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Take a look at Fango scribe and Fright Bytes host Lianne Spiderbaby's top ten picks from 2011...
Although the entire cast and director Eli Craig were present at San Diego Comic Con this summer (Fangoria had interviews with them), and several friends and colleagues (whose opinions I trust) told me the film was amazing - for whatever reason I didn’t get around to seeing this film until last week – and I absolutely loved it. A comedic take on the hillbilly-horror genre, this small-budget Canadian/US co-production had left me both laughing uncontrollably and gagging at its attention to gory detail. The two lead characters Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are extremely likeable, and you won’t be disappointed with the ending. A perfect film to watch while curing your New Years Eve hangover!
9. YOU’RE NEXT
Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett (who also worked together on A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE in 2010) take the top prize for showcasing a woman as the ultimate hero in a horror film this year with YOU’RE NEXT. During a family gathering full of bickering and bitching to celebrate the wedding anniversary of Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) Davison, a family celebration goes desperately wrong when they are all attacked by figures in animal masks who are out for blood. An enjoyable, stand-up-and-cheer, bloody survival film, YOU’RE NEXT delivers as many laughs as it does bodies and Erin (Sharni Vinson) instantly wins our hearts with every for-survival murder she commits.
8. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE
This is perhaps the most underrated horror film of the year, and the directorial debut of Jorge Michel Grau. When the father of a family in Mexico passes away, it’s up to the children and their widowed mother to take responsibility and maintain their way of life: preparing rituals, hunting, and eating. And by eating, I mean, eating people. This film requires a strong stomach (if you can handle the opening sequence then you’re golden), but it’s both a great satire on social dysfunction, and a psychological and metaphorical study of unrelenting poverty and the desperation of the lowest class.
7. DREAM HOME
When I was told that this film was about a woman committing a series of murders in an apartment building in order to drop the property value and afford to buy her own apartment with a view of the water, I laughed at how incredibly ridiculous that premise sounded. I decided to watch the film anyway, and it ended up being one of my favorites of the year. I also learned how inflated and insane the Chinese housing market is. The film’s star, Josie Ho, does an incredible and convincing job in the film – even though she’s killing her (relatively) sin-free would-be neighbors to serve her own purposes, you’ll find yourself cheering her on shortly after her first kill. Some of the most original and graphic kill and effects sequences of the year are in this film.
CHILLERAMA (directed by Adam Green, Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch, and Tim Sullivan) is the most fun I’ve had in the theater all year. I caught this one at Comic Con when the film was just barely finished, and even though there were some effects missing here and there, the crowd and I had a howling great time; CHILLERAMA is definitely more fun when watched with others. There is nothing I enjoy more than a theater full of horror and exploitation fans, and a screening of a new flick full of blood, gore, sex and vulgar humor. Packed with nostalgic references to older exploitation films, this new anthology omnibus is an all-in-one hilarious, disgusting, self-aware film that never takes itself too seriously. It's the perfect Friday date night flick. You can catch this on DVD and OnDemand now, and I believe the directors are going to tour it to drive-ins, if they haven’t already.
5. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3
If you didn’t catch this one in theaters, some of it’s lackluster may be lost already. This film had me sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time and I jumped out of my seat about three times (something I never do). Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, PARANOMAL ACTIVITY 3 deloreans back in time to the 80s (yes, I just made a verb out of an 80s car brand) when sisters Katie and Kristi first encounter the invisible entity of evil in their home.
I really loved that this film went back in time instead of soaking the story in the modern world of cell phones, social media, and the internet. I didn’t read anything about this film before seeing it, so I was definitely expecting to see a slew of webcams all over the house. Instead, I was treated to old school cameras and one of the scariest films of the year. I enjoy the first and the second PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films (the first I saw in theaters, and the second I watched alone in my bedroom at night – terrifying), but I enjoyed the third film the most – by far.
4. THE WOMAN
THE WOMAN, directed by Lucky McKee and written by Jack Ketchum, is one of those films that you either love or hate, so it seems. I really loved it. Despite its controversial subject matter (domestic violence, the capturing and rape of a primitive woman, etc), THE WOMAN is well written, well directed, and Sean Bridgers (as Chris Cleek) and Pollyanna McIntosh (as the woman) give outstanding performances. The film is provocative, challenging, contemplative, and disturbing – everything we love about a more complex and psychological horror film. Not only that, the soundtrack was released on limited edition red vinyl. Good call. To watch my WOMAN interviews, click HERE.
3. THE INNKEEPERS
I waited to see THE INNKEEPERS all year and finally caught it at the AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL in October. Ti West’s newest film since HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (my favorite modern horror film) proves him yet again to be a hell of a horror director. Despite the fact that this film works with conventions that have been around since the beginning of horror time (a haunted house, ghostly activity, possible psychosis), West manages to make them effective, unique, and interesting. Sara Paxton also really surprises in this film; she plays a very sweet, curious, geeky, and likeable character (a far cry from her role in SHARK NIGHT 3D - although her performance is probably the best thing about that awful, awful film). THE INNKEEPERS eases you into the plot, burns you toward the climax, and never lets up on tension and suspense. This film will be in theaters in February. My interview with Ti West HERE.
2. KILL LIST
A friend and I walked out of KILL LIST completely silent and blown away. Neither of us were ready to comment on anything we had seen in the last two hours, and it’s taken me three months (I saw the film in September at TIFF) to actually sit down and be able to discuss and write about it. KILL LIST is director Ben Wheatley’s second film (he made DOWN TERRACE in 2009) and his first effort in the horror genre. A film about two contract killers out on their last assignment for the big money, KILL LIST sneaks up on you, lulls you into a false sense of security, and then completely shocks and messes with your mind with scenes of incredible violence, underground claustrophobia, and diabolical evil. KILL LIST is Takashi Miike meets THE WICKER MAN. You need to see it to believe what I'm saying.
My favorite of the year, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell have created one of the most unique and passionate horror films of 2011, all on an incredibly low budget. In fact, the film is the most profitable film of the year, generating $97million. At first, the plot of INSIDIOUS seems relatively simple, and quite familiar: a family moves into a new home and weird things start to happen. Books fly off the shelves, belongings go missing, voices are heard on the baby monitor, and doors open and close on their own. Josh and Renai’s son, Dalton, falls off of a ladder and bangs his head, later slipping into a coma; or so the doctors believe. After several months, Dalton does not wake up, and that’s when the ghosts start to appear around the house.
Until this day, I have always thought that the scariest films allow their audiences to come up with the worst-case scenario all on their own. Meaning, the less we see of the ghost, the scarier. However, in INSIDIOUS, we see ghosts-galore, and every single one of them is horrifying and diverse.
In my interview with Wan for FANGORIA issue # 302, I stated that among the “splat pack” of the previous decade, Wan and Whannell stand out the most, creating unique and visionary ideas in a world full of horror remakes. What is also great about this duo is that they are both very much in touch with their fans, and they love the genre wholeheartedly.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: TROLL HUNTER, AMER, LOVELY MOLLY
NON-HORROR FAVORITES: DRIVE, HUGO, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, THE ARTIST
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