Dread Central's Best & Worst of 2009
Two thousand and nein. Nein! Nein! Nein! Yes, there were plenty of times throughout the year that made me feel as if I were a Nazi having encountered the famed Bear Jew. Still, we have to shrug off those baseball bat strikes to the head as a means to talk about the good times, and 2009 was riddled with highs and lows.
Before I begin let's talk about the cinema landscape. It has completely changed. It used to be that going direct-to-video was a form of death sentence, but now DTV is where a lot of the good stuff has been coming out. As a result my Best of and Worst of lists will be comprised of both theatrical and video releases.
Without further ado and in no particular order as I both loved and loathed each film about the same ...
Paul Solet's intriguing new spin on the living dead subgenre was both disturbing and gut-wrenching. That's exactly how I like my movies, too! Let me be the first to say that I hate kids. The little bastards have a tendency to ruin everything. Should anyone ever ask me why, this film is my prime example. They can just suck you dry, man! Special shout-out to Jordan Ladd, who in my estimation gave the performance of the year in a horror film.
A little sci-fi flavor makes it into my Best of list thanks to the high octane alien-fueled action of District 9. Described by one of my esteemed colleagues who hated it as "The Fly II in Shanty Town", for me this flick went above and beyond what I look for in my extraterrestrial cinematic entertainment. For my money D9, which is just as preachy, packed more punch than Cameron's juggernaut Avatar while giving us horror fans more of what we want from this type of film. One of the year's biggest surprises for sure.
Drag Me to Hell:
Welcome back, Sam Raimi. We've missed you so. Drag Me to Hell is a textbook horror movie and embodies most of the genre's very definitions. For all intents and purposes with a little altering this easily could have been labeled Evil Dead 4, and fans would have been clamoring for more. Sticky, gooey, spooky, and starring a mean-ass spirit who will punch you in the fuckin' face, it honestly doesn't get much better than this, folks. Don't let its PG-13 rating scare you off. This flick delivers on all counts!
Trick 'r Treat:
If there's one thing that floats my boat just as much if not more than zombie flicks, it's anthology films. Mike Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat is the best of its kind since the big daddy of them all, Creepshow. Why it sat on the shelf for over a year is anyone's guess. Given a proper Halloween timed release, this would have made bank at the box office. Maybe it had something to do with all the child deaths in the flick. See? I told you those pricks ruin everything!
Now this feels good. Paranormal Activity has made quite a few of our lists since 2007, and now that it has been officially released, it can take its official rightful spot on one. While no one else even knew what this movie was, we were singing its praises. Like it or not (it certainly isn't for everyone), the film not only made millions at the box office during its uniquely demanded theatrical run (hat's off to Paramount for that one), but it has changed the way that the big studios who normally play it safe with either sequels, remakes, PG-13 fodder, or something based upon a graphic novel are looking at independent filmmakers and their original films. If we take anything out of this past decade -- horror or otherwise -- this change in perspective is easily the best one for all parties concerned -- especially for us, the fans and viewers.
Honorable Mentions: Zombieland, House of the Devil, The Hills Run Red, The Haunting in Connecticut, My Bloody Valentine 3D.
Wrong Turn 3:
Hey! Let's take a surprisingly good franchise that's lots of fun and has been monetarily successful and attempt to cash in on its name by giving people the phoned-in entry they anticipated Part II to be! That's a great idea! And hey! Never mind a director who cares about the film he's making! Let's find someone who's only looking to collect a paycheck! AND instead of smart kills made with practical effects, let's give folks mainly poorly rendered CGI splatter that looks as if it was fashioned about ten years ago! Epic fail, Fox. Epic fucking fail.
The Cell 2:
Remember that ultra stylish Jennifer Lopez flick The Cell? Yeah, it kind of sucked, but wow, did it have some of the most amazingly striking visual sequences of our times. Yes! You do remember! Well hold on to those memories because you won't be making any new ones with this second-rate laughable cinematic fiasco.
This is your classic example of taking a good story that could be told in less than thirty minutes and padding it out to become a two-hour long metaphysical snooze-a-thon with a silly alien plot twist that you may just miss somewhere after its first hour of undecipherable needless retardation. Attention director Richard Kelly -- how about just telling a story? Is that so rough?
Children of the Corn:
Shit. Very few movies embody that word. This is one of the more smeary examples of the Brotherhood of the Brown. From top to bottom nothing about it works. Bad acting. Bad directing. Bad dialogue. Hell, they couldn't even find a spooky kid to put in the lead. Instead they gave this really little kid a hat with a brim that was about seven times wider than the span of his shoulders. Yeah. Really creepy. Thanks for that.
Friday the 13th:
Let me start off by saying that there were a lot of films released this year that were worse than this ill inspired Platinum Dunes remake. However, there were no other ones that made me physically angry, and that's why this one is sitting here like the bastard child that it is. The Friday the 13th formula is a really simple one to follow: Kids show up. Kids die in horrible yet memorable ways. That's it. How you can fuck that up remains a mystery to me. Friday the 13th is a classic example of filmmakers tooling around with something that they really don't understand. The only victims to be found in this flaccid piece of cinematic douchebaggery other than those of us who paid to see it is the actor who played Jason himself, Derek Mears. Out of everyone involved with this mess, he seemed to be the only one concerned with making a good Friday film for the fans. Despite having nothing to do, his portrayal of Jason was spot on. Bring Mears back and team him with a director that actually knows the franchise, and the inevitable Part 2 could just be a winner. Wait … who am I kidding? This is Platinum Dunes we're talking about! Their only concern is cash and posing with prop police cars.
Dishonorable Mentions: The Final Destination, Horsemen, Halloween II, Jennifer’s Body, The Canyon.
HERE'S TO A BIGGER & BETTER 2010!
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