Another year has come and mostly gone and hundreds, if not thousands, of young, stupid, misbehaving teenagers have been lost at the hands of ghosts, apparitions, psychos, monsters, animals, and families with strange murder dynamics.
Like any responsible site, it’s now our job to look back on a year of cinematic chaos and movie madness and sort all of this into an easy digestible list full of horrors! And family films! Because really, 2012 in horror wasn’t all that violent, but it was reflective and satisfying in a familiar way.
12. REC 3: Genesis
REC3 starts off horribly enough, still clinging to the found footage motif of the previous films as all zombie-ish hell breaks loose at a wedding. Luckily, relatively early in the film the movie becomes an actual movie, with a real cinematographer and logic actually dictating what we see rather than a camera on a string randomly swung around, or however films like that or normally made. While definitely not groundbreaking, there is a sexy lead in a bloody wedding dress, some neat use of armor and swords, and a generally satisfying amount of gore and violence.
This feature debut from Ciarán Foy follows an agoraphobic father as he tries to protect his son from the evils that want to take him for their own. Managing a tense and atmospheric vibe throughout, the short film does good work in using the main characters weakness to create a sense of fear that mostly explains his poor decision making.
10. The Woman in Black
When it was announced that Harry Potter himself (Daniel Radcliffe) would be making a horror movie, I’m sure someone was excited. The results, while not perfect, are a throwback to the Hammer Films of old, an effective if not imaginative horror film that follows the formula and creates a spooky experience.
Director Tim Burton’s return to stop-motion animation after the lackluster Corpse Bride is one of his better efforts. Channeling a love for both a boy and his dog stories and the classic horror movies of old, Frankenweenie (2012) expands greatly on the original short and brings in more family friendly horror elements with great creature design. A heart warming story that gets me, since I’m a sucker for classic monsters and dogs.
Definitely a love-it or hate-it experience from director Joseph Kahn, Detention is a wild film that mixes horror, serial killers, time travel, and bears into a semi-coherent experience that is, none the less, one wild ride that I enjoyed. With plenty of style and a lot of off the wall moments, Detention is a surprise winner for me.
While widely critically acclaimed, Sinister was perhaps a bit too beloved for what it was. Definitely a creepy experience with a lot of great moments, at least in the first hour, the film becomes a paint by numbers characters doing stupid things type movie part way through and the standard creepy dead kids show up. Surely some spooky moments and plenty of charm make it worth a look, but the film finally gives way to cliches and some stupidity by the end, keeping it out of the top five.
6. Lovely Molly
A festival hit that effectively manages to build a creepy atmosphere throughout rather than just throwing the kitchen sink of scares at you, Lovely Molly follows a husband and wife who make the always wrong decision of moving into the house of someone who recently died. Things slowly start to deteriorate from there, as they always do and what follows is an effectively creepy tale.
5. Father’s Day
Perhaps the least seen film on the list, Father’s Day is a Troma offering from the filmmaking collective Astron-6. I was shocked and awed by the screener and knew I had to own this film in every way possible, which basically meant picking up the 4 Disc Collector’s Set. It’s hard to describe Father’s Day, which has little to do with the holiday despite a bunch of dads being raped, but if you’re in for an insane ride, sign up. The film involves plenty of sexual activity, one-eyed badasses, monsters, and a trip straight to hell. I’d say it all makes sense but… Hey, just check it out. It’s nuts.
4. Kill List
It’s best to go into this film knowing as little as possible. Do not read about it, do not prepare for it, just see it. Do not go in expecting a pure horror experience, but rather know it is a slow burning descent into…a great film.
3. The Loved Ones
This Australian effort is one of those rare horror films that manages to appease hardcore fans but also appeal to those who are generally less interested in horror flicks. A film that involves a fair bit of torture never that never devolves into the abysmal genre of torture porn, The Loved Ones is kind of like if Carrie had a power drill and a supportive father rather than mental powers and a bitch mom.
Obviously light on violence, this second animated entry into the top horror list earns the spot by not sugar coating the horror elements (it’s not that scary or anything) in a way that will entertain adults and spook kids just the right amount. A typical tale about a ‘weird’ kid finding out it’s okay to be different, ParaNorman is an enjoyable horror love letter for the whole family.
1. The Cabin in the Woods
Oh joy, another top horror list that puts The Cabin in the Woods at the top – how imaginative! Even I agree that The Cabin in the Woods is overrated, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the most enjoyable horror themed film of the year. Having recently rewatched the flick, I enjoyed it more on the second time and really appreciated what Drew Goddard accomplished here. The film cleverly mixes an original, Lovecraftian concept with a very traditional ‘in the woods’ horror element. With a strong and sexy cast, an intimate knowledge of what makes horror work, and a healthy dose of unexpected comedy, The Cabin in the Woods is a great tribute to the whole genre while managing to stand on it’s own as well.