As much as I love all types of movies, horror is a genre that I tend to lean towards more than most. I enjoy just about all kinds from slashers to creature features and all styles from cheesy to serious. Horror is a genre ripe with opinions and vastly different tastes but every there’s a small selection of films everyone can agree on and some that everyone has completely opposite opinions on. Below is the list of my favorite horror movies from 2011- a year of ups and downs and certain movies that have split audiences. Differences in opinion are what make these lists as fun as they are so feel free to discuss your favorites and least favorites in the comments below.
10. Chillerama – If you are in the mood for schlocky cheesy exploitation type movies than CHILLERAMA offers you a wide selection of shorts films to chew on. If not for a mediocre title in I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR this could have been even more fun. This is the type of movie you put on with a group of friends and a lot of drinks to go around.
9. A Horrible Way To Die – This one is not everyone’s cup of tea. Overall A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE comes off as an ugly and brutal film. The style is very indie and feels basically like a mumblecore film, the female protagonist has issues and AJ Bowen while fantastic is a nasty little character. While all that may sound unpleasant it was still pretty fascinating to watch, especially just for AJ Bowen’s fantastic performance as a killer struggling with his addiction. It can be a tough film to accept- so don’t blame me if you see it and come out with a burning hatred for the film.
8. La Casa Muda (The Silent House) – This film finally made its way to DVD in the states this year and I jumped on the opportunity to watch it. LA CASA MUDA is billed as a horror movie shot in one continuous take and while I feel they could easily be cheating in that regard the film is still a pretty freaky haunted house ride that is never boring. Some of the twists we’ve seen before but overall the film really delivers some bone chilling scenes of tension and some really effective scares.
7. Scream 4 – Here we go- the expletives are really hurling at the computer screens now. I had a ton of fun watching SCREAM 4- is it as new and exciting as the first entry? Not really- but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a major improvement on SCREAM 3. It was great seeing Dewey and Gale back on the big screen as well as the menacing voice of Ghostface. The finale is packed with plenty of issues but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy those too. Also, if you weren’t laughing during all the opening fake outs, then this movie wasn’t meant for you anyway.
6. Fright Night – For those I haven’t lost with the previous pick I’m bound to lose now. If not then hear me out- I am not the world’s biggest fan of the original FRIGHT NIGHT. I don’t hate the movie I just think I was many years late to the party. That being said the remake is not transcendent stuff- in more ways than one it doesn’t necessarily improve on the original- I just found it more entertaining. Colin Farrell hams it up as Jerry the vampire, the score is pretty good and the effects aren’t anywhere near perfect but they are fun. The point is that even though FRIGHT NIGHT probably didn’t need to be made- it was and since it’s here and is a ton of fun I’m just going to sit back and enjoy it.
5. Paranormal Activity 3 – I really wasn’t sure if a third sequel on this series could be worthwhile. Luckily for me this sequel brings back a lot of the thrills and chills of the first film while also adding to the mythology and introducing some cool camera tricks and finally some characters that you can care about. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 had marketing that misled some viewers but for me it only added to how enjoyable it was.
4. Black Death – Some might remember a little film called TRIANGLE that really blew me away a while back. Well the director Christopher Smith came back with this grim little film that tackles a time period I usually have a hard time watching. BLACK DEATH is a film that hooked me from beginning to end by adhering to an incredibly bleak and dark tone that made the time period easier to deal with. The acting is top notch and the material is heavy stuff that is great fodder for dramatic and gothic horror.
3. I Saw The Devil – I love splatter cinema as much as another other horror fan and on that alone I SAW THE DEVIL is number one material. When I sat to make this list as much as I do love this movie the top 3 all have so many different aspects to them that would qualify them for the number one spot it was hard to choose just one. From here on down just know that the films are interchangeable. I SAW THE DEVIL is brilliantly acted and executed and it is never boring but is a very challenging watch due to the grisly violence. The film has several memorable sequences but the standout involves a taxi and it is one of the most astonishing sequences I have seen all year.
2. Insidious – The second film in what I would cheat and call a three way tie is a great ghost story from James Wan. The SAW helmer put together a beginning of a brilliant creepy film and ended on a bit of silly and bizarre finale. The ending is a bit strange but it has its own very creepy and dark aspects to it. The first half is so creepy and atmospheric that it is hard to deny that what the film ended as is a great exercise is ORIGINAL horror.
1. Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil – Finally, what we have here is a film that for horror fans is not full of crazy violence and isn’t all that creepy. What TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL is however is a film that is extremely funny in its jokes and deaths and it has a great amount of heart as well. This is a horror film for those that want something a little lighter that has more of a crowd pleasing tone to it. It’s not as challenging to wrap your head around, but that doesn’t make it an inferior film because the jokes are smart, the premise is both witty and surprising and it delivers in both horror and comedy.
On the flip side there are a lot of films that are far from being mentioned in a best of horror list. I did not get to see the widely panned RED RIDING HOOD but I tell you what- I think I dodged a bullet there. There are a wide variety of direct to DVD releases that, let’s face it often end up being less than satisfying. Some of the more disappointing releases I was able to see over the course of the year were THE PERFECT HOST, which didn’t strike me as terrible at first but after a while it lost more and more of my respect and I was also pretty let down by HOSTEL PART III. The HOSTEL sequel was not offensively bad but it did nothing to add to that series minus the cool Vegas aspects of the story.
A few other direct to DVD titles I didn’t get a chance to see were CHILDREN OF THE CORN: GENESIS and HELLRAISER: REVELATIONS but I did see the trailer for the new HELLRAISER and I have to say it looked like an atrocity. The most perplexing horror story of the year for me is another movie I didn’t get to see which is the same for quite a few people I’m guessing. The film goes by the name of CREATURE and the odd thing here is that it got a relatively wide release in over a thousand theaters- the balance shifted back to normal the week after release and the box office returns were dismal and theaters immediately threw it in the dumpster.
For me though the undisputed loser of the year was CHROMESKULL: LAID TO REST 2. I really need someone to explain to me why there needed to be a sequel to LAID TO REST. I gave what little credit I could to the character of Chromeskull because of his look and his weapon of choice. I am still dumbfounded by what I witnessed in LAID TO REST 2- nothing makes sense to me. I don’t understand the company that’s working for Chromeskull- or is Chromeskull working for the company and he has seniority? Why is Chromeskull making out with dead bodies? What in the hell is Brian Austin Green talking about half the time and why did anyone ever give him work? LAID TO REST 2 is a massive miscalculation by everyone involved and I will not be sad if they decide to lay the series to rest.
Well that’s my thoughts on horror for the year that was 2011. Here’s hoping 2012 gives us some more thought provoking, cringe inducing and jaw dropping horror moments for horror fans to chew on come this time next year.