Happy New Year everyone and I know I’m a little late with this as most had their ‘best of’ lists out by the end of December, but I’m ridiculously indecisive and I know as soon as I post this I’ll immediately think of others that should have been on here or it should be in a different order but such is life. So with no further ado, my top 10 horror films of 2012…
10 – Manborg
At just over an hour long this frantic, 1980s video-game look and sound alike makes for the perfect midnight movie. Some brilliant, endlessly quotable one liners make it a great one to watch with friends and the fairly short run time means the film ends before the joke wears too thin. It is hugely enjoyable and its impressive to see a film without a big budget utilise it to create a ‘look’ that escalates the film into something more interesting.
9 – Resolution
With horror fans crying out for original additions to the genre I’m expecting Resolution to be one of the most talked about horror films of 2013 despite it not really fitting into any sub-genre. Much of the film’s appeal for me rests on the incredible chemistry between drug-addled Chris (Vinny Curan) and well-meaning Michael (Peter Cilella) as it is their unlikely yet believable friendship that carries the film for the most part. I must see it again.
8 – Citadel
The first film on this year’s list to make me cry, which is, regrettably, becoming more and more common. Taking an altogether more sentimental take on ‘hoodie-horror’ ‘Citadel’ rests on the shoulders of Aneurin Barnard as a father traumatised by the death of his wife and it is his performance at the centre, despite a great turn from James Cosmo as a rather sweary priest. I do have my complaints about the film in terms of it relying a lot on loud noises as opposed to genuinely scary moments (which it does have) but this film was a great surprise with its ability to maintain a claustrophobic atmosphere throughout.
7 – Chained
Chained was probably the most uncomfortable film I saw this year and I definitely left the cinema feeling a little grubby for it. Although disturbing it also allowed for some incredibly uplifting moments as Rabbit is repeatedly conditioned to become a killer by his serial-killing captor Bob. Eamon Farren has a strangely beautiful screen presence used to full effect and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Bob intimidates through the screen. Jennifer Lynch has created a haunting film about the ways in which damaged people cope. Wonderful, but so glad I did not have to get a taxi home after watching it.
6 – Errors of the Human Body
Body horror was something I was really unsure of before attending Abertoir this year due to being unaware of my own limitations in terms of watching gore. Turns out, I’m quite a fan as this and a higher entry on the list will show. Errors of the Human Body is a heartbreaking tale of genetic modification, mad scientists and failed relationships backed up by slick production, dark laughs and a steady, if slow for some pace.
5 – Before Dawn
One of a few feature debuts on this list – this one is from husband and wife team Dominic Brunt and Joanne Mitchell. This was a film I was interested to see, but honestly did not expect that much from it and I was so glad to be proven wrong. Zombie lore meets romantic drama as a troubled couple (played by Brunt and Mitchell) head off to a remote cottage in an attempt to save their marriage, blighted by husband Alex’s drinking problems brought on by losing his job. There are some wonderful touches in this in relation to zombie mythology but at its heart remains a study of love and ultimately, despair (Aww..sweet). The second film on this list to make me cry too.
4 – The Cabin in the Woods
I think the marketing for this film was one of the things to let it down. The posters proclaimed it to be a ‘game-changer’ for the horror genre and this likely appealed to many fed up of the constant found-footage films, remakes/reboots and sequels being churned out. However, ‘Cabin’ is not a game-changer at all. What it is though, is great fun and this is probably the way it should have been sold to cinema goers. The conventions and cliches being played with have already been tackled and some of the ‘you get the horror films you deserve’ points are a little heavy-handed, but it had me glued to my seat the first time I saw it and every time since too. The only word I can ever use to describe it as is fun, and isn’t that enough sometimes?
3 – Sightseers
Ben Wheatley’s ‘Kill List’ took the number one spot in my top ten last year and the teaser clip for this had me very hopeful, with its tone very similar to British comedy series like Nighty Night – dark, biting and delightfully absurd. Of course, last year the film I was looking forward to seeing most was The Wicker Tree and we all know how that one turned out, so I was prepared for disappointment. Luckily, Sightseers did not disappoint and while probably not strictly a ‘horror’ film, work of this quality should be welcomed into the genre. Amy Jump is fast becoming one of my favourite screen writers and her collaboration with stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram for this film is hilarious. I am strongly looking forward to Wheatley and Jump’s next project ‘A Field in England’, starring Julian Barratt, Reece Shearsmith and Michael Smiley, among others.
2 – Antiviral
Brandon Cronenberg’s first film is bleak, clinical and every bit as invasive as the needlework undertaken on-screen as it explores celebrity culture, cosmetic surgery and the obsessions surrounding both. Caleb Landry Jones has a brilliant on-screen presence and often it seems like the environment has been built around him as the centre point. It is beautiful, captivating and I still can’t believe it is Brandon Cronenberg’s feature debut. It feels far more sophisticated than that.
1 – American Mary
American Mary could have won this simply with its soundtrack, which is honestly one of the best I’ve heard in a while and needs an official release. While I’m mentioning the sound (without giving anything away like some of the latest trailers…grrr) there is a moment of sound in this film so well designed that it sounded like it was coming from inside the cinema. Some fantastic prosthetic work, lashings of dark humour and not ignoring the seriousness of their story make it a very strong follow up to ‘Dead Hooker in a Trunk’. I’m already interested to see what the Soska Sisters will tackle next as their first two films couldn’t be more different. Katherine Isabelle is a compelling leading lady, but for me the star was Tristan Risk as Beatress, who ably switched from confident and comedic to tragic and fragile. With any film as highly anticipated and praised as this one its bound to have its detractors, but for me its blend of ‘Nip/Tuck’-esque stylised surgery and snarky revenge film worked very well.
So there you have it! I realise that no top 10 list will have everyone nodding in agreement so welcome others to submit their ideas about the films that maybe should have been included, or anything I’ve missed out that I should have seen. I’m on Twitter @caitlynmdowns for any discussion. Thanks for reading and I’m hoping to be able to announce a pretty cool project fairly soon…maybe even during this week.