Saturday, December 24, 2011

THINGS TO LOVE IN 2011

I live in West Virginia, so there's A LOT that I have yet to see (THE WOMAN, CHILLERAMA, MELANCHOLIA, etc.) because most things don't come anywhere near here. West Virginia is like Kryptonite to movies that aren't chick flicks or explodey superhero things. Also, I am going by US release dates because I can't fly over to Japan to see the 2010 premiere of 13 ASSASSINS; I can just wish about it. Fun fact: I watched 308 movies this year (so far).

 1. ABSENTIA ~ I saw this at a con and, as far as I know, it's still playing festivals exclusively, while CREATURE and DYLAN DOG made it into theaters, so there you go, there is no God. This is one of the most elegant horror movies I've ever seen and, from a storytelling/atmosphere perspective, it's irreproachable. It has the same brooding, melancholy tone that made SESSION 9 so memorable and it sticks with you long after viewing. Incredibly depressing and so good.

 2. HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN ~ The least elegant movie I've ever seen and one of the most quotable. "When life gives you razor blades, you make a baseball bat... with razor blades." "They're going to make comics out of my hate-crimes!" Most of the time, neo-grindhouse fails because it tries too hard to be arch and quirky or whatever, but HOBO manages to stay entertaining without crossing the line into being oh so pleased with itself and its wit. It's insane how much better the spin-offs of GRINDHOUSE trailers are than GRINDHOUSE itself.

 3. 13 ASSASSINS ~ It's probably impossible for someone to like everything that Takashi Miike has done, but I've enjoyed the majority of the stuff I've seen. Even so, this feels like a comeback, although it's probably one of his more conventional movies, even with the one-hour fight scene. That is not hyperbole. A dramatic martial-arts epic in the vein of Kurosawa, for real.

 4. THE TROLL HUNTER ~ I loved this and thought it recalled GHOSTBUSTERS or GREMLINS in that it was rooted in horror, but was generally a fast-paced action-comedy with really likeable characters. Scandinavia redeemed itself after my unpleasant RARE EXPORTS experience.

 5. ATTACK THE BLOCK ~ And this is like a modern-day GOONIES or something, only peopled with British street thugs. A better, not-annoying Euro SUPER 8.

 6. DREAM HOME ~ Not to be confused with DREAM HOUSE, which is American and allegedly sucks, this is the first genre thing I've seen from Hong Kong since the China takeover and it was shocking how explicitly the movie criticized life under China. It doesn't have the old Category III levels of gore, but it's wet enough. I hate slasher movies so much, but this one won my heart and nestled into a very short list of adored slashers, probably right under BLACK CHRISTMAS.

 7. I SAW THE DEVIL ~ Korean revenge horror from the director of the great TALE OF TWO SISTERS. Over two hours, but not at all bloated or boring & you definitely get your money's worth of violence. Wow, of things that I loved, a whole two so far were made in America.

 8. FINAL DESTINATION 5 ~ But America is sometimes really good at taking formulas that work and breathing a bit of new life into them. Seriously, never driving on a bridge again.

9. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 ~ Formulas work, breathe new life, tank tops, demons, muy bien.

 10. SOURCE CODE ~ I almost put BLACK DEATH here because it's fabu, but it definitely released in 2010, so SOURCE CODE it is. Sharp modern sci-fi that recalls THE MATRIX and INCEPTION, only on a train, which recalls UNSTOPPABLE and SNAKES ON A TRAIN.

 Also pretty good: COUNTRY STRONG, ENDHIRAN (ROBOT), DRIVE ANGRY, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, CONTAGION.

 Best bad movie: It is going to be hard for anything to top the SHADOW PEOPLE, although you're not going to enjoy it as much if you don't get my friend Ernie to watch it with you.

I am very grateful that I have genre movies and the horror community to take me away from real life when I need an escape.  Best wishes for the little 2011 you have left and the 2012 that lurks in wait...

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