The Arrow's Top 10 Horror/Sci-Fi/Thrillers of 2016!

2016 was an odd year at the movies for yours truly. My tastes are changing and so is my professional life and they both affected what I saw, what I didn’t see and what I enjoyed. I played catch up a lot in terms of horror films recently for this list, alas, lots of the genre flicks that people went nuts for were either just "good" for me or did very little .

I guess I should say this now, but after 16 years of doing these Top 10 of the Year lists on Arrow in the Head (in the name of nostalgia, my first ever Top 10 of the Year list here), this will be my last one. I’ll be stepping back from the site more in 2017 (I will no longer review new films) as I focus my energy even further on my filmmaking ambitions. Don't get me wrong, I'll still contribute in some ways and I’ll address all that jive at length in 2017. For now, here are my favorite genre films of 2016! It should be said that HACKSAW RIDGE was my favorite picture of the year… period! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

1- The Revenant

Yes, The Revenant got a limited release at the end of 2015 so it could qualify for The Oscars. But it didn't come out in my parts and didn't make my Top 10 of 2015 cause I only got to see it in 2016 when it got its wide release. So that's why its here! The Revenant wound up being everything that I love about cinema all rolled up into one sitting. Am talking a beautifully crafted revenge film with balls, a man versus wild opus that took my breath away, an intense drama, a story often told via visuals and one that was shot on location with an axis on the wonder/danger of nature to boot! "As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight."

3- Batman v Superman (Ultimate Edition)

Yup! Once more I went against he grain here. BATMAN V SUPERMAN THE ULTIMATE EDITION was the real deal! A grim, layered and ambitious superhero epic! It had more action than the theatrical cut, it expanded on some scenes, sported one F bomb, pimped all kinds of brutality and offered mucho goodies when compared to the theatrical cut! But it’s them adding the meat back into the story, giving Superman/Clark Kent his dues and connecting the dots for us as opposed to us having to guess them that made this version beyond worthwhile for me. BATMAN V SUPERMAN THE ULTIMATE EDITION was simply f*cking badass all around and it did not get the LOVE or RESPECT that it deserved. So am doing my part right here. It's a masterpiece in my book!

4- The Exorcist III Director's Cut

I LOVED digging into LEGION, specially after all of these years of waiting for it. On that, I "think" I preferred the Theatrical Cut over the D. Cut, but I'll have to see the latter again to know for sure. Watching this Director's Cut though, I couldn’t help but think “the freaking balls on Blatty”. Such a mature, and at times off kilter film (all about that heaven/purgatory scene); so bold, especially for a Studio picture. Good on ya man! Good on ya! It's a "wonderfull life" indeed!

2- Arrival

A moving, intellectual and thought-provoking Sci-Fi drama, one that took an intimate look at the choices we make, the power of love and humanity’s need for communication. I would call it Close Encounters of the Third Kind meets Interstellar!

5- Blood Father

Think a novel mix of drama meets Grindhouse meets Mel Gibson owning that shite! It was also poignant, pimped out solid action scenes, some tension, laughs, impeccable direction by Jean-François Richet and it showcased fantastic performances, specially by Erin Moriarty and Mel Gibson who hasn't been THIS f-ing good in a long time!

9- The Neon Demon

THE NEON DEMON was Refn going buck nuts with the Giallo inspired audio/visual aesthetics while double dipping his sack in the Lynch coffee mug when it came to his characters and the use of symbolism. i was entranced by the look of the picture, the themes explored grabbed me, the solid cast hit the bulls eye, Martinez's retro synth score upped the experience, the random rippers got me and I was into it the whole way through.

6- Elle

Verhoeven is back to his old provocateur, sexually charged and unapologetic tricks but with a French flavor and bleak/cynical humor sprinkled about to boot! ELLE made for quite the loopy ride! It kept going in directions I didn't anticipate, Isabelle Huppert was hypnotizing and the compassion-less nature of pretty much every character here would have grated me if it weren’t laid out with all kinds of dark comedy behind it. This was a female empowerment effort that’s for sure, a woman who refuses to lose control, even after being violated, and the daring way Verhoeven went about it somewhat blew my mind!

8- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story did three things at the same time. It was a STAR WARS film, a direct prequel to the 1977 original and a pure men on a mission/war jamboree! The flick had a solid cast, lots of powerful and expertly choreographed action scenes, all kinds of cool nods to the STAR WARS universe, some laughs and it blew me away when it came to its scope and technical wizardry!

7- Hush

Mike Flannagan's HUSH was a tension laced, white knuckle horror flick that not only used the fact that its lead heroine was deaf and mute to communicate the happenings in novel ways, but also used my knowledge of the "home invasion" subgenre conventions against me as the film often took a left when it should have taken a right. Flannagan's potent visual style and Kate Siegel's stand out performance only made a great film even better!

10- Morgan

Luke Scott's (yes Ridley's son) MORGAN was the last film I was gonna watch before locking this Top 10, and after all the shitty reviews it got, I was sure it wasn't gonna make it. But low and behold, once more, my tastes in movies went against the grain and I wound up loving it. MORGAN had a sturdy initial premise and a B-Movie heart with an A list cast (Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Mara, Rose Leslie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Giamatti, Toby Jones, shit even the great Brian Cox showed up). I was into it throughout, loved the violence, the hand to hand fights were tight, the thought provoking themes that surfaced hit hard and although I saw the twist coming from miles away, it still delivered when it was slammed on the table. Not sure why everybody dumped on this movie - and I don't care - it got the job done for this jerk!

Honorable Mention: Westworld & The Exorcist

They're not movies but they beyond deserve a mention! This year, the TV Gods blessed me with two rock solid genre shows. Season 1 of Westworld totally blew my mind with its ambitious story line, astounding actors and its moving and thought provoking themes. As for The Exorcist, although a tad kitschy near the end of Season 1, I was totally engrossed in the happenings here, was taken aback by some of the twists and I'd follow Alfonso Herrera (Father Tomas Ortega) and Ben Daniels (Father Marcus Keane) anywhere! Bring on Season 2 for both shows! PS: I also dug Stranger Things, just not as much...
Tags: Hollywood

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