The Best and Worst of 2007
Please note: My list consists of films I've seen this year, not necessarily films that were released yet. And they're in no particular order either.
The Last Winter - Though I'd never been a huge fan of Fessenden's work in the past, I had heard enough positive buzz about this one to actively seek it out. It didn't hurt that Ron Perlman stared in it either.
A gorgeously desolate setting, fantastic performances all around, and a director who knows when to show you something and when to merely hint at it (save for the questionable CG bests) make The Last Winter one of the most original and terrifying films I saw all year.
Fido - This one sort of flew under a lot of radars, mainly due to Lionsgate's poor treatment of it by releasing it straight to DVD, first and foremost, and giving it a horrible cover to boot.
Currie's tale of an alternate 1950's society in which the dead are an everyday part of life is both fun and original, and really unlike anything I had seen before it. While you'd be hard-pressed to call it straight-up horror, it's got just enough elements to fit nicely into our genre and re-define it at the same time.
Mulberry Street – The film that made me think After Dark Films knew what they were doing with this year's 8 Films to Dire For (look for to the Worst of list for the reasons they didn't). Though the premise may sound ridiculous, the film is anything but.
Most people who took the time to get out and see Mulberry Street during its week long theatrical run agreed it was the best of the lot. Mickle and writer/star Nick Damaci (interview here) did a fantastic job making a movie about mutated rat creatures with a minimal budget and an incredibly strong cast.
The Mist – Believe it or not this one almost made my list of Top 5 Worst, but there was just too much other crap I saw this year to fit it in. And why would it have been there? The fucking ending.
But the rest of the film is just flat-out brilliant, so it deserves its place among the best. It took Darabont years to finally get this one out of his system but man was it ever worth the wait. Great performances, great monsters (well, aside for those tentacles at the beginning) and a dedication to the source material pushed this one above most monster movie entries in 2007.
The Signal – Man, just wait till you guy see this one. Push all comparisons to Stephen King's Cell out of your head right now; though the basic premise is the same (a strange transmission causes anyone who hears it to go insane), the execution couldn't be more different.
There are three directors; each did his own segment of the film, and while you can feel the tonal shifts, especially between the first and second parts, on a whole the movie works like a well-oiled machine. Funny, scary, and touching all at the same time, The Signal is not what you'd expect.
Lake Dead – It really doesn't get any worse than this, so I guess to a point this particular list is in order. Lake Dead not only made me question how the hell After Dark Films picks their 8 Films to Die For, but whether or not Courtney Solomon is absolutely batshit insane for thinking this piece of shit deserved any screen time whatsoever.
The story is about kids who go to a cabin inherited by one of their numbers, and the killings that go on there because of some family bullshit or another, complete with incest and beatings. Horrible performances, editing, sound … pretty much everything that can be wrong with a film is found in Lake Dead. AVOID IT
Skinwalkers – Even if the film had been just a little bit better, it still would've made this list because Issac let me down in a big way. The man who didn't take himself too seriously when he made Jason X, still one of my favorites of the franchise, decided to put on the most serious face possible for this werewolf tale.
Another After Dark fumble, as it turns out. The multiple release delays and terrible early word of mouth should have been indication enough, but no; I had to go and watch it, too. If Issacs had maybe decided to make the werewolves fight each other with, I don't know, teeth and claws instead of shotguns, maybe this wouldn't have been so boring to sit through.
Creepshow III – A bad movie is painful enough just because it's bad; when said bad movie is trying to be a sequel to one of the most respected horror anthologies of all time well… that's just inexcusably bad.
It's almost difficult to point out how bad Creepshow 3 is without resorting to questioning the mental capacities of those involved in its creation. I've seen some people with little to no budget pull off some pretty amazing stuff; these people did the exact opposite. Someone needs to stop these people from ever making anything ever again.
Rob Zombie's Halloween – Just like a bad movie being worse as a sequel to a good one, Zombie's reinvention of John Carpenter's classic character was not as bad as I expected, but nowhere near anyone's definition of "good".
This is just what one would expect from a music video director; a soulless, empty piece of exploitation cinema that focuses too much on a ridiculous plot element (Myers tracking down his long-lost sister) rather than try and create a genuinely scary experience like the original did. It was disappointing but in no way, shape or form surprising.
I Am Legend – Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate I Am Legend. Indeed I thought Will Smith did a much better job than I ever expected him to as the possible last man on earth, scientist Robert Neville. I hated what was changed from the original story for no discernable reasons and the use of CG.
Oh, God, the CG. Seriously, how could you look at the CG creatures at the end of the day and actually be happy with when you see? It was just terrible from beginning to end; if they had just used it as enhancement rather than the entire characters…man it was bad. But worse was the lack of anything to make the title make any sense, instead making Will Smith a big fan of the Bob Marley CD "Legend". Can you say lame?
All in all 2007 was a pretty shit year, full of disappointments for films that I had foolishly held out hope for. But when it was right, it was really, really right, like The Mist (except for that goddamn ending) and Mulberry Street, so I guess we'll just be happy with what worked and leave the rest for the next generation to deal with.
Here's to a horrific 2008!