Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2011
2011 was a year of slim pickings. Hollywood's growing fear of original content and endless remaking have finally taken its toll on the horror genre, which seems to be entering its biggest dormant phase since the early 90's. Luckily, a few foreign and indie gems slipped through the cracks and reminded us cinephiles just why we turn out to these things to begin with.
I Saw The Devil: This is a bit of a cheat since this was on my Best of list last year. That said, this South Korean revenge masterpiece officially saw its U.S. release in 2011 so I'd be remiss not to include it like every other year-end list.
Black Death: I was hardly a fan of Christopher Smith's films Creep and Severance so color me shocked by how powerful his medieval witch hunt tale turned out to be. A beautifully written and directed film that uses the bubonic plague as a back drop for religious hysteria and fanaticism, this is further proof that Sean Bean and swords is a winning combo every time (Troy excluded).
Attack the Block: Joe Cornish's ghetto kids vs. aliens flick does everything right and actually managed to one up J.J. Abrams' (still great) Super 8. Through clever writing and low-budget ingenuity, Cornish stages this film like an "urban Goonies meets bloody invasion movie" with honest characters and the perfect balance of horror and humor.
The Last Circus: Madman Alex de la Iglesia delivers his best film in years with this beautiful and demented story about dueling circus clowns in post-war Spain. Like a strange cross between A Very Long Engagement and Santa Sangre, this lavishly produced masterpiece leaves no genre untouched and is hilarious, horrific and heartbreaking in equal amounts.
The Woman: While its notorious reputation was overblown thanks to an overly sensitive audience member at Sundance, Lucky Mckee's subversive psychodrama is still a knock-out. I'm a fan of Jack Ketchum's series of cannibal books so it was nice to see his world finally brought to vivid life, led by an Oscar-worthy performance from Pollyanna Macintosh. Psychologically tough and surprisingly funny, The Woman treats its gruesome and potentially exploitive subject matter with real class and intelligence.
Honorable Mentions: Red State, Insidious, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Rubber, Cold Fish and Tucker & Dale vs Evil.
These days my tolerance for Hollywood bullshit has severely waned, so I deliberately skipped out on duds like The Roommate, Case 39, and The Thing premake. And while I still managed to take in generic crap like The Rite and Fright Night, nothing compares to the agonizing experience of sitting through Hellraiser: Revelations - a movie so bad I wouldn't wipe my ass with the DVD sleeve. The lowest point in a franchise you never thought could sink any lower.