2011 was a horrible year for horror and that year I had to nominate a bunch of crap just to get up to five nominees and the winning film pretty much just got in by default. This year wasn’t quite as bad, but there still wasn’t a truly great film that clearly deserved to win. I don’t know what’s preventing truly great horror cinema from being made recently, but hopefully it will turn around next year.
- The Cabin in the Woods: The Cabin in the Woods is not a scary film, at all; I don’t think it was even trying to be. For that reason I almost thought about disqualifying it, but at the end of the day it is too rooted in the genre tropes of the horror film to really leave off. I didn’t respond to the film as positively as a lot of people did, but it does do some interesting things within the genre and there are monster-related set-pieces that make it memorable.
- The Innkeepers: From the indie side of the horror genre we get this little ghost story from Ty West, the director of The House of the Devil. This film, about a hotel worker’s close encounter with “the other side” on that supposedly haunted hotel’s last day of operation. The film lacks a certain degree of scope that would have launched it to the next level, but it does have some very effectively creepy moments.
- Kill List: It’s almost a spoiler to call this a horror movie because it’s meant to seem more like an assassin movie when it first starts, but as it goes on it becomes clear that this is entrenched in the world of some really dark stuff. If nothing else, it’s a horror movie that doesn’t follow any of the usual conventions and it always keeps you guessing.
- Sinister: This is a last minute addition to the nominee lineup since I just got a chance to finally see it last night. It advertises itself as coming from the producer of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, and like both of those films this is a good example of a supernatural Hollywood horror film which is surprisingly better than its trailer promises. While it goes for a few too many jump scares, its best moments are really disturbing and it leaves you fairly unsettled once it’s done.
- The Woman in Black: We don’t see a lot of period-piece horror films anymore and that gives The Woman in Black a sort of odd uniqueness. Like The Innkeepers, it tells a sort of low key ghost story which isn’t wildly original but which does have a handful of nice little scares to impart on its audience. The titular woman appears in the film at the most frightening possible moments and the fact that many of her victims are children adds to her wickedness.