Sunday, December 18, 2011

Best Sleeper Movies/Guilty Pleasures of 2011

2011 gave us plenty of movies that accomplished a lot, but unfortunately, some went on to be ignored. Here's a look at the limited releases and straight to video movies of 2011 that are worth checking out, but few seemed to talk about, in no particular order.

Best Sleepers

-I Saw The Devil-Of all the genre movies released this year, this has to be my favorite. A look at the nature of revenge and the possibility of man becoming a monster, this is harsh, unblinking stuff, with unflinching, brutal violence, bloodshed and several sprinklings of the blackest of black humor.

-Dream Home-The housing crisis in China gets the horror treatment in this intelligent, blackly comic slasher splatter movie, with a particularly strong performance from lead Josie Ho as a woman hard on her luck, pushed to the brink.

-We Are What We Are-A tale of a cannibalistic family that doubles as an allegory on politics, sexuality and the fracturing of a family, "We Are What We Are" is an honest, intelligent drama that deserves more fans.

-Julia's Eyes-Though I wasn't thrilled with the conclusion, this Guillermo Del Toro produced film straddles the lines between an old school, De Palma style thriller and an artful Giallo. Definitely worth a look.

-Prey-A angry, wild boar is a catalyst for generational conflict in this entry of what I like to call the "Pigsploitation" genre. Nothing groundbreaking, but worth a look.

-Rambock: Berlin Undead-Of all the "Bloody Disgusting Presents" movies, I feel this hour long take on the zombie apocalypse has been unjustly overlooked, as it's an interesting look at a man who is looking hard and wide to reconcile with his ex amidst apocalyptic panic.

-Phase 7-Another overlooked "Bloody Disgusting Selects" movie takes a look at the aftermath of a pandemic. What sets it apart though, is the tone, which veers more towards the darkly comic than it does the typical straight faced approach.

-Kidnapped-What looks on the surface like another "home invasion" movie is actually an interesting spin on it, as it uses split screen techniques and interesting plot twists to create a nihilistic but better than usual twist on the sub-genre.

-Seconds Apart-The best of the "After Dark Originals" takes a look at two murderous twins with telekinetic powers, and how the rigors of high school life and blossoming sexual interests can affect sibling relationships. A thoughtful take on the "killer kids/twins" movie.

-Muay Thai Fighter-Yes, it's more of an action/drama with more emphasis on the latter, and yes, it's too long. That out of the way, this is a surprisingly well acted, choreographed and directed movie that exceeded my low expectations.

Better Late Than Never

-The Dead Matter-The self-distributed directorial debut (say that seven times fast) from one of the men behind musical group Midnight Syndicate is an assured blend of Gothic horror and tongue-in-cheek humor that relies more on atmosphere than it does gore. One of last year's biggest sleepers, which took me by surprise this year.

-Primal-Far from a classic, this pastiche picture is at least entertaining for what it is, and offers some choice laughs for good measure.

Guilty Pleasures

-The Taint-While it's way too self aware for it's own good, this tasteless, disgusting micro-budget movie also feels more like a Troma movie than many of it's kin does.

-Pleasures of the Damned-By all accounts, I should hate this micro-budget, sub-Troma satire/homage to trashy Grindhouse movies, which feels like it was made by a mediocre sketch comedy troupe. And you know what? I laughed hard at it many a time, though it does run out of steam within the last 20-15 minutes. The guiltiest "Pleasure" of the year.

So there you have it.

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