-This one definitely caught me off guard. I had heard very little about it but finally watched the trailer when Rob G posted it on Icons of Fright. The imagery, combined with the NIN music made that trailer an instant obsession, and luckily the movie lived up to it. Great performances all around, a lot of them way against the normal roles the actors have played in the past. Traci Lords, John Waters, Jeremy Sumpter, they all were great, but AnnaLynne McCord KILLS it in this movie. Awkward, vicious and sometimes downright horny, her portrayal of Pauline will most definitely go down as one of my all time favorite performances. EXCISION made me an instant fan of director Richard Bates Jr. and I’m stoked to see what he comes up with next.
-Ti West had a big fan in me starting with The House of the Devil. That film blew me away and it quickly became one of my all time favorite movies, I can watch it nonstop and well, I do. When I heard he was making a haunted hotel movie, I was pretty excited to see how his slow-burn approach would translate to that sub-genre, and it kicked ass. It has a couple of standard jump scares, but most of the terror in this one comes from the build up and suspense of what the duo of Pat Healy and Sara Paxton are going through. Ti West is already a master of building suspense and eventually delivering the scary goods and in my opinion, The Innkeepers just further proves that the guy has a solid career ahead of him.
-I’m not a found footage fan per se’ (the whole approach flat out frustrates me most of the time), but when I heard that Ti West, Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, and a few others were going to make an anthology movie, I was stoked right away. West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, Wingard’s A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE and Bruckner’s THE SIGNAL are three of my favorite films of recent years, and I was sold just from the announcement. When I finally was able to see the movie, I was instantly excited, I loved it. It’s not perfect, in fact there’s one segment I won’t mention that pretty much drove me nuts me from start to finish, but every other entry in the film gave me a huge smile, especially West and Bruckner’s. One of the things about V/H/S that I loved right away, was the fact that unlike 90% of other found footage films, there’s actually a point to every single segment being found footage in this movie. As much as I dig CLOVERFIELD and very few of the other similar-typed films, as soon as stuff happens in those, there’s no reason to be filming stuff and not just drop the camera and starting to run. With V/H/S, there are specific reasons for the filming (i.e.-a group of losers using video glasses to film themselves with girls, a young couple documenting their “second honeymoon”, etc etc). It all makes sense and it pays off very well. I can’t wait for S-VHS, the upcoming sequel.
CABIN IN THE WOODS
-I had been waiting for this one since hearing about it being filmed back in 2009, and had continually waited for it to come out. I was definitely pretty anxious to see it, and it lived up to all of my expectations. There isn’t much that I didn’t like about it. It was refreshing to have a smart, well written horror film again. I love how it pretty much pulled out every single horror stereotype and put it under a microscope. While I’m one of the few people who DIDN’T like Wes Craven’s SCREAM, I feel like CABIN IN THE WOODS did what that film attempted to do: dissect the genre and its rules/stereotypes and make a solid film comprised of those stereotypes. It had all of the cliche’ element of standard horror films, but approached them with an admiration and self realization of those. Definitely one of my faves of the year.
-Now before I hear that this one isn’t a horror film, I say wrong! Sure it’s an animated movie marketed towards kids, but it is most definitely a horror film. It is chock full of not only a love for the horror genre, but is jam packed with so many homage moments that genre fans can only sit there and smile. Starting with the Argento-like opening film that Norman is watching, to the Michael Myers standing by the shrub nod, to the HALLOWEEN theme on Norman’s phone..it goes on and on. It’s a kid’s film that is designed for the horror loving parents of said kids. I get driven crazy by my kids who like to watch Yo Gabba Gabba and Peter Pan on repeat, but I’m not going to lie, I bug my kids to watch PARANORMAN with me. It’s one of the few films that I can sit with my kids and watch nonstop. If any of you readers dismissed this one as yet another kid’s movie, I challenge you to go back and watch this one with an open mind, and I almost guarantee that you’ll dig it.
-I LOVED THE COLLECTOR. It wasn’t perfect, but when it came out, I sat in the theater grinning the whole time. Everything from the writing to the set design, to the lighting, it was awesome. It also had the character of Arkin, who I instantly liked from the very first scene the guy was in. When I heard that a sequel was in the works, I was stoked but somewhat nervous, as I didn’t really see why there needed to be another movie, especially with the ending of the first one. With that being said, I liked THE COLLECTION even more. It connected to the first film very well, and even changed things, but in a good way. I was on board with getting rid of the wife owing money to loan shark subplot of the first film, the different guy playing The Collector, it all worked for the best in THE COLLECTION. I also loved how the action turned up to 10 on this one. It was a completely different approach and I loved it for that. Arkin wasn’t just a punk ass with a heart in this one, he was straight up badass. If you liked the first one, I would recommend this one, and even if you didn’t like the first film, I’d still say you should give THE COLLECTION a chance.
– This was another one that I was looking forward to. I’ve never been an advocate of “PG13 horror movies suck!” mentality, I don’t care what a movie is rated as long as it’s a solid movie. THE POSSESSION was a very solid movie in my opinion. Jeffrey Dead Morgan is killer in everything he does and his role as a recently divorced man who buys his daughter a box that ends up being possessed by a dybbuk (a malevolent spirit) is yet another good performance of his. It’s a pretty intense movie, full of elements that I always enjoy (battles between good and evil, spirits trying to take over kids, Matisyahu as a rabbai…wait what? yeah, the rapper is actually pretty good in it), it was a film that I thought I’d like and I did. If you’re expecting a horror movie on par with the greats, then you might be disappointed, but if you walk into wanting to just see a pretty good, thoroughly entertaining creepy movie, then you’ll probably dig it like I did.
Honorable Mentions: Some of the best movies I saw this year don’t really fit into the horror genre, such as William Friendkin’s KILLER JOE (it has some pretty horrific moments though), LOOPER (on par with the first MATRIX film in my opinion, so good) and my favorite film of the year all around, PT Anderson’s THE MASTER (perfect movie, period). I’d recommend seeing those as well, along with the grocery store shark attack film, BAIT , and another film that would DEFINITELY make my top movies of the year list would be the horror/drama RESOLUTION, but since it doesn’t officially come out until January 25th, sadly it’ll have to wait for next year’s list. Have a good new year everyone!