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[BEST & WORST '12] David Harley’s List of the Best Horror Films of 2012!

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I can’t believe 2012 is almost over. Partly because the year flew by, but mostly because not many films that came out truly left an impression. As horror fans, I think we’re in the same sort of position we were in at the tail-end of all the torture crap; we need a new movement. A new direction. A new something. Anything. We’ve gone through a few trends in the past few years (found footage, ghosts, and vampires to name a few), but nobody is doing anything interesting with them at the moment.

The reason I’m doing all this complaining as a preface for my Best Of list is because this is the first year since I’ve been writing for the site that I haven’t been able to come up with a Top Ten. Either I pulled a Rip Van Winkle and slept through the year or 2012 was a huge bummer. Below are my five favorite horror films of the year, along with a really fun honorable mention that just barely didn’t make it onto the list.

Mr. Disgusting (Best/Worst) | Evan Dickson (Best/Worst) | David Harley (Best/Worst) | Lonmonster (Best/Worst) | Corey Mitchell (Best of Fest) | Supporting Staff (Best & Worst) | Ryan Daley (Best Novels)
Posters (Best/Worst) | Trailers (Best/Worst)

DAVID HARLEY TOP 5 OF 2012

5. ParaNorman (August 17; Focus Features)

LAIKA’s work on ParaNorman is possibly the best stop-motion to date and shows a huge improvement in terms of fluidity and design over Coraline. The story isn’t revolutionary and there’s a lull or two in there, but it’s a fun – and very charming – family horror film with some really great jokes and nods.

4. Father’s Day (January 18; Troma)

Father’s Day delivers on everything that has defined Troma as a studio for the past 40 years: depravity, sex, violence, and blood. The Astron-6 collective pulls off the insanity of an eye-patched, maple syrup farmer chasing after a genital-eating killer named The Fuchman spectacularly, resulting in a film that would have been right at home on 80’s late night television – the commercial interruptions and faux advertisements are a wonderful touch. There are a lot of other things to appreciate about Father’s Day, like the stop-motion creatures and completely bonkers third act, but the balance struck between the dark violence and humor is the most impressive.

3. Lovely Molly (May 18; Image Entertainment)

Besides for the creepy setting of an old farm that looks both lived in and appropriately run down, Lodge’s great performance, and an atmosphere of dread that is sustained for its runtime, Lovely Molly’s biggest asset is that it presents a compelling argument for both sides of the “Is it real or all in her head?” question. For almost the entire film, Sanchez and co-writer Jamie Nash smartly fuel the fire with abandonment issues, drug addiction, the questionable nature of males in Molly’s life, and the house’s sordid past – a bunch of realistic reasons that would lead someone to become unhinged. By the end, the film veers off towards one viewpoint more than the other, but the finale is ambiguous enough to let viewers draw their own conclusion.

2. The Cabin in the Woods (April 13; Lionsgate)

The Cabin in the Woods is fun and has some strange, unpredictable moments, but it’s more clever than flat-out brilliant. Goddard and Whedon really complement each other and make the material approachable and enjoyable for those lacking extensive genre knowledge, a feat considering all the nods it contains – especially to one of the greatest authors of all time. The protagonists aren’t interesting ninety percent of the time and left me waiting for Jenkins and Whitford to continue their shtick, but it’s great to see a team willing to go that far out on a limb, be that weird, and succeed more often than not over the span of one narrative.

1. John Dies at the End (December 27; Magnet Releasing)

Delightfully weird is the best way to describe Don Coscarelli’s first film in almost ten years. John Dies at the End bravely sets its tone during the opening scene and doesn’t let up until the credits roll; it’s 100% committed to spinning a yarn about two guys high on a drug that lets them see monsters, travel to alternate dimensions, and have telephone conversions through a hot dog. Coscarelli handles the material’s humor and gonzo set pieces like the pro that he is and, with the exception of some wonky CG in the third act, it’s the only film this year that kept me completely immersed and entertained for its entirety and has a high rewatchability factor.

Honorable Mention: Grabbers (TBD; IFC Films)

Grabbers is basically Tremors set in a small Irish seaside village, but with more drunk people. If you have fond memories of graboids and wouldn’t mind a few extra laughs, then the tentacled grabbers should tickle your fancy.

  • Mr_Darko

    Glad to see someone else enjoyed Father’s Day as much as I did, and once again Cabin in the Woods finishes in a strong second. Really excited about John Dies at the End being the best and can’t wait to see it now.

    Also liked the honorable mention of Grabbers.

    • divisionbell

      Father’s Day was a wonderful film. What a great sense of humor and the best ending I’ve seen in a while.

  • Aaron Emery

    Happy to see some love for Lovely Molly!! It was one of my favorites this year as well. If John Dies at the End is even 3/4 as good as the book it’ll be a great movie!

    • Norberto-Aguiar

      Agreed! Lovely Molly was my favorite ‘Horror’ film of the year!Period!

  • Zombie-Killa

    Gotta see Lovely Molly, Father’s Day, and John Dies At The End. I’m not too sure about Paranorman, though. I passed on it during the theatrical run, and the trailers really don’t do anything for me, so I still don’t know if it’s worth watching or not.

  • djblack1313

    David, YAY!! for including GRABBERS! such a fun movie with very cool, Lovecraftian creatures! i loved CABIN as well. i have PARANORMAN but just haven’t watched it yet. i’m going to do so this week. everyone i know (and most reviews/reviewers) who saw it loved it.

  • Norberto-Aguiar

    THANKYOU!!!! for putting LOVELY MOLLY in your list!!! That film would be my number one on my list! A completely overlooked masterful horror film that is literally saturated with genuine horror and unsettling mystery and emotion that seriously scared the shit out of me at the last sequence that had me feel like I had to look away from the screen!!A horror film hasn’t made me feel that way in a long time!!!Gretchen Lodge gives the best female performance in horror this year!!!

    • djblack1313

      Norberto, i’ve had LOVELY MOLLY on disc for a while but just haven’t been inspired to watch it. you changed my mind. i’m going to check it out this week. :)

    • divisionbell

      Lovely Molly was incredibly underrated

  • feck

    Absolutely hated Cabin in the Woods. Almost walked out, but stayed to the end. The hype was HUGE, and boy, what a stupid movie.

  • joesey

    I laughed so hard watching Father’s Day–so nasty and hilarious. Lovely Molly was also a creepy blast.

  • ThunderDragoon

    Lovely Molly? On a best list? Fuck, that movie was horrible. It was a chore just to get through it. Guess I’m the only one here who hated it.

  • splatterhead4ever

    Loved Fathers Day! My fav for this year is probably The Loved Ones. That is a fucked up movie that will stay under your skin for quite awhile. Cabin is WAY over rated. Men in Black is not a horror film. I swear it was like watching a video game with the filmakers ripping off just about every cool monster ever seen from much better movies. I liked the first half though and it was fairly energetic.

    • David Harley

      Not really sure what Men in Black has to do with anything but I agree, it’s definitely not a horror film. Really enjoyed The Loved Ones and had it on my list a few years back (whatever year it played SXSW). – Harley

      • splatterhead4ever

        All I meant by the Men In Black reference was I remember a scene from one of those movies, where they are walking around and there were all these monsters just chillin’. I realize the monsters in Cabin are badasses but c’mon. CG monsters are not scary, no matter what kind of TV or Movie screen you see them on. It’s probably my bad. I hate crappy CG. The only CG character to ever creep me out a bit, was Gollum. lol.

  • AndrewSoukup24

    Only seen the amazing Cabin In The Woods…def wanna check these other films out though besides Paranorman…good to see Detention finally didn’t make a list.

  • Jee-woon-Kim

    Here my top 10 in no particular order:

    Lovely Molly
    Sinister
    Sleep Tight
    Cabin in the Woods
    The Tall Man
    The Grey
    VHS
    The Road
    The Innkeepers
    Excision