It’s been a really interesting year for horror movies so far. Granted, we are only a few months away from the end of the year, so I probably could have waited a few months, but the line between the great horror films, and the terrible horror films is already so divided, that it needs to be discussed. Some of the horror films I have seen this year have truly dropped my jaw and redefined the genre for me. While a few others were so poorly executed, I wondered how they ever got the green light in the first place . I also feel the need to say that horror means many different things to different people. So just because kids getting kidnapped isn’t horror to you (maybe you need torture-porn and monsters or something), or CG werewolves fighting Cg vampires isn’t horror to you, that doesn’t mean these films are not “horror films”, in the genre sense. Having that disclaimer out of the way, now presenting, the best and worst “horror” movies of 2012, so far. Note there are no SyFy channel movies on here. If that were the case, we would all be here for days.

WORST

Chernobyl Diaries

This promotional image is ten times better than the actual film.

This film had SO MUCH potential. From the untapped setting, to the idea of using a tragedy that really happened as the jumping off point for your film. Unfortunately, the film was mishandled in almost every feasible way, making it come across more like a straight to DVD movie, than an actual, big-budget film. There are zero scares to the film, and while the payoff could have been slightly creepy if handled better, nothing about it comes across as surprising or scary.

A dull, cliché film that reminded us why horror can be such an iffy genre. When it works, it works. But when it doesn’t, you get Chernobyl Diaries.

The Devil Inside

Unless contortionists and bad acting scares you, this movie offers nothing you haven’t seen before.

Listen up, all possession movies. The Exorcist did it first, and the Exorcist did it best, so why anyone else is still trying is beyond us.

Not only was this movie not scary, but the acting was terrible, and more so than scary, the possessed people were annoying. This movie should have been called “actresses making fools of themselves”, because, by the time it wraps up, that is ALL that has happened. Also, you get no conclusion to the story, whatsoever. And apparently, for those who don’t know,  demon possession is as easy to “catch” as the common cold.

Also, the decision made in the last five minutes of this movie (get in the car!) is quite possibly the stupidest decision I have ever seen someone make in a horror film. Ever. And that’s saying a lot.

Rec 3 [Genesis]

Don’t let the stunning lead, Leticia Dolera, trick you into thinking this movie is good. It’s not.

For me, putting this film under WORST breaks my heart.

You see, I consider the original REC to be one of my favorite horror films, and a perfect film. It is EASILY the best mockumentary horror film ever made, to put it bluntly. But to actually see how far part three deviates from part one is heart-breaking to me. As a black comedy, if I saw Rec 3 and had not seen part one or two, I might have enjoyed it on its own merits, as a bat-shit-crazy ride. But as a sequel to REC one and two, this is just NOT acceptable. I know they are working on a part four right now, and judging from part three, I bet it will be animated and have musical numbers.

Woman in Black

Even a constantly drunk Daniel Radcliffe could not save this stinker.

What really sucks about Woman in Black being on the “worst” list is that this is a remake of a 1989 TV movie that actually scared a good deal of people in the UK where it aired. In that sense, it was a classic. So there was some real hope that modern effects and dash of young talent could have brought this film the accolades it always deserved. Sadly, it ended up being dull and overly-cliche. And lost any of the atmosphere that seemed to make the original work so well in the first place.

He should have cast a “Makethis Scarius” spell on the film before they released it.

Underworld:Awakening

Whoever fits her for wardrobe is a lucky soul.

I am sorry, I like Kate Beckinsale in latex just as much as the next guy (except for Dave), but these movies have over stayed their welcome at this point. Werewolves fighting vampires is an EXTREMELY badass concept (outside of Twilight) and to see that, for a short while, was cool. But now, they expect us to forget that Beckinsale wasn’t even IN part three, and now they just throw more of the same at us. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun to sit there, drink a beer, and watch it for laughs. But beneath the shiny exterior, it feels more like you are watching a Konami video game more than a film.

Ah, now onto the good stuff.

BEST

Cabin in the Woods:

I kept expecting the moose to come to life, too, just like you guys. Wait, that’s a wolf?

I actually fell so in love with this movie, from the concept to the execution, that I began working on a draft for a comic book or novel version, expanding on the Universe in all directions. That pitch will be going up as an article next week, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I won’t ruin anything about this film for those who’ve yet to see it, but know, it redefines the horror genre. It redefines the horror clichés. Hell, it even manages to redefine the horror viewer. I truly believe, Cabin in the Woods is about as close to a perfect ten of a film as you can get, from beginning to end.

Plus, it had mermaids.

The Awakening

Perhaps it is not as “scary” as some of the others on the list, but it is just as engrossing.

The Awakening is one of those movies that catches you off guard. It is not horror in the same sense that The Exorcist is horror. The Awakening is much more of a slow burn. A tragedy disguised as a ghost story. And one thing you will think throughout the whole film, is just how beautiful it is. The setting (a boarding school during winter break) is stunning, and has a very haunting effect on the viewer, without having to do much. That, paired with the amazing story, make it a must see. And the old-world beauty of actress Rebecca Hall proves it even harder to look away from the screen. This is the period-piece ghost story Lady in Black SHOULD have been.

Plus, it has Brandon Stark from Game of Thrones in it.

VHS

The first story was my favorite. Wait, the third. Second one was good, too. Oh, and the fourth…

I just watched this film last night on the recommendation of my brother, Jason (who, himself, is on the Young and Hungry  for 2012, which pretty much blows my mind) and I loved it. I know some people are taking issue with the fact that the short stories they tell do not interlock, like most anthologies, but that is a minor quip when taking into consideration everything you get when you watch VHS.

First of all, everything filmed on VHS has an eerie, snuff film quality to it, and that is on full display here.  Second, the amount of stories you get, and how well they get flushed out and told distinctly in the time given is amazing. On top of that, every story is a different director, and most of the directors went for the VHS quality in different ways. You have stories filmed with spy cams, web cams, and handhelds. My only advice before you sit down to watch this movie is take a Dramamine, because the shaking camera does get to be a bit much by the end, but on some Dramamine, this is easily one of the best  horror films of Summer.

The Tall Man

This film lubes up your mind and f*cks it, thrice.

Would you expect anything less than genius from Pascal Laugier? The brilliant mind behind the 2008 horror classic, Martyrs, one of the most powerful, violent, and spiritual films I have ever seen, and very much a redefinition of the horror genre for me, personally. Though the Tall Man is far removed from that film, and would be better dubbed a mystery or thriller, it plays off the Slenderman urban legend that has been making the rounds, haunting kids on the internet for years now. And the spin Laugier puts on that mythos is, again, nothing short of genius.

The Tall Man plays out like three different films, much like Lake Mungo, and each time you think you know what is going on, this film will remind you that you have no idea. Right up until that last second, and even then, the film will sit with you long after you see it. Much like Martyrs, I had to watch it twice to really appreciate all the layers and depth.

Tie: The Loved Ones/Kill List

First, Kill List:

Easily the most intense and unrelenting movie on the list.

Kill List is a movie from the UK that came out in 2011, but we just got over here in the beginning of 2012, and all I can say is wow. It is one of the most intense movies I have ever seen that wasn’t made by the French. Kill List is a hitman film, a take on a crime thriller, but don’t make the same mistake I did. All the way through, I kept thinking: Other than being really violent, how is this a horror film? Than the last ten minutes happened and, well, this film has one of the most messed up endings to any movie I have ever seen, except this one. Keep watching Kill List up until the end. But make sure you watch it with someone, so you can look over and see their jaw dropped open it absolute shock.

And now:

The Loved Ones.

Pretty in pink meets Wolf Creek” is exactly what this movie is.

Though this film has been out in Australia since 2009, it finally found its way to our glorious shores this year, and for those who don’t know, it was well worth the wait. The Loved Ones is about a girl who has an odd penchant for holding her own Prom, and she has a very particular way that she wants it to go (think of the movie OTIS for an example). Unlike Kill List, this film is a black comedy, and has some unsettling yet hilarious moments in it. But don’t let that fool you. There are some scenes of graphic violence that will unsettle even the most stoic of you, so be forewarned.

But it really is one helluva Prom, so I suggest you check it out.

Honorable Mentions:

The Road: A strange story that spans three timelines, following the dark history of one road, and all those who travel down it. A little convoluted at times, but a wild trip, regardless.

John Dies At The End: A trippy, mindf*ck of a  flick  that stars Paul Giamatti and was written by David Wong of Cracked.com. It is really too hard to explain in a sentence, so go eat some drugs and just watch it.

Hey Wong, I’m watching you.

Asylum Blackout: A garage band that serves meals at an asylum to pay their bills, get trapped in the nuthouse during a storm that results in a power outage. This movie was amaze-balls, and had a few really good twists, as well as some graphic violence. And who wouldn’t be scared at that concept. I have worked in places like that. Wait, I spelled “stayed” wrong.

Silent House: Wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t great. End doesn’t make any sense, but is worth watching for the tension, the single take shots, and the curiosity of how this is all going to play out.

The Innkeepers: It took me two viewings to decide if I liked this movie or not, because the first half of the film is so slow, but the last fifteen minutes make it well worth it.

“Hey, does this look like herpes to you?”

Rabies: So awesome, was like the Pulp Fiction of mindf*ck horror films.

Click here to see the updated list, as of February, 2013.