The Horror Honeys: Sci-Fi Honey's Best & Worst in Sci-Fi -- 2014

Sci-Fi Honey's Best & Worst in Sci-Fi -- 2014

Sci-Fi Honey 2.0’s Best & Worst of 2014 in Sci-Fi

Well, #SciFriday fans, we are near the end of the year of our Godzilla 2014… and fortunately for us, there were MANY awesome sci-fi horror offerings to fill up our screens all year long!  Let’s take a look back at the year that was, and count down the very best (and one very WORST) in intergalactic ghouls, time-travel terror and spaced-out scares.

Best Sci-Fi of 2014:

While not as polished or precise as some other offerings on this list, writer/director Joe Begos’ first feature film packs a punch in both style and intensity.  This alien abduction shocker was a refreshing little piece of indie entertainment, and is sure to get Begos greenlit to helm some more horror projects in the years to come.

Winner for perhaps the silliest but most effective sequel of the year goes to director Kaare Andrews’ third entry in the Cabin Fever series, starring Sean Astin.  Featuring a catfight scene where two women are literally tearing each other’s skin off, the gruesome makeup effects alone in Patient Zero are worth tuning in for.

The Vicious Brothers are at it again, and this time they’ve brought anal probes.  The run-of-the-mill alien abduction story at the center of this film has plenty of clever dialogue, brisk pacing, and nifty effects to make standard genre conventions feel fresh again.  Best scene: a man handcuffs himself to a tree to avoid getting sucked into an alien tractor beam – with gruesomely unintended results.
7.  Los Ultimos Dias (The Last Days)
This little-known Spanish entry, written and directed by the Pastor Brothers, puts forth a really chilling question: what would happen if mankind, suddenly crippled by mass-agoraphobia, was too afraid to set foot outside?  The film explores all kinds of reactions to this scenario, and focuses on two men who struggle to overcome it by searching for their loved ones.  On their journey they encounter all forms of post-apocalyptic madness, and it is a wonder to behold.

6.  Lucy
Unwitting drug mule-turned-superbrain Scarlett Johansson kicks both ass and intellect in this surprising sci-fi action pic from genre great Luc Besson.  Equal parts lowbrow action setpieces and highbrow philosophy, Lucy is best enjoyed by strapping on your seatbelt and not asking too many questions – just take in the visually and emotionally captivating story.

The sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn director Matt Reeves expands on the universe of the first film with a compelling look inside the Apes advanced form of civilization.  Using motion-capture technology, Andy Serkis and his consortium of Ape-actors convey a stunning amount of emotion and depth of character in the voices and furrowed expressions of our primate heroes and villains.

One of my first reviews for the Horror Honeys was a screener sent to me from the company behind The Machine – a UK-produced low-budget indie – and I was instantly slayed by this film’s visual style and thematic power.  The struggle to create the first self-aware form of artificial intelligence is fleshed out both for good (to preserve memory in the face of degenerative illnesses) and for evil (to create a super-soldier without a conscience).  As both sides battle for supremacy, Caity Lotz shines as the scientist-turned-machine caught in the middle of the conflict.

The biggest surprise of the year is still the fact that I am able to say: I actually enjoyed a Tom Cruise movie.  Not only that – but an action Tom Cruise movie.  Setting the man’s Xenu-worship aside, he was able to play a different kind of character in Doug Liman’s film: a coward who eventually – with the tutelage of the awesomely badass Full Metal Bitch, Emily Blunt – can find it in himself to rise up as a hero.

The second ScarJo-starring vehicle of 2014 is also maybe her best performance to date in a thoughtful, provocative horror piece from director Jonathan Glazer.  “Slow burn” is an understatement to describe the film’s mood and pace, with a thematic and visual style that is sure to challenge some viewers.  Under the Skin is not for everyone, but for this Sci-Fi Honey, it is a rare piece of cinema that haunted me long after the images faded to black.

There is a self-aware moment everyone has when watching an incredible movie where one sits up, pays attention, and utters a variation on the words, “fuck yeah!”  The first film of 2014 to give me that feeling was Snowpiercer; a breakneck, Terry Gilliam-esque dystopian mindtrip from Korean director Bong Joon-Ho.  Starring Chris Evans and the always-fantastic Tilda Swinton, Joon-Ho takes us on a journey into the future where all of society is relegated to one caste-divided train, which circumnavigates the frozen Earth for all of eternity.  If you haven’t checked out Snowpiercer, please climb aboard – this is a trip definitely worth taking.

Honorable Mention:  2014 was also the year where one particular sci-fi/thriller film was hyped up beyond belief with a series of breathtaking teaser trailers and promotional material.  Did it live up to the hype?  General consensus is “not really,” but it was a worthy effort.  Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla – or “Fat Godzilla,” as we sometimes like to refer to him – doled out enough action and top-notch monster effects to keep us entertained, but fell short in the human-character department.  Nonetheless, audiences turned out for all the fire-breathing, MUTO-battling warfare, and a sequel is slated for 2018.

WORST of 2014:  Now that you have your list of what you need to watch from 2014, here’s a suggestion on what you can skip.  Paul Hough’s The Human Race takes this year’s top prize for most insipid, overwrought, and underwhelming effort – and great care should be taken to protect your eyes and ears from the assault this film will inflict upon you.  Avoid, avoid, avoid!