2016 Was a Banner Year For Horror

best horror movies of 2016

If you grab an average person off the street and ask them how they feel about the recently departed 2016, they’d probably give you a detached thousand yard stare. Or burst into tears. It was, for the world as a whole, not a great time to be alive. However, it was a great year for horror movies. And that makes a twisted sort of sense. As we discover new ways to fear and despair, the movies will react accordingly. Whether by accident or design, horror cinema represented everything we dread in 2016. How it will react to the actual events of this past year has me fascinated…and terrified.

Looking back at the past twelve months, it’s astonishing just how good horror cinema has been. It was there when we needed it, offering an avenue of escape and, when necessary, a dark mirror to examine our inner demons.

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Under the Shadow trailer

Babak Anvari‘s Under the Shadow premiered to rave reviews at Sundance this year (including one from yours truly) and has spent the past several months collecting still more praise on the festival circuit, hitting SXSW, Fantasia, and more. Now it’s finally headed to theaters, just in time to get yourself good and terrified for Halloween.

Set in the 1980s during the height of the Iran-Iraq war, Under the Shadow follows a mother and daughter left to fend for themselves in Tehran after the father is conscripted into military service. Everyday life is nerve-wracking as it is, what with air raid sirens going off at random, political turmoil upending the social order, and religious zealots eager to find and punish anyone who steps out of line. But things go from bad to worse when the mother starts to suspect a djinn is haunting the family.

Watch the Under the Shadow trailer below.  Read More »

best films of sxsw 2016

The 2016 SXSW Film Festival is over, so you know what that means: it’s time to sift through the wreckage and hand out imaginary awards created by a jury composed entirely of a single writer. Welcome /Film’s SXSW Awards, where the categories only exist as an excuse to talk about the best movies that I saw at this year’s fest.

This was a strong year for a typically strong festival – as usual, everyone involved outdid themselves. For a complete look at everything I saw, you can head over here. But now it’s time to take the stage and start handing out fake trophies to a bunch of movies that deserve actual accolades.

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Everything We Saw at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival

sxsw 2016 reviews

Few film festivals offer the breadth and variety of SXSW and this year was no exception. During my eight days there, I saw gentle comedies, brutal horror movies, fascinating dramas produced on shoestring budgets, inventive documentaries and even an R-rated animated film about talking food. It was one helluva week.

Here is everything that I watched, including the (often very good!) movies that didn’t get full reviews.

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2016 SXSW Preview: 10 Things We’re Excited to See

2016 sxsw preview

Year after year, SXSW proves itself to be one of the best film festivals in the world, offering an astonishing variety of programming that appeals to every taste. Emotional arthouse dramas? Yep. An always stellar documentary line-up? You betcha. An insane midnight program that offers a look at bonkers movies from all over the world? Of course. Gigantic premieres and previews for upcoming studio releases and high anticipated TV shows? Take a guess.

So when we decided to limit our 2016 SXSW preview to only ten titles, we knew we were leaving dozens of fascinating movies on the cutting room floor. But that’s the joy of any film festival – you go in with certain expectations, only to stumble over a whole slate of great films you never saw coming. /Film will be in attendance at SXSW, bringing you news and reviews straight from the fest, but here are the screenings we’re looking forward to seeing the most.

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movies sold at Sundance 2016

These are the movies sold at Sundance 2016. Many of the films that premiere at the Sundance Film Festival are hoping to attract a distributor and find a bigger audience, be it in theaters around the country or distributed through digital VOD. Throughout the festival we will be reporting on all of the movies sold at Sundance 2016. This list should help give you an idea about which movies may someday be available to you either theatrically of VOD. We’re including photo stills from each of the films along with all of the relevant information (director, cast, how much it sold for, the plot synopsis and more).  Hit the jump to find out which movies sold at Sundance 2016.

Latest update: Netflix grabs SVOD rights to Belgica (from Broken Circle Breakdown director Felix van Groeningen) and White Girl (starring Homeland‘s Morgan Saylor); Amazon Prime picks up NUTS!, a documentary about the stranger-than-fiction story of John Romulus Brinkley.

Previous update: Miramax/Roadshow acquire Obama love story Southside With You, Magnet buys horror film The Eyes of My Mother.

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The Best Films of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival

Sundance 2016

After 10 glorious days, the 2016 Sundance Film Festival came to a close last night, with awards handed out Saturday night. And now that the festival is officially over and done with, we at /Film have tallied the movies we saw this year, to present to you a list of our favorites.

Three writers from /Film attended the festival this year: Peter Sciretta, Angie Han, and Ethan Anderton. Just three movies were viewed by all three members of the /Film team: Other PeopleHunt for the Wilderpeople, and Manchester by the Sea. Another 12 were seen by two members of the /Film staff, and 26 were seen by just one person. In all, the three of us caught 41 different movies. So how did the films we watched stack up? Run down the best of Sundance 2016 with us after the jump.  Read More »

Under The Shadow

Ever since The Babadook premiered at Sundance in 2014, it feels like every new critically beloved, out-of-nowhere horror hit has been touted as “the new Babadook.” Most of the time, the descriptor is just a catchy way of saying “this horror film’s got buzz.” Many of these “new Babadooks,” from It Follows to The Witch, aren’t all that much like The Babadook at all, and — in my estimation — none of them have been quite as good.

In the case of this year’s Sundance horror Under the Shadow, though, the description really does seem apt. The film works for many of the same reasons The Babadook does. Like The Babadook, Under the Shadow relies more on tension and dread than cheap jump scares. And as with The Babadook, the uneasiness lingers long after the credits have rolled because it evokes real-life horrors, rather than simply relying on supernatural ones.  Read More »