With 2011 on its way out, here’s a look back on why it was the year for the horror film! 2011 saw a wide range of horror from all over the world which provided plenty of thrills, chills, suspense and all out gore. This countdown looks at the films that for me achieved all those aspects consisting of mainstream, foreign and independent titles.
10. “The Skin I Live In” (Original Title: “La piel que habito”)
- Directed By Pedro Almodovar
- UK Release Date: 26th August 2011
A unique piece of filmmaking, “The Skin I Live In” delves into the bizarre in a “Frankenstein”-type story with a dark and disturbing twist. It definitely places the audience into the uneasy as well as fills us with intriuge to quite literally get under the skin of surgeon Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) and the mysterious woman he keeps in isolation. The cinematography and composition are well-crafted, adding to the surreal, dream-like state that the film’s tone presents us with. The plot serves as a Hitchcock-inspired psychological thriller. Advisable to go into the film completely blind and unknowing as complete shock and disbelief is guaranteed.
9. “Scream 4”
- Directed by Wes Craven
- UK Release Date: 15th April 2011
The slasher revival that all genre fans had been waiting for and it certainly did not disappoint! Genius writer/director team Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven returned on top form to deliver a clever critique on the state of modern Hollywood horror as well as providing suspense, gore and plenty of surprises along the way. Legendary teen-killer Ghostface (voiced by Roger Jackson) was more vicious than ever threatening protagonist Sidney (Neve Campbell) with ” I’m gonna slit your eyelids in half so you don’t blink when I stab you in the face” resulting in a spine-chilling effect. Old faces made a welcome return with feisty reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and the bumbling underdog Dewey Riley (David Arquette) now the police sheriff. Accompanying them was a trendy new cast of talented young actors consisting of fan favourite Hayden Panettiere (playing Kirby) and Emma Roberts (playing Jill) as Woodsboro’s next generation. An eagerly anticipated addition to the popular 90’s franchise.
8. “Fright Night”
- Directed by Craig Gillespie
- UK Release Date: 2nd September 2011
A fangtastic remake that provides the audience with new blood rather than being a dated replica of the original. “Fright Night” is the anti-“Twilight” reminding us of the days of real vampires e.g. Dracula as it focuses on bloodthirst rather than bloodlust. The original 1985 film is brought into a modern context with vampire slayer Peter Vincent (David Tennant) portrayed as a flawed, Russell Brand-esque anti-hero. Jerry the Vampire (Colin Farrell) is both seductive and scary and proves difficult not to relish in his screen presence. More funny than frightening this update gives remakes a refresh as well as an entertaining comment on recent, tired vampire lore.
7. “Panic Button”
- Directed by Chris Crow
- FrightFest World Premiere: 27th August 2011
The scariest psychological thriller of the year, “Panic Button” highlights our unhealthy obsession with social networking and the dangers we remain ignorant to. Welsh director Chris Crow creates a heat-stopping thrill ride from beginning to end as four unsuspecting internet competition winners board a plane to New York. The setting is claustrophobic with the notion of no escape and only the survival of the fittest can prevail. There are no monsters or ghouls to be thwarted, it cautions us to take a long, hard look at ourselves of everything we do and watch online leaving a thought-provoking sensation. The most intense and terrifying film of the subject-matter.
6. “The Woman”
- Directed by Lucky McGee
- UK Release Date: 30th September 2011
Welcome to the dark side of Suburbia! While not an original concept “The Woman” is a stylish and unique piece of the horror genre that makes for a very uncomfortable watch. The plot focuses on an “upstanding” citizen,husband and father who secretly captures a feral woman and plans to “civilise” her through is own twisted methods and ideals, if he’s not careful he may lose a finger! With respect the film avoids relying on the classic jump-scares in order to convey the shock factor. A twisted blend of dark humour and all out gruseomness makes it a must-see for any horror fan. The twist is unforgettable and definitely worth the wait. Its controversial, its brutal, its bloody disgusting but all in a good way! Not for the faint-hearted.
- Directed by James Wan
- UK Release Date 29th April 2011
The creepiest mainstream horror/supernatural film of the year! “Insidious” ramps up the scare factor with spooky imagery that remains difficult to shrug out of the mind. The build-up is intense and creative once the unexpected explanation for the haunting is revealed. A sense of empathy is in place throughout as the characters are written well and could easily depict anyone in real life. Rose Byrne particularly gives an impressive performance as the gaunt, distressed mother Renai. The tone is gritty creating a realistic feel to the setting which is also emphasised with the use of grey-scale. Chilling, atmospheric, with plenty of menacing ghouls “Insidious” is an exception to mainstream horror taking traditional ghost story elements as well as providing something new to the genre.
4. “Some Guy Who Kills People”
- Directed By Jack Perez
- Celluloid Screams UK Premiere: 22nd October 2011
“Some Guy Who Kills People” even though it displays an explicit title it ignites intrigue in the viewer. Surprisingly, despite fitting into the horror genre it is actually one of the most heart-warming films of the year which demonstrates the adaptability and versatility of horror as a whole. Protagonist Ken Boyd (played by Kevin Corrigan) is an identifiable character as the audience enters a rollercoaster ride of emotions with him, from coming to terms with harrowing past events to connecting with the daughter he never knew. A surreal, quirky, semi-gory, stylistic film very much in the vein of John Landis along with Ryan Levin’s cleverly-crafted dialogue.
3. “We Need to Talk about Kevin”
- Directed by Lynne Ramsay
- UK Release Date: 21st October 2011
The film adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s novel “We Need To Talk About Kevin” while not an obvious horror contender is a startling tale of how love can go dead wrong and the consequences that follow. Watching “Kevin” feels voyeuristic however you can’t take your eyes off the screen. The audience is placed in a position of conflict with the character of Eva (Tilda Swinton) as she fails to form a strong bond with her only son Kevin (Ezra Miller). The film has been praised highly by many critics and with good reason, Tilda Swinton delivers an unforgettable and powerful performance making the viewer both love and hate her at the same time for creating this monster capable of destroying several lives. “Kevin” is edited out of sequence which adds to the dreaded tone as we are aware of what’s to come but its the dark journey embarked on leading to the tragic event that results in an unsettling effect. The mise-en-scene uses clever symbolism to convey the narrative including tomato soup representing blood. Compelling, unnerving, chilling and exceptional; “Kevin” really questions where does blame really lie?
2. “Harold’s Going Stiff”
- Directed by Keith Wright
- Celluloid Screams UK Premiere 23rd October 2011
A very Sheffield-based film that conveys the great humour of the area. “Harold’s Going Stiff” has a fitting blend of black comedy and a horror as a backdrop for the narrative’s metaphor. Its one of the most unique films of the year as it depicts a sense of realism demonstrated through its strong social message of the elderly in Britain and their care-workers while also acting as an unconventional “zombie” film. The characters are written as if they were people we could relate to in real life, Stan Rowe (Harold) and Sarah Spencer (Penny) have believable on screen chemistry that really carries the film. Its a surreal portrayal of society, told in a documentary-style fashion as well as being a tale of finding friendship in the most unexpected places. Keith Wright needs to be congratulated on creating such a well-crafted, touching horror film that has something for everyone.
- Directed by Alex Chandon
- UK Release Date: TBA
“They came in peace and left in pieces” quite literally! “Inbred” is most definitely the most inventive horror film of the year. Four young offenders and two of their care-workers embark on a character building weekend in a remote location, the fictional Yorkshire-based village of Mortlake. Soon they come across the bizarre and twisted traditions of the locals and get caught up in a bloodbath of terror and a heart-stopping fight for survival. Think “An American Werewolf in London” meets “The Hills Have Eyes” meets “The Wicker Man” which only partly sums it up! “Inbred” incorporates many elements which is what makes it so bloody brilliant! Its a comment on modern British society, it has the essence of the Grand-Guignol, the characters are larger than life and downright entertaining, it also isn’t afraid to push the boundaries in terms of blood, guts, goats and gore, satisfying fans of the genre everywhere! Its the performances that stick out the most, the victims create a sense of empathy with the audience which is a rarity in horror, while the “Inbreds” are hilarious to watch but brutal! Prepared to be shocked and entertained at the same time. “Inbred” has got everything a horror film should have!
Hayley Alice Roberts.