Counting down to our Year in Review issue, we present our picks in a variety of genres, wrapping up on December 27 with the year's worst movies.
This time tomorrow: the year's best revival.
With a tip of the hat to Calvin Lee Reeder’s undervalued avant-garde nightmare The Oregonian
, I reckon Ti West’s The Innkeepers
rose head and shoulders above the rest of the year’s horror fare. Simultaneously classic (it’s an east coast ghost story of the highest caliber) and modern in design (much of its scares reside in internal characterizations, rather than an external force), West’s second feature proved a welcome departure from similar films that either lacked ambition (The Possession
, House at the End of the Street
) or were too quick to pat themselves on the back (Cabin in the Woods
). —Drew Hunt
This powerful British horror movie would make for an effective (if terribly upsetting) double feature with Beneath the Blindfold
, my choice for the year’s best political documentary
. As in Blindfold
, the filmmakers depict torture and torturers as totally irredeemable; but in a daring move, director Ben Wheatly and cowriter Amy Jump also make the torturers the film’s most relatable characters. The smartly constructed script lures you into being complicit in their behavior before knocking you violently out of complacency. The violence can be sickening; indeed my knee-jerk capsule review
accused it of only wanting to make viewers throw up. (I quickly recanted
.) But Wheatly and Jump’s shock tactics are justifiable, considering how Anglo-American culture continues to skirt the issue of government-approved torture. —Ben Sachs