caught and the two antagonists in the movie must race against time to find the cure before the main character turns into a vampire. It’s not the most inventive story, but the transformation and main chase scene are must watch material.
A series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim now out for revenge, a vigilante police detective operating outside the boundaries of law, and the main suspect in the killings – a religious studies teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder. The tension in this one is from start to finish and will have you second guessing who you think the killer really is up until the very end. There are some cringe-worthy torture scenes and you feel for the religious studies teacher, but should you? You’ll have to watch and find out!
Told from the outsider’s point of view, Blue Ruin tells the story of a man coming back to his family home to protect his estranged family. The language and graphic violence drive home the emotional and physical brutality of this film. I’m baffled why this isn’t more popular. If you can get passed the violence, this would easily be a mainstream picture capable of grossing millions. Hollywood wishes it could tell a classic tale like Blue Ruin played flawlessly by it’s actors. Don’t miss this one.
What would you do for money? You lost your job and are getting ready to be evicted with a kid on the way. Lots of us have said, “I’d do XYZ for $1,000,000”. Cheap Thrills shows how far one may go. It starts off playful when a couple with a ton of money strike up a conversation with a couple old friends at a bar. There’s some comedy thrown in to prepare the viewer for the brutality ahead. As you can tell from the movie poster, things are escalated quickly and leads to an excellent climax (no pun intended). Not the most original story, but entertaining nonetheless.
When you cast Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, and Don Johnson, you can’t go wrong. Set in late 80’s Texas, a man protecting his family home, Richard (Michael C. Hall) guns down an ex-con. The father of the ex-con Ben (Sam Shepard) is not a happy camper. Twists and turns which I won’t give away have them joining forces with the help of Don Johnson as the private detective. This movie is over two hours but you’ll wish it were two hours longer. Brilliant acting, scenery, and story all presented as a great film.
Tons of hype around this one and well-deserved. A single-mother attempts to keep it together as she is fixated on the accident that claimed the life of her husband (taking her to the hospital while she was in labor). The child survived and her mission is to protect him. This is a boogy man type movie and works quite well. Rarely does a horror movie give me chills anymore, but the first time I heard The Babadook say “Babadook – dook – dook” it gave me goosebumps. While kids in horror movies typically take a backseat to the story, the kid in this one plays a brilliant role and really drives this movie. The Aussies scored a hit with this one!
Two journalists head to what they believe is a cult which has sucked in their friend’s sister into thinking it’s a magical land. As time goes on, we find out it’s what we’ve all come to know about cults. Can shes be saved? Will they all survive the madness? Eli Roth is the producer and Ti West (The Innkeepers, House of the Devil) is the director of this documentary-style movie and build the tension very well. I will admit it starts slow, but once things pick up, it doesn’t let up until the very end.
I love Kevin Smith comedies. His horror movie Red State did nothing for me although most folks dug it. I was skeptical with Tusk as I’m not the biggest Justin Long fan either (remember those Apple commercials?), but this movie was extremely good and weird to boot. Wallace (Justin Long) plays an asshole podcaster who makes fun of folks doing dumb shit on video. He is going to Manitoba for an interview with one of his most famous subjects. That falls through and another story unfolds wherein he meets an interesting seafarer named Howard with a lot of tales to tell. Wallace is offered a drink and then things take a dramatic turn. It’s fucked up, odd, and it works well. There’s even a tearjerker moment but you almost feel silly for feeling that way (it’ll make sense once you watch). Kudos to Kevin Smith and I look forward to his next non-comedic film.