Deadly Movies | Top 10 movies of 2011
2011 was a funny year in horror. The remake itch is certainly being scratched less by the major studios, a mixture of poor public response and the well being all-but-dry of titles has seen to that. Paranormal Activity continues to be the new annual Halloween tradition, filling the void left by SAW. It was also a much better year for Indie horror, with some absolute gems getting wider recognition in theatres or on DVD. Scandinavia also continues to be the game leader in quirky, beautifully crafted, fairy-tale horror. So looking at the horror genre with broad strokes as ever (inc sci-fi, creatures, monsters etc) let’s take a look at Deadly Movies favourites.
10, ‘Scream 4’: For sheer nostalgia reasons, and for the fact that it was much better than anticipated, Wes Craven’s return to the franchise creeps into the Top 10. Yes Craven shoved the ‘Meta’ message down your throat until you gagged uncontrollably, and yes the plot was unspeakably silly, but the fact remains that for genre fans it was great to see Gail, Dewey, and Sydney back together again fighting Ghost Face. All the boxes were checked for the series fans, and the gore was surprisingly gruesome. And you have to take your hat off to Craven for duping us into thinking this would be a Scream The Next generation type hand-over, when in fact the ending most certainly suggests otherwise.
9, ‘Rise of the Apes’: Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year in terms of exceeding expectations, ‘Rise of the Apes‘ was not just a highly enjoyable slice of creature Sci-Fi, but it also fitted surprisingly well into the larger ‘Apes’ cannon. The movie was always going to live or die by it’s success in portraying a fully CG Cesar (voiced and motion capture by Andy Serkis) and despite some dodgy moments (especially when depicting Young Cesar who’s often a blur) Weta Workshops did a fantastic job, not only with Cesar, but with all the apes. The tie-in’s to the 1968 original were spot on, the action was decent, and the set-up for future movies was handled well. Aside from some superfluous characters, this was top-notch creature sci-fi.
8, ‘Insidious’: I can hear fans of James Wan now calling for my head. But as good a haunted house/possession/exorcism film as this is.., and it really is, all the terror and suspense was let down by a silly final 15 minutes when Patrick Wilson entered the Beetlejuice-esque netherworld. That aside though, the rest of the movie is about as butt clenchingly chilling as you could find in 2011, and for me, much better than the fun, but all to obvious, scares offered by the Paranormal Activity sequels.
7, ‘The Thing’: What a crowd splitter this turned out to be. To those who hold John Carpenter’s original in such high regard (I am one) that it can’t be touched, sequeled, remade (I am not.., IT IS A REMAKE YOU MORONS!) then there was probably nothing that director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr could do to please them anyway. But the end result was a love letter to Carpenter’s masterpiece rather than a slander on it’s reputation as some would have you believe. And for true fans that is no bad Thing (pun intended). The CGI creature effects were a real shame, surely practical effects were the way to go? And the remake elements of the plot were a safe but rather unsatisfying aspect. But the film’s strength lies in its prequel elements which were a real joy, and I for one loved how the film ended by playing straight into Carpenter’s original.
Read the Deadly Movies review here
6, ‘Black Swan’: (2010 for some, January 2011 many international markets). Not necessarily a horror film as such, but then again not unnecessarily a horror film. The investigation into one person’s personal horror was something to be celebrated by horror fans and learnt from by filmmakers. This is how you successfully convey a characters internalised horror. What Natalie Portman’s character goes through in the movie, whether real, projected, or both, is fantastically realised by Aronofsky who brings the audience right into her world and makes you feel very uncomfortable and clostrophobic. Plus the fingernail and toenail scenes are bloody excruciating!
Read the Deadly Movies review here
5, ‘I Saw the Devil’: Intense! Korean horror delivers another intense, visceral, and disturbing movie. The movie takes the serial killer revenge narrative and squeezes every ounce of tension and disturbia out of it. Reminiscent of everything you love about ‘The Silence of the Lambs‘, ‘I Saw the Devil‘ is a lesson in repulsive violence without the need for obvious gratuity. The two leads are fantastic, with Min-sik Choi delivering a performance worthy of Hannibal Lector, John Doe, and Albert DeSalvo with his Kyung-Chul. But the real success is director Ji-woon Kim who keeps things tight and deliberate to make you feel all the more ill at ease.
4, ‘Super 8’: Wonderful alien movie from JJ Abrams that manages to evoke all the very best from the adventure movies of the 80s without the need for parody. The real success of this movie is the child cast who were given great material to work with and didn’t have everything dumbed down which is the temptation with most movies that have attempted to recapture the magic of films like ET and The Goonies. It is a nostalgia-fest, but deep down it’s not nostalgic for the past, or even the music and fashions, but for a type of story telling which seemed to have escaped most filmmakers (including Spielberg himself it must be said).
Read the Deadly Movies review here
3, ‘Rubber’: “Ladies and gentleman, the film you are about to see today is an homage to no reason“. This is opening line delivered to us, the poor unexpecting audience, who, are about to watch 90 some minutes of the most bizarre, Americana cinema you could’ve wished for in 2011. if you didn’t get to see ‘Rubber‘ then search it out if your sensibilities are attracted to the notion of a crazed, murderous tire. Yes a car tire. An actual car tire. The murder is an abandoned old tire. Yes a tire that rolls through the desert coming accross equally strange groups of people and at times killing them. Not only that the tire also manages a few every day tasks; it takes a swim, has a shower, watches TV, and even checks into a motel for the night. There’s so much more to say, but It’s hard to get it all in given the true madness of this movie and It’s in your face destruction of the cinematic fourth-wall. It’s just bat-shit crazy, but loveably awesome.
2, ‘Attack the Block’: All the very best of British to you. This fantastic British sci-fi is as entertaining as it is thoughtful. Not only does it provide an excellent alien invasion narrative, it also manages to both poke-fun at the absurdity of chav culture whilst simultaneously commenting on the causes of it and the difficulties faced by those born into Britain’s growing, ghettoised, under-class. What exactly a chav is may be lost on non-British viewers, but the dialogue between the excellent teenage cast is razor sharp and hugely enjoyable for anyone. The film cleverly navigates celebrating or condemning this social group which is to the credit of writer/director Joe Cornish. All of this plus giant space bear-dogs attacking a London council block. Superb, and a real standout in 2011.
1, ‘Troll Hunter’: Call me romantic, but I just can’t get enough of these Scandinavian horror fairytales and I don’t seem to be alone here, with almost every Scandinavian horror from the past ten years either in the process of being remade or in some stage of development. Shot in perhaps my least favourite style, fake first person documentary, the search to uncover a government secret which keeps Norway’s troll problem hidden from the public is simply a wonderful concept. It’s a romantic journey to go on and the characters are great to spend time with, especially the Troll Hunter himself Hans. As for the trolls, well they are fantastically realised, walking the fine line between realism and watercolour sketches from a children’s book. It’s probably my bias towards creature features, but for me Troll Hunter was the Deadly Movie of 2011.