Being a heavy horror fan is a tough gig. Most producers look at horror as a quick buck genre, a franchise to be used, abused, ridden hard and put up wet to make a profit. They don’t really care too much about putting out quality product, instead they just opt for product. Or at least that’s how it seems.
2010, to me at least, felt like one of the weakest years on record for horror. I thought last year was bad, but then the past 350 some odd days happened. I’m pretty confident I could say that this is the worst year for horror since the birth of Film School Rejects. It felt that bad.
Regardless of my own disappointment in the movies this year, and in myself for missing a few releases, I scrapped the bottom of the barrel barren and plucked out ten (plus one!) [that means 11] horror movies that aren’t complete wastes of your time. Then again, you might just be better off buying all the Roger Corman Cult Classics for sale from Shout! Factory.
10. Piranha 3D
This movie made me feel a lot like I did when I watched Kill Bill Volume 1. It gave me everything I thought I wanted: nudity, violence, nudity, violence. Turns out all along what I wanted was nudity, violence, and some actual effort at making a decent film. Aja blew me away with his first two films, but since has left me feeling cold and fishy. Piranha 3D is a mindless film with enough gore and boobs to keep you awake (just barely at my midnight screening) and is probably perfect background noise.
This movie was not directed or written by M. Night, so let’s get that out of the way first. Some people like to pretend like this film somehow justified his absolutely shitty films of late, but nope, he still sucks. What doesn’t suck is Devil, a film that used low expectations to its advantage and surprised audiences at being a competent and decently tense and tight film.
8. [REC] 2
[REC] 2 managed to do the unthinkable: take a solid, creepy, and fairly unique first film and make a sequel that kept the same vibe but wasn’t stale or derivative. Technically released in 2009 in most of the world, this is my damn list and this is America. How do you add to the original? Simple: SWAT Team.
A smart horror film with some truly messed up moments, Splice got shafted in theaters by a low audience turn out due to some marketing confusion and a way too early in the year release. If you haven’t caught up to this scientific thriller with star power, track it down and marvel at some good creature effects and a story that can send chills down your spine.
6. The Last Exorcism
I’m not generally a fan of “found footage” and fake documentary type films (despite recommending [REC] 2 a few seconds ago), but The Last Exorcism was a surprisingly tense and well done film. It had the makings of a better film that could have moved further up the list, but the ending was fairly predictable and could have been so much better. Still an effective thriller with some genuinely creepy moments.
5. Nightmare on Elm Street
Listen up. Fuck you. Why? Because right now you’re mad. Mad I put this on the list. That’s fine. You don’t have to like it. You can keep on believing that the Nightmare franchise wasn’t in the trash. That a full 70% of the films are bad, if not barely watchable. I liked this remake because it was slick, well shot, had some great scenes, and put the “I am a fucking monster” back into Freddy “I am a fucking monster” Kreuger. He was a bad, bad demon in this installment and I dug it.
4. Let Me In
Let Me In is a slow burn type of film with an excellent soundtrack and some dark moments. It would be a very original film too, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s a remake of a recent movie that was itself a book adaptation. Matt Reeves’ take on the property adds a few new twists that actually make a significant difference in plot, though most of the major beats are the same.
3. Black Swan
Directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring heavy weight actress Natalie Portman (and lightweight actress Mila Kunis), this film inspired some talk of “is it horror???” which is stupid ‐ if a film is atmospheric and creepy, we can call it horror. It doesn’t need knives or blood or guys in masks. It just needs to unsettle you. Black Swan is a good film and a horror film. Plus, it has pretty ladies.
2. Hatchet 2
A film that was criminally under-viewed and hit with some strange “any publicity is good publicity” about the status of its unrated theatrical release and subsequent removal from theaters, Hatchet 2 improved upon the original and director Adam Green let the read stuff fly and fly and splatter and splash. Full of laughs, inventive kills, and a ton of gore, Victor Crowley’s second outing is a casket-full of outrageous blood and gore.
1. The Crazies
One of the first horror films I saw this year managed to stay on my mind all these months and garner the top spot. It’s not an overwhelmingly brilliant film, but it is enjoyable and has some great performances. It’s solidly made and functions well from beginning to end making it the most complete horror film in my mind this year, at least in terms of my type of horror film ‐ that is pretty violent.
Honorable Mention: Rubber
Rubber is a strange beast. It’s short and weird and you’ll probably struggle to find it, which is one of the reasons I’m keeping it off the official list. But it is just balls out crazy enough to merit a mention, so if you get a chance to watch it, you should. You also might want to alter your mind via some sort of drug first. It feels like that kind of movie.
Annnnnd scene. What did you like this year? What did you hate? Other than Nightmare, of course.