in Shocktober

John’s Top Five Horror Films of 2011

You don’t see a lot of “Top Fives” on the blog but I also don’t see many good horror movies these days. Thankfully there’s always a few so I can at least do a this short list. It’s a little complicated to sort out when all these movies actually came out considering most of the best modern horror movies are either foreign or independently released but this is close enough, enjoy if you dare.

5. Vanishing on 7th Street

More and more I find myself respecting the efforts of independent filmmaker Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Transsiberian) one of the few indie filmmakers today trying to put the story back in horror story. Anderson isn’t about big scares as much he’s about establishing atmosphere and characters we care about. Although most critics weren’t crazy about it I thought Vanishing on 7th Street was a great Twilight Zone-esque tale of twists and turns, this is basically what I wish M. Night Shyamalan still was.

The premise is that of a millions of people that suddenly vanish when a wave darkness hits Detroit. The days begin to grow shorter and the nights longer as darkness starts to engulf people leaving only their clothes behind. The only way to fight it is to make sure you’re near a light source at all times, glow sticks, flashlights, all that stuff, and it leads for a very exciting experience. Hayden “My new powers can save you” Christensen stars alongside a small cast along with Thandie Newton, John Lequizamo, and Jacob Latimore, and the name of the game is survival. Simply put this is a well written piece with a spooky premise that constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat, I liked it.

4. Paranormal Activity 3

Of course this had to be here now that the series has become a Halloween tradition. I reviewed this just a few days ago so I wont say much more but it’s a great spook house movie that must be seen in theaters. This is probably the scariest movie on this top five and must be seen by anyone who considers themself a fan of ghost stories.

3. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

: Another one that’s tricky to pin down due to it’s independent release, but I just couldn’t do this list without the wackiest horror comedy of the year. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk are a fantastic comic pairing in this satire on the “Killbilly” genre. So often we see movies where teens are chased down by gap toothed gold ‘ol boys, so it’s a great twist to see it the other way around.

Tucker and Dale are two peaceful bumpkins on vacation at their newly acquired fixer upper cabin when they cross paths with a group of preppy and inconsiderate college students. Believing Tucker and Dale to be a threat after supposedly kidnapping one of their own (a girl who they actually saved), the college kids wage a very gory war against Tucker and Dale. This results in a bizarre collection of mishaps in which each college kid accidentally gets killed by their own incompetence. It’s an absurd premise but it’s got great some gore and even greater laughs.

2. Trollhunter

It took awhile to see the light of day here in the States but now that it’s here I highly recommend everyone watch Norway’s answer to Cloverfield. Hmm, I think I actually like this better than Cloverfield. The characters are great and the mythology is just so rich and endlessly intriguing, we definitely get a nice little troll education here and there. It’s got laughs and scares and consistently keeps a fun quick pace. It’s movies like this that keep the handheld camera sub-genre alive and flourishing. I don’t know what else to say but it’s the best movie bout trolls I’ve ever seen, though I guess that isn’t saying much.

P.S. It’s on Netflix RIGHT NOW! See it while you still can.

1. Attack the Block

Not only was this my favorite horror movie of 2011 but also my favorite sci-fi, action, and comedy film. Attack the Block is a high adrenaline genre smorgasbord with more laughs and excitement than anything you saw last summer. The debut film from writer/director Joe Cornish I haven’t enjoyed a British comedy like this since the last Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright collaboration. So it’s not much of a surprise to find out that Edgar Wright was one of the film’s producers and Nick Frost is one of the very colorful cast members.

When an army of giant gorilla-like aliens invade South London it’s up to a gang of rambunctious young hoodlums to defend their block. That premise alone sold me and from then on out I couldn’t get enough of this sharp and surprisingly smart alien massacre movie. The dialogue, all though coated in a thick London accent is full of gems. My favorite line is probably when one of the kids only has one text left to send and says, “I’ve got one text left, this is too much madness to explain in one text!” I also like how the kids call the aliens “Big Gorilla Wolf Motherfuckers.” You wouldn’t think you could sympathize for a bunch of rude street toughs but somehow you start to develop a soft spot. I only pray this is never remade, check it out!

Honorable Mention
Insidious – The Guys behind Saw make their best movies since… Actually this is better than any of the Saw movies. It’s just a gold old haunted house movie that was a joy to watch.

  1. I thought Tucker and Dale was pretty funny and a great concept. Also you said you like a movie with Hayden Christensen, that’s weird.

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