Those of you following Bloody Disgusting for the better part of the decade will know that my list is always dominated by independent/festival features, which is pretty telling about the crop of films screened throughout the year. From my perspective, the indie filmmaker is one of passion, intensity, and that of no barriers; (generally) they have no rules and nobody creeping over their shoulder telling them what to do. The result is staggering when compared to the average, bland, faceless and soulless genre flicks released by studios. (Note: some of the below films are listed as released by a major studio, although, they were actually acquired at a film festival by said studio for release in 2012.)
And speaking of major studios, there are a few that actually broke through the barrier and blew my mind; such the case with Twentieth Century Fox who has probably made my top 10 list for the first time in, well, ever.
Still, the most glaring oddity is the addition of both a direct-to-disc release and a television series, which is also probably the first time in years that either has made my list.
I digress… enough with the banter, below you’ll find the crop of the best horror of 2011.
It’s kind of a bummer that this Norwegian classic kind of was ignored during its release. The low budget creature feature was massive in scope and featured some brilliant CGI. While the story was a bit weak, the payoffs were enormous. There was a slight Jurassic Park feel to this soon-to-be cult classic.
Horror fans are going to go in and expect to see another bloodbath from French filmmaking duo Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, and ultimately it’s going to ruin their experience. Livid is a genuinely brilliant film that’s both surreal and daring. Imagine attempting to put your unintelligible nightmare on paper and then translating that to the big screen. These guys pulled it off in a wild fashion that’s surely to gain more appreciation once the gorehounds accept that it’s not what they expected…
It’s unorthodox for me to place a direct-to-home video title on my top 10, mainly because most of them just aren’t any good. I have a gut feeling this selection is the one that’s going to garner the most hate mail, but I wholly believe this Hammer Films production in an unearthly creepfest that sent millions of shivers down my spine. It bares close resemblance to Pet Sematary with a Wicker Man-esque twist. It’s not a big movie, but it’s a strong, fresh product from the classic horror production company. It deserves more attention than it got.
While the acting was subpar and there were a few questionable cheesy moments, Final Destination 5 is the perfect end-game film to the franchise. From its stunning use of 3-D to outstanding death sequences, this massive sequel/prequel had serious impact when seen on the big screen. The end result was an “event-like” atmosphere. It’ll be interesting to see if it holds up on home video.
Never have I had a sequel make me hate its predecessor so much. I was a fan of PA2 until I had my mind blown by PA3, a truly terrifying film jam-packed to the brim with jolts and scares. This is what a sequel should be; upping the ante ten fold and delivering a unique spin that enhances the mythology. Epic win for Paramount. Can they keep it up?
I love a film that resonates deep in my soul for days after. Such the case with Pedro Almodovar’s Spanish thriller The Skin I Live In, a truly twisted and demented revenge thriller that’s more beautiful than disgusting. While it’s intentions are malicious and cruel, it ends up being more of a poetic horror film that’s unique onto itself.
Questionably a horror product, the film is about a plague that wipes out mankind and allows a rampage of apes to take over the world. Close enough. Either way, Fox hasn’t been known for “quality” filmmaking, yet they managed to pull of a summer blockbuster worthy of the Oscar attention. Not only does the film kill the CGI “dead eyes” conundrum, but it also delivers some incredible performances. Apes is intensely engaging and worthy of being placed in front of that Planet of the Apes collection. Now if only they’d invent a machine to erase Tim Burton’s reboot from my memory…
When I saw this British love letter to ’80s Amblin I couldn’t help but feel duped as it was incredibly over hyped — and I mean, way, way, way overhyped. But then again, it’s #3 on my best films of the year list, which makes me wonder if it was actually deserving of the annoying attention? I guess the answer is a bold “yes”. Joe Cornish’s sci-fi horror is beautifully shot, the scope is enormous, and the SFX work is out of this world. The kids are well cast, likeable and well developed, which adds a new dimension to how great the flick is. Furthermore, the movie is loaded with awesome action sequences. ATB is that timeless movie you’re proud to stick on your shelf and share with pretty much anyone.
In an obvious case of conflict of interest, director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are good friends of mine as I associate produced their A Horrible Way to Die and they worked with us on our Sundance flick V/H/S. Even in the interest of full disclosure, I strongly believe You’re Next could be the next big thing, the next Saw, the next Paranormal Activity. It’s a “party film” that you just want to rock out to with a group of friends. I have never seen an audience go off their rockers like they did in Toronto.
Probably the most quiet and subtle of all the films on this breakdown, Ben Wheatley’s Kill List is a straight up shocker. The film slowly builds into an explosive finale that had me on my feet screaming “OMFG!”
After a beyond disastrous season premiere, FX’s “American Horror Story” quickly escalated into the most phenomenal television series in decades. Featuring a single season standalone storyline, the show borrowed themes from Beetlejuice and created enough rules to make your head spin. The fact that the writers were able to keep the rules in check and everything grounded in reality is beyond mind-blowing. Furthermore, using a self-contained season arc allowed the writing team to jam-pack each episode with enough OMFG moments usually found in a single season. In short, each season is that of an entire series. For once, this is a television series worth owning…
Honorable Mentions: Everyone celebrated Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer’s Drive Angry 3D like it was the best movies ever made. Fact is, there’s not enough driving or action in the film (which is why it’s not on my “best of” list). But, it’s a pretty rad movie loaded with insanity – so much so that you could deem it a cult classic. The finale of Scream 4 left a bad taste in people’s mouths. It’s unfortunately because, up until then, Wes Craven’s fourth entry is a fun homage to the ’90s. Erase the idiotic ending, and few scenes that touch into Scary Movie territory, and Scream 4 is a fun addition to the collection. Another flawed genre pic I fell in love with was Super 8, which probably could have done without the alien. A flick about a group of kids making a zombie movie? Who doesn’t want to see that?! We’re told Guillermo del Toro directed a good portion of the Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark remake, and it shows. The spooky creature feature is jam-packed with plot holes, but that doesn’t stop it from being a violent and spooky ride. A movie most of you won’t see until it’s dumped to video is Detention, a genre mash-up jam-packed with so many oddities it’ll either make you vomit or have your head spinning.