2012 Top Ten
This has been a very mixed year for films and while I enjoyed many of the films released this year it has been a stronger year for science fiction and fantasy films than for horror films. These lists are only based on films I have seen and I know that some of the ones I haven’t seen yet would have had a good chance of getting on my list if I’d seen them including Dredd, Looper and The Hobbit, so this is not a comprehensive list. I chose these films for how much I enjoyed watching them.
Honourable mention to Absentia
A woman whose about to have her missing husband declared legally dead finds that he may not have gone far. This low budget independent horror managed to create an effective sense of gloom in dread without a big CGI budget. It creates a chilling atmosphere with the effective use of sounds and shadows and the story is pretty original
10. Juan of the Dead
Independent films seem to have a hard time getting cinema distribution but this appeared fairly quickly on DVD.This film is genuinely funny with a streak of sharp social commentary as we see Juan and his friends making the best of a zombie plague in Cuba and even finding ways to turn a profit
9. The Dead
This film also only got a limited cinema release but it is a great back to basics zombie survival horror. I like my zombies to be the slow silent shambling kind and that is what this film delivers. It had a simple story and strong characters and it is a must see for zombie fans.
When a couple of researchers discover a starmap hidden in the art of different ancient cultures a wealthy businessman sends a ship to the star system to investigate hoping to discover something about the origins of mankind but what they find is not answers but more questions. Ridley Scott’s return to the universe he created in Alien isn’t as gritty and intimate as that film but it still a good solid science fiction film, even if there was a lot of gratuitous sequel baiting
7. The Innkeepers
I know that this film was doing the film festivals in 2011 but we didn’t see it in UK until 2012 and it got the familiar “blink and you’ll miss it” release in the cinemas. It is a nice tight supernatural thriller with great performances from the Sara Paxton and Pat Healy as two amateur ghost hunters investigating the haunting of the inn where they work.
6. The Woman in Black
It is great to see the Hammer studio back in the horror film production business and this is their biggest recent success. That may have been due to lead being played by Daniel Radcliffe in his first film role since the end of the Harry Potter series. This is a vengeful ghost story that really ramps up the atmosphere of gloom before scaring the crap out you. Hammer were always at their best in period costumes
5. Iron Sky
Nazis hiding on the dark side of the moon launch an invasion of the United States. This ambitious crowd funded film hardly ever shows its limited budget and it’s a film I have watched over and over. Like all the best comedy it is played totally straight. Julie Dietz is great as the sympathetic Nazi teacher who seems to have no idea what the Nazi are really like. Stephanie Paul is a creepily Palin-like US president and Otto Gotz really throws himself into the role as the big magnificent Nazi bastard.
A true crime writer moves his family into a murder house but as he investigates the crimes he discovers something ancient is behind the murders and several more he finds out about. This is definitely the creepiest, scariest film I’ve seen this year and it makes great use of old film footage.
3. The Dark Knight Rises
The conclusion of Christopher Nolan‘s batman trilogy manages to complete his story of Batman and it really puts Bruce Wayne through a much tougher set of obstacles to overcome the threat posed by Bane who wants to complete Ras al Ghul’s mission of destroying Gotham City for the League of Shadows.
2. The Cabin in the Woods
When co-writer Joss Whedon was quoted as calling this film a loving hate-letter to the horror genre you could probably guess this film was going to be divisive. Even the cliché of the five young friends travelling to the titular cabin the woods is all part a huge in-joke and the whole film is a metaphor of the horror industry. It has great characters, a smart, original story and an ending sure to make horror fans just squee with delight.
1. The Avengers
I’ve a been long time fan of Marvel and so this film was made for me and designed in almost every way to appeal to what I wanted to see in a comic book film. It was great to the see the different characters butting heads and the big action set pieces really brought the comicbook battles to the big screen. It was great to see that the character al got their chance to shine through and the portrayal of the Hulk was incredible. Now Marvel’s stage one has been so successful they are in position to expand their movie universe with further titles and characters.
Special mention to some of the films that I didn’t see until they were released on DVD/Bluray in 2012 and would have gotten into 2011’s top ten list if I had seen them
This found footage film gives a pretty nice portrayal of what could happen to a group of normal boys who gain super-powers. The special effects are pretty well done but it the performances of the young actors who give this film its strength
This family adventure film from Martin Scorsese would have been a real treat to watch at the cinema in 3D and I loved the way it paid respect to the pioneers of cinema without it even seeming to be about cinema at all.
The Adventures of Tintin
More family adventures this time from Steven Speilberg with a motion-capture animation of the classic Belgian comic book character Tintin that manages to stay pretty faithful to adventure of the nosy young reporter.
We Need to talk About Kevin
This harrowing drama about mother of a boy of commits an atrocity and now she has to live alone in the aftermath. Tilda Swinton is just fantastic in this part as a woman examining her memories of the boy she never loved. This is not a feel-good film but it is definitely a must-see.
Worst Films of 2012
Because I’m more likely to take a chance on a film on DVD than pay to see a stinker at the cinema these films were all on DVD or in one case Bluray. Since low-budget films can be good enough to appear in my top ten list having a low budget can hardly be used as an excuse for these dull annoying films.
10. Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies
Asylum cash in that can only really be enjoyed in the “so bad its good” sense but I don’t that films that start off intending to be cheesy knock-offs should get that pass since it tends to justify laziness and stupid fort he sake of stupid. It is one of the better Asylum efforts, as if that is saying anything.
I barely even remember this film which is a pretty good hint that this film belongs on this list. A group of young people find themselves being victimised by a serial killer in a salvage yard. The film is not very original and is very inconsistent in tone.
8. Stonehenge Apocalypse
The Syfy channel has gotten a reputation for producing dumb films and this a perfect example. Not only are ancient astronauts real but Stonehenge and the pyramids were created as a terraforming mechanism and a mad scientist has activated so its up to another mad scientist to find the lost pyramid of Maine and shut it down to save the world.
7. Kentucky Fried Zombies
This pointless film has a serial killer killer in a diner caught up in a zombie outbreak. This film just failed to connect to with me and I didn’t really laugh at any of its attempts at dark humour
6. Tape 407
A passenger plane crashes in side a gorvernment secure zone and survivors find themseklves facing some something lethjl in the darkness. I don’t hate found footage films but like any technique it can be well done or badly done and this one is mostl just running in the dark and screaming while the shaky-cam bounces all over the place
5. Sand Sharks
An island holiday resort is plagued by sharks that swim the sand and the Sheriff finds his attempts to alert people thwarted by the interests of the mayor and his son who wants to hold a hippy music festival and make money. This film is another low-budget Syfy production and it is dumb and very badly written relying on making the characters do stupid things to further the stupid plot. It also has very unconvincing cheap CGI effects that are almost signature of awful SyFy films.
4. The Dead Matter
This films was just muddled mess. A group of young people come into possession of a magical amulet being hunted by a vampire and and couple of vampires hunters. The amulet can control the dead and soon they are hanging out with a zombie. This film is dull and the story is just silly.
Military mad science has managed to capture a ghost and they use it to torture terrorist subjects. The characters are just plot driven puppets and not like real people.What gets to me the most about the story is the enormity of the achievement of seems to by-pass the peabrains running the military complex or their political masters. They have least proven the existence of spirits but seem neither amazed or excited by this.
2. The Wicker Tree
I had quite high expectations of this film since it is directed by Robin Hardy the same director as the fantastic Wicker man but I should note that he’s not the scriptwriter of that film. The same broad theme of the clash of evangelical Christianity with paganism is much more crudely done with some very amateurish acting and lots of singing. It fails to build up to any powerful climax and it is a pale shadow of the original film and even makes the Nicholas Cage remake look good.
A bunch of idiots driving get terrorised by killer in a bunny costume and then find themselves being hunted down by his crazy family. Stupid characters do stupid things and they get killed by a cliché family of psychopaths. It has long periods of just being annoying broken up with occasional scenes of baffling idiocy. It really tries to be bad and has succeeded.