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[BEST & WORST ’12] Evan Dickson’s List Of The Best Horror Films Of 2012!

This was a weird year. There weren’t that many great “straight up” horror movies out there, at least not in my eyes. I feel like the genre is at a turning point where it’s about to be reinvigorated, I’ve already seen a few of the films coming out next year (ones that simultaneously fit the definitions of the genre while taking it to new places) and I think 2013 will represent a turning point. 2012 saw the genre tentatively figuring out how to spread its wings in the age of huge budget divides (just like the American middle class, medium sized films are on the wane), VOD and a shifting landscape in general.

So don’t be surprised if some of these movies don’t 100% fall under the “horror” category. It’s not like I tossed Cloud Atlas on here or anything, I operated from the films that we cover on the site, but you’ll see what I’m talking about inside. On occasion we cover some great stuff that doesn’t rigidly fit the definitions of the genre, but it’s material that we feel appeals to horror fans’ sensibilities. That being said, I also kept this year’s “best of” list to films that were released in 2012. I still saw plenty of movies that I fell in love with, and here are 10 that you might dig as well.

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)


10. The Road (May 11; Freestyle Releasing)

The first act of Yam Laranas’ The Road features some of the scariest imagery I’ve seen in a ghost story in quite some time. The rest of the film turns out to be a surprisingly effective, and expansive, yarn. A movie where some of the quietest moments are the most frightening.

9. Detention (April 6; Samuel Goldwyn)

I totally get it if you hate Joseph Kahn’s Detention. I myself was prepared to hate it based on its trailer, but the movie quickly won me over. It depicts the millennial generation in a way that I haven’t seen on film before and it’s full of fun carnage courtesy of its slasher villain Cinderhella. Imagine Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World meets Scream and you’re getting warm. Oh sh*t, add time travel in too. Yeah, there’s not much else like it.

8. Chronicle (February 3; Fox)

Another film that we took some flack for, but seeing as this is the closest we’ll get to a live action Akira in the next few years, it’s totally fair game. Director Josh Trank also succeeded in crafting a tale of telekinesis rivaled only by Carrie in its depiction of supernatural power gone wrong. Oh, and he succeeded in reinvigorating the found footage format to boot.

7. John Dies At The End (December 27th [On-Demand]; Magnet)

A fun, trippy blast that ladles on the gore while not being afraid to ask the bigger questions. A lot of people might find this movie confusing, but as long as you engage with it and pay attention, you should be fine. Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes turn in great performances as the film’s two heroes and director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) is in fine form. This movie really tickles the parts of my brain I abused in college.

6. Kill List (January 4; IFC Midnight)

Ben Wheatley’s masterpiece hit the festival circuit last year, but I only saw it upon its release in 2012. While I have a huge fondness for the film, it’s not something I’m eager to revisit. It’s one of those instances where I have to commend its artistry enough to place it in my top 10, but its such a foreboding watch that I’m not sure how many times I’ll reach for it on the shelf.

5. Frankenweenie (October 5; Disney)

I can’t believe all the love that went to ParaNorman in 2012 while this far superior stop-animation gem went more or less unnoticed. This touching tale that riffs on classic horror history is easily Tim Burton’s best film in over a decade, and Martin Landau’s science monologues as Mr. Rzykruski made me want to stand up and cheer.

4. The Sound Of My Voice (April 27; Fox Searchlight)

A beautiful and suspenseful look inside the world of what appears to be a modern-day cult. Brit Marling is magnetic as Maggie, a person whose very existence is dependent on her charisma. It’s also a film about the existential horror of not actually knowing the answers to some seemingly basic questions about life.

3. Seven Psychopaths (October 12; CBS Films)

A hilariously sharp bloodbath that not many people bothered to check out in theaters. Colin Farrell is great, but it’s really Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken who run the show here. Not to mention Tom Waits as a long-term serial killer with an affinity for rabbits. Remember folks, these movies you keep discovering in their ancillary stages of release will cease to exist once those ancillary stages dry up.

2. The Grey (January 27; Lionsgate)

Such a visceral, powerful movie. Liam Neeson gives the performance of his career in what is easily Joe Carnahan’s best film. Sure it works as survival horror, but it’s also a great allegory for the daily battles we find ourselves embroiled in. Neeson is joined by an ensemble that perfectly represents the battle, and balance, between the masculine id and superego.

1. The Cabin In The Woods (April 13; Lionsgate)

Without question the most fun I had in a horror movie this year. The Cabin In The Woods manages to meet almost every slasher demand you can think of before going on to become so much more. It’s a hilarious film with a lot to say about the way our culture consumes violence, both on film and in regard to real-life tragedies.

Bonus: V/H/S (October 5; Magnolia Pictures)

No, I wasn’t asked to write about this one. But – if I didn’t happen to write for Bloody-Disgusting – it would easily be somewhere in the middle of my Top 10. I truly dig most of the segments and it’s got more effective scares than most of the films I saw this year.



  • djblack1313

    i love CABIN, and i’m dying to see JOHN DIES. i need to finish up THE ROAD (i started it months ago but had to stop halfway through). i also just got SOUND OF MY VOICE and i’ll be watching that one soon. DETENTION…awful (but i already spouted off about that movie in other Best of lists here! LOL).
    THE GREY was very good except for the ending. they hyped up so much in the trailers/TV spots the big showdown between Liam’s character and the alpha wolf only to cut to black (the bonus bit at the end showing both of them dying was very cool and extremely haunting) was frustrating. they could/should at least have cut to black but have just the sound of them fighting. it would have been horrific to hear (like Michael Myers killing Annie in Zombie’s H2. we only hear the killing and it’s horrifying).

  • JoseyWhales

    Pretty much agree with your list, David. Except for Detention. Loved Chronicle; it’s definitely horror. The characters get supernatural powers after finding some kind of bizarre alien artifact. Doesn’t get more horrific than that. Cabin in the Woods? Good, not great.

    • djblack1313

      yeah, i completely loved CHRONICLE.

  • Grime

    I hated Cabin in the Woods so much. I can’t believe how much love it’s getting. I’m beside myself. I’m really not trying to be a dick on this one.

    • dr.lamb

      Same with me. Did not outright hate it, but its also not that great in my opinion. There is too much given away right at the beginning and no tension throughout the movie. I hate Whedons style, he is tries too hard to show off how whitty his dialogues are. The most awful feature of this movie is, as it demonstrates how above it is over all horror cliches, it seems more like a rant without adding that much new. And the last frame ? Pure shit.

    • Michael_M

      I’ve never felt more disconnected from the horror community. I don’t understand the lavish praise that Cabin has received. It certainly doesn’t merit being named the best horror film this year. Too much wrong with it. Oh well, there’s always next year.

      • splatterhead4ever

        I’m with you man. Cabin, while not horrible or anything, did absolutely nothing for me. I respect the energy, the acting and the fanboy direction but man, I just didn’t like it. Not sure who to blame but whoever decided to end this “horror” movie by turning it into a R-Rated “Men in Black” movie with god awful cgi, is not getting a passing grade from me.

        • mikeknowskarate

          What I noticed walking out at the end of Cabin was that the younger crowd loved it and the older crowd hated it. I’m inbetween and I thought it was amazing.

          • splatterhead4ever

            I’ve been thinking about that. I also wonder if the cg that pisses me off so much in todays movies is because I don’t play video games. All my friends who play video games are not bothered by cg. Plus, I am 39 years old and live in Idaho for fucks sake. lol.

  • Zombie-Killa

    YES!!!!!!!!! Finally someone put The Cabin In The Woods at #1!

    Good list, but I wasn’t too crazy about Seven Psychopaths. I dunno, it was good bloody carnage-filed fun for the most part, but for me everything feel apart towards the end. Plus, Christopher Walken’s monologue was so pointless, and borderline unbearable.

  • Joe-Banger

    Interesting list now more than ever Evan, Ive only seen two of these films and the road sounds good. Thanks for bringing that film to the fore front of my attention.

  • Canucklehead

    A very interesting list, have seen 4 of them so far. If Seven Psychopaths made the list, what aboot Django Unchained? Certainly there were some similarities in the content there, yes?

    • EvanDickson

      @Canucklehead I haven’t seen DJANGO UNCHAINED yet ;(

  • Aaron Emery

    Loved THE ROAD! I can pretty much agree with your entire list, aside from KILL LIST and DETENTION but that’s just me. Did you happen to read the book JOHN DIES AT THE END? I only ask because I just finished it and thought it was a great movie but not a very good adaptation… The book and its sequel have so much more to offer than that movie. Hmmph

  • KeepDoubting

    Words can’t describe how disappointed I was with “The Road.” I remember when I first saw the trailer for it on here and thought it looked creepy as hell. But when I watched the movie, it turned into one of those cases where all the good/creepy stuff was shown in the trailer.

    After the first half hour, I just found myself bored.

  • ThunderDragoon

    I really need to watch Detention again. I need to love it! XD

  • Julian Nunez

    The Grey was definitely a great movie, probably one of my favorites this year. Cabin, Chronicle are really good as well IMO.

    Curious to know if you read the book before you saw John Dies at the End because i watched it yesterday and i thought it was a pretty good and fun movie but they cut out a lot from the book especially one of the main plot points that could have benefited the movie.

    • Aaron Emery

      It cut out like HALF of the book! Most of the plot was just completely gone!

  • Detention was fantastic.

  • Kwonkicker

    Wow. I didn’t think it was possible to be less impressed with Bloody Disgusting. The minute fucking ParaNorman was placed in this list, this was a joke. The ONLY agreeable films here are Cabin in the Woods and V/H/S. The Grey? Chronicle? Seven Psychopaths? Seriously? These are not fucking horror films.

    • Aaron Emery

      1. PARANORMAN isn’t even on this list. 2. How was THE GREY not horror? 3. Did you read the intro paragraphs? Stop complaining and have a nice day 🙂

      • Kwonkicker

        It very clearly says “Best top ten horror films of 2012!” at the top. I was expecting to see lo and behold, horror films. Don’t then pull a roundabout and go “oh lolz some might not be actual horror films”

        If that’s the case then just call it a best of 2012 list and spare me the stupidity.

        The Grey is not a horror movie because it’s not. There is nothing terrifying or creepy about it. It was not advertised or anything like a horror film. If the Grey can be considered horror, this genre and this industry is in DIRE trouble then.

  • splatterhead4ever

    I spent ten bucks on John Dies last night on Amazon. Parts of the movie were very good. Overall, it’s a pretty good movie. However, it could have been great. There are some very very incompetent, worse than anything released by the Asylum for effects. I love Don but if you didn’t like some of the CG in Bubba Ho-Tep, you are going to hate the CG in John Dies.

  • niceguyeddie1971

    Evan, Carnahan’s best film was NARC…sorry. Great list though.

  • Murdock408

    Wouldn’t consider Seven Psychopaths as horror but I do think it was one of my favorite’s this year, so funny, great film.

  • Evan3

    @EvanDickson – I was digging your whole list until the Grey? What? You do realize that Liam Neeson literally punches a wolf in the film (after he makes DIY Wolvering claws)? You do realize that most of the people die by succumbing to horror-film stupidity cliches? You do realize that Joe Carnahan is a hack dressed in philosophical clothing? Otherwise though, spot on and thanks for all the phenomenal articles you brought us this year (including your look through the Alien series).

  • EvanDickson

    @Evan3 Thanks for reading! As for The Grey, here’s my explanation…

  • AndrewSoukup24

    I seen four on this list this year…Again Cabin In The Woods was awesome and original..I also thought VHS was a bad ass movie I just watched that the other day…again with Detention though…that movie was awful..I also seen Kill List and thought it was boring and would never watch it again…I do wanna see all these other films besides Frakenweenie and will hopefully check them out soon.

  • Jee-woon-Kim

    Here my top 10 in no particular order:

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

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