This was a great year for horror movies. But really, how is this different from any other year? Other than a brief period in the early 90s, every year has been a great year for horror cinema. Journalists have been predicting the “death of horror” since I was an 11-year-old reading Charles L. Grant anthologies, and the cynicism continues to this day. According to writers and bloggers, any year now, at any moment, horror is going to suddenly disappear in a huff of black smoke, the end of the genre, gone forever.
Except the readers of this Bloody-Disgusting know that will never happen. Horror is perpetual, it always has an audience, and unlike Meg Ryan or TGIF sitcoms or leg warmers, horror will never, ever go away. Of my five years writing for Bloody-disgusting, this the easiest Top 10 list I’ve ever compiled. There were just so many good movies to choose from. Whether or not you agree with the following list, let’s raise our glasses to one agreed upon fact: 2011 was a great year for horror.
Before spinning out of control in the last 10 minutes, The Last Exorcism established itself as a clever, chilling, and winkingly self-aware mockumentary that managed to push the buttons of both believers and skeptics. Yeah, and then that fire monster. But why hate an awesome movie cause of its ending? That’s like hating a delicious meal because the dessert tastes sorta shitty.
Bizarre, scary, and downright confusing, Heartless is by no means a prefect film, but it has a way of working itself into your head in a way that only the best original films can manage. The combination of lizard creatures, Satan, and a heavily blemished Jim Sturgess makes for a riveting piece of cinema from artist (and occasional filmmaker) Philip Ridley.
Although much of [REC] 2 seems regurgitated from the original, directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza have perfected their first person shaky-cam technique, resulting in an experience that’s both pleasantly jarring and hugely visceral. A portable multimedia device, headphones, and complete blackness come highly recommended.
Yes, this almost certainly ranks as one of the dumbest films of 2011, but it’s also one of the bloodiest things I‘ve ever seen in my life…and that’s saying something. Give director Alexandre Aja credit for cranking open the floodgates of grue and letting the red stuff flow. If it had been released before 9/11, the orgiastic mid-film piranha attack would have easily pushed the film into NC-17 territory. Impressive.
Where did this come from? Whipping in and out of theaters like a hot July breeze, Attack the Block was seen by just enough approving critics to pique the curiosity of genre fans. I caught the movie when it hit DVD a few months later and instantly fell in love with this slice of highly appealing indie sci-fi. From the clever premise to the flippant dialogue to the totally cool creatures, it’s a movie that screams its fun factor from the city rooftops.
Influenced by Mr. D’s dismissive review (as well as being personally sick of the whole vampire thing), I ignored Stake Land on its initial release. But over the next few months, the overwhelmingly positive reader reviews here at B-D convinced me to give it a look, and yep, you guys totally got it right. This is one helluva indie flick. But hey, you can say it better than I can. According to you, Stake Land is “not your usual vampire schlock” that “drove a stake through my senses” resulting in “one of the best under the radar horror flicks of the year”*. And I most certainly concur.
*Quotes from frighten stein, legolasgarett, and Sir Serling, respectively.
Not exactly a horror film, but like I Saw the Devil, it’s a revenge thriller that flaunts enough blood and bad-assery to secure a rightful place in the annals of B-D. Lee Jeong-beom’s uber-basic story comes with plenty of built-in pleasures, but the brutal smack-down in the final reel ranks as one of the most satisfying fight scenes in movie history.
You had me at Creep, Christopher Smith. And then you enraptured me with the time-loopy Triangle, your directorial prowess repeatedly ravaging my dreams. I assume Black Death is the reward for my abiding love and eternal loyalty, and for that, I thank you. But don’t you ever forget, Mr. Smith: You had me at Creep.
I realize you’ve been subjected to Mr. D’s wanton praise for over a year, but come on, we’re all in agreement on this one, right? When I wrote about I Saw the Devil in January, I dared to postulate that it might be superior to Oldboy. Not only is it better than Oldboy, it’s one of the best slow-burn revenge films of all time.
As a fan of both John Lindqvist’s original novel and Tomas Alfredson’s Norwegian film adaptation, I was initially skeptical about Matt Reeves’ Americanized remake. And while I lament the exclusion of the cheesy CGI cat attack, I prefer Reeves’ version for one primary reason: child actors Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz act the living shit out of the material. I still can’t believe they weren’t nominated for any major awards. An instant horror classic.
Honorable Mention: Wake Wood, Insidious, Atrocious