2012 was a prolific year for horror. Terrible offerings continued to dominate the genre, forcing fans to search out quality films. As someone who spends a lot of time on Netflix, I know it can be a time-consuming process. Between moronic found-footage flicks and obligatory torture-porn, I found a handful of proven success stories. Here’s my list in no particular order*.
*except my number one pick, but, duh, right
10. The Revenant
Somewhere between Shaun of the Dead and Idle Hands is, The Revenant. This horror-comedy buddy flick is vulgar and violent, but contains a sense of propriety through its bloody character study. This was one of the funnest films of the year.
Sinister lives up to its title. Remarkably dark and atmospheric, this heavily-marketed family thriller doesn’t mind invoking the darker pits of horror. Ethan Hawke is great as the true crime writer on the cusp of a story so evil, so personal, that it dooms him and his family the closer he gets to the truth. Not exactly 100% original, but worth the time nonetheless. Every twist has a twist, but I think it’s an acceptable tactic considering the investigative nature of the plot.
Props to the makers of Chronicle for finding a cool way to incorporate over-abused handheld camera work – it’s getting harder and harder to even touch found-footage with a shred of originality. Three teenagers find a meteorite and subsequently develop super powers. This is more sci-fi than horror, but the amazing end result is the same. The eventual disintegration of the friendship and basic morality paints Chronicle iinto a horror corner.
I was excited to squeeze this into 2012. As far as quirky comedy horror movies go, this was just beneath Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods. Just when you think original horror plots are a thing of the past, a film like this breaks and recasts the mold. Somewhere between a 1974 version of Grateful Dead playing Dark Star, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and crippling Psilocybin poisoning is John Dies in the End. Part comedy-horror, part inter-dimensional prophecy, and all weird. Watch it VOD immediately.
Another film that took me by surprise. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I rented this, but The Loved Ones is a gripping, stroke-inducing tale of unrealistic emotional entitlement. The juxtaposition between sparkly toenail polish and blood compliments the mundane subplot. Robin McLeavy wears her torment like a tiara, using facial muscles I wasn’t aware existed. Must see.
An undertaking of found-footage anthology love, written and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillette, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Chad Villella, Ti West, and Adam Wingard. The best anthology since Trick ‘r Treat.
4. Lovely Molly
I watched this film alone with the lights out, and it’s creepy as hell. The rural atmospheric vibe serves as a perfect backdrop for the ghoulish haunting Molly must endure. I didn’t have high hopes – I rarely do – and there’s one key to my approval. The skin-crawling implications moved this into darker waters. *shudder*
The funniest take on the zombie genre since Shaun of the Dead, which it obviously admires. Juan of the Dead also offers heart, cementing its place on the list. A lot of people missed this one – go back to Cuba for it.
Ti West is back with a tale for the minimum wage earners of the world. Two desk clerks at a failing hotel dabble in the supernatural and the mundane – conducting paranormal experiments within their quirky relationship. Delightfully charming and well-made, the talented cast makes the movie believable. West knows how to get the most from Paxton.
Here’s how the math goes here: Whedon + horror = guaranteed winner. Well, maybe not guaranteed – no, it’s a guarantee. Whedon takes the classic horror plot and transforms the traditional into the most refreshing new horror angle since Scream. Self-aware of the typical horror cast, this film offers new explanations as to why they exist in the first place. Some big cogs are tipping the scales, adding a rather clinical approach to the Big Bad. Pick up the Blu- Ray and check out the bonus content.