Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Best Horror Films of 2010


2010 is pretty much being lowered into its grave now and while there was a good share of really bad horror films introduced into our lives this year, there were some really stand out ones that deserve your time in a darkened room or theater. I have 10 films of horror that I think you would enjoy (one of those films might leave you with some permanent scarring). Most of these films were released in 2010....some were made in 2009 and found their way into theaters this year....while others are still awaiting distribution deals. In any case....while 2010 was mostly a drought in terms of the abundance of horror at your local theater, there were some good ones...




Presented in Hi-Fi Suround Sound where available.







This one sort of kicked off the year in horror. A solid entry into the vampire genre from the Spierig brothers, Daybreakers demonstrates what can happen when you have really talented directors and the unique concept of a world overrun by vampires running out of human blood. I've never been particularly drawn to Ethan Hawke's style of acting...although he does his Gattica thing here. The stand out performance belongs to Willem Dafoe....he's the guy you want on your side in the event of a vampire outbreak. The film would've been much better had it not been for a little fumbling in the script department towards the third act....but, it's an issue we can forgive. I can't wait to see what the brothers Spierig have in store for us next.






09. Splice
Vincenzo Natali directed the the classic but unfortunately acted film Cube so, he's been a wildcard in the genre for quite some time. It was introduced in 2007 that he and Guillermo Del Toro would be working on a project together involving gene altering scientists and a bangable being called Dren (nerd backwards). A sort of monster movie with a twist starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley. The film finally found its way to a theater in the middle of 2010 and the end result is the awesomely convoluted Splice...an inspired entry into the genre with its many wide-eyed what-in-the-fuck-just-happened moments. Nothing is like Splice. The film is a unique experience in a year filled with lackluster horror. But...seriously.....nothing is like Splice...and that's a good thing for you, my happy horror lover.






Monsters is a beautiful debut by director Gareth Edwards. It's an interesting spin on the classic premise of a monster movie where most of the running time is character driven. The two relatively unknown actors in the lead roles give solid performances and make you forget that you are watching a film about unknown aliens that have infected a better part of Mexico. Is this a love story or a horror movie or a commentary on third world racism? Well...depending on which side of the fence you are on...it can be all of the above. But, in the end...it's a simple story of people surviving in a journey through a harsh environment as told through the lens of talented film makers.






Martin Scorsese is the fuckin' man. He's been the fuckin' man for a very long time. I've been waiting for him to direct a horror film for quite some time now. Shutter Island is the closest thing to that. While the film is essentially a phychological thriller/mystery...there are some traditional genre elements that take it closer to scary movie territory. Think The Uninvited with more of a self awareness and a master of story-telling sitting in the director's chair. Shutter Island isn't your gorefest...but, it is a fully immersive grand experience best served in the creepy darkness of a lonely Thursday night complete with your twist ending. One other film on this list is as exquisite as this one. I'll save that one for later, tho.






This film was not necessary. Matt Reeves of Cloverfield fame got it in his head that if there was to be a remake of the masterpiece Let the Right One In...he would be the man to direct it. Well...I'm here to tell you that Let Me In is actually quite good. In fact...being so against any kind of remake of the beloved original, I rather enjoyed the cinematic experience that Reeves' version offered. I would have loved the film had there not been a far superior one that already existed. The only issue I have with Let Me In is how identical it is to the original. It's unfortunate, because there are moments where Reeves went his own way with certain elements of the story and if he concentrated the entire film based on those little different moments, he would have created a stand alone piece all his own. But, alas...it is a good companion film to the masterful original and a decent version for those who don't like to read subtitles in their films.






05. Frozen
Adam Green is known for his over-the-top love letter to horror that is Hatchet, a decent genre debut by a talented young director. While 2010 saw an unrated sequel to Hatchet, it was his quieter film that demanded more attention from horror fans. Frozen is such a simple little film about three friends who get stuck on a ski lift on the night that the ski resort shuts down for a week...however, the execution of the film is so taut and the performances are so good that you are right up there stuck on the lift with them feeling their pain and emotional anguish. Green shows here what he is capable of doing with a more intimate setting. Everything is so stripped down and basic that you are left with the actors' screams and shivers. I am excited to see what else Green has up his sleeve.






The Horde is a solid little zombie outbreak film from first time directors Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher. It is a full-throttle action/horror about a group of dirty cops and malevolent gangsters forced to work together in order to survive the zombie apocalypse around them. It's full of great performances and cements the fact that the French know what the fuck they're doing when it comes to balls deep horror. There's an epic scene in the third act where one of the characters in the film ends up on the roof of a car battling hundreds upon thousands of zombies and taking out a number of them with bullets and a machete. It's bad ass and defines what this film is....pure unhesitating break-neck horror. I loved every minute of it...well, except for the end.






Speaking of zombies and Europa....Spain knows a thing about zombies, too. Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero are no strangers to the sub-genre. As a matter of fact, the original [Rec] is a classic that stands shoulder to shoulder with Romero predecessors simply by introducing some new elements to the game. This sequel is no exception. While not as powerful as the first, it certainly introduces some bold new elements that take it into Exorcist/Demons territory. An unpopular direction for some, but possession and demons have always been my cup of tea, so I fell into the the story quite willingly. [Rec]2  was an original entry into the world of 2010 zombie horror and I hope you will not pass it up.






In 2010 there was one beast that delivered an over-the-top unflinching look into a new kind of horror that can only be explained as a sledgehammer to everything you would consider pure and sacred. Take everything you can think of as shocking and obscene and throw all that out of the window because this is a new kind of shock and obscenity, my fellow gorehounds. This finely-crafted film is an experience (be it a very blackened and tainted experience) about an ex pornstar named Milos who gets one final offer from an unknown film maker...he accepts the enormous offer in which to give his wife and son a better life...however, he doesn't realize that this project will forever change his very core. There is nothing that I can think of from my 36 years of cinematic horror knowledge that comes close to the dire human suffering that this film exhibits. It takes all of the beauty that you have inside and transforms it into something horrifying and vulgar. It makes The Human Centipede, the other controversial horror film of the year, look cheap and immature. While much of Srdjan Spasojevic's A Serbian Film can be taken as uncompromisingly overt in its delivery, it is the story-telling and the film making that will cement his entry into the genre as a memorable one. This one is not for the casual horror film lover. This one is not for the hardened horror film lover. This one only exists as an entity not to be fucked with. It's the crate from the film, Creepshow....open it and prepare to be devoured. A Serbian Film is my second best horror film for 2010 because it is the only film this past year that crawled under my skin and fused itself into my subconsciousness. As far as real unrelenting horror is concerned...this one's the real deal Holyfield.







Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is beautiful horror. It's the cinematic equivalent of drinking in a 40 year old bottle of scotch...and just as intoxicating. It's also the cinematic equivalent of finding out that the scotch you just drank was someone's blood. Natalie Portman has one of those career-defining moments in this film that literally allows you to witness her transcendence of a good actress into something much more substantial. She plays a dancer named Nina who takes a journey into her own horrors in which to land the lead role in the production of Swan Lake. All the performances in this film are nothing short of great and they catapult Black Swan into an experience that rewards you for your involvement. In a year where good horror was tough to find, this film delivers the goods much finer than anything Eli Roth could ever hope for....and I actually like Eli Roth. It's funny...because when I first saw the trailer for Black Swan I immediately thought Dario Argento (it's no secret that Suspiria is my favorite genre film of all time)...however, all throughout the film I never once felt the Argento similarities past the ballet element. Black Swan makes ballet as cool as a Bohren & Der Club Gore album (if you know what that means then I'll promise to love you til the end of days). It is a must see for anyone who loves fine horror and it is my favorite horror film of 2010.




Honorable Mentions:

Alexander Aja's Piranha deserves your time. It is a good old fashioned horror movie that delivers some fun scares and awesomely gross-out gore. It's a film that delivers nothing more than it promises and it is done really well in its execution....I mean, it's directed by the guy that gave us High Tension, for Christ's sake.

The Loved Ones is a really tight feature debut from Tasmanian director, Sean Byrne. It's a sadistic journey into torture horror. It's one of those films that does everything it can to make you hate its villains...so much so that when the time comes for the films finale the viewer is absolutely satisfied.

What do you get when you remake a Romero film with a slick budget and smart horror sensibilities complete with a Johnny Cash song in the opening credits? No, silly....not the much superior Dawn of the Dead that Zack Snyder directed....you get The Crazies...a decent way to spend an evening with a bad ass Timothy Olyphant and a hot Radha Mitchell.



Well, there you have it ladies & gentlemen...the best of the best for the year in horror. What will come in 2011? Perhaps the long overdue The Cabin in the Woods? Maybe the Don't Be Afraid of the Dark remake will make next year's best list. The Thing prequel intriques me and there's always [Rec]3 worth waiting for. Who knows? What I do know is that 2010 is a few days away from being 2011...and there will be good experiences....as well as the sucky ones...and I will be right here sharing them all with you, my fellow brethren.


Thank you very much for reading my little blog all year.....you know who you are.

May your new year be filled with good horror!



bryan.

1 comment:

  1. can't wait to see rec2 and serbian film

    ReplyDelete