Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2010
Part Children of Men, part District 9, but 100% spell-binding storytelling, Gareth Edwards' Monsters is by far my favorite film of the year. Few movies are able to capture the true independent spirit of filmmaking while delivering a tender story amidst a sci-fi epic, but Monsters does just that. Set in a world where aliens already exist on our planet, Monsters shows that human or not, everyone is just searching to find their place in this world. The last 20 minutes of the movie alone are Oscar-worthy, and sci-fans would be remiss if they didn't seek out this gem when it comes out on DVD.
2. Paranormal Activity 2
A sequel that not only is better than the original but actually makes the first one a far more satisfying experience after the fact? Yes, indeed! I never would have imagined at the start of 2010 that I would call Paranormal Activity 2 one of the best films of the year, but here I sit. Effectively jarring, and the only film since The Blair Witch Project that actually kept me up, PA2 shows other filmmakers working out there that sometimes it's not gore or over-the-top villains that keep audiences on the edge of their seats - it's good, old-fashioned creepy storytelling.
3. The Crazies
The Crazies is a movie that was the underdog from the start: a smaller-than-needed budget, an independent studio that hadn't much experience handling wide releases of theatrical horror, and it was a remake of a horror film that is not well-known to mass audiences. But somehow, Breck Eisner's The Crazies prevailed, connected with audiences, and showed independent studios out there that when marketed and made right, horror will find an audience. On top of all that, you have a stellar cast, a genuinely strong script, and an ending that makes you anxious for a sequel. The Crazies ended up being one of the more refreshing films for me this year.
It's hard to make a horror film these days that's just about three people stuck on a chair amidst our culture of short attention spans, but somehow, Adam Green found a way to make it work in Frozen. As a storyteller, Green delivers a horror film that makes you care about the protagonists through a delicate character study, coupled with a chilling exploration of your worst fears, relentlessly holding you as the viewer in a death-grip of emotional terror that doesn't let go until the film's conclusion.
5. Red Hill / Machete
I reserved my last spot for two films that weren't necessarily horror but were by far two of my favorites overall for the year. The first is Robert Rodriguez's Machete, which features a perfect blend of B-movie machismo, ass-kickings aplenty, and Danny Trejo's Rambo meets Robin Hood meets Robocop performance as the titular character was killer enough to spawn one of my favorite catchphrases of the year: Machete Don't Text. The second is Red Hill, an Aussie drama featuring "True Blood" star Ryan Kwanten as Shane Cooper, a man caught in the middle of the deadly showdown between those he's sworn to help uphold the law beside and a wronged convict, hell-bent on revenge. Like Monsters, it's a film that deserves to get some Oscar love (but most likely won't).
Personally, I just can't do a list of the top 5 worst films of 2010. Let's just say I prefer to focus on the good rather than the bad.