I love horror movies and when I sat down to make this list I was originally thinking the year was pretty weak. It wasn’t until I finished all my flip flopping and took into consideration that my absolute number one horror movie of the year made it onto my best overall list I believe the year wasn’t quite as disappointing as I thought. However, I also didn’t sit through a lot of the worst titles from the horror lineup this year so I guess I really don’t have much to complain about in terms of the genre.
(10) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: In no way shape or form did I think I was going to be including this film in a TOP 10 list before I saw it. I was pretty excited to see it, yet I was kind of expecting the worst but hoping for at least average. While the film has some pretty major issues mostly surrounding the writing, it is still a ton of fun. I really dug the effects used for the vampires and their massive black eyes and lines of razor sharp teeth while there are other special effects that leave a lot to be desired. In spite of the flaws I still can’t deny how much fun ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER is to watch.
(9) The Pact - Here’s a film that came almost completely out of nowhere for me. I say almost because I had heard of it before, but I remember the few things I heard weren’t glowing and I wasn’t even sure if or when it was going to be released. So I was surprised flipping through Netflix one afternoon and finding it and being pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. It’s a very well shot and well paced ghost story that at times can be a bit too generic, but overall I found the film to be a nice little indie genre film well worth a watch.
(8) The Divide - I know that FRONTIER(S) seems to be somewhat of an overlooked hit amongst certain circles of horror fans, but I found it to be somewhat boring and tame for some of the new wave French films that came about around the same time. That being said, there were some pretty great gore effects and certain moments that made me wince which is why when I heard good things about THE DIVIDE from the same director and the premise of the film I was down for the experience. THE DIVIDE at times has some of the same problems I had with FRONTIER(S) but to a much lesser extent and the performances here were great. This is a tense one location apocalypse film that will easily make people feel the need to shower after it’s over.
(7) Kill List - I watched KILL LIST barely a week or so into the year when it was released on VOD. It had its day at festivals in 2011 which would be why it was on quite a few horror lists last year, but it was more widely available this year. This creepy little hitman horror/thriller really got under my skin and packs a hell of a punch at the end. There are some extreme moments of violence and the performances from the two main leads are great. It’s only in the final scenes that the horror rears its head, but once it does it is extremely memorable and haunting.
(6) Prometheus - I originally thought Ridley Scott’s film was kind of a stretch to include on my horror list but I think a lot of the finale more than justifies the inclusion. The CGI in PROMETHEUS is phenomenal and Michael Fassbender’s performance as the Android David still remains one of my favorite performances of the year, although not my absolute favorite. It also ties in just for the sheer fact that it is a blatant tie in to the ALIEN franchise no matter anyone who tries to disagree.
(5) ParaNorman - I often find that year after year my favorite horror films are drenched in bleak, relentlessly mean spirited violence or even over the top gore fests. However, in a nice change of pace it was great to see something like PARANORMAN come in and break things up a bit. There are moments in the film I think may be a bit heavy for the kiddos and some of the jokes will go over their heads, but there’s a great message in the film that fits for people of all ages. It might be a bit slow, but the film builds to a pretty astounding climax.
(4) V/H/S - So after we get a bit of childlike innocence from PARANORMAN we get back on track with the bleak and the gratuitous. Let me be clear, V/H/S is a mixed grab back of genre stories, but when the segments hit their stride they are pretty phenomenal- some just are too disappointed to make it that far. To justify why I like it, I need only point out the first and the last segments of the found footage anthology as the two that really made me love the film. Ti West’s short seems to divide people, but I really enjoyed his as well. Try not to judge the anthology on its weaker shorts and you should have just as much to enjoy out of this one as I did.
(3) Sinister - A lot of people describe this as this year’s INSIDIOUS, however while I can see why some might say that I think SINISTER’s tone alone proves it wrong. This film, like INSIDIOUS has its goofy aspects, but SINISTER more than earns its titles during the film’s incredibly haunting moments where Ethan Hawke’s character is watching the home movies he finds in the attic. From the first scene on it grabs you by the throat and tightens its grip scene by scene, but there’s something about the supernatural elements in the film that held it down from being higher on the list.
(2) The Grey - Of all the horror movies on my list the top three I really considered for my top overall list. In the end I settled on one to represent the genre and give these final two their due at the top of the list here. I really love THE GREY and it’s another some might disagree as a horror film, but like FROZEN a couple years ago it features a battle for survival against the elements as well as nature and for me the situation is pretty horrific so it qualifies. The wolves in the film basically act as the antagonist of a slasher film the way they are portrayed in the film and there are some really incredible shots of peril- the plane crash being the standout. I know some were hoping to see Liam Neeson box the wolf in the end, but personally given the tone and introspective look at coming to terms with death as portrayed I was happy Joe Carnahan held back on it. Also a big shout out to Frank Grillo’s performance in this one.
(1) The Loved Ones - Last but certainly not least is the little Australian film that could- and also one that has been floating around in limbo since about 2009 after playing at several film festivals. THE LOVED ONES has been available on DVD just about everywhere but the US for years, but it finally saw a limited theatrical run here this year followed by a DVD release and if you haven’t seen it yet then I beg you to do so. First time filmmaker Sean Byrne straddles the line of torture porn without ever committing to it, while also playing with classic horror elements and combining them into an unforgettable little film that looks fantastic and is an experience you won’t soon forget.
That’s my top horror of 2012 people. What were your favorite from this year? Feel free to share along with your choices for worst. I have my fair share of duds, but luckily I missed checking out films like THE APPARITION and SILENT HILL: REVELATION. I did however just watch the latest RESIDENT EVIL in spite of my better instincts so you can look forward to a review of that stinker soon. In the meantime I guess it’s time to start gearing up for 2013 in horror- one last comment assignment…is anyone shockingly looking forward to the EVIL DEAD remake as much as me?