Saturday, 5 January 2013

Horror Hotel Managements 'The Best Horror of 2012'

First off, apologies to all my readers for my absence over the festive season. I assure you its not been due to the consumption of vast amounts of alcohol, although that may have played some part in the Hotels recent conspicuous lack of activity. Rather, I've been working on my own horror fiction over the free-time the season has afforded me, and have found all my creative urges have been pointing in that direction for the last while. Also, I've been battling the man-flu, and have been losing...big-fucking-time...

With that said, I haven't been watching a great deal of horror this past month either. I've done some serious reading within out genre, (not least the brilliant and hilarious WOLF HUNT by Jeff Strand, which you really oughta seek out, kids!).

Still, its that time of year again when all us horror fans throw together our lists and try in vain to arrange them into some sort of order that justifies our love for them. well, screw that. There'll be no order of preference here, just a heads-up on some goodies you may have missed. I personally love reading top-tens and the like, but hate writing them. If I truly love a film, it'll be my favourite on any given sunday. If I'm watching horror in the fall, HALLOWEEN will take the top spot; if I'm in a post-apocalyptic mood, DAWN OF THE DEAD has me procliaming it the greatest movie of all time. If I'm in need of great character and's JAWS. The list goes on and on...

Our personalities are mercurial, and any list I compile can only be considered an ordered one on the day I compile it.

With that said, what I'll do here is list a number of films that stuck with me this year. Films that affected me in different ways. They may not all be high art, and there most certainly not all included for their inherent intellect or artistry. These are simply the genre efforts that I enjoyed the most, on any number of levels. There are a few more recent releases that I have regrettaby been unable to view that I have a suspicion would find a home on the this years , 'Best of...', such as DERANGED, AMERICAN MARY and JOHN DIES AT THE END, but you'll have to forgive me for such discrepancies.  In the case of the two I mentioned, I'll be reviewing them both next, along with some of the films that will appear on this list.

So, with no further adieu, here are the genre releases of 2012 that, for me, spat in the eye of all the naysayers that proclaimed horror to be dead this year, (as they do every year...the miserable bastards). Some are fun, some camp, some are terrifying, some beautiful, and one or two of them are downright shameful. And of course, they are in no particular order...


What looked on the surface to be a fun, 'man versus wolf' action flick, turns almost everyones head and heart around by being one of the years most emotionally devastating studies of the human spirit. A pitch black look at mortality and the many ways that man attempts to face it with some semblance of bravery, THE GREY was a terrifying, sad and truly human story. We got on-board for the horror/action scenes of  'man on wolf'... we stayed for the thoughtful treatise on hope in the face of despair and the exceptional performances. I havent cried watching any film like I did this one since they adapted McCarthys THE ROAD.


I can't recall the last time a film made me squirm like this bad-boy. THE BAY took body-horror and found footage horror and merged them together into a wholly convincing documentarian account of a stomach-churning virus dessicating a seaside town. As much an angry polemic as it is a horror film, THE BAY can be treated as one of the most effective diet plans known to modern man, and perhaps the finest use of the hand-held style of filmmaking to date. Violent, pissed off and with a very pertinent message...this ones unmissable.


Holy shit did Season 3 kick things into gear. With Glen Mazzara finally taking control of a full season, THE WALKING DEAD finally reached its potential. Non-stop tension, the best zombie make-ups ever put on screen, reborn characters who we could get behind and love, and one of the most intriguing villians ever to grace the TV screen. This year, the undead apolcalypse went from great to truly magnificent. And we're only half way through the damn thing. Flawless.


Seriously...did anyone expect this to be anything other than a complete mess? I love the original for its bare-faced exploitative nature, and could only see this remake becoming fatally diluted fare with none of its predessesors depravity...I couldnt have been more wrong. it may have a certain sheen to it, but this loose remake is balls to the wall lunacy, with great kills, some fantastic characters and a visually striking bad-ass of a killer in a Santa Suit. What more do you want? Its an old-school slasher done right, and tranported me back to those hazy days of the 80's when films like FRIDAY THE 13TH and MADMAN stole my little black heart. Its also very well shot and performed by a cool cast which includes the mighty Malcolm MacDowell being a prize asshole.See it!


For me, this was one of the most affecting films of the year in any genre. MOLLY deftly balanced real scares with genuine pathos as we followed beautiful, fragile Molly on her downward spiral into the abyss. What took here there is left in the eyes and minds of the beholder...Drug psychosis or post-truamatic stress? Or is it something otherworldly that tears her apart...a deeply personal haunting or even demonic possession? The films plays like a particularly disturbing puzzle to be solved, yet never feels anything less than honest and heartfelt in its approach. Not in least due to its leads performance, which for my money is one of the best, in any genre, of 2012, and should see her become a huge star.


Ti Wests slow-build tale of a ghostly-inn and its two lovable employees-cum-ghosthunters, is one of the most atmospheric works of the year. A gentle build from the playful flirtation of its characters, (with both the paranormal and each other), to outright terror...THE INNKEEPERS is a masterclass in class. The location is stunning, the performances are adorable, and the horror, when it comes, is highly effective. A sad and spooky tale of curiousity and what it does to the cat....


The smartest film of the year, and one of the true indie gems of the decade so far; THE CORRIDOR blends philisophy, a keen insight into the psyche of the modern male, and a real sense of dread to create a 'Backwoods Horror', that bodyswerves all the cliches and gives us a rich, forboding look into the effects that society can have on our minds and on our souls. A masterpiece, and reason alone to celebrate indie horror. and speaking of genre-defying movies set in the woods....


Alongside TRICK 'R' TREAT, and Zack Snyder's DAWN OF THE DEAD, this is probably soon to be my most watched horror film of the last two decades. CABIN is a wet-dream for genre fans. A blood-soaked roller-coaster that pays homage and love to the genre, while dissecting both the creators and the audiences that horror attracts. Its hilarious, exciting, very smart, and has the finest last act in...hell...perhaps ever. An instant classic and a true showstopper. Also, it has a fucking Merman...


A family-friendly horror film that will delight all ages. It respects the kids enough to treat them with an admirable lack of kid-gloves, and it revels in its horror movie roots; giving its mature audience much to smile about. Not to mention, its eyeball-shaggingly beautiful to behold. You can forget about your AVATAR and its CG brethren...nothing can compare to the love and care that pours from every image in this pocket-masterpiece. Oh, and its funny as fuck, nomatter what your age.


If ever proof were needed that art could be both repulsive and attractive in equal measure, EXCISION should provide all the evidence ever required. This blackly comic tale of a deeply disturbed high-school outcast going to any lengths to gain familial and social acceptance is a true showstopper. It boasts one of the years strongest and most fearless performances in its lead, and deftly combines a chilling and sad character study with ball-to-the-wall horror, as we delve deep into the fractured, perverted psyche of a sociopath. One of the most impressive films of recent years, and a true outcast in its own right.



Completed in 2011 but released in 2012, INBRED can be best described as the UK soap-opera, Emmerdale, on really fucking bad acid...Thats perhaps the best way to describe this morally bankrupt, racially and ethically treacherous ride into hillbilly cannibalism. There are simply no redeeming qualities here. Its disgusting, cruel, xenophobic and completely lacking in any sense of moral responsibility. In other words, its the perfect 'boys-night-in flick' to gain some beer-pounds to. If I could only somehow replace this on tevo with my dear old mums soap-opera marathon. 'EEE BY GOOM', indeed...


Horror? No, but it has more enough bloodshed and mayhem to find a place on this list, (not to mention that its diick-munching, man-skinning junkie-bitch protagonist is just about as terrifying as villains come). Plot and character development? You can fucking forget it. This is old-school, vicious action-packed madness with a heart thats just as empty as its lead character's. From its beautiful psychedelic 'slow-mo' eviscerations to its straight-forward and unflinching ultra-violence and perfectly judged industrial soundtrack, DREDD is the definition of hard-boiled, no-bullshit rock'n'roll lunacy.


A strong plot goes a long way. It also goes a long way to lessening the sting of a films flaws. By turns derivative and refreshingly original; this tale of self-obsession and its harrowing consequences is part drama, part hollywood 'boo-scare', part serial killer mystery and part psychological horror. Its flawed, but its a very well-woven tale and if you let it, it has the power to deeply unnerve, (despite the obvious jump-scares that occasionally lower the tone). It has a truly creepy villain, and some of the most disturbing imagery you'll see in horror this year. As admired for its genuine scares and bleak nature as it is berated for its periodic predictability, SINISTER remains a gratifyingly mature descent into darkness.

So there you have it. I wish I'd gotten to see the ones I mentioned and a few more that have peaked my interest, but them's the breaks, folks. Let me know how your year in horror has been, and feel free to disagree at length.


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