Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2011
5) [REC] 2 - I put this at #2 on my best list last year after watching an import DVD and wasn't planning on putting it on my list again this year for that reason despite it finally getting an American DVD release. Then I figured what the hell - it's that damn good. Since I already ranked it last year, I’m just going to give it my #5 slot this year, and because I'm lazy, I'm just going to repeat what I wrote about it last year, too. [REC] 2 is the very model of how to make a sequel that’s really just more of the same yet feels fresh and delivers everything you liked about the original while expanding upon its mythology in a way that enhances both films. Aside from the motivations that leads to the introduction of a group of dumb teenagers (I refuse to believe any teenagers could be this dumb), this is a smart, scary, exciting dark ride of a movie that delivers the first-person POV thrills I’ve never gotten from the Paranormal Activity films.
4) TROLL HUNTER - The very notion of Hollywood doing an Americanized remake of Troll Hunter is lunkheaded because much of what makes this film so wonderfully kooky can be traced back to its Norwegian roots. Look no further than the designs of the trolls themselves, taken straight out of the pages of Scandinavian fairy tales. At first goofy sights to behold, they quickly become unconventionally menacing when ferociously charging the actors like large, angry, feral, mongoloid Muppets on a rampage. In an age when every movie monster seems to be a riff on Alien or Predator or looks like whatever the hell those things are that keep appearing in JJ Abrams' monster movies, these whimsically horrifying trolls are a true breath of a fresh air. And while the movie - more mockumentary than found footage in my book - can be a bit uneven at times, I was thoroughly riveted by this offbeat excursion into Norwegian troll mythology and the scenic wilds of Norway in pursuit of said behemoths.
3) RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES - I know some people would argue this movie isn't horror. I'd beg to differ. Sure, it's a prequel to a famous science fiction franchise, but take a good look at the story being told, and you'll find a whole lot of Frankenstein and some Island of Dr. Moreau as well. For a movie that wasn’t inherently a horror movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes successfully pulled off more horror tropes than most every other horror movie of the past year. Without question a movie that turned out far better than it had any right to be. If you had asked me even a month before it opened, I would have told you it was probably going to suck hard and wouldn't make a penny at the box office. Sometimes it's a good thing being dead wrong.
2) ATTACK THE BLOCK - I'm fairly certain this movie is going to turn up very high on the lists of most of my colleagues and reckon anything I write about why I loved it will only echo their sentiments. All I’m going to say is that Attack the Block is the movie I wanted Super 8 to be.
1) TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL - Thinking back on it, I do believe this may have been my favorite movie of the entire year. I've watched it now on four different occasions, each time with a different group of people, and not only have I been thoroughly entertained each time, everyone I've viewed it with has fallen in love with it, too. This type of good-natured horror comedy is rare enough as it is; to be this smart and funny is a revelation and a joy to behold. Great performances. Lovable lead characters. Hysterical death scenes, even the ones you can see coming. There's something to be said for a movie that is just plain fun to watch, and I don't think I've seen anything in all of 2011 that was as fun as Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Much as was the case with Trick 'r Treat, that this hilarious movie did not get a wide theatrical release is a travesty because I'm willing to bet it would have been a hit. It's certainly been a crowd pleaser to everyone I've shared it with.
Honorable Mentions: Black Death, Chillerama, Sint, Machete Maidens Unleashed, I Saw the Devil, 2012: Ice Age
5) DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT - It was a toss-up between this and Apollo 18. A literal toss-up - I couldn't decide which was worse so I flipped a coin. Lunar ticks get relegated to the "Dishonorable Mention" category, and this year's sorriest excuse for a supernatural buddy comedy takes its well deserved spot in the #5 position of my worst list. The hero is completely devoid of personality. His comic relief sidekick is trying so hard to milk non-existent laughs his flop sweat achieves a Marlon Wayans level of irritation. The whole sorry film is just these two riding around New Orleans questioning various vampires and werewolves, getting ambushed or set up by them, going back to question and fight them again – that could have still been entertaining if the action scenes weren't so dismayingly impoverished - before the insultingly stupid finale in which the unstoppable monster is easily destroyed by its own self-destructive stupidity while the hero the movie is named after bravely lies unconscious in a crumpled heap on the ground. The coin chose wisely.
4) THE ROOMMATE - As soon as I got out of the matinee screening, I phoned up Uncle Creepy and told him that if I wasn't committed to reviewing the film for the site, I would have walked out. I also demanded he refund the $5.50 my ticket cost. Single White Female goes to college and flunks out. Certainly whoever edited at random the last half hour of this dreck flunked out. Despite a plot that involves sex, masturbation, shower scenes, lesbian seduction, murder in the midst of having sex, and tumble drying kittens to death, it's so tame, so lame, so lifeless and stodgy, so unwilling to allow itself to revel in the trashy fun it wanted to be, it'll have you reevaluating the merits of films like Poison Ivy: The New Seduction and The Crush. Worst of all, I never got my $5.50 back.
3) CREATURE - The only good thing about Creature is that one day I will be able to say to people that I was one of the very, very, very, very, very, very few people who actually paid to see Creature in a theater. Then those people will look at me and ask, "What the hell is Creature?" I'll tell you what it is - a movie that broke my monster movie loving heart. Finally, at long last, we get a man-in-a-rubber-monster suit swamp creature feature on the big screen again, and we get one that wouldn’t even have been worth watching for free on Syfy? So very boring, never making any sense, with characters that vanish from the film without a trace, not even making good use of its rubber suit monster, and then has so many endings I expected the last one to be actor Mehcad Brooks returning to the Shire. Just read my review if you really need more reasons this experience was so depressing and its inclusion on this list so deserving.
2) HELLRAISER: REVELATIONS – I’m just going to sum it up this way: Ever see the episode of “The Simpsons” that opens with an extremely bored Homer suffering a boring trip to an apple cider factory? Just watch this brief clip from that episode and imagine Ned Flanders is Hellraiser: Revelations and I’m Homer enduring a half-hour of watching it. Amazingly, I somehow didn’t end up crumpled on the floor.
1) HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE – Two years ago I put The Human Centipede on my best list. I kind of wish I hadn’t because apparently all we did was encourage its maker to become so full of himself that for the next sequel Tom Six should just sew his mouth to his own ass since he clearly loves the taste of his own shit. Roger Ebert summed this one up best when he described it as “reprehensible, dismaying, ugly, artless and an affront to any notion, however remote, of human decency.” But Ebert forgot one very important adjective. It's not just full of shit, it’s boring as shit. For all its arthouse Troma movie sensibilities, for all its empty attempts at grotesque shock value, for all its intentions of flipping the bird to critics and fans of the original alike in the most insipid manner possible, I was so bored by the pointlessness and masturbatory antics of this useless sequel I just became numb to it all. The original had the benefit of a great mad scientist performance by Dieter Laser, a truly unique premise that wasn't nearly as disgusting as it sounded, and the director at the time showed a level of self-control completely missing from whatever the hell this bullshit was supposed to be. I realize now that first film wasn’t a centipede, it was a fluke.
Dishonorable Mentions: Apollo 18, Beastly, Cowboys & Aliens, Trail of the Screaming Forehead, Boggy Creek, 1313: Giant Killer Bees