I’ve been pretty fortunate over the years as I’ve been able to attend many film festivals, and see a hefty amount of flicks before they receive distribution. If we’re to continue to be the #1 source for horror, we need to stay ahead of the curve. While the best & worst lists of Bloody Disgusting contributors mainly focus on films already released in theaters/DVD/Blu-ray/VOD, my list carries quite a few titles you’ve yet to see. Keeping constant to my previous lists, inside you’ll find my top 10 films that I saw in a theater this year. Based on my picks, I can’t pretend that I’m not concerned about the state of our genre. With the exception of Overture Films, the studios came up extremely short this year. Sigh.
I’m a pretty big fan of the Dowdle brothers – having enjoyed both The Poughkeepsie Tapes and Quarantine quite a bit – but my nerves were shot when I learned that M. Night Shyamalan would be producing their thriller Devil. After such dumpers as The Last Airbender and The Lady in the Water, it’s hard to get behind anything Shyamalan does. With that said, I’ve always thought Shyamalan could be an amazing producer, which he put on display with Devil. The scope of the low budget studio pic was enormous, considering the crux of the film takes place inside of an elevator. As the title might indicate, Devil is heavily doused in religious themes, but never spits it in your face. Even the twist felt unforced and complimented the lessons and themes of the duration of the flick. Devil carried some solid scares, and was suspenseful enough to keep me engaged from the first to the very last frame.
The director of Saw and Dead Silence is back with yet another in-your-face horror film that’s guaranteed to stand the test of time. James Wan reteams with writer/star Leigh Whannell on this haunted house pic that takes some bold moves and risks everything in the wake of a truly bizarre finale. Carried solely on colorful and unique imagery you’ve come to expect from a James Wan film, the Australian director has cemented himself as a horror legend. Whether you think Insidious is good or bad, it’s a movie you’ll revisit countless times in the next 20 years. Even with disturbing imagery giving the film its momentum, Insidious carries quite a few impressive scares and asks the viewer to be a little forgiving with their suspension of disbelief. If you can hop on board, it’s a ride you’ll never forget.
I struggled with putting Rubber on my top ten list, solely because it’s an experiment in filmmaking. It’s not quite horror, and to be frank, it’s not quite a movie either. But it does scream “f*ck Hollywood”, and says quite a bit about cinema by today’s standards. Any movie that has a set of balls this big deserves some serious praise.
What can I say about A Serbian Film that hasn’t already been spewed across the web. You either get it or you don’t. You’re either willing to accept it or you’re not. It’s a harsh, brash, dark feature that has already lost 99% of its viewers. (Most of the SXSW audience stormed out of the premiere.) But beyond the shocks, there’s a politically charged theme, and the filmmaking itself is something stunning to behold. As I stated in my review, A Serbian Film is this year’s “dark” version of “Alice in Wonderland”, a film that takes the viewer down the rabbit hole so far that their psyche will never be the same. If you want to feel something in the theaters again, A Serbian Film will bring out every emotion.
Director Adam Green moves from his fun ‘80s slasher Hatchet to Frozen, an adult horror film that deserved way more attention than Anchor Bay gave it. The Sundance Film Festival selection proved that Adam Green is capable of serious cinema, and that he can be an elite filmmaker. It’s hands down one of the most suspenseful films of the past few years; it had me biting my knuckles quite a few times. And knowing that Green opted to shoot the film in the freezing cold Park City, Utah is beyond commendable (even though psychotic).
A Japanese horror comedy that channels the great Takashi Miike, Cold Fish is a serial killer thriller that has so many twists and turns that it’s impossible to guess what’s going to happen next. It’s bloody, violent, funny and exquisitely dark; the lengthy runtime feels like minutes as director Sion Sono takes you on the craziest ride of your life. Don’t let this one pass you by, make an effort to track it down and see it.
It’s rare when a quality anthology comes along – it’s even more rare when a solid Thai horror film is released. Walking into a screening of Phobia 2 at the FanTasia Film Festival I expected to walk out after 20 minutes, only I found myself with my jaw on the floor when the closing credits began to crawl. While each segment has its flaws, the wrap-around story is so magnificent that I wish it were its own movie. Not since Scream have I seen such a brilliant take on our genre – but what makes Phobia 2 so intriguing is it’s reflection on Asian horror. The finale of the anthology is nothing short of brilliant and will earn a bold place in your Asian horror collection.
This family drama is tonally similar to Let the Right One In and tells a sad, dark tale about a family of cannibals fighting to survive after the loss of their father/leader. Guaranteed to split audiences, this Mexican horror film doesn’t carry much blood or violence, but it’s hard to ignore just how well made it is. I think many of you will be pleasantly surprised, with the rest of you sending me luscious hate mail that I’ll quickly delete 😉
I think my review said it all: “I could talk for hours about I Saw the Devil, but nothing I can say will ever do it justice. The film is an experience; it’s something that will have you emotionally invested in the characters, while also covering your eyes at the extreme violence.“
I cannot speak highly enough of Matt Reeves’ English-language version of “Let the Right One In”. I know there are a few “remake” haters in the audience, but it’s hard to ignore how Reeves took the same story and made it 50x more chilling. It would take me pages for me to explain just how good Let Me In is, which is why I implore you to read my review. It’s my favorite movie of the year (Stephen King’s too), and I’m quite proud of my review.
Darren Aronofsky‘s Black Swan would have landed #2 on my list had it not ended up being more of a drama than horror. Without giving anything away, the finale sort of changes how the film should have been covered here on BD. CAV and 1428 Films’ Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy could have easily landed in my top 3 picks, only it’s a straight-to-video release. This could quite possibly be the single best horror movie documentary ever assembled. Ever. EVER. I struggled at keeping Breck Eisner’s The Crazies remake off of my top 10 list. It really deserved to be on there, even though the replay value isn’t as strong as I had hoped. It was also odd for me to keep a Saw film off my list, considering Saw V might have been the only one NOT to make a list. Saw 3D was a great way to end the franchise and was an hour and a half of bloody tongue-in-cheek fun. I’d also like to give some props to Twentieth Century Fox’s Predators for not sucking, and to Warner Bros. Pictures’ Splice for doing something so incredibly daring.