Was 2008 a good year for horror? Some people might argue that the deluge of PG-13 “bubblegum horror” (Prom Night remake, Twilight, The Haunting of Molly Hartley, etc.) damaged horror’s reputation, but the fact can’t be denied that there were also some mighty fine horror movies released this year that scared the pants off people.
Whether you think 2008 was a good or bad year for horror, I’ve
compiled my picks for the best and worst horror films of 2008.
(I’ve tried to be accurate with release dates, but with some
films it’s a slippery slope when trying to pin down an exact release
date (limited theatrical vs. DVD release, foreign releasing, etc.), so
please give me some wiggle room…I'm only trying to showcase the very
best (and worst) films that caught my eye this year.)
10.) The Strangers – One of the only movies that genuinely creeped me out this year! Its
subtle horror gets under your skin and I love the creepy music that was
used. The first appearance of one of the villains in the house (oh, so
subtle) had me holding on to the arms of my chair for dear life! A
tension-filled, expertly filmed horror movie.
9.) Brutal Massacre
– This is just a plain hilarious farce on horror filmmaking. The
dead-pan, dry humor had me rolling on the floor, along with the
situations the characters found themselves in. The actors were
pitch-perfect, including Gunnar Hansen who stole the show as a creepy
8.) Re-Cycle – A whimsical, visually-stimulating piece of fantasy-horror cinema from the Pang Brothers. Re-Cycle
is absolutely stunning to look at, but it also features an engaging,
mysterious and touching storyline. I also love how it skewers the
typical Asian horror film in its opening scenes, but it quickly moves
into its fantastic fantasy world filled with zombies, abortion babies,
ghosts and crumbling, abandoned cities.
7.) Poultrygeist – No movie this year has made me simultaneously laugh and gag as much as Poultrygeist.
It’s ultra-low brow humor, musical numbers, copious gore, offensiveness
and social commentary made it one of the most entertaining horror films
of the year. I’m not even a big fan of Troma films and I think this is
one of their best ever! This is a fowl, gross-out movie that super-sizes the fun and comes with an extra side of AWESOME!
6.) Cloverfield – The most scary monster movie of the year, period. Cloverfield
perfectly captures the immediacy, confusion and emotion of disaster and
really gives us a taste of what have must have been like on 9/11 and
other major, big-city catastrophes. This is the one film of 2008 that
utilizes the hand-held, “shaky cam” technique the best and in a way that
makes the most sense. The monster and its mysterious appearance also
adds to the fear factor.
5.) The Orphanage
– Haunting, unsettling and heartbreaking best describe this beautifully
scary film. If you haven’t seen it yet…do yourself a favor and see it
4.) The Signal
– An intelligent, gritty, comedic love story peppered with intense
bouts of gore. It has three separate “transmissions” (each directed by a
different director) that each focus on a different character and carry a
slightly different tone.
3.) Red Velvet
– I saw this film at Fango in April and was blown away by its
originality, horror-movie smarts and witty dialogue. It also boasts a
killer creation of a horror movie killer…but is he/she real or just in
the imagination of the storyteller? Hopefully more people will get to
see it in 2009…I hear it already has a distribution deal!
2.) Let the Right One In
– This movie is like an otherworldly, transcendent experience. After
watching it you are changed and look at the world in a wholly different
way. Everything from the stark atmosphere to the touching relationship
between the two main characters to the bouts of violence we see
entrances us and pulls us into the film and story even farther.
1.) Midnight Movie
– Both an homage to old “midnight movies” (and horror movies in
general) and an entirely original storyline about a killer in a film
that can move beyond his celluloid prison and stalk and kill the patrons
of an old movie theater. Instead of being a standard hack ‘n’ slash
movie, there is a great supernatural twist to the proceedings that just
adds so much! Everything from the production values to the acting and
the gore is top notch and my eyes were glued to the screen for the
film’s entirety. Not to mention that the film creates an iconic killer
that could stand up there with Leatherface, Freddy, Jason or Michael!
Ever since I saw this movie it has been on my mind and I can’t wait
until more people are able to view it when it hits DVD in January.
10.) Automaton Transfusion
– With the exception of its gore, I felt that this indie film did
everything wrong. Huge inconsistencies, big plot holes, unbelievable
circumstances and overuse of the shaky cam irked me enough to include it
in my worst of. Plus, the fact that it was so over-hyped but failed to
deliver anything new, different or entertaining to the zombie genre
really pissed me off.
9.) Diary of the Dead
– Heavy-handed social commentary and a lame-o storyline with detestable
characters really killed this for me. Incredibly boring with social
commentary about as fresh as the rotting corpses surrounding the
8.) Killer Pad – Feel like torturing someone? Look no further than Robert Englund’s return to directing, Killer Pad. It tries for Dude, Where’s My Car
humor, but fails miserably. It is an embarrassing film to watch knowing
Mr. Englund was involved, especially with the bad 13-year-old-type
dialogue that this turkey is stuffed with, not to mention the unlikable
characters, plot holes and the sheer stupidity of the script. After this
movie, I might be convinced that Englund should stick to acting…
7.) Pathology – Ok, so I wasn’t expecting much from the writers of Crank,
but c’mon! What ever happened to believability in a flick?! This film
shows how a regular good guy can turn tail and become a murdering,
adulterous druggie, throwing his whole life and future career away. Why,
you ask? Because someone triple dog dared him, that’s why! Besides the
ridiculously ludicrous plot, it has bad acting (does actor Milo
Ventimiglia seriously only have one expression?), little gore and
horrible logic. Plus, it lacks the killer autopsy scenes I was expecting
to see…This one is definitely DOA.
– This movie was so forgettable that I’ve had to look at my review
TWICE to remind myself what the hell it was about. Stupid characters
(each with a deep dark secret…how convenient) find out their dorm used
to be some old mental hospital with a craaaaazy doctor performing
experiments….yada yada YAWN. Not even the silliness of the doctor’s
character can pull this one out of the dregs. Totally unmemorable except
for the fact that it’s so forgettable.
5.) Catacombs – I love Shannyn Sossamon, but girl needs a new agent! She was in the awful One Missed Call remake
(luckily I didn’t sit through that one) and this atrocious mess of a
movie. This film had the coolest and creepiest setting ever (the
cavernous catacombs of Paris, though it wasn’t even filmed there –
strike one!), but quickly turned to merde with the most
annoying characters ever created, a predictable plot, zero scares and a
cop-out ending that makes everything you’ve just watched not count for
anything. Shannyn, either stay outta the horror genre or land a gig for a
film that’s actually good!
4.) Women’s Studies – This indie film, about murders in an all-girls college, had me intrigued when I first heard about it. Like Teeth, it seemed to promise strong feminist values, but, again like Teeth,
it failed to deliver. Instead, I was forced to suffer through
stereotypical depictions of “feminists.” According to this movie,
feminists are all man-hating, hippie lesbians. Add a plodding, boring
storyline, more stupid characters and horrendous dialogue and all that
you’ll be studying while watching this film is the ceiling…because the
ceiling is far more interesting than Women’s Studies.
– This movie makes me seething mad. I can’t believe how many people
fell for its “feminist horror flick” shtick when it’s just the opposite.
The storyline may be original, but the execution was all wrong and
downright insulting, especially the end when marriage was presented as a
“cure-all” for the main character’s “problem.” Teeth
took what could have been a strong woman-centric message but instead
decided to shove patriarchal values down our throats instead. Just
pathetic. This movie can bite me.
2.) Lost Boys 2: The Tribe – This movie felt like an episode of The O.C.
with rich kids in a California beach town driving their expensive
motorcycles/cars and throwing massive parties while two outsiders, a
brother and sister (though they seem creepily incestuous), try to fit
in. Little sister falls for the “most popular guy” and big brother tries
to stop this romance…oh, and there are vampires in there somewhere. A
complete and utter letdown…I don’t even think your 12-year-old sister
would be caught dead watching this.
1.) Return to Sleepaway Camp
– I would rather gouge out my own eyes with rusty nails than see this
insulting, unfunny and stupid sequel again! Fans of the original
Sleepaway Camp films will be appalled at this Return,
from the dialogue that sounds like it was written by a five-year-old
that got dropped on its head to the horrible, unlikable characters and
mediocre deaths. Even a last-minute (and last-ditch) appearance from
Angela herself and cameos from actors from the original film couldn’t
save me from the painful experience.