Reflecting on the past year it has no means a truly vintage one yet attending Frightfest 2012 provided me with the opportunity to see some exceptional films on the festival circuit. So here are my personal top 5 and worst 5 of 2012 taken from my Frighfest experience and more widely available films. Apologies if these aren’t available to view on a wider basis but since I attended some of their UK premieres I think it is fair to include them on my personal list. I wish you all a happy and horrifying year to come.
5 Best Horror Films of 2012
1. American Mary. At times explicit but equally smart, sexy and darkly humorous the Soska Sister’s have followed up their Dead Hooker’s In a Trunk with my top film of 2012. Incorporating a broader Female Revenge narrative arc with more complex concepts of body modification and perceptions of beauty they have however created a quite original and both intriguing story and character in Katherine Isabelle’s Mary Mason.
Though it retains powerful and visceral imagery it avoids unnecessary and protracted sequences of gore and therefore I felt that this visceral imagery was never purely there for shock purposes, unlike recent genre films like Human Centipede. Rather it is closely related to the development of the films central female character and its themes which are also supported by a clever script.
2. The Seasoning House. This is the single most film that I have seen this year which reminds me of the horror genre’s ability to confront the real world’s darker issues, in this case the exploitation of women in conflict zones.
It contain’s impressive performances, a subdued yet distinct visual approach and some extremely powerful images/sequences that have had perhaps the most profound emotive impact on me in any film this year.
Furthermore with the exception of Katherine Isabelle in American Mary Rosie Day as the central female character gives an exceptional performance that is perhaps solely reason enough to view this film.
3. Sleep Tight. Above all this film from [Rec] 1 director Jaume Balaguero has, as American Mary a well written and complex, albeit male character performed very well by Luis Tosar who is supported by a well written storyline/narrative that retained, in this viewer interest while including skilfully directed periods of suspense.
An excellent thriller and, equally character study that has drawn in some circles parallels with Hitchcock’s work.
4. [Rec] 3. I was apprehensive as were a lot of fans of this franchise at the deviation of the found footage and more serious approach taken by its predecessor’s. Upon watching it in a packed theatre I could have not been more satisfied however.
What I really most about this film are the development groom and bride character, an aspect which I think is best conveyed in a wonderful scene at the end of the film. Additionally it has wicked and successful aspects of humour that at its best remind me of Peter Jackson’s Braindead. Overall a great original entry in the [Rec] series.
5. Prometheus. Not as narratively strong as Alien this is however equally visually stunning especially when viewed on the big screen.
Despite these weak narrative points, too many undeveloped characters and more clear sci-fi elements the cinematography, specific scenes of quite gruesome imagery and environmental design that I’m sure Giger would approve of is the standout aspect I feel really creates an extent of suspense and an effective ominous atmosphere which for me means Prometheus deserves its place as a Horror film.
5 Worst Horror Films of 2012
1. Hidden In The Wood’s. A film so unnecessarily excessive (with regard to violence, gore, sexual scenes and nudity) and frankly amateurish in its attempt to emulate classic exploitation films in regards to gratuitous violence nudity and sex that it, unfortunately comes of as everything that every critic of horror accuses of the genre of in it’s overtly vile nature.
The impression I got from the director at its Frightfest screening was that this excessive approach was intended to approach a point that was funny. What this approach really creates in its attempt at a distinct excessiveness, especially considering it is in part supposedly based on a true story is more a vile film that could perfectly fit the usually too lazily applied Torture Porn label.
2. Piranha 3DD. While Piranha 3D was intended as a purely fun and gratuitous ride that was actually enjoyable v Piranha 3DD appears to follow in the vein of director’s sequels to their first Feast in that their lazy approach is to throw as outrageous concepts within a narrative that lacks any effective direction.
I like well made OTT movies like Hobo With A Shotgun. What I don’t like is a bad dumb movie.
3. Wrong Turn 5. A case of a sequel too far with regards to this franchise. Though I enjoyed Wrong Turn 4 for what it was, basic issue even such as how the budget was realised really detracted from the experience with the 5th and amongst other extremely substandard elements it couldn’t make up for some too rare enjoyably OTT kills.
4. Strippers v Werewolves. Annoying editing techniques that probably looked cool for the director but came out cheap and visually ugly. Poor and unsuccessful humour. Unsexy. In short it didn’t deliver on its title.
5. V/H/S. This is a bit of a hard choice for me because it is more overtly disappointing for me than a downright bad film. Ultimately however the enjoyable 1st and last segment couldn’t disguise what were 3 poor mid segments and linking story.
The linking story was in particular I feel too drawn out and at the beginning reminded so much of juvenile prank videos that I wanted to get to the first segment as quick as possible.