The Best and Worst of 2007

Ryan "Plagiarize" Acheson's Picks

The Best and Worst of 2007

1. The Mist - A film like The Mist only comes along every few years, so when we get one its blatantly going to dominate such reflections on the year. For all of Darabont's great adaptations of King's work, he hadn't done one of his horror pieces yet. Unthinkable really when you look at his career which includes scripting duties on the remake of The Blob and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3.

He proved yet again that he's one of the few people out there that get horror. That gets how to scare people, and The Mist doesn't stop there. Andrew called the ending of the film a "gut punch" and there really isn't anything else you can call it. Sure, it probably helped the film tank at the box office by killing word of mouth, but I wouldn't want to see that ending changed. Not one frame of it.

The building tension as people start losing it. The disbelief… the way people are portrayed is so convincing, and so scary. The monsters are brilliantly realized and creative. You really don't know what the hell they're going to run into next, and what the hell it's going to be capable of. Definitely a film I will watch again and again through the years.

2. Grindhouse - Was Grindhouse really released in 2007? Apparently so. A combination of two very different but equally enjoyable films sandwiched together with fake trailer insanity… a ballsy move that unfortunately proved to be a bad one. Split in half and robbed of what made Grindhouse such a fun experience at the cinema, I'm importing the special edition from Japan rather than buying any of the individual releases.

Planet Terror was ridiculous. Over the top. Silly. Brilliant. A film where a character actually rocket jumps. Who could forget Tarantino's genitals? Willis's rotting face? Marley Shelton's advice to her son? Total B movie splatstick. Exactly the sort of thing you don't expect to see screened at multiplexes across the country. I wasn't a fan of From Dusk Till Dawn (to be honest, I much more enjoyed the first half and was disappointed that all those storylines were thrown out of the window) but Rodriguez won me over this time.

Death Proof split opinion much more. Too talky some said, but not me. While I think Planet Terror was the better Grindhouse movie, I think Death Proof was the better movie. Zoe Bell was a revelation. Kurt Russell was brilliant, and when a slow moving film has a payoff like that I find it difficult to see how people weren't satisfied.

28 Weeks Later (click for larger image) 3. 28 Weeks Later - Sure it wasn't perfect, and featured a rather silly psychic zombie who seemed able to follow his kids wherever they went, but on the whole 28 Weeks Later was a very impressive sequel to 28 Days Later. A higher budget more Hollywood production did have me worried as to how things would turn out, but the sequel didn't just take the route of more but bigger and had a darker ending than the original to boot.

Throw in some great horror setpieces and a small thread of political commentary (as every good zombie movie requires) and you've got a very satisfying experience. Silly at times and shallower than the original, yes, but still a wholly satisfying and worthy sequel.

And yes. I know they don't call them zombies in the film.

4. Saw IV - I know I'm not the only one to make this observation, but any small actor needs to try and get a bit part in Saw V, so that come VI or VII they'll be the star of the movie. Saw IV felt like ‘who didn't we kill yet?' at times which isn't a criticism just an observation.

Probably the weakest film in the Saw franchise yet, it's still holding up rather well. I enjoyed seeing a little bit more of John's past which was thankfully done in such a way as to not rob Jigsaw of any menace, and arguably if it did rob him of any menace it doesn't really matter now. I did also enjoy seeing those smaller characters take center stage, and while the series is perhaps getting overly tied up in its own continuity (a Saw 2 style refresh would be nice about now) I got my money's worth and will be back next year.

As a footnote Donnie Wahlberg deserves to win some kind of award too for surviving the filming. If he was really put in one of Jigsaw's devices, I have no doubt that the guy would win his game. Once you've spent days hanging from chains stood on a big block of ice everything else mustn't seem so bad.

5. God of Vampires - I don't know when God of Vampires really came out or if it technically is out yet, but Rob Fitz's 8 years in the making, no budget Chinese vampire movie managed to entertain me more than most of the Hollywood horror I saw this year. The sheer dedication involved more than covers up the acting limitations of some (thought not all) of the cast.

The film can't completely hide its lack of anything you'd call a budget, but shot on film, mostly on location, it goes a long way to do so. The make up effects are effective. The action actually exciting… and while it doesn't have any pretences of depth, choosing Chinese vampires as the threat ensures that it's consistently engaging.

If you get the chance to see the film in 2008, do. It's one of those low budget triumphs that don't occur too often, and I wish director Rob Fitz all the best in whatever he moves onto.

The Best and Worst of 2007

1. The Invasion - The Invasion was a film I was very much looking forwards to. I'd enjoyed every adaptation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers on one level or another (and I'm including The Faculty in that) and had been saying we were overdue another for a few years. With the current climate of fear, it was absolutely the perfect time for those flexible body snatchers to represent the fears of modern times.

I hope one day we'll get to see the film Oliver Hirschbiegel made, instead of the "made by committee" one we got. Oliver made his film, and the studio didn't like it because it was too talky. He'd made something cerebral. He'd made a psychological horror movie. Instead of doing an Exorcist: The Beginning, they did something even stupider. They got the Wachowski Brothers to write a bunch of action set pieces, and they got long-time Wachoswski collaborator James McTeigue in to direct them.

The film feels like its evolution: A terrible mishmash of wildly different styles and goals that don't remotely hold together. And the ending. Good god… the ending. You want to see the opposite of The Mist? Rent The Invasion to see how Hollywood would end every horror movie if they could… not only undermining huge portions of the film, but putting a stupidly positive ending onto something that needs a dark ending.

2. Rob Zombie's Halloween - When I first saw the remake, with low expectations… I wasn't actually that disappointed. I thought that once Michael had the mask on, that Tyler Mane did a great job playing the part. I loved a lot of the scenes. I thought Daeg was fantastic as young Michael. I thought that Malcolm McDowell did a great job playing Dr Loomis and hoped for an original sequel to give him more of a chance to shine. I thought Danielle Harris was incredibly brave, and loved that unlike all other heroines in such films, made no attempt to cover up once her life was in danger. She just ran for her life. It was raw and real.

And while those feelings haven't changed, watching Carpenter's original again on Halloween kind of brought home to me all the things wrong with the remake that I was overlooking. It's horribly uneven. Starting like a typical Rob Zombie movie, shifting into more of a psychological drama, then into a clichéd horror movie and finally into almost a note for not condensed retelling of Carpenter's masterpiece.

The actors don't seem to know what kind of movie they're in, and who can blame them? The script doesn't seem to know how seriously it wants to take itself. On one hand Michael is seemingly being presented as just a man, but on the other he impossibly knows where his sister is, something which the film very well establishes that no one could possibly know. I'm not against remakes. Never have been and never will be. But this film neither brings Michael back to his original status (as it keeps all that Halloween 2 motive tosh) nor does it say anything new that the original Halloween did.

3. 1408 - So close. 1408 came so close to winning me over. I loved the idea and still do, and for the first half of the film at least I was really enjoying it. Some moments from it still give me chills thinking back on it. That brilliant "You are here" moment for example. But then all of a sudden the wheels fall off.

If a film is about being trapped in this horrible room for an unbearable hour, maybe, just maybe, you shouldn't take the person trapped in that room out of it for months, in this actually rather nice fantasy where he starts making amends with his estranged wife. For one, we all know he's not really out of the room. That isn't fooling anyone. For two… all that claustrophobia you've been building in the audience, you've just thrown it away. For three, an hour of scariness to weeks of niceness is not a nightmarish scenario. Don't go in room 1408 cause it'll torment you for a little, then give you weeks of fun, then torment you a bit again, AND THEN MAKE YOU RELIVE IT ALL OVER AGAIN!

Yeah. Scary. Plus that ending. It seemed to be going for "It was real all along!" but given that the film hadn't ever presented the events in room 1408 as anything but "now his wife knows it was real too" is hardly the kind of final note that's going to resonate with me after I leave the cinema.

4. Dead Silence - It's just too stupid. Any film where you have to do a certain thing before you get killed is always going to stretch believability. Only Clive Barker has ever managed to pull them off with any success, and Wan and Whannell aren't Clive Barker. You scream, you die. Fair enough, but like most of these things they never actually explain that.

Mary Shaw is able to do a whole bunch of horrible things all by herself. She can make phonecalls. She can make a dead body into a puppet and roll it around in a wheel chair. She can dig up puppets and take them down to the post office and mail them to people. But she can only kill you if you scream. Why? No idea.

Leigh and Whannell did great work on the Saw films, and I appreciate that they wanted to make a modern ghost story with a kind of Candyman-esque figure… but if you can't take the central premise seriously, the film is in trouble.

5. 30 Days of Night - I know this one is going to be controversial. Much enjoyed and much hyped 30 Days of Night was one of the big horror events of the year. People are going to tell me I'm crazy for putting Saw IV ahead of such a well made horror movie as 30 Days of Night but I was incredibly disappointed.

I was hoping for something more like The Mist for one. Thirty days hiding in attics would almost certainly bring about insanity and in fighting and moments of horrible tension. But no. 30 Days of Night instead shows the survivors perfectly safe once they get off the streets, despite constantly shining lights out the window and generally being very unstealthy. 30 Days of Night seems to suggest that you have regular days until you get thirty days of pitch blackness. Then you have the ending. Talk about stupid sacrifices. The sun is about to come up in 5 minutes, and the woman hiding under the car SURROUNDED BY ICE is apparently going to burn to death before then?

Sure, it had some fantastic gore, and some good action set pieces… but it had absolutely no logic and expected me to take it seriously. At least it looked pretty I suppose.



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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