Thursday, December 31, 2009

13 Best Horror Movies of 2009 (And the Guilty Pleasure)

The year is almost over-here's my pics for best horror releases of the year, plus the big guilty pleasure

13.) Paranormal Activity

While it didn't live up to all the hype it got, "Paranormal Activity" was a grateful reminder that one can do R rated horror without heaps of gore. It also bested "Saw VI" in the box office, so here's hoping it's the final nail in the coffin for the genre of torture horror-at least as far as popularity is concerned.

12.) Grace

Dramatic, darkly comic and haunting, "Grace" is a creepy feminist horror tale that takes the idea of motherhood to almost "Repulsion" levels of creepiness. It also has some of the strongest performances in horror this year.

11.) Pontypool

While it usually feels like the well has been run dry as far as originality is concerned in the zombie movie, "Pontypool" manages to create an original twist on the zombie, while adding something not too dissimilar from William S. Burroughs quote "language is a virus", and featuring a stand out performance from Stephen McHattie.

10.) Dead Snow

It may not have an original bone in it's body, but "Dead Snow" is a blast of Zombie loving Horror/Comedy that mostly pleases. Sure, the references to older, superior fair may get old, but it's impossible to not get swept up in this gory, lovable romp.

9.) I Sell The Dead

If your like me, you sometimes long for the days of old Gothic horror. You know, the type Hammer and Paul Naschy used to release. Well thank your lucky stars, because "I Sell The Dead" is an affectionate Send Up/Love Letter to those days, with fun performances and an infectious sense of humor.

8.) The Children

As I said in my review, kids can be rotten bastards. Case in point, this Fulci like tale of evil tykes, which creates a mood of inevitable doom and horror, while not lightening up on the outright viciousness. One of the best sleepers of the year.

7.) The Hills Run Red

An affectionate but very intelligent tribute/study of the slasher movie, "The Hills Run Red" is one of the best slasher movies of the decade. It's a refreshing change of pace too, as it deviates and challenges the medium of the slasher movie, while never feeling disrespectful or callous to the genre.

6.) Thirst

South Korean director Park Chan-Wook ("Oldboy", "Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance", "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance") takes on the vampire in this erotically charged black comedy that stands as an instant classic in the field of vampire movies. Managing to be sympathetic to it's lead, while effectively mixing bursts of violence with drama and black humor, "Thirst" is a must for horror fans.

5.) Drag Me To Hell

While it may not top Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" movies, "Drag Me To Hell" is a very welcome return to form that mixes horror with Three Stooges on acid style humor in the way only he can do. Also features on of the most memorable Horror Villains of the decade in Mrs. Ganush.

4.) Antichrist

A lot has been said about this-it's unintentionally funny, too pretentious, ugly, etc. While I can't argue with those arguments, no other horror movie this year shook me the way "Antichrist" did. An assault of torture, dark symbolism, mutilation, disturbing sex and violence, grief, castration and outright evil that proves once again that no woman hath fury like nature. It also features what may be the strongest female performance of the year from Charlotte Gainsbourg. Not since Eihi Shiina in "Audition" has an actress been this convincing and outright horrifying in a genre film this decade.

3.) The House Of The Devil

Ty West's slow moving, but unnerving tribute to all things spooky and unnerving in 80's horror (it's even set in the 80's) is rewarding in it's sense of unease and slow but unpreventable horror that becomes worth it in it's terrifying conclusion. Also, any horror movie that casts Mary Warnoc and Tom Noonan is good in my book.

2.) Zombieland

Probably the funniest movie of the year to boot, "Zombieland" is a fun filled romp through a zombie infested apocalypse that may be the final proof that this was the decade of the zombie. Also featuring one of the best cameos ever.

1.) Trick r' Treat

After two years of delays, "Trick r' Treat" finally made it's debut-too bad it wasn't the theatrical release it deseved. Undoubtedly one of the definative celebrations of the true most wonderful time of the year, "Trick r' Treat" is awesome fun from beginning to end, and the kind of thing only the most sour horror fan could resist. See it now-or at least when October comes around. You won't regret it.

Guilty Pleasure:

The recent wave of R-rated slasher movie remakes. While some may pout at the prospect, this year saw "Friday The 13th", "My Bloody Valentine" and "The House On Sorority Row" get the remake treatment. While theses remakes have detractors, I couldn't help but enjoy them. "Friday The 13th" saw Jason return to his roots, and was all the better for it, while "My Bloody Valentine 3-D" wore it's love for the slasher genre on it's sleeve (and brought back Tom Atkins-missed ya man!), and "Sorority Row", while obviously made for the same crowd who watches shows like "The Hills", was a fun little movie with a great bitchy performance from Leah Pipes. Some may balk at this, but hell, I enjoyed them.

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