A Bloody Good Time 12.29.11: Top 10 Horror Movies Of 2011
Posted by Joseph Lee on 12.29.2011
From Scream 4 and Paranormal Activity 3 to Final Destination 5 and more, 411's Joseph Lee counts down the Top 10 Horror Movies of 2011!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to the A Bloody Good Time.
Last time I gave a look at the horror films coming up in 2012, and you reminded me that I forgot some. I didn't know there was any progress being made on Silent Hill 2, but I am looking forward to it. As for The Lords of Salem, I just forgot.
Guest#2230 replied: I'm not among everyone who thought Underworld who watered down the horror genre.
Neither did I. I always enjoyed that series for its action and, of course, Kate Beckinsale in tight leather.
Jon suggested: For best horror of the year I would mention Black Death, A horrible way to die, Bereavement, Tucker and Dale and maybe honorable mention to Chillerama for Diary of Anne Frankenstein.
Some of those may be on this list! One of them definitely is!
cdunc83 said: "Can't wait for TCM 3D! Underworld is an alright series, but I am not too excited about Awakening just because the series is nothing too special when all is said and done. You forgot to mention a very important one! REC 3: GENESIS! Love this series!
If REC 3 is as good or better than REC 2, it'll be worth watching. Personally, I don't like the first as much as everyone else and thought the sequel was a huge step up.
This week, of course, I'm looking at the best of 2011. This was the year of the sequel and the remake in Hollywood, and while some of those were good, a lot of them were average at best, awful at worst. On the independent scene, quite a few names stepped up with new takes on old work or just unique horror films to try and break through the unoriginality overflowing the mainstream. So what made the list? What didn't? We'll....get to that in a moment. As always, I like to show you the three worst before I get to the best.
We had some bad ones this year. Previous "winners" of the worst of the year are One Missed Call (2008), It's Alive (2009) and Case 39 (2010). What will join them?
The Three Worst Horror Films Of The Year
#3: Apollo 18
I reviewed this one earlier in the year and my opinion still stands. It's dull, it's boring and there's not a single scary moment to be had in the admittedly short run time. The characters are dull and when we do see what's causing the trouble, it's more laughable than anything else. As I said in my review: If it's not scary and it's not entertaining, then what's the point? Apollo 18 wants to be a first-person Alien, but it fails to be anything more than a bland, forgettable and overall bad motion picture.
#2: Hellraiser: Revelations
Longtime fans will know of my love of the Hellraiser franchise and mythology. When Dimension announced this obvious cash-in to keep the rights, I was like every other fan and angry. When Doug Bradley, who thought Deader was a good film to appear in, decided not to come on board, I was apoplectic. So I was not looking forward to seeing this movie at all, and my suspicious were confirmed when the trailer came out. It makes Deader look like Hellbound. I get it. We were going to get a new Pinhead eventually, especially with a remake in development hell. But just like the rest of the film, they didn't take time to find a suitable replacement. They just picked probably the closest bald guy they could find. And he sucks. He's so, so bad that they had Hulk voice actor Fred Tatasciore dub his voice. Gary J. Tunnicliffe is a fan of Hellraiser. With a lot of tweaking, this script could have been a serviceable sequel. But they rushed everything into production so we get a half-baked story with a lot of rehashing from the previous films. The acting, the direction, the script, all of it is just awful. The only redeeming quality of this piece of crap is the special (practical) effects, and that's nowhere near enough to save it.
#1: The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence
I find the comments I received in my original review of this interesting. There were some who claimed that I was actually anti-gore film. That actually made me laugh, because that person had likely never seen anything I've written. I just said I was a fan of Hellraiser. I'm a big fan of the Saw series. Gore, when used effectively, usually adds to a horror film. But the problem with Human Centipede 2 isn't the fact that Tom Six gives us everything we expected of the first one, it's that he forgets to make a good movie. It tries to shock for the sake of it, and I'm sorry, but a movie that features people pooping into each others mouths isn't shocking or scary. It's gross, stupid and pointless. As a horror film, it's not scary. As a comedy, it's not funny. There is nothing redeeming in this film whatsoever.
Okay, enough hating. It's time to get into the year's best. Previous winners include Grindhouse (2007), Let The Right One In (2008), Paranormal Activity (2009) and Buried (2010)
Now I present A Bloody Good Time's Top Ten Terrors Of 2011!
Director: Manuel Carballo Cast: Sophie Vavasseur, Tommy Bastow, Richard Felix, Stephen Billington, Doug Bradley, Lazzaro Oertli Story: A family allows their young daughter's exorcism to be recorded secretly.
I love a good exorcism film. They seem to be everywhere these days, probably third next to zombies and vampires. That doesn't change the fact that when done right, one of this type of horror film can be quite creepy when it wants to be. I find it sad that this film (originally called La posesion de Emma Evans got dumped on DVD while The Rite got a full theatrical outing. Of course I know why, because The Rite had a star and this didn't, but my point remains.
Usually, but not always, the Devil or his demons lose in these types of films. At the very least, they don't take as much away from the family they torture. In this film, a lot is done to Emma Evans. But unlike say, Reagan in The Exorcist, she is quite aware of what is happening and it mostly hurts her psychologically. This movie has some twists to the genre, which is what makes it stand out. Not everyone can be trusted and not everything is as it seems. Add in some spooky visuals (especially for a film of this budget) and this is one of the most surprising offerings of the year.
#9: Final Destination 5
Director: Steven Quale Cast: Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, P.J. Byrne, Arlen Escarpeta, David Koechner, Courtney B. Vance, Tony Todd Story: Survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse learn there's no way you can cheat Death.
2011 was the year that the Final Destination series came back in a big way with the latest 3D offering. For those who love the first two and hated the later two, this was a welcome return to form. The opening massacre was appropriately chaotic. The deaths later on were well-planned, gruesome and exciting. You just never quite knew when Death was going to strike, and more importantly, how. Just when you think that someone is going to die one way, they die completely differently and if you were like me, you found yourself clapping because of how well-done the kill was.
There was a new twist to the story in which if you kill someone, you get their life. That's a brilliant way to advance the very basic story and a somewhat tired formula. Would you be willing to kill to get your life back? What would be the result if you did? It actually explores these questions, although not too much as we have mindless violence to get to. I'm not going to lie. There isn't much depth to Final Destination. But this latest sequel is a lot of fun, and I'm glad that I saw it in theaters and in 3D. Best use of the format since My Bloody Valentine.
#8: Paranormal Activity 3
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman Cast: Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Dustin Ingram, Hallie Foote Story: In 1988, young sisters Katie and Kristi befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home.
Unfortunately for anyone who may not like these movies, this series is going to continue for some time. For those like me who love these movies, that's good news. After a misstep with the second film, we come back for this prequel that includes a lot of innovative scares and new ways to get that pesky found footage aspect into the story. It's not as good as the first, but I don't think anyone expected it to be.
I liked the fact we had a continuation of the story. I liked the tension and suspense it built. When you have an entire audience looking from one corner of the screen to another looking for something that's going to endanger the people on the screen or something that's out of place, you're doing something right. This series isn't for everyone, but for those of us who enjoy it, it's a fun ride that continues to entertain. I will be there for a fourth film.
#7: Black Death
Director: Christopher Smith Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, Carice van Houten, John Lynch, Tim McInnerny, Kimberley Nixon, Andy Nyman, David Warner Story: Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, a young monk is tasked with learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a small village.
Speaking of movies that should have had a wide release...Black Death has almost the same setting and definitely the same type of villain as Season of the Witch. But the Nicolas Cage movie, which sucked, got released for obvious reasons. This one is around the time of the Black Plague, which is why it's called what it is. It also includes a really impressive cast that includes Sean Bean and David Warner (in a smaller role).
This film is beautifully shot, has a great story that centers on witches that may or may not be causing the Plague. Bean is great in the role of Ulric, but it's Eddie Redmayne that I enjoyed the most as Osmund. It's his character that gets growth in this story. You'll find, if you watch, that there are a number of similarities between this one and Season of the Witch, but you'll also notice that this was made a hell of a lot better. If you enjoy horror in a historical setting, you can't go wrong with this one.
#6: Attack the Block
Director: Joe Cornish Cast: Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon jones, Simon Howard, Nick Frost Story: A teen gang in South London defend their block from an alien invasion.
Where did this quirky little film come from? Well, the UK, obviously, but I meant it just sort of snuck up on me. I never saw any promotion and didn't even know about it until I saw Shawn S. Lealos' review on this very site. While I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as he did, I couldn't deny the charm of this horror/sci-fi comedy. It's funny because I didn't think I would like it at first. I found myself just like the character of Sam. She hated this ragtag gang of criminals as soon as she saw them. But I think that's kind of the point. Because once the teens start showing their true colors, I quickly grew to like them and began rooting for them.
The jokes are funny and the characters are very well-developed. The aliens themselves certainly look unique. I never thought gorillas with neon teeth would look good in a movie but here it works. I also liked the explanation for them and the fact that they weren't super strong. Like a good zombie movie, it's the fact that they can catch you by surprise or overwhelm you in number that makes them a threat. Not every horror monster has to be Jason Voorhees. This was a thoroughly enjoyable horror-comedy that I'm glad I had the opportunity to watch.
#5: Stake Land
Director: Jim Mickie Cast: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Danielle Harris, Kelly McGillis, Sean Nelson, Michael Cerveris, Bonnie Dennison. Story: Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation's abandoned towns and cities, and it's up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent's New Eden.
If you saw this on your video store shelf and passed it because you thought it was yet another straight-to-DVD vampire movie, ignore that impulse. This is a very well-made and awesome vampire movie that uses the idea of a vampire apocalypse to look at what society could become. Sure, it's a formula used time and time again for zombie films, but that doesn't make it any less effective. When told right, the formula and ideas can sometimes feel fresh, and that's what happens here.
If I had a word to describe this movie, I'd probably go with cool. For one thing, Mister is a very cool guy. He slays vampires as easy as it would be to squish a bug. He seems like he's an uncaring killer, but you quickly see through that facade. This is, in part, due to the stellar acting of Damici, who allows his body language to tell the audience what the script never does. This also does like so many are trying to do, and that's make vampires scary again, or at least depict them as the ugly monsters they are. Throw in some commentary on the extreme side of religious people and it's a horror film that drives a stake into the heart of the other vampire movies out there.
Director: Stevan Mena Cast: Michael Biehn, Alexandra Daddario, John Savage, Nolan Gerard Funk, Brett Rickaby, Spencer List Story: The horrific account of 6 year old Martin Bristol, abducted from his backyard swing and forced to witness the brutal crimes of a deranged madman.
There are some who may not enjoy the nihilistic approach of Bereavement. Out of all the horror films on this list, this is the darkest and bleakest. The movie opens with a psychopath abducting a little boy and leaving his mother in tears and it doesn't get any better from there. From there the boy is forced to watch the killer slaughter helpless women, and sometimes he's even made to clean up afterwards. We are forced to sit and watch, just like this boy is, who is helpless to escape.
This film is actually a prequel to Malevolent, which I unfortunately haven't had the opportunity to see yet. But there's good news, and that's the fact that Bereavement is just as cruel and unflinching in it's take on the serial killer genre to someone who hasn't seen the first film as it is to the person who has. You should see Malevolent (so should I), but it's not required viewing to watch this. This film is one that will get under your skin and make you feel dirty after watching it.
#3: Scream 4
Director: Wes Craven Cast: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Hayden Panetierre, Emma Roberts, Allison Brie, Marley Shelton, Rory Culkin Story: Ten years have passed, and Sidney Prescott, who has put herself back together thanks in part to her writing, is visited by the Ghostface Killer.
I love the Scream series. I've made my love of the original clear for both being a fun horror film itself as well as completely reinventing the wheel on slasher films. While the series came to a grinding halt with Scream 3 (which, while bad, seems to be a little better than I thought it was), there was a question as to if they could go back to that formula with Scream 4. Does Scream even have a place in today's world full of remakes and torture porn? For me, the answer was yes.
This movie has a lot working for it. It has a murder mystery just like before, with a few red herrings to throw you off as to who the killer might be. It's not quite out of left field, especially with re-viewings. This movie takes some not-so-subtle shots at remakes and the end of the film, which really cranks the "remake" aspect up to eleven, was great to watch, especially for someone who loves the original like I do. Go ahead and see if you can count how many references to the Scream finale you can see. Throw in just a good old-fashioned bit of nostalgia with our trinity and this is a welcome return for a franchise that I thought was dead.
Director: James Wan Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hersey, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor, Line Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson Story: A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.
There's just something refreshing about both the originality of Insidious' story and the homages to other horror films that paved the way. You can just feel a love of the genre within this movie that isn't present in a number of others. I'm not saying you have to throw references and nods in every horror film, but I would at least like to know that the filmmakers love the genre. Anyway, enough rambling. Insidious is a great ghost story. It's not very subtle, but this is the kind of film that doesn't need to be.
There's so much I love about this movie it's hard to nail it down in just two paragraphs. I love the cast, I love the acting, and I love the script. The music is great. The scares work really well and the cinematography is brilliant. There is also a lot of disturbing imagery in this film that while it may not give you nightmares, it'll certainly stick with you. That bit with the twins, for example, is one of the better scares in a horror film in some time. I don't mean the fact they appear, I mean the fact that they suddenly smile for a second. An evil, dangerous smile that says, "I'm going to kill you slow".
#1: Tucker and Dale vs Evil
Director: Eli Craig Cast: Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons, Brandon Jay McLaren, Philip Granger Story: Tucker & Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids.
Come on. You had to have known this was coming. I've been hyped for this movie ever since I saw the first trailer and now that it finally saw release in 2011, I was ready to love it. Normally, movies like that disappoint me. I build them up too much in my mind and when I go see them, I'm underwhelmed. Not the case with Tucker and Dale. I got exactly what I paid for: a funny spoof of all the various "killer hillbilly" movies out there. What I didn't expect was how much heart it would also have. If you don't think Dale is one of the coolest characters of the year, something's wrong with you.
This movie takes a tired concept, turns it on its head and wrings it to deliver laugh after laugh. Even the jokes that were thrown away in the trailer are given context and made even funnier than I thought they would be. For those who want the deaths that slasher movies promise, you get that too! This is a movie where a pretty girl is absolutely covered in gore just for a laugh. And I did laugh. A lot. It's the best comedy of the year, and it's the best horror film of the year. It's got something for everyone and I cannot recommend it enough.
That's it for me. What's your favorite horror film from this year? Let me know here on or my Twitter. Next week I'm going to look at which directors I want to see do horror films. See you then.
Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)
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