Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2012
Elijah Wood blows every expectation of him right out of the water in Franck Khalfoun's astoundingly brutal remake. Not only is it highly respectful of the original, but its technical magnificence is a cinematic marvel in itself. One of the greatest horror remakes ever made, and easily film of the year.
2. American Mary
The Soska Sisters find their directorial footing in spectacular fashion with this twisted tale of body modification, mental breakdown and revenge. Lead Katharine Isabelle delivers the performance of her career so far, and while the ending feels rather abrupt, American Mary delivers on nearly every front.
3. The Cabin in the Woods
It isn't perfect, but Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's horror geek-out delivered one of the most fun pieces of fan service to hit cinemas this year. Smart, silly and firmly tongue-in-cheek, it nevertheless avoids outright lampooning or disrespect of the genre. The final twenty minutes alone should have monster fans grinning with delight.
On the topic of fun and monsters, no other flick delivered both in spades this year quite like Jon Wright's Irish boozefest Grabbers. An infectious sense of light-heartedness, well designed and realised creatures, and some of the best drunk acting ever make this one of the year's highlights... and come on, the plot alone is genius!
Unsettling, seriously spooky and unforgiving horror is the order of the day in Sinister. Lead Ethan Hawke carries the mystery effortlessly, while the increasingly freaky unfolding of events keeps the audience glued to the screen. Commendably unafraid of sitting squarely on the bleak side of the fence, Sinister is also home to an excellent score and the most leap-inducing fright of the year. Mowing the lawn will never be the same again.
Honourable mentions: The Pact, Stitches, ParaNorman,Sleep Tight, The Seasoning House, The Bay.
1. Resident Evil: Retribution
Paul W. S. Anderson's ill-conceived series officially stops giving one iota of a shit with this pointless, insulting entry. Expository overload, ridiculously flimsy logic and some of the most overblown, poorly constructed action sequences seen across the entire franchise render this an absolute mess. Jovovich slums her way through while Anderson chucks in every kind of villain and hero he can pull from the games with a total abandonment of reason. A total and utter waste of time in every sense.
2. Piranha 3DD
Riding in the wake of Alexandre Aja's highly entertaining Piranha 3D, John Gulager's attempt at over-the-top exploitation/horror-comedy falls flat at almost every turn. Terminally unfunny and lacking the gorehound-pleasing carnage of its predecessor, Piranha 3DD attempts to overcome its meagre budget with the abundant addition of nudity and stunt casting. Neither of which manage to make it worthwhile.
Director Ryan Smith's saccharine snore-fest is fantasy-lite nonsense masquerading as an emotionally poignant drama. With a monster in it. That really doesn't do much. The overly twee attempts at audience manipulation routinely fall flat and are all but ousted by an ending that makes absolutely no sense to anyone not already clamouring for a love story. Visually impressive or not, After stands as little more than a frustrating, dawdling piece of sap.
4. Hidden in the Woods
This thoroughly repugnant Chilean effort has little to nothing in the way of redeeming features. Absurdly, and needlessly, vile at almost every turn, it's nothing more than an obvious attempt at courting controversy with neither the budget nor talent behind it to create anything of any interest whatsoever. This one should just stay hidden.
5. The Possession
Glossy Hollywood horror bollocks that takes an original premise and pisses it all against the wall in favour of the usual flash and safe scares. Even some unintentional hilarity can't make it worth taking in. If there's one thing on this earth that we didn't need, it's another The Unborn. Seems that someone out there disagreed.
Dishonourable mentions: Tulpa. Thankfully, I haven't been exposed to too many outright awful flicks this year. Yay!