Y2K, 9/11, war and a a horrid recession, a major escape we had this decade was in the form of film, notorious for thriving during National crisis. Leading up to New Year’s Eve where we’ll ring in 2010, Bloody Disgusting will be looking back at the entire decade year by year through the eyes of various staff writers.. Inside you’ll find David Harley’s personal look back at the year 2009, the last of tis epic retrospect. Please share your memories for each year below, there are so many stories to be told!
Speaking of Platinum Dunes, early in January, we posted a casting call for their remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, with Jackie Earle Hayley as Freddy Kruger. Not even a month later, casting rumors began gestating online with Hayley in the lead role. Two months later and we had our new Kruger cast. Coincidence? Yes. But very cool none the less. Then, in February, Jason hit the big screen and did incredible opening weekend business, proving that some franchises have staying power. Although it had a big drop-off in attendance after its opening, it did enough business to prompt talks of a sequel almost immediately and a date has even been set for it. Whether or not they actual make a Friday the 13th in winter is still up in the air.
In March, we got our first good remake in quite some time with The Last House On The Left. While it could have easily treaded torture-porn territory with its premise, which Craven revisited in the 70s (Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring is still my favorite take on the story), director Dennis Illiadis made a taut and tense filled horror flick. Also in March, we got A Haunting in Connecticut and Knowing, both of which had an interesting premise but failed to deliver. And, if anything, Knowing could’ve been a much better film had Nicolas Cage not been in it and director Alex Proyas not had regurgitated his previous films so much. I took my second annual trek out to Austin, TX for SXSW, where I caught an early screening of Drag Me To Hell and the Australian thriller The Horseman, both of which made my Top 10 list for 2009.
April was a month of big DVD premieres, as Rob Hall’s much anticipated Laid To Rest and Martyrs were released in the last half of the month. Both films feature gore o’ plenty and seem to have divided audiences down the middle. In fact, until Drag Me To Hell was released in late May, all was practically quiet on the horror front. With Drag, critics and fans seem to go apeshit over it, as I predicted they would when I saw it at SXSW, but its summer release seemed to only further confirm everyone’s suspicion that horror just doesn’t bode well in blockbuster season, especially when opening against a Pixar film. The rest of the summer was comprised of forgettable DTV releases – save for [REC], which was finally released stateside – until Orphan was released in July to moderate box office success. The most welcome surprises of the summer were Duncan Jones’ Moon, which isn’t a horror film but was covered on the site because we loved it and it’s destined for Oscar gold, and District 9, which told a really compelling story with a gory sci-fi setting. Here’s hoping Neill Blomkamp and his team eventually get to visit the Halo universe – I can dream, can’t I? Oh, how I can forget Platinum Dunes’ second original horror film The Horsemen, which was snuck out quietly into a handful of theatres in the beginning of the year and was released on DVD during the summer. Although not a God awful film, it certainly doesn’t fit into their filmography and did very little to rise above mediocrity.
Once late August rolled around, we had the double-feature weekend of The Final Destination and Halloween II. The former featured 3-D effects and a formula that started to get stale the last time around, while the latter was so batshit insane and boring at the same time that nobody really knew what to make of it. It ended up being rereleased for Halloween but seemed to disappear for the second time almost as quickly as it did the first time around.
Jennifer’s Body, written by Oscar winner Diablo Cody, debuted in mid-September and started the Juno backlash all over again. While some seemed to enjoy its sense of humor and attractive starlets, in the end it just seemed to further divide everyone on whether or not Cody is a good writer or not. And, on the TV front, Dexter and True Blood continue to rake in big ratings and captivate their audiences.
In late September, Tex and I made our way to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando and were treated to some great movie themed houses (even one for The Wolfman, which hasn’t even come out yet). I give Universal big props for their unofficial C.H.U.D. house, even though it wasn’t great; I just like the idea of them using non-mainstream films as inspiration. If only Universal would make the houses a tad brighter, the experience would’ve been a lot better but, in the end, it stayed on par with the previous year in terms of scares and ingenuity. We also got to go back later in the month for “Boo Camp”, which meant me and Tex were given the chance to dress up as characters from Planet Terror and roam the streets scaring the bejeezus out of people.
Richard Kelly released his third feature, The Box, which left many people scratching their heads. Based on a Richard Matheson short story, the film delves into familiar Kelly territory in regards to both themes and off-the-wall science fiction. The Fourth Kind is released the same day and tries to trick audiences with “real documentary footage”, which is actually fake. Audiences see through it almost instantly and it disappears soon after. New Moon debuts at the end of November to record breaking numbers and usurps The Dark Knight as having the biggest opening day ever.
Much like 2008, the big winners of the year were those films who were hidden by studios and indie films. Carriers was snuck out in early September and while it didn’t do big business, its greatest fault was that its concept wasn’t very marketable, not that it was a terrible movie. Paranormal Activity, which was sitting on a shelf because it was supposed to be remade, was released with a “Demand It” campaign, which had fans demanding to see the film in their area. Eventually, it went wide and kept Saw VI out of the number one spot on its opening weekend, marking a first for the series. Trick `r Treat finally hit DVD after a lengthy road show that started in the summer. The result: many stores couldn’t keep it in stock, and those who could get a copy on release day couldn’t stop gushing about it. And finally, The Road, a slow-burn Cormac McCarthy adaptation (No Country For Old Men) about a father and son living in a post-apocalyptic world, hit theatres in late November to much acclaim. On the indie front, House of the Devil and Antichrist have extremely limited theatrical releases, backed by a VOD campaign, and get people talking – more so with the latter, which had a very strange reception at Cannes earlier in the year and inspired a lot of really bizarre takes on the film and its meaning.