Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Best & Worst Horror Of 2011

Yep, so here it is, a month late... My rundown of the horror movies I managed to catch in 2011. This marks my first post in a long time, and also my first ever post relating to anything made in the last ten years. There still are a few movies that I have left on my list to watch, but fuck it, if I waited any longer I wouldn't have this up til august or some shit.


Along with Tyrannosaur and Snowtown, this was amongst the best movies I saw last year. It baffles me that this movie has such a low rating on IMDB  - when utter garbage like The Signal has a similar rating - but I guess it's not the most accessible of movies in some ways, especially to a US audience (that's not a poke at the US, if you've seen the movie you'll probably know what I mean). This movie rests on the incredible performances of the central cast, as well as near-perfect (and seemingly ad-libbed in places) dialogue. The most impressive thing about this movie is that for the entire running time, I felt deeply uncomfortable and on-edge - it feels like things could go horribly wrong at any point, which is the mark of an expertly made film in my opinion. If you haven't seen this, I suggest reading nothing about it before viewing, and approaching it with an open mind. It's a truly amazing piece of work.


I didn't really dig the first PA movie, but I actually thought that that PA2 was significantly better.. Nothing all that great, but y'know, somewhat entertaining. I'm sure many horror afficanados like myself are sick of the whole "found footage" deal, and this movie is pretty textbook/standard stuff. I can only watch a limited number of swinging doors and dancing light appliances before my patience is stretched to the limit, and worse still there are countless fake jump scares that just become really tiresome after a while. !!!LOUD NOISES!!! I think the most exciting part of this movie was the 5 seconds I thought the character of Randy was being played by Trevor from Trailer Park Boys, which of course would have made this 1,000 times better. To be fair though, there are a couple of decent scares towards the end, but getting that far is tough work. I think the worst parts of these movies are the establishing scenes that show the characters aping around and basically being annoying pricks - I've never understood why every "found footage" movie features the dullest, most irritating characters imaginable. Though saying that, if their goal is realism, it's not entirely inaccurate seeing as 99.99% of people are complete cocks.


Do I even need to say it? Actually, no I don't. I will, however, ask if someone can forward me the addresses of the people involved in making the CGI for this movie so I can call round and chop off their hands so they never use a computer again. Actually, that goes for everyone involved in this atrocity... Except for Mary Elizabeth Winstead, of course <3


Fuck off. Just.... Fuck off.


Oh God. It just gets worse. The memory of a classic is repeatedly rogered by the insufferable Katie Holmes while the ordinarily likable Guy Pearce plays the stupidest father in the history of film. Everything that made the original special is glossed over by repulsively slick CGI, and the whole thing essentially adds up to a depressing retread that should never, ever,  ever have been made.


This movie was actually surprisingly decent. I've seen a review that compared it to Super and Hobo With A Shotgun but that's way off base - this movie doesn't have the same kind of mean streak or sensationalism as Hobo, nor is it as irritatingly mawkish as Super. It's by no means anything revolutionary but has an awesome cast that really hold it together - particularly Kevin Corrigan whom I've always loved. Sure, some of the humour is a little too goofy and broad at times, but overall this is definitely one of the better genre movies I've seen in the last while.


Ah, more found footage. This wasn't as bad as I expected, but it's far from special. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I actually thought there were elements here that could have made an awesome film - but ultimately the makers succumbed to the pressure of making films for a Paranormal Activity-obsessed audience and the whole thing is just far too familiar, despite the somewhat novel setting. I'd suggest re-watching the X-Files episode "Space" instead.


Oh my fuck. Let's just get this straight: I actually approached this film free from bias, despite the fact that the first two Hellraiser films are two of the greatest horror films ever made. I mean, I really wanted to like this - I even like the majority of the later sequels for what they are, so this is not one of those over the top, fan-boy reactions... But the fact is, this movie is complete garbage. I'm honestly astounded that anyone thought that dude could play Pinhead, but I could even get beyond that if anything actually happened in this movie. Boring, pointless crap.


Writer/Director Joe Cornish has long been a hero of mine, and UK readers might remember the utterly amazing Adam & Joe show that Cornish used to co-host in the late 90's and early 00's. It came as no surprise to me that this movie totally ruled. Everything about it is awesome, but I particularly loved the fact that the film demanded that you ultimately empathise with a group of characters that are initially somewhat deplorable. Great effects, perfect direction, amazing performances - everything about this movie is just so refreshing, and it's undoubtedly one of the best genre movies of last year.


There sure has been a lot of fuss over this movie. For me the first HC movie wasn't really anything special beyond its supposedly outrageous premise, but they really kicked up the insanity for this sequel. I'm sure a lot of people would be offended by this movie, but it's just so ridiculously over the top that I couldn't take it seriously at all. In fact, I wonder if that was Tom Six's intention, because I find hard to believe that this was a genuinely serious attempt to really shock anyone. Bear in mind I saw the cut UK version, and in all honesty after reading about the scenes that were excised I'm kind of glad of that I did. I can't say I'd actually recommend it, because it's definitely a complete piece of shit, but you have to admire its lack of pretension, if nothing else.


I'm going to go wayyyy out on a limb here and say that I actually enjoyed this movie. Maybe it's because I was hungover and was looking for something that demanded little of me as a viewer, but I found this to be fairly solid, brainless entertainment. It's so stock that I'm struggling to even remember the specifics of the movie, but if you're up for something that allows you to switch the old noggin off, you could do worse.


I've sat through the biggest pieces of celluloid shit known to man, but I couldn't make it the whole way through this movie. Devoid of the cheap laughs you get from piece of shit SyFy productions, but so badly made there's no way you're actually going to wring any proper entertainment from it, this is literally a film for nobody. Also, a message to 3D - please go fuck yourself.


Nnnnng... Yet more found footage/fake documentary schtick. I had mixed feelings about this Australian movie. It certainly bares many of the cliches of the found footage genre; annoyingly unrealistic overreactions from the characters, massive overuse of the night-vision camera trick, you know the deal. That said, it actually had some things going for it. For one, it's quite well acted - and, following up on my point on Paranormal Activity, the characters aren't nearly as grating as those I've seen in every other movie of this kind. It makes the mistake of going too far with the "less is more" rule though, and to be honest there just isn't enough juicy stuff in there to make it a really good movie. There are a few intense moments all the same, and if you brace yourself to watch a movie of this style, and accept all that comes with that, it's worth a look.


I hated this film. Absolutely hated it. Great cast: squandered. Potentially interesting premise: squandered. Kevin Smith, you made one good movie. Now please stop.


This was made in 2010 but released in 2011, so I'll consider it part of this list. This movie had certain elements going for it, but ultimately ends up being a bit of a snoozefest. The camerawork was particularly distracting, with that ridiculous technique of having the camera jigging around constantly to try and give things a grittier (I guess??) edge. Add in an unbelievably half-arsed twist ending and there's very little about this movie that makes it worth watching.


FD4 was horrendously bad, but funnily enough this latest installment is actually pretty entertaining. I've always had a soft spot for this series, mainly because it's so retardedly over the top, and this kind of ruled. It's just back to basics, laugh out loud silliness, and actually pretty fun.


Oh, man. I actually wanted to like this. It's certainly one of the more experimental films on this list, but not all experiments in filmmaking are successful. To me, the most offensive aspect of this film is how blatantly it steals from the films of David Lynch. It's actually unbelievable how many ideas in here are ripped off wholesale from Lynch, and it's so brazen that it completely prevented me from cutting this movie any kind of slack (there's even a character that's basically a female version of Bob from Twin Peaks, fer chrissakes). It's pretentious, meandering drivel that drags on seemingly forever, despite a running time of just under 80 minutes. It doesn't help that lead Lyndsay Pulsipher turns in an appallingly hammy performance, though to be fair she isn't given much room for range, with the film requiring her only to blubber incoherently and look somewhat perturbed. If there's one positive thing I can say for the movie it's that the sound design is impressive enough... And that it made me want to rewatch all of Lynchs films for the millionth time.


Wow, where to even start with this one. I had so many conflicting opinions of this movie - a weirdly paradoxical piece of work that's by equal measures misogynistic and pro-feminism... Which is what makes it so interesting to watch. There were definitely aspects of this film that really irked me, and it may be difficult to ascertain what exactly the central message is, but it deserves respect for attempting to do something original. I think it probably would have worked better if Lucky McKee had taken a less horror-centric approach, especially with the ending, but it's beautifully filmed, with strong performances... So in that sense I would definitely recommend a viewing just for the experience - but y'know, approach with caution and all that.


I'd been waiting a while to see this, but unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectations. Featuring two actors that should be mega-stars - Melissa George and Eamonn Walker - this should have been awesome, but it falls short of the mark in the end. Though Melissa kicks ass, Walker is criminally underused, and my initial excitement upon seeing him appear slowly dissolved as I realised he would have little to do in this movie. Admittedly, the movie has a few things going for it, especially the cinematography, though slow-motion is overused to the point of being a bit annoying. The story, though actually pretty straightforward, is weirdly convoluted in its telling, and essentially the presence of Walker and George is what keeps this afloat for most of its running time. At its best this reminded me of Don Coscarelli's Survival Quest or Deliverance, but ultimately it's a bit of a waste of potential.


I was a fan of Ti West's previous movie, House Of The Devil, so I was psyched for this. It's a bit of a step away from the old school feel of HOTD, but it's still based on a classic idea. Essentially another haunted house movie, it's pretty refreshing to see something that's played this straight without lame gimmicks. The characters are great, and the movie looks amazing, but like HOTD it suffers from a slightly anti-climactic ending. Even so, I really enjoyed this, and I think West definitely has a classic movie in him somewhere down the line.


Oh wow. This is a Troma movie, so you should know what to expect, but this is utterly batshit. It's filled with terrible but weirdly likable actors, serious gore and pretty much every taboo imaginable, so I was all over this. Also, awesome score. Pretty much the best thing Troma has done since the 80s.


Aaaaaaaaand there you have it. A few near-classics, a few middling efforts and a whole pile of cinematic turds. So not that different from any other year in horror, I guess. Peace x

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