Who’s ready for round two of our “Best and Worst of 2011 So Far” series? Yesterday Melissa kicked things off with some noble choices in the drama and comedy departments, but now it’s my turn and my affinity for the horror genre is as blatant as ever.
Take a look at where my top and bottom lists stand thus far and be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the Shockya.com crew’s picks as the series continues tomorrow night with Karen’s choices.
BEST SO FAR
Super 8: J.J. Abrams did it back in 2008 with Cloverfield and now, he’s done it again, built an incredible amount of hype around a new feature film and actually made due on it. While Abrams’ methods of promotion may be fun for us, it could be detrimental to his films. After drawing so much attention to Super 8 via its viral marketing campaign, had the film not lived up to expectations in the slightest, it would have been shot down hard. However, the opposite is true and the combination of Abrams’ endlessly intriguing clues and then the impressively powerful final product manifested into an overwhelmingly enjoyable experience. Without resorting to the shaky cam tactic, Abrams manages to tell the story in a way that makes you feel as though you’re in the middle of it with Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) and his friends. It’s exciting, suspenseful, heartwarming – everything I hoped it’d be and more. Click here to read my full review of Super 8.
Trollhunter: Following in the footsteps of foreign films like Let the Right One In and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, shortly after the Norwegian film’s release, it’s already getting an American remake and for good reasons, too. Trollhunter is the found footage style at its best, never dumbing down its use to a mere gimmick, rather using it in a naturalistic manner to enhance the experience, and the experience itself is quite ingenious. Trollhunter arrived at the perfect time, a time when the industry is so saturated with vampires and werewolves that just about any other supernatural being would be welcomed with open arms. Not only is the concept of trolls roaming the mountains quite refreshing, but writer-director Andre Overdal creates an impressively complex world around it consisting of secret government agencies, different breeds of trolls and more. It’s impossible not to get fully enveloped and enthralled by this scenario. Click here to read my full review of Trollhunter.
WORST SO FAR
The Roommate: As the first horror release of the year, hopes were high for this one, which also means, the odds were against it. Then again, it also had a lot going for it too, namely a strong concept and a talented young cast – or so I thought. However, rather than turning the concept of landing a killer random roommate your first year of college into something that could feel disturbingly real, director Christian E. Christiansen delivered a piece that relied on college clichés and, as we’re much smarter than that, we’d never take clichés for an honest experience. However, this is a campy horror film we’re talking about; you don’t need even a decent story to squeeze out a few good scares, but Christiansen destroys that opportunity, too, as he has absolutely no sense of timing and writer Sonny Mallhi has the tendency to be so foreboding it gives everything away far too soon. If only there was room here to rip into Minka Kelly’s painfully one-note performance. Click here to read my full review of The Roommate.
The Abduction of Zack Butterfield: Hands down the worst movie of the year – by far. I try not to tear apart such small releases as what good does it do anyone, but The Abduction of Zack Butterfield is so terrible, I’d be doing an injustice to the industry not to speak out so strongly against it. Zack Butterfield is just a thoughtless film, and, if thought really did go into the making of this one, those responsible should probably be seeking out filmmaking experience in lower level positions before squandering their money on a film they’re not prepared to make. The general concept is fine, but then it’s expanded into an extremely poorly written script with abysmal dialogue and nonsensical plot development. Combine an unconvincing script with ludicrous camerawork and you’ve got yourself an all-around failure. Director Rick Lancaster and his cinematographer Aric Jacobson seemingly have no clue where to place the camera and, even when they do decide where to put it, Jacobson is constantly readjusting his frame making the audience very aware someone is behind that camera, never allowing us to forget that we’re watching a movie. Forget the worst so far of 2011; this might be the worst film I’ve seen in the last decade. Click here to read my full review of The Abduction of Zack Butterfield.
MOST ANTICIPATED FOR THE REST OF 2011
Final Destination 5: I have an addiction to the Final Destination franchise. Actually, forget just me, my whole family does. Whenever all the Nemiroffs are home and a Final Destination movie is on, eventually, every single one of us will be glued to that TV until the end. While I was incredibly disappointed with the franchise’s fourth installment, The Final Destination, that soft spot I have for the series is what’s keeping my hopes alive for Final Destination 5. FD4 was the franchise’s first go with 3D and the technology seemingly got the better of director David R. Ellis as he solely relied on cheesy effects and throwing random objects in the audience’s faces to earn a scare, rather than a proper story or character development. This time around, not only do we have a director who worked closely with James Cameron on Avatar, but a more talented cast as well as the return of Bludworth, Tony Todd. In terms of the promotional material released thus far, I’m a bit torn as the film’s poster reminds me way too much of the one for The Final Destination, but the trailer boasts a handful of terrifyingly relatable kills, all cut together with effective, well-timed editing. The Final Destination blunder isn’t enough to entice me to turn my back on the franchise, so now all I can hope for is that my dedication is rewarded come August 12th.
Paranormal Activity 3: I’m basically justifying Hollywood’s obsession with creating sequel after sequel now, right? In addition to Final Destination, Paranormal Activity has become quite the prominent part of my life since its release in 2009. While I’ve seen my fair share of horror films over the years, Paranormal Activity was the first film in quite awhile that actually kept me up at night. And, oddly enough, I also had an absolute blast watching it in the theater. When word of a second film got out, I thought there was no way Oren Peli could pull it off again, but, to my surprise, not only was Paranormal Activity 2 just as fun and frightening, but writers Michael R. Perry, Christopher B. Landon and Tom Pabst figured out the perfect way to link it to the original, something that strengthened my devotion to the growing franchise. Now, it’s just about time for round three and while I’m feeling a similar degree of skepticism, the series hasn’t let me down yet. Plus, this time around, Catfish directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman will be behind the lens. Catfish evoked an impressive blend of recreating everyday life while highlighting the horror of the situation. Not only could that tone suit a new Paranormal Activity film, but it could be exactly what’s necessary to keep the concept fresh.
By Perri Nemiroff