The Best and Worst of 2007
1. The Mist – Like last year's The Host (which topped my 2006 list), the latest Frank Darabont/Stephen King vehicle brought glory back to the creature feature with both slime and smarts. This is a movie for movie lovers with great characters, shocking scenarios, and memorable monsters, along with an air of tension thick enough to insulate your house. Years from now this gem will be mentioned in the same breath as classics like Jaws, The Thing, and The Fly.
2. The Signal – Listen up, all you independent filmmakers: Drop those backyard zombie movies and take a long hard look at this film. The Signal is the model example of what indie horror is all about. Shot for peanuts, this apocalyptic tale contains equal parts fear and black humor, along with some of the most solid acting and direction in recent memory. Most importantly, it never degenerates into a typical zombie film and its cerebral approach has your mind racing long after the credits.
3. Inside – Easily one of the most savage and brutal films ever produced, Inside goes to a level no slasher has ever dared. This is the exact film Alexandre Aja's High Tension wanted to be (only without the gimmicks and rampant plagiarism). It's gorgeously shot, tense as all hell, and contains some of the most nightmarish imagery ever put to film. If this one doesn't make you squirm, then you're as mentally disturbed as the characters in this film.
4. The Orphanage – Though he's only credited as a producer, the spirit of Guillermo Del Toro is all over this beautiful ghost pic, which is every bit as creepy and soulful as movies like Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone. This is one of the single best haunted house movies in decades, ripe with scares and emotional complexity. We need more films like this.
5. Zodiac – It may be a movie of talking heads, but David Fincher's epic procedural is one of the most detailed and obsessive looks at a serial killer you'll ever see. People expecting Se7en: Part II will find themselves bored stiff, but if you have a thing for true crime, you won't do any better than this masterpiece.
Honorable Mentions: Grindhouse, Paranormal Activity, Diary of the Dead, 30 Days of Night, Sweeney Todd, 28 Weeks Later
(Note: Films like Bug and Behind the Mask, although commercially released this year, wound up on previous year-end lists).
1. Dead Mary – Bar none, one of the most painful movie experiences in a very long time. This self-important attempt at a high-brow indie movie involves a group of lifeless twenty-somethings who get attacked by supernatural forces at their cabin retreat and proceed to…gossip. Instead of doing anything remotely terrifying, these deadite clones yap their heads off about who is cheating on whom until everyone gets mad – most of all anyone who has to sit through this dreadfully boring shit.
2. Captivity – Still the biggest embarrassment to the genre in years, Captivity hurt the horror industry all because of the antics of no-talent filmmaker Courtney Solomon and his tasteless marketing campaign designed to stir up controversy for a timid, idiotic Saw clone that no one cared about. For some reason, this braindead flick also came from the talents of the great Larry Cohen, which may be the final sign of the apocalypse.
3. The Hitcher – And the folks at Platinum Dunes rape another horror classic. If God exists, he'll use his divine powers to burn this lousy company to the ground before they do any more damage. The dipshits behind this remake evidently thought that the original was missing scenes of raining cars and Nine Inch Nails songs. You know you're watching a bad movie when you're begging for C. Thomas Howell to come in and save it.
4. Dead Silence – At least the title is apt, since this one put everyone in the theater to sleep. Dead Silence joins the ranks of FearDotCom and Darkness Falls as gorgeous looking films that are mind-numbingly stupid. This may be one of the most half-baked horror scripts ever written. Every good idea that's introduced isn't explored in the slightest, while every cliché hits in predictable order. And Donny Wahlberg's detective wins the award for the most annoying character of the year.
5. Rob Zombie's Halloween – Rob Zombie's "Halloween For Rednecks" may not be the worst remake of all time, but it's definitely the most worthless. There isn't anything the least bit frightening or suspenseful in this hollow bastardization other than the fact that it was greenlit. Even a hardcore fanboy like Zombie should've realized the golden rule: Don't mess with perfection.
Dishonorable Mentions: The Hills Have Eyes 2, Return to House on Haunted Hill, Skinwalkers, The Invasion, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem