Generally speaking, going to the movies is supposed to be fun. And nothing is more fun than when a movie sucks you in to the point that your heartrate actually elevates, your breathing speeds up (or stops entirely), and you completely forget that what you’re watching isn’t real. If only we could get that experience every time! Well, the following films gave me that experience. Here are my Top Five Pulse-Pounders from January through June of 2016.
There’s nothing more personal than a quarrel between friends. It’s even worse when one friend is attempting to imprison the other. But when those friends come to blows? Exciting! And when the friends bring their friends and it’s an all-out battle royal full of inventive beats and elevating scale (heh)? PULSE-POUNDING! Throw in the long-brewing revelations that play out within the story, as well, and I have an easy choice to kick off my Top Five.
I don’t care. Keep it to yourself. If your pulse wasn’t pounding during the entire last hour of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, you went in with an agenda. Marvel is making better films than Warner Brothers and DC, but DC’s films are doing the battles better. And that climactic war was the most thrilling scene that we’d yet seen in 2016. And then Wonder Woman appeared! Once she shows up, it gets even better! Sure, there wasn’t much in the way of excitement during the first half, but once it kicked in, it kicked in to an unmatched intensity.
10 Cloverfield Lane was the first movie of the year where I felt like I was grabbed from the beginning and completely at the film’s mercy for the entire runtime. Though no single scene matched the final battle in Dawn of Justice, this film gets the nod because it was pulse pounding for a longer period of time and also in a much different way. Whereas both Civil War and Dawn of Justice were pulse-pounding due to being very exciting, 10 Cloverfield Lane achieves the same effect through mood, atmosphere, performances, and instilling a fear for the protagonist(s) and, vicariously, the viewer.
The top two on this list were basically a tossup and the toughest choice of any of these lists, so far. I stand by my previous statement that The Conjuring 2 is the greatest horror sequel ever made. It’s every bit as good as the first Conjuring film and contained what, for me, was the most terrifying single scene I’ve ever witnessed in a film. When that particular scene concluded, I realized that I had been holding my breath (I suppose for the majority – if not entirety – of the scene). That’s how stimulating it was. As if that’s not enough to be pulse-pounding, there are plenty of other scares to go around and fill the film out. The Conjuring 2 was easily one of the most satisfying filmgoing experiences of the year, so far, and it is largely (though not exclusively) due to its ability to get the blood pumping and transport the audience into another (petrifying) place and time.
1. The Shallows
This probably wasn’t a surprise. The Shallows gets the nod over The Conjuring 2 due to the fact that, once it gets a hold of you, it never lets up. There’s no relief. No tension-free moments to catch your breath. No safe zones. The danger is omnipresent. It’s real. And it’s imminent. After a viewing of The Shallows, you can walk away feeling guilt-free that you skipped your cardio for the day!