Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2012

Heather "The Horror Chick" Wixson's Picks

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2012

SinisterSinister- Sinister is absolutely my pick for the scariest flick I've seen in 2012; a clever new spin on many modern horror tropes, it also manages to leave you in an emotionally pummeled heap by the film's unflinching finale. My proverbial hat is off to co-writer/director Scott Derrickson and co-writer Robert C. Cargill for creating an unflinching and haunting exploration of urban mythos and one man's desperate need for validation that puts everyone and everything he loves in jeopardy along the way.

There are very few horror movies that hit theaters in 2012 that I'd use the words "disturbing" and "visceral" for, but Sinister seriously delivered the goods and then some for me. It's an incredible experience to see a thoughtful, character-driven but still downright terrifying genre film that manages to celebrate many of our beloved modern horror conventions, all while still making them feel new and unexpected to boot. I'd absolutely be game to follow Mr. Boogie on more terrifying adventures in the future.

Killer Joe- Sleazy, twisted cinematic perfection, Killer Joe is undeniably one of the more unforgettable movies of the year. Another gritty masterpiece from William Friedkin, who once again effectively crawls under the audience's skin just mere seconds into the flick with a rather awkward "hairy moment" (those of you who have seen Killer Joe know EXACTLY what I'm talking about), and he never once lets up on until the film's insanely bizarre conclusion.

It also doesn't hurt that Friedkin has one of the best all-around cinematic ensembles of 2012 in Killer Joe bringing acclaimed playwright Tracy Letts' challenging material to life; anchored by Matthew McConaughey (who is having a stellar 2012), this Southern-fried tale of deceit, murder and twisted love also features a raw and blistering performance by the always awesome Gina Gershon and is a hell of an introduction for newcomer Juno Temple.

For those of you who missed it earlier this year, Killer Joe arrived on DVD and Blu-Ray on December 21st, which makes for a perfect opportunity to catch up on the 'feel-so-bad-you-feel-good' flick of the year. You'll also never look at fried chicken the same way again.

ParaNorman- Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big kid at heart so I was thrilled that in 2012 we were treated to THREE different horror-centric animated feature films. And while Frankenweenie may be (on a technical and storytelling level) the "best" of the this year's animated offerings, ParaNorman still remains my favorite of the trio and one of my overall favorite genre films of the year as well.

Every single miniscule detail - from the stunning design work of Laika to the color palette, the music and the voice performances - in ParaNorman leaves me with a big, goofy grin upon each viewing. There's so much heart and passion behind the flick (kudos to directing duo Chris Butler and Sam Fell), ParaNorman is easily one of the most rewatchable genre flicks of this year, if only to pick up on all the little horror homages you may have missed the first time around.

The Cabin in the Woods- There really isn't much left to be said that you probably haven't already heard before about Drew Goddard's transcendent The Cabin in the Woods (and chances are it's a film that will be showing up on a lot of other DC staffers' lists, too) so I won't even try and throw a bunch of fancy words around here. You get it… we love this movie, and if you haven't seen it yet, the less you know about it going in, the better.

But all the hype is real- The Cabin in the Woods is by far one of the greatest genre-bending movies of this or any year, and for any of you out there who missed out on seeing the flick on the big screen, you can go ahead and blame yourselves for all the remakes and PG-13 horror flicks we've been inundated with throughout the rest of the year and for what I'm sure will be years to come.

The Grey/The Raid: Redemption- This is the spot I generally use for my more fringy flicks- ones that aren't necessarily horror but somehow touch upon familiar genre tropes. This year was tough because many of my favorites fell into this fringe category; I couldn't pick just one so I went with two…The Grey and The Raid: Redemption.

Both movies thrilled me for very different reasons but ultimately for the same reasons; each director used their respective limited budgets to their advantage and proved that you don't need to rely on huge set pieces or grandiose visual effects to create engaging and enthralling storytelling.

In The Grey Liam Neeson delivers another career-defining performance (if only those hoity-toity awards people could remember movies released more than a month ago), and one of my favorite modern directors, Joe Carnahan (shut up, I love The A-Team flick and Smokin' Aces so whatever!), demonstrates that he can masterfully tackle action and emotion with an even hand. The plane crash remains one of the most startling sequences on the big screen this year, and there's just no denying the sheer awesomeness that is The Grey's final moments of Neeson staring down a bloodthirsty wolf.

And in terms of The Raid: Redemption, there's just not another action movie of this year that could match the frenetic energy and inventiveness that writer/director Gareth Evans crafted in his Indonesian action masterpiece. Everything about The Raid worked for me: the cinematography, the insane fight choreography, a breakout performance by Iko Uwais and Evans' ability to sustain a feeling of overwhelming suspense from start to finish- a new standard has been set for modern action with The Raid: Redemption, and I'm absolutely in line for anything from Evans in the future.

Honorable Mentions: Excision, Seven Psychopaths, Chronicle, [REC] 3: Genesis, The Aggression Scale, Some Guy Who Kills People, Dredd 3D, Looper, Citadel

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2012

Men in Black 3- Yeah, I know it's not pure horror, but I covered it earlier this year so there was no doubt in my mind that Men in Black 3 was going to make my "Worst of" list regardless of whether or not it's horror (it's sci-fi and we do some sci-fi, so there!).

But not even the return of Will Smith to the big screen after a four-year breather or Josh Brolin doing an absolute killer impression of resident stick in the mud Tommy Lee Jones could save this soulless sequel. It was bland, ugly and frankly a total letdown from what could have been a silly summer popcorn flick- plus we also got jipped on a brand new song from Mr. "Big Willie Style" himself, which is an immediate penalty for me.

Hopefully Men in Black 3 has officially ended this silly franchise (The original? Still great fun!), and at this point the only sequel I want to see from Smith is a follow-up to ID4 (yes, I'm serious).

ATM- Not that I was exactly expecting a movie about three people locked inside an ATM vestibule to be a cinematic tour de force or anything, but holy hell! This movie is just ridiculously dumb on every single level- the plot, the characters, the reveal, the logic… I could go on for another ten pages about just how this might be the stupidest horror movie of the year, but I think you get it.

What I REALLY wish was that this had been a movie about a killer ATM (a la Maximum Overdrive) than about a killer stalking a group of idiots at an ATM. That’s a movie that would have actually made far more sense than this turd of a movie did.

Paranormal Activity 4- Paranormal Activity 3 was amongst my favorite flicks of 2011 so even I'm a bit surprised to be putting PA4 on this year's worst list… but it deserves it. As a franchise fan, this sequel was insulting- no questions were answered, most of the gags were recycled from the other films and so much of the flick's logic makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

It's also the first Paranormal flick that didn't even get one single scare out of me- just a bummer all around. Here's hoping they turn it around on the fifth one and finally put all the puzzle pieces in place for fans once and for all.

Playback- You are probably asking yourself right now, "Wait, what was Playback again?" My response to that? EXACTLY.

Starring Christian Slater (remember when he had a promising career?), Playback is supposed to be a supernatural horror movie but actually never takes the time to make up its mind about what kind of movie it wants to be so what we get is a director who just shoves in EVERY SINGLE MODERN HORROR TROPE imaginable into its 98-minute running time and voila! The results are a big heaping pile of crap that I still can't believe got financed. Plus we also get treated to scenes of Slater masturbating to videos of high school girls, which frankly is an entirely new level of sleazy, even for me.

Greystone Park- This movie is so coma-inducing, I've fallen asleep twice trying to write about how awful it is. Oliver Stone's kid wrote, directed and stars in this inane found footage movie that is almost as dumb as ATM; it's nothing but a bunch of forced jump scares that never go anywhere and proves that not everyone who can "pick up a camera and make a movie" should. Guess filmmaking skips a generation, eh?

Dishonorable Mentions- Prometheus, The Tall Man, The Fields, Werewolf: A Beast Among Us

[Andrew Kasch]

[Brad McHargue]

[Doctor Gash]

[The Foywonder]

[Gareth "Pestilence" Jones]

[Heather "The Horror Chick" Wixson]



[Uncle Creepy]

[The Woman in Black]



"Sushi Girl ends with a twist that even the most attentive movie-goer won't see coming."

Holy SHIT you have to be kidding me. If there is a more obvious twist ending in a movie this year, I haven't seen it.

Submitted by G.D. on Thu, 12/27/2012 - 12:36am.

I am surprised that nobody put Lovely Molly on their Best list or even honorable mention. It was a favorite of mine this year and totally caught me off guard.

Submitted by Drew on Wed, 12/26/2012 - 1:35pm.
Jinx's picture

I actually had Lovely Molly in my Honorable Mentions. Really dug that film - super-creepy and very well acted. Glad to see you liked it, too.


Submitted by Jinx on Wed, 12/26/2012 - 3:34pm.
Fearless_Froude's picture

Really, you liked it? I hated the ending and that scene when she was naked and started hugging up on the wolf like character.

Submitted by Fearless_Froude on Thu, 12/27/2012 - 10:26pm.
Jinx's picture

Overall, I really dug the film. However, the third act ran off the rails a bit, with violence and overt strangeness that ran counter to the film's tone from its first two acts. Still, I really enjoyed the final moments and their implication.

Submitted by Jinx on Thu, 12/27/2012 - 10:54pm.
nazo's picture

My Best, complete with disclaimers.

5. The Revenant. It's kind of a mess, but mostly in a good way. It's a zombie movie, a buddy comedy, a war movie, an addiction movie, a crime movie, all at the same time, and it doesn't always work, but when it does it's both original and good.
4. ParaNorman. My favorite of the surprising amount of kiddie/animated horror movies this year. Like The Revenant, it's nowhere near perfection, but it looks great, and is a fun watch.
3. Juan of the Dead. This one really surprised me. It manages to be an unapologetic knock-off and completely fresh at the same time. Even in translation, it's one of the funniest movies I've seen this year, has good zombie scenes, and maintains an excellent pace throughout.
2. Cabin in the Woods. It doesn't "reinvent the genre" like many of its fans claimed, and I thought the horror elements of the movie were pretty weak (the half-assed Evil Dead ripoff could have been handled much better), but it worked so well as a comedy it's still one of the better movies of the year.
1. The Grey. Jinx perfectly described why this was so great. Easily the best horror movie to come out this year. Brutal and beautiful, I'm shocked it didn't end up on more "best of" lists.

And Worst, of the small percentage of bad horror that I actually watched
5. V/H/S. I'm not sure what was worse, the horribly cheap aesthetic, the long periods of time in which nothing happened, or the outright misogyny, notable even by the horror genre's already low standards.
4. Bait. I was expecting a fun, campy, sharks chomping people in ridiculous situations good time. What I got was eighty plus minutes devoted to the development of more characters than we saw in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, most of whom were completely uninteresting, with personalities ranging from "unlikable" to "I want to stick a Q-Tip all the way through my brain." Even the guy in a ridiculous metal cart suit couldn't save the movie for me. To everyone who recommended this piece of shit on DFF, I fuck you back.
3. Piranha 3DD. Might as well have had this song playing in the background the entire movie.
2. Wrong Turn 5. Mean-spirited, incompetent, irritating, boring, predictable..and that was just Doug Bradley's character! The kind of horror movies that give horror movies a bad name.
1. Excision. 2012 might have been the year of the overhyped "indie" horror movie. V/H/S, Kill List, The Innkeepers, and The Loved Ones all ranged from frustratingly mediocre to just bad, but the worst of the bunch was Excision. I am sick of one dimensional, cardboard characters. I am sick of indie soundtracks. I am sick of boring surrealism. I am sick of lazy, incoherent satire. Suburbia is the easiest target in the world. If you can't effectively satirize that, then you should not be writing for a living. And most of all, I am sick as hell of precocious teenagers, and I'm not going to take it anymore!

My Overall Top 10 for the year is (so far); 10. Safety Not Guaranteed 9. Bernie 8. Juan of the Dead 7. Cabin in the Woods 6. The Raid: Redemption 5. The Avengers 4. Seven Psychopaths 3. Headhunters 2. The Grey 1. Looper.

Submitted by nazo on Tue, 12/25/2012 - 8:13pm.
Fearless_Froude's picture

HOW THE HELL IS KILL LIST AND EXCISION on your worst list? when we had crap like The Devil Inside, The apparition and The Possession. like god damn

Submitted by Fearless_Froude on Wed, 12/26/2012 - 12:01am.
nazo's picture

Kill List wasn't one of the worst movies, just an example of a movie that was really overhyped. I thought it was mediocre. It had some really good moments and ideas, but the mystery didn't get interesting until at least half way through the movie, and I was never invested in any of the characters. I didn't see the Devil Inside or The Apparition for obvious reasons, and The Posession was mediocre, but had enough intentional hilarity that I couldn't get mad at it.

Everything about Excision rubbed me the wrong way, from the characters to the cutesy dialogue to the soundtrack to the attempts at surrealism. It was bullshit Sundance pandering at its worst.

Submitted by nazo on Wed, 12/26/2012 - 1:41am.
kiddcapone's picture

The Raid: Redemption
The Cabin in the Woods
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The Woman in Black

Chernobyl Diaries
The Devil Inside
Paranormal Activity 4
The Possession
Piranha 3DD
Dark Shadows

Submitted by kiddcapone on Tue, 12/25/2012 - 12:44pm.

Totally forgot about Woman in Black!

Submitted by will graham on Tue, 12/25/2012 - 7:51pm.
Fearless_Froude's picture

THE BAY is, i think the best horror film of the year. It came out of nowhere and it almost and i tread very carefully when saying this, ALMOST brought back the feel of how i felt seeing Paranormal Activity 1 for the first time. 2012 was a meh year for horror.

Submitted by Fearless_Froude on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 8:55pm.
MonsterMash's picture

Among the ones I enjoyed this year would be:
Ghost Rider 2
Wrath of the Titans was ok
Cabin was awesome
Piranha 3DD was nonsense fun
Prometheus I enjoyed
Dredd was fun
Sinister I really liked
Silent Hill 2 was enjoyable - who can say they didn't have fun with Cenobite Mortal Kombat?
The Collection was pretty good.
I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing Abe kill vampires.

As for straight to dvd-
Bait 3D was kind of fun- not enough shark carnage
I bought REC 3 but have not watched it yet.
The Inkeepers was pretty good as well.

Favorite movie moment of the year- The Expendables 2. I went to that with five friends and we all had a blast.
There are genreally some I don't enjoy but I try not to bring them back up.

Submitted by MonsterMash on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 3:13pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

Ummm... haven't thought of a best horror of the year list, but movies I enjoyed the most:
5: Paranorman
4: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
3: Super Shark
2: Prometheus
1: The Cabin in the Woods

Honorable mentions: Sand Sharks, Sinister, 2-headed Shark Attack, Cockneys VS Zombies, The Grey, Men in Black 3, Rec 3: Genesis... I could go on, I've loved so many films this year! And to add the few films that would be on my best of the year, but aren't as they weren't horror-ish: Skyfall, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-man, Looper, The Dark Knight Rises... once again I could go on.

I've avoided the films people have said are bad, but among the bad ones I've seen: Bait 3D, Playback, Tape 407, The Possession(Haven't seen it... but I still hate it) and The Human Centipede 2. Outside the horror genre Taken 2 comes to mind... And in case you're wondering, Piranha 3DD is NOT on either lists, it's right in the middle.

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:16pm.

Really? Cabin the Woods sucks shit. All it did was make fun of far better movies.

Submitted by streetloaf on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 9:59pm.
Foywonder's picture

This notion I've seen many people perpetuate that Cabin in the Woods is designed to be some sort of slap in the face of classic horror movies and a middle finger to the entire genre never fails to baffle me.

Submitted by Foywonder on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 7:22pm.
MonsterMash's picture


Submitted by MonsterMash on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 9:34pm.
moderator You mean sort of like Scream
Steve Barton's picture

You mean sort of like Scream did? lol

Submitted by Steve Barton on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 5:12pm.
Brad McHargue's picture

What a well-thought out argument. Thank you for sharing.

Submitted by Brad McHargue on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 10:18am.

My Best of the year:

1. The Walking Dead game: While the "choose your own adventure" element of the game was greatly exagerated, there's no doubt that this was the best genre game of the year. An excellent story featuring the two most moving moments in video game history (screw you ff7 fanboys!). Cannot recommend it enough!

2. Cabin in the woods: Only horror film that I really enjoyed this year, never boring, although Joss Whedon's spoof dialog of genre cliches is becoming... well cliched.

3.Walking Dead season 3: So much better than the last season, a nice mix of drama and action. The show still has problems though, I mean the producers of the show have issues with black males, and why are the 2 leading females thick as pigshit? I mean who the hell wears a thong during a zombie appocalypse? Wear confortable underwear lady!

4. Catherine game: Came out in europe this year, a puzzle game rather than a survival horror. The nightmare sections of the game funny enough remind me of a nightmare I once had. Great storytelling all round. People who want original games should check this out.

5. The Killing 3 (the danish original series): Still not a patch on the original story but better than the second. The Danish original still pisses over most American crime dramas. This time Sarah Lund has to track down an abducted girl from a rich family, her abductor wanting a suicide case reopend. I do have a complant with the show in that the poliitical story arc is too similar to the ones in the other stories. Apparently this was the last series but it does leave it open for a spin-off show/tv movie. Oh and will someone in hollywood please hire Sofie Grabol!

6. Lollipop Chainsaw game: Gameplay is only ok, but the humor, voice acting and soundtrack make up for it. buy it cheap!

7. The Secret of Crickley Hall series: After almost a decade of the BBC copying the style of American shows (badly) it's nice to see them do a show just like they used to but with better production values. Very dark and disturbing, (like many of James Herbert's work) surprised that the BBC dared showed it considering the subject matter and the trouble they're in (look up Jimmy Saville on wikipedia). Well acted and best viewed in parts, more like this please BBC and lay off the REALLY LOUD MUSIC please!

8. The Bridge series: A body is found on a bridge right on the border between Demark and Sweden and two dectives have to find out why it was put there. The show starts out brilliantly but falls apart the further it goes on, suffering from multiple storylines that lead nowhere and burrows some story elements from Se7en. What makes the show is the female dective who suffers from the autism known as Aspergers (had to look that up) and her friendship with her work partner. Shot and lit like an urban Micheal Mann film (check out the opening credits on youtube) it's worth a watch before the american remake comes out.

Honerable mentions:
Dredd: Not really horror and Robocop is still the best Judge Dredd film (just replace Robo With Dirty Harry and you'll have a typical Dredd story) this was never the less better than expected. If only people rented future cult titles instead of illegally downloading them, we might have got a sequel. Also the final slowmo effect was the most memorable scene of the year for me.

Joe Dante's The Hole: Since it's only just come out in the States, I get chance to include it again. :)

My Disapointments of the year:

Rec 3: Well acted and made but becomes yet another "omg killing zombies is so funny!!!!!" should have covered the girl in the appartment and how she came to be there instead.

Walking Dead second half of season 2: Just too slow, why isn't T-dog allowed to say much? Why are the 2 lead female characters by the stupidest
on tv? and only one unpredictable death. thank christ for series 3.

Prometheus: Visually the best film of the year, ruined by bad storytelling and bad dialog. Quite frankly Pandorum is better than this!

Piranha 3DD: When I first saw it I enjoyed it but that might have been because me and some of my bisexual girl-friends had a fair ammount to drink before we went to see it. Sober, it is bad. Btw is it just me or do Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan hate children?

Submitted by will graham on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 8:23pm.

I watched Cosmopolis for 10-15 minutes and I had to turn it off. The mind numbingly mundane conversations between the various characters bored the shit out of me. And I consider myself to be a big fan of Cronenberg.

Submitted by LSD Zombie on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 5:30pm.
Rob's picture

Great lists. My best list would be Cabin in the Woods, ParaNorman, Solomon Kane, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Didn't see any other horror films in theaters this year except Underworld: Awakening, which was decent but nothing great. I'll see Resident Evil 5 at some point. I would've seen Dredd if I wasn't so broke by the time it came out.

Also, I didn't mind Total Recall, I think because of the acting more than anything else. And I'm someone who isn't a big Kate Beckinsale fan at all and I loved her in that movie. I think if she does more genre flicks, she should stick to villain roles. She's fun to watch as a villain.

Oh, I also saw Prometheus, which I agree with Foy about. A well made and well acted film that amounts to nothing.

Submitted by Rob on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 4:22pm.
theGoldenSimatar's picture

Glad to see some people liked Prometheus.

Though I have to honestly wonder: am I the only person in the world that liked Piranha 3DD?

Submitted by theGoldenSimatar on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 2:24pm.
Brad McHargue's picture

Probably. It was just so...lazy. The big piranha attack scene was so weak compared to the fist flick, and as a whole it was just very boring. To each their own, though.

Submitted by Brad McHargue on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 4:33pm.

Surprised that Devil Inside didn't make more worst lists.

Strange year for me, my best list is pretty much full of video games and tv shows rather than movies, and my worst list is pretty much full of disapointments rather than films that were shite.

I'll post them later when I have time, I'm a slow writer (this took me 5 minutes to write) and still need to do christmas tidying up.

Submitted by will graham on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 7:23am.
Brad McHargue's picture

Ya know, THE DEVIL INSIDE was a really stupid movie, but I think if it had ended differently, it wouldn't be getting as bad a rap as it has been over the past year. Yes, it was yet another exorcism movie, but it had some suitably creepy scenes and, at least when compared to other theatrical fare this year, was mildly enjoyable.

Submitted by Brad McHargue on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 11:28am.
Terminal's picture

Nice to see The Cabin in the Woods get a lot of attention and Prometheus so little. I'm kind of noticing DC is growing less and less enthusiastic about year end top 10 and worst 10 lists every year, that kind of saddens me. There's less hard hitting and aims for the gut that there used to be. In either case, the movies I expected on the lists are there, so it's been an interesting year.

Submitted by Terminal on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 7:10am.
Debi Moore's picture

I don't really understand the "less enthusiastic" remark either. I was totally gung-ho about my favorites and getting my list done, but maybe my overall lack of enthusiasm for 2012 as a whole showed through? We did ask everyone to try to keep things to a manageable length for consistency's sake, but I don't feel anyone's list suffered as a result. Can you be a little more specific about why you feel that way?

And I just have to comment re Andrew's "most misunderstood" label for The Tall Man. I understood it all right... I just didn't like it very much. It was a close second to Munger Road as the year's most insulting flick.


Its "message" that these people have the right to decide kids are better off away from their natural parents (who are poor and, yes, may even be abusive at times) and placed with wealthy families instead is a bit too "1%-erish" and Republican for me, and I'm surprised Andrew would buy into that for even one second. Plus, aside from that, I found it to be a total bore as a "thriller." One of the biggest disappointments of the year for sure.

Submitted by Debi Moore on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 3:31pm.
Sirand's picture

I found nothing political about it. It's not a rich vs poor film. It's an interesting concept that plays with your allegiances in the same way Martyrs did... creating a sort of "social worker as the boogeyman" conceit. It's a genre version of Gone Baby Gone... And Biel, an actress I've never given a second thought about, is pretty terrific in the film.

People like to dump on it because it starts out as one genre and turns into another...but that's part of its appeal.

Submitted by Sirand on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 3:53pm.
moderator The class distinction seemed
Debi Moore's picture

The class distinction seemed pretty obvious to me... They weren't taking kids out of the suburbs and placing them with rural families, that's for sure! But at least we do agree this is one of Biehl's best performances so hopefully that trend will continue for her.

Submitted by Debi Moore on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 4:30pm.
Matt Serafini's picture

I don't know what you mean by us being "less enthusiastic" about these lists, Terminal?

Can't speak for my colleagues, but I had five pages in Word when I was done with my list. Could've gone on a bit longer, but I tried to limit my ranting as best I could.

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Sun, 12/23/2012 - 12:41pm.

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