Alright, fiends, it’s time to narrow my list down to a top 3! Last week I posted my “Top 19 of 2019” (you can see that by clicking here) and I promised that I would give you my 3 favorites as a part of the Horror News Network staff’s week of favorites. This year was tough as there were really a lot of solid films to choose from, but I like my choices. Without further ado, here they are:
Larry’s Top 3 Picks
#1: Tigers Are Not Afraid
Every once in a while, a film hits you like a truck and sticks with you; you think about it for days and discuss it with friends and strangers alike. This year, Issa López’s Tigers Are Not Afraid was that film for me. Estrella is a young girl who is granted three wishes by her school teacher while they are hiding from a gang shooting going on outside of the class. When the girl’s mother is taken by a local drug lord, she uses one of those wishes but as often is the case with magic in films, things don’t turn out as she’d hoped. Estrella flees her empty home and falls in with a gang of orphaned children who spend their time trying to stay safe in the local Mexican gang wars.
Mexico is a dangerous place and writer/director Issa López’s is not afraid to cast a spotlight on the effect that it has on the children of the country. This film has been talked up by Guillermo del Toro for quite some time and it’s easy to see why he loves it; Lopez’s passion and creativity shines through the darkness of the subject matter.
#2: One Cut of the Dead
One Cut of the Dead was my favorite film of 2019 for a loooong time this year; I first saw it in February and didn’t see Tigers until August, so it stuck in the top spot for six months or so. Most reviewers seem to label this film as a zombie-comedy and include mentions of Shaun of the Dead in their reviews; obviously not a bad film to be compared to but it’s really nothing like that…and I’m not sure if One Cut is even really a zom-com?
The problem with discussing a film like One Cut is that it relies so much on surprises. It’s first 35 minutes are a bit confusing (purposefully) but then once the story starts to take shape, its genius begins to shine through and it’s hard not to revel in its manic brilliance.
#3: Ready or Not
Is money really the root of all evil? Well, for Grace (Samara Weaving), trying to marry into it is a horrible idea. The family that Grace is marrying into is old money and their money comes from games; board games, card games, etc. So naturally, they have a tradition where any new bride or groom entering the family must play a game with the family on their wedding night. The choice of game is drawn from a random deck of cards and it appears that the game choices are all benign except for hide-and-seek, which is unfortunately what Grace draws. While Grace doesn’t see the danger here, it’s clear on the family’s faces that her wedding night is about to take a sharp turn.
What puts Ready or Not into this list are the performances of its cast. The story is great and it’s really a lot of fun but it’s the over-the-top performances of the “Le Doma” family members that really shine; they’re like a demented version of the cast of Clue and I’d be remiss not to sing the praises of Samara Weaving in the main role; a splendid performance.
This list was tougher than expected, especially when I got to the third spot. I’ve known since I saw One Cut and Tigers that they were going to be at the top of my list this year but there were so many worthy candidates for that last spot…Bliss, Midsommar, Braid, Daniel Isn’t Real, The Dead Center…so many. In the end, I enjoyed Ready or Not so much that it deserved that final spot. ‘Til next year!
Stay gory my friends.