2016 was a magnificent year for the horror cinema. Magnificent! It was not only a year of Hollywood horrors, but also a year where international films made their mark. There are fantastic films from many countries such as Iran, Korea, and Portugal on the list. This year, which is loved by slashers, gore, black magic, maniacs, and zombies, offers horror films of every genre. I have prepared a rather long list of 16 films. Instead of wasting my excitement here, I invite you to dive into the films.
Don’t Breathe, the second feature film by Fede Alvarez, who had a fantastic start to his film career with Evil Dead in 2013, might be the wildest film of the year. The film tells the story of three people who break into a house and are hunted down one by one by the blind owner, offering immense action in a narrow house. This film, where you feel fear and tension until the very last moment, even managed to make it to some critics’ lists of the best films of the year.
The Conjuring 2
James Wan continues to expand the Conjuring universe that he initiated with series and spin-offs. He also sits in the director’s chair for the second film in the series. The film focuses on a new incident involving the Warren family and centers around the English Amityville story. James Wan, in my opinion, is one of the best living directors. He does an amazing job as a director. The Conjuring 2 is not only a great horror element but also a perfect example of originality in its cinematography. The film has a quality that will be remembered for years to come.
Hush, directed by Mike Flanagan, known for his horror films, features his wife Kate Siegel in the lead role. The film follows a deaf and mute woman living in a secluded forest house who is stalked by a maniac. It is a thrilling and exciting film every second. Considering that it was made on a low budget, it is truly a remarkable achievement. With its successful acting and screenplay, the film is one of the finest works of 2016.
Train to Bussan
One of the most successful films of the rising Korean cinema in 2016. Some critics even placed it among the best of the year. Train to Busan, which can actually be called a zombie film, offers a fresh suspense narrative with its unique approach and confined setting. As people infected with a virus turn into zombies, they board a train to escape. However, when the infection spreads to the train, chaos ensues. The people trapped in a narrow space have to risk everything to survive. Train to Busan, with its thrilling and terrifying moments, is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year.
David F. Sandberg, who left no festival without an award for his short film called Light’s Out, received support from James Wan, and thus Light’s Out became a feature-length film. However, sometimes extending something that can be briefly told may not work out. While the short film was truly successful, unfortunately, it didn’t become as strong as a feature-length film. The insufficient screenplay hinders all the effects and the existing idea. Nevertheless, we can say that it is a film that can be considered among the best of the year.
One of the most beautiful films given to us by Korean cinema in 2016. Unlike Train to Busan, the Wailing does not contain intense action and suspense. Instead, it gradually seeps into your bones with fear for 150 minutes. Focusing on black magic in Korea, the film, despite its long duration, never bores and keeps the audience curious with its intriguing moments. The film also gives us the opportunity to get acquainted with Korean culture and conveys how powerful black magic is in Korea.
Under the Shadow
In a multinational year of horror, Under the Shadow joins from Iran. Like the Wailing, Under the Shadow also penetrates fear into our souls with a different language. The film tells the story of a woman in Tehran who is left alone with her daughter while her husband is away and is disturbed by a “entity” at night. It focuses on various topics such as loneliness, depression, and fear of earthquakes, and does so successfully. Instead of presenting a creature, the film presents a phenomenon that everyone can relate to in some way.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
This time our film comes from Estonia. I believe The Autopsy of Jane Doe will be among the unforgettable films. The film focuses on the strange events that occur after an autopsy doctor and his son start working on an interesting corpse. Director Andre Ovredal, known for Trollhunter, transitions from giants to a confined space and manages to create great suspense in a single room. Personally, I really liked the screenplay of the film, and it is definitely one of the best of the year.
Full Review: TheAutopsy of Jane Doe – Film Review
The Shallows, which I even included in my personal list of the best films of the year, is one of the most successful works in terms of horror and suspense. Director Jaume Collet-Serra’s influence plays a significant role in this. The director handles the editing and transitions very well, and presents us with a 2016 version of Jaws. Although it takes a little while to get into the story at first, the film opens up and keeps the fear and suspense alive until the very end.
The Eyes of my Mother
The Eyes of My Mother joins my list from Portugal. I had the chance to watch this film as part of the !F Istanbul festival, and it is Nicolas Pesce’s first feature-length film. It is quite an amateur work, filled with grainy images. The film is entirely shot with a stationary camera. However, if you like gore and slasher films, you will greatly appreciate The Eyes of My Mother. Its greatest advantage is that it stands out not only as a slasher film but also with its screenplay. Depicting the transformation of a lonely girl into a killer, the film is definitely one of the best of the year.
In 1999, directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez laid the foundations of the “mockumentary” genre with their film. Although it had been attempted before, they proved its success. Today, all the found footage films you watch stem from the foundation laid by these two directors. Adam Wingard, one of the marginal figures in horror cinema, attempted to add something to the 1999 film by directing the 2016 version of Blair Witch. While the first film frightens by revealing very little, Adam Wingard offers us intense action. Especially the last 15 minutes are a kind of madness that will keep the viewer glued to their seat.
The Neon Demon
The film that solidifies Nicolas Winding Refn’s legend. With “neon” in its name, this film is a visual spectacle with every scene filled with neon lights. The film highlights different colors, fashion fascism, and the challenges of being a model, creating a strange narrative that turns the film into a suspenseful and eerie experience. Starring Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, and other notable names, the film feels like a visual horror/grotesque show.
One of the strangest works of 2016. The Void is a film that showcases how the abnormalities that begin in a hospital can push boundaries. It pays homage to 80s fears, blending David Cronenberg with Lovecraft to create a highly unsettling and intriguing film. The Void keeps you wondering what’s happening until the very end, making you cringe, shudder, and feel on edge. In my opinion, it’s one of the hidden treasures of 2016, just like The Eyes of My Mother.
Southbound, a different version of horror shorts compilation films, has a slightly different approach in terms of storytelling. While it features an episodic narrative, there are no breaks between the stories; they progress as continuations and interconnected tales. The film takes place in a desolate location where strange events unfold, featuring everything from slashers to monsters. I recommend it to anyone looking for an authentic horror film.
Directed by Karyn Kusama, the film is more of a thriller than pure horror. Many friends who reunite after many years, including former spouses, start strangling each other as the night progresses. What starts as a pleasant evening turns into a festival of everyone trying to kill each other, leading to a chase within the house.
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House
A successful horror film that unsettles its viewers with its calmness, even though no one seems to like it upon watching. It made it to my personal list of favorites. The film portrays the experiences and narratives of a caregiver for a horror novelist, delivering a shocking production, particularly with its ending. It is a unique film that flows like poetry, tells a story like a novel, and manages to both sadden and scare, while also irritating with its calmness. I won’t write the title extensively. Don’t be deceived by the ratings; I suggest watching it.