Top 10 Horror Movies of 2012
It’s never easy picking out a top 10 for horror, for me that is. I love so many that it feels like an injustice to put them in order. Alas, my duty is to bring you just that list, so below are my picks for the top 10 horror movies of 2012. Enjoy and run out to watch them today if you haven’t already.
1. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS – It is my favorite of the bunch. You couldn’t tell with the number one placement, could you? This movie has held a special place in my heart since I watched it in a small theatre by myself in Greenesboro, North Carolina as I was visiting a friend. This small theatre allowed me to express my support of the main characters, yell in an adrenaline-filled release of tension, and yes, jump up and writhe around to the Nine Inch Nails that blared at the end. I have no shame. But to be fair, the out of the way, small theatre was empty save for me. Just how I like ‘em. This movie employs so many ideas and themes present in horror films, but is able to do so in a fresh and innovative as well as entertaining way. The effects were fun and the horror was never so dark that it pulled in a hopeless undertow, always pulling back in a never-ending balancing act of gore vs. witty dialogue. The actors were top notch, picked perfectly for their parts. The token reefer smoker was my personal fave, but I might be biased due to his creative use of an expandable thermos bong. This one will be talked about for years to come, deservingly so. Oh, and it was co-written and produced by Buffy mastermind, Joss Whedon. Need I say more?
2. THE GREY – A powerhouse of emotional undercurrents and monstrous scenes, THE GREY is equal parts action, drama, horror and suspense. The monsters are not always the wolves as the instinct for survival kicks in. Set in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness, a pack of survivors make it through a horrendous plane crash only to face a territorial and hungry pack of wolves. Man vs. beast compels this movie toward its shocking ending. The reality and raw realism of the movie elevate it, but it meets and exceeds expectations. Liam Neeson is wonderful as the lead, John Ottway, with his gruff and take no shit attitude. He carries a quiet danger that matches the stalking, deadly creatures in the darkness. Here, the roles of hunter and hunted are reversed. There is more to what is unsaid than the dialogue in this movie, but they do supply a decently creepy poem that ties the beginning to the end nicely. I was exhausted at the end from the emotional roller coaster it puts you on. This is a strong film that is deserving of the praise it received and more.
3. PARANORMAN – For the kid in all of us, such and such film company and director brought us PARANORMAN. The story goes beyond kid stuff and broaches a subject of tolerance that can be applied no matter what your age is. Part comedy, part horror, the 3D stop-animation feature, this one goes the distance. Norman Babcock can talk to and see the dead. His ability has caused him to be alienated from his peers and even his family. There is one boy who wants to be his friend, Neil, who is bullied about being overweight. It turns out that the town is in danger from a witch who was killed centuries before. The witch turns out to be a girl his age that has the same abilities he has and was executed for them. In the end, employing an ironic twist, Norman must use his powers to save the town. Different is not always a bad thing.
4. ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER – Abraham Lincoln and vampires. Who knew this wouldn’t be a straight to DVD movie lost in the annals of bad horror. This one was far from it. Excellent sets, wardrobe, effects and story are just a few of the things that make this one so successful. Abraham’s story and his transformation as the years passed was done with taste, and the vampires were vicious, bloodthirsty creatures, as they should be. No sparkling here. With a little history and a lot of violence, this film was entertainment all the way through. Benjamin Walker portrays Lincoln with a sense of gentility and quiet strength. A vampire kills his mother and Lincoln witnesses it as a child. This sets the stage for a lifetime commitment to vanquishing the monsters. My favorite parts included his training (oh boy, that axe) with his friend who turns out to be a vampire and the Civil War Gettysburg battle that now includes vampires with the troops. Lincoln didn’t only use an axe to chop down trees (man, that axe). There is also a pretty fun train scene that also pits Lincoln against the vampires again. I left that movie wanting an axe so bad (I really liked the axe action) and drooling a little bit at the way he handled it. Tim Burton co-produced this movie and the author of the novel, Seth Grahame-Smith, also wrote the screenplay. Ok. Enough about this one. And axes.
5. THE WOMAN IN BLACK – Great setting, great atmosphere, cool house. Oh, and a grown up Harry Potter. Honestly, Daniel Radcliffe does a great job playing Arthur Kipps, the movie’s protagonist who has lost his wife and single parents a four year old son. He is sent to a small, spooky, mist enshrouded town to sell the Eel Marsh House, a large, scary house. I’m a sucker for a haunted house story whether it’s in a movie or a book. His moments in the house where he is alone are spooky and filled with noises and quick sightings of an apparition. Add in that he has to be driven out to the house and the road becomes covered with the tide, and you have a man cut off from civilization in a haunted house with no way to leave. The Gothic story centers on many of the small town’s children dying, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, there appears to be a ghost, the Woman in Black, who is the culprit. There is a quiet, brooding sense and the times that you think the ghost scenes are frightening, but the tragic story is just as horrifying. An added fright, dolls and toys can be scary enough left alone, but when they move of their own accord, consider me freaked out. Tragedy and tone set the mood for this film, which was a box office success, even taking the title of highest-grossing British horror film in twenty years. The movie was based on a novel by Susan Hill. Check it out for your Gothic horror fix.
6. V/H/S – A found-footage homage, this film is also an anthology of sorts with separate films by separate directors included within the main story. Some young criminals accept a new job to go steal a VHS tape, but it turns out to be the worst job of their short lives. When they get to the location, they find an old man dead and a whole lot of tapes. They start to watch the tapes, and in between the different films, we see what is going down at the house. With separate movies all containing horrific elements, many tropes are explored. There are would-be rapists who encounter a woman that turns out to be a winged man eating creature, a psychotic honeymoon, something scary in the woods, aliens (enough said), and my favorite, a Halloween night gone wrong. While the films roll, the group experiences death and mayhem at the hands of the zombified dead man. There’s enough excitement and variety in this movie to keep horror fans happy for a long time. Oh, beware if the found-footage films and their shaky, realistic quality make you sick.
7. THE INNKEEPERS – It’s a ghost story, or is it? According to Lee, an alcoholic ex-actress turned healer and her pendulum played by Kelly McGillis, erm and a crystal, there are no ghosts, just different states of being. It is a slow build, but the film amps up with intensity and keeps going to a pretty fun and tragic last 20 minutes. Creepy EVPs are just the start. A woman’s cries, eerie and sad piano music coming from dark rooms, and enough humor injected to keep you interested are just some of the tricks up THE INNKEEPERS sleeves. Yankee Pedlar Inn. There’s a typical ghost story with Madeline O’Malley, the resident specter that hung herself after her fiancée stood her up on her wedding day. The owners hid her dead body in the root cellar for 3 days until they smuggled her away because they thought it was bad for business. Who knew? After it came to light, they sold the Yankee Pedlar Inn and it stayed empty until the 60s. O’Malley now roams the hallways waiting for her lover or maybe looking to take up a new one. The two kids running the inn are dying to get O’Malley on tape before the place shuts down after this fated weekend. The girl, Claire, played by adorable Sara Paxton, is a hilarious scaredy cat spaz, jumping at every noise. She comes complete with asthma inhaler. There are amateur paranormal investigations and a scary basement/root cellar. The moral of the story, kids, when a healer tells you not to go into the basement, don’t go. A decayed, dead eyed bride is pretty scary, but the old man is the winner in the freakiest ghost department. This one is a fun and sometimes intensely scary flick. (Yes, I know this movie came out in 2011 and not 2012, but the DVD probably came out in 2012, so we’re keeping it. I like it.)
8. LOVELY MOLLY – It is a complex and complicated film, and a treasure of scary moments, this movie depicts the descent into madness coupled with paranormal elements. I needed two viewings to soak in all of the information. A young just married couple moves into the childhood home of the bride, Molly. Molly used to be addicted to heroin, and as time goes by in the house, it seems that Molly has relapsed. Her erratic behavior raises the suspicions of her husband and sister. From her seeming obsession with a neighbor and her child, Molly has taken to videoing them and other odd things such as dead deer. She sees and hears unseen presences. Deer and horses carry a main theme in the film, and even though it somewhat comes to light in the end, there is still a bit of mystery surrounding them, which makes them more spooky. Childhood trauma is at the root of it all, and Molly is truly a tortured soul. The director, Eduardo Sanchez, does seem to like to keep things just out of sight, leaving the viewer to imagine their worst nightmares coming to life, and when we do finally see during the harrowing ending, it’s not much less unsettling. I prefer to have my imagination provide the monsters. That’s a big part of why I enjoyed THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT so many years ago, but I do understand that many others do not appreciate this. Give this film a shot. It is a little known gem. (Okay, this isn’t 2012 for the initial release either, but I like this one too.)
9. SINISTER – With a premise of an ancient deity named Bughuul who kills families in order to take the children and their souls to his dimension forever, SINISTER is a horror movie that preys upon the heart of parents everywhere. Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt, a used to be famous writer who is looking for his next big novel. He moves his family to a home where a murder occurred, but doesn’t tell them. Hoping for inspiration, he instead finds a series of movies that show families being murdered. But that’s not all they have in them. They also have a scary, demonic figure that Oswalt soon finds out is Bughuul. Working with the police and a professor, he finds out the entities motivation. After a particularly upsetting visit from some of the children from the crimes, Oswalt decides to move back to their original home, but before they can make it, well, you’ll have to watch it and see. Full of creepy and at times shocking material, this movie pulls out the shocks just when you think there will be no more.
10. THE COLLECTION – A sequel to 2009’s THE COLLECTOR, this film is really geared toward the horror fan. Full of gore and deaths, this follows along with the idea of a Collector who kills everybody but one person as he “collects” them. This movie takes it one, or two, or maybe five steps farther with the Collector’s twisted traps, and human experiments, and shows how he has mutilated and drugged people he has captured in order to use them in case his hideout is found. Arkin, the man who was collected at the end of the first movie, returns and escapes the serial killer. Now the Collector has the daughter of a wealthy man. With the resources and the police accompanying, Arkin leads them to his hideout, where the real horrors abound. It’s fast paced, full of blood and hideous creations and in your face fear. Watch it if you dare.
For 2013 I have been hearing about some wonderful, horrible things to come. I’m keeping my fingers crossed they live up to the hype. Either way, I will still enjoy the tense, edge of your seat, hold your breath, eyes wide open, kick ass surprise that makes me love horror (even if I have to pull out an oldie but a goodie to get it). Long live Horror!
Tags: abraham lincoln, cabin in the woods, paranorman, sinister, the collection, the grey, the innkeepers, vhs, woman in black