Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012's Hits and Misses: The Horror Films in Review

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In going with a black and white theme, no shades of grey will be allowed in this list. Either the movie was wildly successful in delivering a chill, or it's not. And, that removes a lot of movies in this retrospective of how horror entertainment in 2012 went out with a bang. In no particular order, here are the following:

The Hits

The Cabin in the Woods

Director: Drew Goddard.

Writers: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard.

Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White and Amy Acker.

This Joss Whedon written film, directed by Drew Goddard, is a horror movie maven’s dream come true. Not only does this team disseminate everything that a good horror movie must be, but also they go meta to explain why all the tropes exist. This movie is a deep look at humanity’s disturbing need to make peace with the macabre forces of the universe.

The Possession

Director: Ole Bornedal.

Writers: Juliet Snowden, Stiles White, and Leslie Gornstein.

Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Natasha Calis, Kyra Sedgwick, Jay Brazeau, Madison Davenport, Matisyahu, Grant Show and Rob LaBelle.

Although this movie reinterprets how the dybbuk box functions, this film delivers an interesting look at how another religious culture understands the spirit world; in this case, in how the Jewish community handle cases of demonic possession. To have a recognized name, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, play the panicked father who is protective of his daughter helped create a familial relationship some viewers can relate to. But for others, this movie was rapper Matisyashu’s foray into become a name in Hollywood.


Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Chad Villella, Ti West, and Adam Wingard.

Writers: Brad Miska, Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Nicholas Tecosky, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Simon Barrett, Radio Silence, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, and Chad Villella.

Very rarely will a collection of movie shorts prove to deliver some good frights. This release saw limited screenings theatrically but the DVD arrived just in time for this critic to see it is chock full of goodies—like extra material for "10/31/98," "Tues the 17th," "Amateur Night" and "Balloon." The way each short handles the point-of-view format is brilliant, and the overall product’s pace never gets boring.

The Misses


Director: Scott Derrickson.

Writers: Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill.

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone, Michael Hall D'Addario, Clare Foley and Rob Riley.

This variation of a haunted house story could have been far more successful if it was not for the ending. This film would have been far more in-your-face if the script did not prolong the dramatics of the Oswalt family getting their rewards too. The suspenseful background music was way overdone and had this movie cut off at a different point, more of a shock could have been delivered. And yes, it would allow for a build-up to another film should another movie get made.

Dark Shadows

Director: Tim Burton.

Writers: Seth Grahame-Smith, John August, and Dan Curtis.

Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Gulliver McGrath.

This dramatic soap opera was never meant to be a comedy and that concept killed the big screen treatment right out the door. Although it summarizes a few key storylines from the TV series, this modern retelling was not one of Depp’s best either.

At least, with the short-lived 90’s reboot of the series, Ben Cross showed how feral looking vampires can get was with his fangs bared.

Underworld: Awakening

Directors: Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein.

Writers: Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, J. Michael Straczynski, Allison Burnett, Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman and Danny McBride.

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James, India Eisley, Sandrine Holt, Charles Dance, Kris Holden-Ried, and Jacob Blair.

Perhaps unnecessary is the only word needed here. This action wannabe horror still screams guns, guns, and guns as its way to move a story about developing a cure for lycanthropy and vampirism. For many a general movie-goer, they must be wondering if the producers of one franchise are simply mimicking another, namely Resident Evil.

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