Best Actress – Katharine Isabelle, American Mary – I’ve already discussed American Mary and its many merits (including Isabelle’s acting) in a review earlier in the year, but it’s worth mentioning again that Katherine Isabelle brings a whole new dimension to the slasher villain – if villain is even the right word. Regardless, I loved seeing a woman take on a role typically played by men, and kick ass doing it. Kudos to Isabelle and the Soska sisters for showing people that it’s not the gender of the slasher that matters.
Best Actor – Elijah Wood, Maniac remake – Considering we barely see Wood for the entirety of the film, why give him the award? Because even though he isn’t seen much, his presence permeates every frame of the film and when we do see him, he makes it count. Fans of “Sin City” already knew Wood could handle seriously and creepy roles. But he takes it to another level as Frank, creating a deeply unsettling character that still somehow elicits the viewers’ empathy. While Wood was only booked for 8 days on this film, he came to set every day to deliver his lines off screen, and that kind of devotion helps illustrate just how much he gave for this film. He takes this character to another level, and is mesmerizing whether you can see him or not.
Best Supporting Actor – Patrick Wilson, Insidious Chapter 2 & The Conjuring – Wilson, originally a Broadway star, has always been terrific in whatever movie he’s in, whether playing a possible pedophile in Hard Candy or out-singing everyone in Phantom of the Opera. But when he and James Wan teamed up, we got magic. Wilson gives great performances in both Insidious Chapter 2 and The Conjuring this year, and while his parts may not be the most flashy, he always brings solidity and honesty to his roles. I definitely hope he and Wan continue to work together in the future.
Best Gore – Evil Dead remake – There’s really no competition here. If you’ve seen the Evil Dead remake, you know the gore was elevated to Grand Guignol levels of insanity, especially in the last 15 minutes of the film. It goes beyond just gore to an art form. A gross, wonderful art form.
Best Cinematography – Maniac
Best Short – “Safe Haven” from V/H/S 2 – It’s no secret that I love a good cultist movie (or short, as the case may be), but making an effective cult is no easy task. From the opening minutes of “Safe Haven”, directors Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Huw Evans create a deeply unsettling atmosphere, even during scenes that seem innocuous. And once this thing gets going, it does not disappoint. The ending might be a little divisive (it was clearly a choice by the directors, one I understood better the second time around), but this short takes the madness of the last day of a cult and drags you right into the terrifying middle of it. When I say all hell breaks loose, I really mean it. So worth your time.
Best Poster – You’re Next – In this case, I think the poster can speak for itself: