It seems like every year I find myself disappointed in the horror offerings of the preceding twelve months. Especially if you think of widely released theatrical flicks, few of which ever make the lists. If it weren’t for DVDs and VODs, I don’t even know if I could in good conscience pretend that 10 (or 11) horror films were good.

That said, I did manage to find some enjoyment in theaters and at home this year, but it wasn’t the easiest task in the world. In a good year, it’ll be hard to eliminate films from the list, but when it comes to horror most years, its scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with a full list.

Quickly, in terms of eligibility, I write my lists a little differently than many others – for me, a film has to be widely available in this year, either in theaters or DVD or VOD. So films that only show at festivals generally aren’t eligible for my lists until they’re released on DVD. For example, Ti West’s The Innkeepers has made several lists, but it’s not widely available until 12/30 so most people won’t see it until 2012, so that’s that.

11. Fright Night

Fright Night makes the list only because we’re doing eleven films this year instead of ten. I wasn’t a huge fan of this Craig Gillespie remake, which pales in comparison to the campy fun of the original, but it was at least a competent film with some good moments. Colin Farrell turned in a good performance, while I was a little disappointed in David Tennant’s character. I think the film would have been wiser to go with practical effects, rather than the lame CGI teeth.

10. We Are the Night

Vampires are everywhere these days and mostly in shitty and depressing ways. I’m pretty tired of vampires who are either whiny bitches or who don’t realize that being a vampire is actually kind of awesome. Thankfully there are these four smoking hot lady vamps who embrace the fun that comes from basically being immortal, rich, and sexy as hell. Toss in explosions, car crashes, and gun play and this film embraces all the fun that’s been missing in most other vampire flicks.

9. Black Death

This was one of those films that I went into with unbelievably high expectations due to the reviews of my peers and the fact that I’m a sucker for anything Sean Bean. I wanted a gory horror fest full of witches and death set against the bubonic plague, but rather found a film rife with mystery and violence. While it’s not what I expected, the film packs a punch.

8. Cold Fish

Inspired by true events, Sion Sono‘s story of a timid fish shop owner has more in common with smarter films like Se7en than the typical 80s horror films I embrace. The slick and beautiful cinematography amplifies the realism of the gore and violence, creating a memorable and disturbing experience.

7. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

As a sucker for monster movies, I take what I can get, even if it’s just a few dozen little tooth fairy gremlins. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark has a pretty ballsy ending and a great performance from little Bailee Madison, and I was a fan of the pacing. The real menace of the tiny little creatures builds slowly – first they seem innocent and almost cute or playful, but over time they reveal themselves to be cruel, ugly little things.

6. A Serbian Film

A Serbian Film

I have a pretty sick mind so when I was told this was one of the most vile movies in existence, I went nuts. Turns out my sick self had made it far worse in my head, but what I didn’t expect from this film was at least the small amount of intelligence behind it. It’s not a film created just to gross you out like The Human Centipede, and it does have a point, though it does want to relentlessly depress you. Check your iron levels and view this film at your own risk, it’s probably too much for most people.

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

5. The Thing

This is probably the film I’ll get the most flack for having on the list, but I actually dug the movie. I’m a huge fan of John Carpenter’s film, and I’m always looking to immerse myself in that world, with the Blu-ray, novelization, and video game. The Thing isn’t perfect by any means and I shed a tear for the lost practical effects, but I felt this movie worked fine as a prequel and fairly well on its own. Plus, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

4. I Saw the Devil

Perhaps this film is best classified as “horrific” rather than “horror,” and what’s unique about I Saw the Devil is that the ‘good guy’ is the one doing all the terrible things. There are just some people in this world you don’t want to fuck with and Kyung-chul just messed with him and must suffer at his hands for his horrible crime.

3. Tucker & Dale vs Evil

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Tucker & Dale is a great idea that actually lived up to most of its potential. The film follows the misadventures of two lovable hillbillies who are wrongly believed by a group of idiotic teens to be murderous rednecks. As the two attempt to sort things out, things go from bad to worse and fingers are lost, people are skewered and teens start dying. With great performances from Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, the film is fun and original. My few gripes are some iffy CGI in a spot or two and some repetitive deaths, but overall it’s great fun.

2. Attack the Block

Listen bruv, this wildly entertaining movie merges tons of great laughs with good action and some vicious beasties. There are excellent performances from all the goods, great action set pieces, cool monster designs, all wrapped up in a fun package. If you missed this one, you’re a bad person.

1. Insidious

Insidious has stayed with me ever since my first viewing. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it’s one of the scariest movies of the last decade. I think it might even make it to the 10 best horror movies of 2000-2010. I loved this flick. It was creepy and scary in a lot of different ways, a good mixture of visuals, sounds, and jump scares that never felt cheap. The film also impressed with its decision to go the whole ‘real life ghostbusters’ route, which totally worked for me. I did have a problem with the ending, like literally the last 50 seconds, but it wasn’t enough to spoil my experience.

So those are the eleven horror films I enjoyed most this year, what about you?


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