James' Top Ten of 2016

rsz fragilestorm
With 2016 nearing it's end and 2017 on the horizon, FDTC writer James Orrell gives us his top picks for the year of 2016.
Written by James Orrell
2016 has been one hell of a year for movies. I've been fortunate enough to see a ton of films for the first time that have shown just how incredible independent horror can be. I've seen films that have terrified me, films that have made me bawl like a baby and everything in between. With all of that being said, these are my personal favorites of the year. 
(Note: I am including a couple of films that weren't from this year, but they were first time viewings for me. It's my list, so I'm doing what I want with it!)
10. Mommy Mommy - This short film from writer/director Stephanie Hensley managed to creep me out in just a matter of minutes. In that span of time, it also showed significant growth from Stephanie as a filmmaker. Read my review for it here.
9. The Light Thief - Shown during DOTD Chicago's Etheria Film Fest block, The Light Thief impressed me on a visual level that few short films have. It's a unique take on vampires that has to be seen to appreciate it.
8. North Austin Thriller - Like Adam Holtzapfel said, this short film isn't for everybody. That being said, I loved it. It truly is one of the most unique films of the year.
7. Twenty Forty Three - This short film, also screened at DOTD Chicago, is a different take on the zombie apocalypse. Anyone that thinks everything that can be done with zombies has already been done needs to see this Australian short film.
6. The Price of Bones - The Price of Bones unnerved me. The scariest part of the film is just how realistic it is. From the plot to how it all plays out is incredibly terrifying to me.
5. The Stylist - Jill Sixx has been making a name for herself and this short is one of the best examples as to why. The way this short plays out has earned her a lot of recognition and deservedly so. 
4. Feed The Black - Feed The Black is a throwback to an earlier age in horror when suspense, creepy visuals and an incredible and spooky soundtrack ruled the day. This film even managed to get it's own screening outside of the shorts blocks at Days of the Dead, which shows just how powerful it is.
3. Cannibillies - When it comes to mixing horror and comedy, it's a delicate balance. Cannibillies says fuck all of that and just pounds you relentlessly throughout it's runtime with all kinds of gags, both hilarious and horrific. 
2. Don't Fall Asleep - Covering the time between A Nightmare on Elm Street and Dream Warriors, this fan film stands out from nearly every other fan film I have ever seen. It's incredibly authentic and loving of the source material, well acted, beautifully shot and even features a cameo from Nancy herself, Heather Langenkamp.
1. Fragile Storm - I have raved about this short film since my first viewing and will continue to do so until I'm blue in the face. It's a piece that simply needs to be seen. It even made an entire room of hardcore horror fans cray like babies during it's screening in Chicago. Don't believe me? Watch it for yourself here.
Feature Films
rsz she was so pretty
10. The Harvesters - The Harvesters is a beautiful horror film wrapped up in the kind of mystery you just don't see much any more. Be on the look out for this one.
9. Hush - Few films out there can match the tension found in Mike Flanagan's Hush. With minimal use of dialogue, the leads have to rely on their body language to show what's in their heads. It's one of the best examples of the home invasion genre you will ever find.
8. The Funhouse Massacre - Sometimes I am not in the mood for a film to challenge my intelligence. Sometimes I just want a good, old fashioned slash 'em up. The Funhouse Massacre delivers the gory goods. By the bucket.
7. Winners Tape All - This mockumentary is high up on my list for comedy of the year. The way it plays the characters involved, their stories and their films is both hilarious and chock full of love for the genre and the VHS collecting culture as a whole. If you dig VHS collecting, you absolutely need to see this film.
6. Frankenstein Created Bikers -  I have been waiting for this since I first saw Dear God No! If you like nudity, graphic violence, an absurd amount of sleaze and Bigfoot, then this is the film for you. 
5. The Trunk - While not really a horror film, The Trunk manages to hit all the right notes by playing with my emotions, having two fantastic leads, awesome filming and one of the most beautiful soundtracks I have ever heard. Stephanie Hensley(yep, her again) and Erin Butusov are here to stay people.
4. Phantasm: Ravager - The world lost The Tall Man when Angus Scrimm passed away this year, but his final film will always be a reminder of what an incredible force he was on screen. I cannot think of a better way to close out the Phantasm series than this film. 
3. Harvest Lake - Throughout a good portion of the year Harvest Lake had been my favorite film. There's great reasons for this. Scott Schirmer can do no wrong directing-wise. Brian Williams' cinematography is some of the most gorgeous I have ever seen. Ellie Church and Tristan Risk giving two of the best performances of the year. And when you throw in a Satanic orgy, well that's just the icing on the cake, isn't it?
2. Devil Dogs of Kilo Company - I've watched Bobby Easley grow as a filmmaker for years now and he never ceases to impress. The man is the definition of work ethic. But to see him pull off an amazing war epic with the same plastic Army men that we used to play with as kids is a feat I never thought I would witness. The voice acting is some of the best you will ever hear. Bill Moseley, Kane Hodder, John Dugan and Phil Anselmo raise this from being an awesome idea to a bonafide indie masterpiece.
1. She Was So Pretty - The ONLY film that could have beaten Devil Dogs this year is the film I had heard the least amount about going into it. She Was So Pretty floored me, to say the least. Director Brooklyn Ewing gives us a true throwback to the golden age of 70's Wes Craven style horror. Gruesome and unsettling, She Was So Pretty also gave us a new icon in indie horror with Alfie. The character is so unnerving, so strangely sweet and so completely fascinating all at the same time! If you need any further proof, buy the movie yourself and watch it! Especially since the sequel is coming far sooner than you'd expect!