EDITORIAL // Top 5 Horror Fan Films of 2018
A lot of crap went down in 2018. Let’s not talk about what, though, as it’s all depressing enough as it is. Nevertheless, there’s no need to slip into a state of melancholia, as the year also brought a bunch of good stuff. Much of it came from the world of film, and, as antithetic as it may seem, from horror. So many fantastic, game-changing offerings hit screens over the past 12 months, and they’ve been well-reported – for good reason. They’ve taken fans to fictional universes in which dark, sinister and disturbing maniacs, creatures, presences or forces have terrorised a host of protagonists.
Some of the best contributions to the genre have come from fans themselves. Some outstanding fan films have been put together this year, doing real justice to the work they were inspired by. Often, they don’t have the running time required for audiences to get lost in their stories, but this is offset by some truly innovative stuff coming from those seeking to pay homage to their horror icons. Sure, there are some low-budget, lackadaisical titles out there, but, for the most part, we’re seeing a new level of creativity and imagination resulting in videos with the clout to genuinely compel viewers.
I’ve scoured the length and breadth of the interwebs for 2018’s best horror fan films, and while I had to both wade through a lot of guff and agonise for hours over which movies would make the cut, I’ve finally compiled a list of my top 5. On my world wide web travels, I stumbled upon the critiques of various reviewers who would likely curse my selection. Even though I always try to operate with a high degree of objectivity, subjectivity is a sneaky little blighter and manages to creep in now and then. So, take my reviews with a pinch of salt and I’m deeply sorry if your favourites don’t feature here. Without further ado, let’s get to my top 5 horror fan films of 2018. In no particular order, we have:
This Scream fan film by Brandon Tobatto is one of many out there, but few offer a Ghostface worthy of watching. The same can’t be said of Ghostface, which brings the cloaked maniac back into our lives with a thud. Tobatto’s short serves up a new relentless killer, armed with a shiny blade, thirsty for blood and keen to breathe new life into a legend. In the words of Veronica Quaife (of The Fly fame), “Be afraid; be very afraid.” Ghostface is great. In fact, it’s miles ahead of many full-length horror films released in 2018. It’s stylistically captivating, moodily atmospheric, gorily disgusting and intensely suspenseful. Some decent performances by Shanna Ammons, William Butler, Stephen Huey – and Tobatto himself as the voice of Ghostface – help make this a solid, stabby full-package. Although Ammons’ acting wasn’t fully on point, you should check out this fresh take on the Scream-verse tout de suite.
It’s going to seem like I’m kissing Brendan Tobatto’s ass here, but his Texas Chainsaw Massacre fan film Sawyer just can’t be passed by. The talented film-maker brings another much-loved/hated psychopath back into our world as he terrorises a small film crew making a documentary about his misgivings. But we can’t blame him, can we? He does need a new mask, so let’s cut him some slack. Shanna Ammons returns with a far better turn than in Ghostface, aided by co-stars Kage Walker, John McGinnis and Tobatto himself once again. Sawyer is Texas Chainsaw Massacre tapas at its tastiest, skilfully mixing older and more contemporary elements from the franchise and drawing inspiration from others too.
He Came Home
He Came Home is a Halloween fan film that draws inspiration from Halloween and its fifth iteration. Generally met with widespread critical acclaim, this short by Anthony Knasas outshines many other videos from this year. When I said that good things happened in 2018, this has to be up there as one of the goodestest of them all. As far as horror can be, it’s a joyful, glorious (and occasionally camp) journey into Mike Myers deranged escapades. Dropping aptly right before the release of Halloween (2018), He Came Home whet the whistles of fans who just couldn’t wait until the following day to indulge their love of the franchise. It’s a notable title that offers shots worthy of John Carpenter’s original, great work by actors Alex Arthur and Brett Aldridge and skilful production and direction. My only tiny gripe is the – bittersweet – lack of dialogue, but this isn’t terribly problematic given everything else the film has going for it.
Chris R. Notarile – who calls himself “Hollywood’s best-kept secret” – is renowned among the horror community for his fan films and unofficial sequels. He’s back with Saved, an Unbreakable fan film. This film picks up where M. Night Shyamalan left viewers 18 years ago, continuing David Dunn’s journey as an emergent superhero. So many fan films made this year were such eye-rollingly cheap and lazy efforts, not even deserving of being called standard-issue. However, Saved falls at the polar opposite end of the spectrum, offering audiences a top-notch, compelling and unbreakable title. There are some thoughtful, carefully measured performances by Brian C. Chenworth, Marshall Foster, Allison Trammel, Tim Younger and Notarile himself, which complement a well-written dialogue and nice shots.
She Burns in Hell
This exhilarating Carrie fan film by Ryan Stacy picks up right after Carrie has left the high school in flames. In She Burns in Hell, a small group of survivors talk about their encounters with the unbalanced, telekinetic teenager the fateful night that she attended prom and unleashed hell upon Chamberlain’s residents. Inspired by the last portion of Stephen King’s novel, this short is a mildly (yet enjoyably) corny follow-up to Carrie. It’s chilling, well-written and poetic, administering what we want from horror in the right places and serving as an example of polished film-making. Shout-outs to Brittany Blanton, Audery Lane, Payton Krebs and Josh Miller for some for their performances, which were supported by some great voice acting talent.
As I said before, it was truly difficult to compile this top 5 list, and it was painful to exclude some other titles from 2018 that I loved. I’m going to give Friday the 13th – The Game Parody 3 an honourable mention. This loveably sassy short – the third in a series of satirical fan films that are guaranteed to tickle your pickle – lampoons the conventions of the franchise. Give it a bash. Anyhow, that’s all for now folks. Happy New Year and enjoy all the fan films it has to offer.
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