Favorite Scary Movies of 2015

It's award season and rooting for Max Max to win top honors at the Oscars next weekend. I've spent the last six weeks watching horror films and I'm almost caught up with the 2015 batch of horror films. We are definitely in a neo-golden era of scary movie thanks mostly to the rise of VOD (video-on-demand) releases. Without an expensive marketing plan, commercials, and national theater chain contracts, smaller independent films are being pushed through on-demand channels to much success. Hardcore horror fans also seem to be abandoning water-down and often mediocre mainstream releases aimed primarily at teens in favor of VOD's more adult-oriented fare. Without further ado, here are my favorite films from 2015:

1. Krampus - From the director of Trick ‘r Treat comes this new holiday gem that combines humor, family satire, and thrills into one neat package. It is not too scary but never stops being entertaining and finally features a creature of lore that has yet to make it to the screen.

2. Mad Max Fury Road - I wasn't a big fan of the original, but this masterful remake adds gravitas, unforgettable visuals, and aural alchemy in an almost wordless road/apocalypse film that was one of the most thrilling rides in long time. Add some exceptionally understatesd performances from Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron and mostly in camera practical effects and you've got an epic.

3. The Final Girls - Another throwback film that captures the essence of 80s slasher flicks. At the center is a surprising emotional core even though the proceedings are outlandish. 

4. It Follows - This film is all about atmosphere and plays like a lost Carpenter film from the 80s. Some think “that’s it” after it ends expecting some giant effects-laden film with jump scares and twists, and if so, you are clearly not the audience for this gem.

5. What We Do In The Shadows - This New Zeland mockumentary follows a vampire housemates through the mundane everyday tasks, the perils of being a vampire, and perks of eternal life – until it’s not. It’s highbrow humor than never ceases to be entertaining. 

6. Crimson Peak - A horror movie of this scale comes along once in a generation, and while not perfect, Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to gothic haunted house movies is breathtaking, incredibly produced, and memorable. 

7. Ex Machina - This disquieting film echoes Frankenstein, and keeps you entranced from the moment that Ava, a self-aware robot, makes contact and defines what is human. The effects are mesmerizing, and the twists and turns never give your palpitating heart a rest.

8. The Nightmare - Ever had a dream you can’t wake from. It’s terrifying and this untraditional documentary presents the stories of people who experience sleep paralysis, some of the scientific explanations – and the more abstract and scary elements. Whether true or figments of the imagination, they stories are truly frightening.

9. Spring – A chance encounter leads to a love story set against the breathtaking Italian backdrops. However, some thing comes between these two love birds and it evokes Lovecraft lore of elder ones. Wow, didn’t see that coming. It’s a great date night movie (for horror fans)!

10. Tales of Halloween - Like it’s cousin Trick ‘r Treat, this is an anthology of Halloween stories with more mischief than outright fright. It captures the essence of Halloween and while not as polished as it’s cousin is still a lot of fun. A must for those who love Halloween more than horror.

11. Goodnight Mommy - This unsettling slow-burn film from Austria pits two brothers against their abusive mother who just has a facelift. The brothers are convinced the woman beneath these bandages is not their mother and go to great lengths to discover the truth.

12. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse - The reviews called it crass, juvenile and unoriginal – that’s only half true (hello, zombie penis). If you’ve ever been a male teen, have a sense of dark humor, love gory horror, and looking for a fun 90 minutes, this is the way to go. It’s a fairly polished, goofy film.

13. Ash vs. Evil Dead - Yes, I realize this is a TV series on Starz but it’s more cinematic, risky, quirky, and gory than anything I’ve seen on the screen all year. For those of you waiting for a five-hour sequel to Army of Darkness, this is it! It just happens to be broken into ten 30-minute episodes.  

Honorable Mentions: Deathgasm, Goosebumps, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Hallow, Bone Tomahawk, Insidious: Chapter 3, and We Are Still Here.