The Best and Worst of 2007

Debi "The Woman In Black" Moore's Picks

Although it got off to an incredibly bad start, when it was all said and done, 2007 wasn't such an awful year for horror films. Sure, the lows were incredibly unpleasant, but the highs were pretty magnificent. In fact, limiting myself to only five top films turned out to be impossible (sorry, Butane). Thus, this Woman's list is as follows:

The Best and Worst of 2007

1. 28 Weeks Later - While some have accused the film of being too heavy-handed in its metaphorical references to the Iraq War and others didn't buy into the Robert Carlyle character's ability to track down his loved ones wherever they went, there wasn't another 2007 horror film that resonated so deeply with me. I adored both Rose Byrne's and Jeremy Renner's characterizations of Scarlet and Doyle and rooted for them throughout. The kids are a welcome anomaly in movies in that they are unannoying and highly sympathetic. The night vision scenes leading up to the end of 28 Weeks are some of the most edge-of-your-seat, bite-off-your-nails I've ever seen. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's and DP Enrique Chediak's work here is brilliant and well deserving of the No. 1 spot. A rare instance of a sequel surpassing its original, 28 Weeks Later is a film that will stick in your memory long after its credits have rolled.

2. Grindhouse - The faux trailers alone make this a worthy entry on anyone's list, and I honestly can't remember having a more fun time at the theatre this past year than when watching the Rodriguez/Tarantino double bill of Planet Terror and Death Proof. Yes, it's too bad more horror fans didn't get out there and show their support, and while a lot of blame can be placed on Dimension and the Weinsteins for their abysmally misguided marketing efforts, it truly is our own fault for not taking the bull by the horns and ensuring the Grindhouse experience got the box office numbers its creators and cast warranted. But that's all moot as the DVD's have been available for quite some time. If you haven't watched these two fabulous films in your own home and dug the hell out of them by now, then I just don't see how you can call yourself either (a) a horror fan or (b) a devotee of great films, and on top of that I probably don't want to know you since it's obvious we are of such vastly different mindsets.

Bug (click for larger image)3. Bug - Forget about Blanchett, Knightley, Foster, Christie, and Jolie. These five fine ladies may have been nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press for best dramatic actress of 2007, but the award really belongs to Bug's Ashley Judd. Is her raw and riveting, no holds barred portrayal of the lonely and obsessed Agnes White the only reason to see the film? Absolutely not. She is equally matched by her co-stars Michael Shannon and Harry Connick, Jr. In addition, Bug marks the triumphant and welcome return to our genre by William Friedkin. I was fortunate enough to see a stage version of the story prior to the film, and while some of the differences were to the detriment of the theatrical adaptation, it still packs a powerful punch and shouldn't be forgotten amidst the more mainstream offerings of 2007.

4. Sweeney Todd - While we're on the subject of powerhouse, tour de force performances, the biggest surprise of 2007 for me was how absolutely perfectly matched Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter were as co-conspirators Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett in Tim Burton's masterful adaptation of this hit Broadway musical. Of course, I had faith in the abilities of the holy triumvirate of Burton, Depp, and Carter to do the play justice and had also read all the glowing reviews (including the New York Times', which *gasp* used the "h" word not once, but twice); but I must admit even I was a bit taken aback by the sheer brutality of it all and can't remember when I've seen blood gushes look more bright red and lovely. All the supporting cast is wonderful as well, and London has never looked so appropriately Goth and gloomy in both tone and texture. Sweeney Todd is 2007's most gorgeous film and its most spiteful. Considering I'm not typically a fan of revenge flicks, I'm surprised by how much I loved it, but loved it I did, and I'm utterly delighted to include it in my Top 5.

5. The Mist and Sunshine (tie) - This may seem like an odd pairing, but I see these two films as two sides of the same coin, that coin being the human emotion "hope." The characters in the latter are full of it, whereas those in the former could definitely use a bigger helping of it to combat the despair that overwhelms them by the end of their journey. Both movies are buoyed by a strong cast of characters who must deal with the very real possibility of the world as they know it ceasing to exist. While The Mist tackles its subject matter on a more inherently human level (despite the presence of numerous monsters of various shapes and sizes), Sunshine takes us into deep space and the realm of metaphysics. It detours rather distractingly into very much the same territory covered by Event Horizon somewhere around the 2/3 mark, but then it regains its way and has one of the best endings of any film of the past year. As does The Mist I might add -- despite its polarization of just about everyone who saw it. I thought the conflict it engendered was one of the best since M*A*S*H decided to kill off Henry Blake, which is why it's here on this list even if a few of the characters are poorly developed and some the CGI is substandard. Both of these films overcome their shortcomings in such stellar fashion that I wholeheartedly recommend them as a perfect double-feature to enjoy this spring once they've each been released on DVD.

Best of the Rest: While my Top 5 list encompasses films that received wide theatrical releases, I can't ignore a few others that represent the best of their respective subgenres:

a. Hands down the No. 1 indie feature and also the best damn ghost story I've seen in I don't know how long was director Oren Peli's debut Paranormal Activity. Those of us here at Dread Central who have seen it can't sing its praises loud enough. Suffice to say that if it comes to a film fest anywhere near you within driving distance, get in your car and see it. I guarantee you won't be sorry. I also guarantee you won't be able to sleep afterwards without a night light and your teddy bear.

b. The Best Zom-Com of 2007 award goes to Andrew Currie's bitingly charming Fido. Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly, and Dylan Baker shine as inhabitants of an alternate 50's style universe in which zombies have become a sort of household pet. This one's been out on DVD for a while now; if you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for?

c. As I mention every year when compiling my Best/Worst list, slashers are my least favorite subgenre since they've been done to death -- often very badly -- but this year there were two examples that managed to rise above the fray with a fun, fresh approach: Hatchet, which gave us icons Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, AND Robert Englund in memorable roles along with a tasty sample of the big, bad Louisiana bayou, and Wrong Turn 2, which offered a reasonably likable group of mutant fodder led by consummate badass Henry Rollins and opened with an American Idol wannabe's evisceration. Honestly, does it get better than that?

d. Lastly, in the "defies description" category we have Albert Pyun's cinéma-vérité and sci-fi/horror hybrid Invasion. To answer the question I received after originally reviewing this film -- yes, that Albert Pyun! It's far from perfect, but Invasion's ballsy approach of telling its entire story via a surveillance camera mounted on a police car resulted in (to quote my own review) one of the most compelling pieces of filmmaking I've seen in eons and cemented its position among the year's most innovative films.

I also have to give a quick shout out to the best DVD boxset of the year -- Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition. Whether you're a hardcore fan of the series or a newbie, you're bound to fall in love with this set. It is indeed the embodiment of the word "definitive."

The Best and Worst of 2007

Now we come to the worst. Rather than go into the type of detail lavished on my top choices, I'll limit my comments to just two or three sentences since that's all these shitfests deserve:

1. The Invisible - Talk about bait & switch! The trailer looked promising, but the finished product was the biggest disappointment of the year. It's everything the anti-PG13 crowd goes on and on about (for its polar opposite, check out Disturbia), and yes, I'm still in denial that David Goyer was in any way connected to it. He has a lot to make up for.

2. The Hitcher - As soon as I saw this abomination, I wrote on the spreadsheet I was keeping for 2007 films: "Worst of the year so far." Well, it would have kept that title had it not been for Sean Bean. Only his presence was enough to elevate The Hitcher above The Invisible, but it still ranks as my No. 2 stinker.

3. I Know Who Killed Me - Thank the gods for that aforementioned spreadsheet; otherwise I would have no memory of most of the crap I endured last year. Here's what I wrote for IKWKM: "Horrendously bad; stripper who doesn't strip; Art Bell best part; poor Neal McDonough!" Seriously, if a cameo by Art Bell is the best part of your movie, you are in sad, sad shape. You can't even really blame Lohan -- her performance was equal to the level of the script she had to work with. As for McDonough, if he didn't fire his agent after appearing in both The Hitcher and this stinker, then he doesn't deserve to work in Hollywood again!

4. The Hills Have Eyes 2 - Why they even bothered with this sequel I'll never know. The concept was a good one, but the end result was dull and boring and a completely wasted opportunity. Nothing was memorable about either the humans or the mutants -- zero, nada, zilch. I fell asleep in the theatre for about 20 minutes and didn't miss a thing.

5. Captivity - I almost feel a little guilty for piling on the derision for this film, but it can't be helped. Its headache-inducing music sealed the deal. It's a shame, really. The first 1/3 was actually decent; it looked good (thanks to DP Daniel Pearl) and had all the right gross-out elements for exploitation fans; but then it fell apart. Acts 2 and 3 were horrendously bad and totally nonsensical, ruining all that had gone before.

I won't beat any dead horses by recounting more of the duds of 2007. Just think "February" and "Foy" -- that's all you need to know! But I will say I absolutely do not understand all the venom directed at Rob Zombie's Halloween and AVP: Requiem. I certainly wouldn't place either in my Top 5, but neither do I feel they belong in the Bottom 5, especially considering the other rubbish that befouled multiplexes last year. They were, in a word, mediocre. Nothing more and nothing less.

And with that . . . Here's to a great 2008! We're rooting for you!



Tristan Sinns's picture

I totally forgot about Tooth and Nail until late last night, that horrible piece of crap. I think it was a repressed memory. Please consider it the sixth worst film of the year. Or the first. It deserves both. Ugh!

Submitted by Tristan Sinns on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 1:03pm.
DW Bostaph Jr's picture

Let me know what you think when u see them. Completely different films, but both as cerebral as you can get.

Submitted by DW Bostaph Jr on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 1:00pm.

DWBJr, based on how similar our lists were (i hadn't seen AVPR when i wrote my list, and i didn't think to include the brilliant Sweeney Todd) i'm going to be checking out Cthuhlu and Death Note first chance I get.

Submitted by plagiarize on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 9:48am.
admin moderator Cinematic Socialism? You
Jon Condit's picture

Cinematic Socialism? You can be a film commie if you want to, leave me out.

Submitted by Jon Condit on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 12:25am.

There's no mistery about it Terminal... Johnny was mistified at to why people keep talking about The Mist, because he mist the start of the mist-cussion where people were mist-cussing their favourite mist-vies from last mist, and it seems mist people here had mist-ues with The Fog... err... sorry... The Mist!

Submitted by PelusaMG on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:33pm.
Terminal's picture

I mist was Johnny was talking about, I was very mistifyed by his misterious anger toward miscussing the mist.

Submitted by Terminal on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:15pm.
Terminal's picture

Have either of your schmucks seen the "Death Note" series? If you think the movies rocked, wait till you get a load of the series. Wow.

Submitted by Terminal on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:13pm.
Melissa Bostaph's picture

WOW...I'm in trouble and didn't even know it... haha!

Honestly I could have filled a dozen WORST lists with the crap that I get from Foy, Kryten, and even Steve! Hello! He's the one that pawned Microwave Massacre off on me! LOL!

One reason I didn't include that and other titles like it are because they were not actually released in 2007.

Another reason is because I wanted to let people know that there are those of us out there who don't like every film that Hollywood puts out even if everyone else seems to.

I'd rather just talk up films that deserve it...and not give free press to those that don't.

Submitted by Melissa Bostaph on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 3:54pm.
DW Bostaph Jr's picture

There is SO much shit out thee, and being involved with the Horror Fest and judging and all, it gets old. I could compile a list of shit a mile long, but what is the point of bashing something like Microwave Massacre? No body cares about that type of crap, and going into the film I was not expecting anything but a shitfest.

Movies like 30 Days of Night, Halloween lead us to believe that they are going to be good. We got promises and sneak peeks and jerked off all day long, but in the end thy are just shit. And people need to know that they are so, IT IS OUR responsibility to do so. Why? Because these are the films on eveyone's minds. When there is a breakaway such as Cthulhu or Netherbeast or Blood Car then it is our responsibility to tell people about it so THEY see it. It is kind of lopsided that way but we are about quality. When it is promised but not delivered on, we point it out. And when we find a nice goldmine, we scream it to the heavens so all can enjoy...

Call it Cinematic Socialism.

Submitted by DW Bostaph Jr on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 3:49pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

You hush up, Johnny Butane... or I will call you up and leave you long Mist-related voicemail messages. I can do it too. I am the Queen of long voicemail messages. :-P

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 3:33pm.

Mist? Mist, Mist, Mist, Mist, Mistity Mist!

Submitted by Kryten Syxx on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 3:19pm.
Johnny Butane's picture

Oh my God, stop talking about The Mist.

Submitted by Johnny Butane on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 3:05pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

WIB, lucky for me I didn't see any of those films you mentioned. ;)

Of the films I saw this year, Halloween was definitely one of the worst.... decent production quality doesn't save a bad story in my book.

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:54pm.

"or any number of other movies people listed in their Bottom 5 as being the ultimate in "bad" movies when there's stuff like Captivity, The Hitcher, Microwave Massacre (Melissa, I'm talking to you!), and other real garbage to choose from."

simply put, i didn't see those movies. not being a movie reviewer around this parts, i'm only subjected to the bad movies i choose to watch. if something is slammed by someone i trust like The Hitcher uniformly was, i'm not going to go see it.

Submitted by plagiarize on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:45pm.

My problem with The Mist was that, we get the escape, then we get five minutes of crossfades on driving, driving, driving, then bam! (um..literally, I guess) and then he reacts, then BAM! again. To me, the movie needed a good at LEAST five, ten minutes more for the ending to work.

I think it's a terrific idea and I commend Darabont for thinking it up and actually using it, I just don't think it was well executed. I understand that it was not a tacked on thing or a reshoot, but it definitely FELT like that to me.

As for Hatchet, in the 80s it's a shitty, straight-to-video slasher that isn't funny or scary, and has boring, stupid cardboard characters, but somehow 20 years later it's some amazing old-school classic? If it was made in the 80s it would be one of those movies like The Burning that is remembered fondly, mostly for the gore effects, and then when it's finally released on DVD 20 years later, everyone buys it or rents it and when they watch it they realize why it's remembered almost exclusively for the gore effects.

I am a HUGE slasher fan and am absolutely down for a cool, old school slasher flick to come out and kick my ass with suspense, gore and nudity. This movie just sucked. It's possible I saw movies that were worse, but this had all the build up and it's being championed by horror fans, horror websites, horror magazines...and it's just a boring, unfunny, unscary piece of shit. Most disappointing moviegoing experience of the year for me. And to me, when a movie like that turns out to be crap, it's far worse than something like the Hitcher remake, which sucked, but we all KNEW it was going to suck, so who cares?

Submitted by G.D. on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:39pm.
moderator For me, just not liking
Debi Moore's picture

For me, just not liking something doesn't make it one of the year's worst. I think you have to take into account the whole picture -- writing, acting, effects, cinematography, etc., etc. I can't stand Swank and didn't much care for The Reaping, but it had enough redeeming qualities to make me realize putting it on my worst list would have meant I was taking it too personally rather than judging it on its overall merits. Which is, again, why I can't understand how anyone could consider The Mist, RZ's Halloween, or any number of other movies people listed in their Bottom 5 as being the ultimate in "bad" movies when there's stuff like Captivity, The Hitcher, Microwave Massacre (Melissa, I'm talking to you!), and other real garbage to choose from.

Can you feel the thirst?

I'll see you on the other side . . .

Submitted by Debi Moore on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:28pm.
Blockbuster's picture

I'M going to go on record and say that I liked the Unrated Director's Cut of Halloween and the way IT ended...much better than the original version of that movie that I saw...and Hatchet was fucking awesome. There. I said it.

Submitted by Blockbuster on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:05pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

I saw the end coming too... that 'Promise me you won't let the monsters get me, no matter what' line was a pretty dead give away. But I don't think it was conveyed at all that those characters thought there escape was a last ditch effort. Yes, David expressed doubts with his plan, but the whole point of doing it anyway was that he felt he had to do SOMETHING. That they couldn't just stay there. Amanda even says 'I'd rather die out there trying than in here waiting.' But then they don't. They die out there giving up. After not even going very far. Without any further discussion. And they thought enough ahead to sneak food and pack it, and plan a before dawn departure to avoid Ms. Carmody's people and the monsters, but not what was going to be done when they ran out of gas? It was sloppy writing. THAT'S what made me angry.

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:55pm.

Here's the thing, if you had taken some of the religious nuts in the store, had them driving off in the jeep and then had that ending, you would have been cheering at the screen... it is only because it were them there descent folks who got stiffed which makes it so controversial.

Submitted by PelusaMG on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:38pm.

i guess i just saw the escape from the store as those character's last hopes. heck, even David expressed doubts about his own plan before they left the store. they'd left with the belief that this was their last hope, and they found no hope, no other people, just beasts in the mist. the store became more dangerous than that outside it. so they took their chances, and ultimately ran out of options. i didn't see the decision as one of desperation, or madness. i saw it as a conscious choice under extreme circumstances that i'd seen coming since the kid asked his dad not to let the monsters get him.

Submitted by plagiarize on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:32pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

"in that case it would be a fault of the ending but of him failing to convey well enough the emotional state of the characters to justify his planned ending."

Exactly. Which I feel is poor writing on his part. As someone on the forums said, if he had spent even just five or ten additional minutes chronicalling a downward spiral of despair for those characters once they left the supermarket, then the ending would have contextually made sense. As it stands, however, there is nothing to indicate that these characters have reached their limit and are hopeless... and in fact, several things that argue otherwise. Which is what pissed me, and I know many other people, off so much about that ending.

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:18pm.
Sirand's picture

I can understand people falling into the hype about Hatchet and being underwhelmed...but WORST OF THE YEAR? C'mon...

Submitted by Sirand on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:01pm.

i can't and don't pretend to talk for why it made people angry. i know a lot of people that were angry about how bleak and upsetting it was. at the character for doing what he did. he's angry at himself (as i was with him) though, and it's meant to be bleak and upsetting.

i saw those characters as already starting to lose hope before they left the store. i saw those characters as preferring to take their chances with the monsters outside than stay with the other people.

darabont wanted that ending... he built to it... it wasn't a late idea or a reshoot. i don't know what you think he was building the characters towards, but it obviously isn't what he actually was building them towards. in that case it would be a fault of the ending but of him failing to convey well enough the emotional state of the characters to justify his planned ending.

the message i took away from The Mist was 'in times of crisis people can do inhuman things for what seems like valid reasons at the time, but they have to live with those actions afterwards'. i think that's pretty consistantly threaded all the way through, if being strongest at the end.

Submitted by plagiarize on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 11:58am.
moderator Here's my thing ... I know
Steve Barton's picture

Here's my thing ... I know opinions are opinions but when a year is riddled with so many cinematic abominations how a little flick like Hatchet makes it into the top 5 worst on anyone's list really boggles my mind.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 11:51am.

And I'd like to say that I really appreciate that a couple people put Hatchet on their worst list. What a fucking disappointment that was. Admittedly, some of the gore was nice, but what a bad movie.

Word to the wise, Mr Green. When you make a splatter comedy (whether the comedy is good or bad...and I personally thought it was pretty bad), please PLEASE don't try to tell me that it's "old school horror" because it most certainly is not.

Submitted by G.D. on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 10:29am.

I'll go on record as someone who liked the ending of The Mist is concept, but not so much in execution.

That said, how can the fact that so many people hated the movie be a testimony to how good it is? I don't understand...

Submitted by G.D. on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 10:09am.
Morgan Elektra's picture

I think you're off on WHY some of us are angry about the ending of The Mist, Ryan. It's not because it was bleak... it's because, like Melissa said, it went against everything Darabont had brilliantly established for those characters up to that point. I'm angry with what I consider a poorly written ending to a well written movie. And I really hope that wasn't done on purpose.

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 9:27am.

i have to say i'm surprised so many of you guys didn't like the ending of The Mist. sure it's probably the bleakest ending ever... but the fact that it hurts and angers so many people is a testimony to how good it is, at least in my opinion. i think we're probably so used to only getting angry at bad movies, that when a film legitimately makes us angry we presume that it wasn't trying to.

Submitted by plagiarize on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:30am.
Terminal's picture

That's not fair, there's not much here I disagree with. Bastards. Hatchet good but overblown, Disturbia overrated as a mofo, and Halloween sucked, yep there's not much room here to disagree.

Submitted by Terminal on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:57am.

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