During the last month of the outgoing year and sometimes stretching into the first week of the New Year, people like me – who talk about movies – usually post lists of what they thought were their favorite movies or least favorite movies or what they are looking forward to in the next year. Generally, these take the form of a “Top 10” list. I thought about doing one but then came to the realization: I only watched ten movies for all of last year – at least for reviewing purposes. Instead, I’ve decided to list those movies with some of my own meandering thoughts on each.
“The Devil Inside” – There are still not enough profanities in my word bag to describe the contempt I still have for this film. Despite the enormous FU to the audience that was the ending of this film, I’m sure there’s some hack in some Hollywood studio boardroom, even now, trying to figure out how to put it onto another movie.
“The Woman in Black” – A nice return to form for the Grand Dame of Gothic horror film studios, Hammer Films. It’s atmospheric and dark with an unfortunate reliance on jump-scares. Still, it’s not a bad watch.
“Silent House” – It was an interesting remake of a Uruguayan film that introduced me to, apparently, the only talented Olsen sister. Well done and watchable for, if for no other reason, the interesting gimmick of it being shot in “one continuous shot.”
“The Cabin in the Woods” – The Best Horror Film of 2012? Maybe, though it’s not much in the scare department. It is, however, the horror fan’s horror movie. Goddard and Whedon absolutely pack this movie with nods and nuggets for genre fans.
“The Raven” – Maybe I’m just not up on what a good Edgar Allen Poe… impersonator looks and sounds like. Maybe I should find out if I ever want to watch this again and possibly enjoy it. It felt like someone decided that there needed to be a period piece detective story with a literary character and Poe’s name came out of the hat.
“The Apparition” – It’s the film we all complain about: a film packed with pretty faces, mostly from popular teen entertainment, and not much else going for it. You could call this one the poster child for what’s wrong with Hollywood today. You really could, but let’s face it: Hollywood has been doing this for years. From the “Rock and Roll” movies of the 50’s, the beach party movies of the 60’s and on. Welcome the new millennium iteration.
“The Possession” – I really do want to like this movie. It was well made and well-acted. It just doesn’t seem terribly necessary. It hits all the right notes at all the right times in all the right ways much in the same way that a bus goes to the same stops daily. It’s a routine film.
“Sinister” – This is my other contender for the best of 2012. I’ve heard people complain that this doesn’t bring anything new to the table. That’s as may be – it’s kind of an old-fashioned. It develops characters, gives them plausible motivations and – for the most part – makes them behave in believable fashions. Is it a perfect movie? No, but it’s a damn fine one.
“Paranormal Activity 4” – You might have noticed that I wrote no review for PA4 when it came out. It seemed pointless at the time and it really seems pointless now. It’s the same crap rehashed and served to us again. Like any movie that becomes a blessed Hollywood “franchise,” they are rearranging cowpies in a pasture: sure it looks different but it’s still crap.
“The Collection” – Sometimes, you can’t grow a beautiful flower without heaping a ton of poop on top of it. To be honest, the roots of cinematic horror are buried deep in it. Going back to the grindhouse theaters of New York’s 42nd Street to the B-films of the 50’s, low-brow guilty pleasures are in horror’s DNA. “The Collection” isn’t trying to be the movie you “discuss the merits of.” It’s the one you walk out of and go, “That was badass.”
So, what about horror for 2013? Quite honestly, it looks about the same. There are lots of movies that look good but trailers, like makeup on a stripper, can hide a multitude of flaws. What would I recommend? At this point, only two movies come to mind. First, you have the “Evil Dead” remake. CGI-free, produced by Sam Raimi and looking to be a very hard R rating (if not NC-17), this may be the year’s watershed movie for genre fans. The second is “The Conjuring”. Director James Wan, probably best known for birthing the “Saw” series with Leigh Whannell, has, in my opinion a keen eye for creating creepy atmospheres. For evidence of that, take a look at 2011’s “Insidious” or the underrated “Dead Silence”. While each movie has its share of flaws, the visuals aren’t among them.
After that, 2013’s slate elicits shrugs, some cautious optimism and some outright eye-rolling. And if you, like me, only catch ten movies next year, try to make sure they’re good ones.