To paraphrase a certain famous author, when it comes to horror films in 2011, it wasn’t the best of times, but it wasn’t the worst of times. It was a decent year for films that strike fear, and it was actually quite challenging to narrow the list down to ten. But, we firmly believe that the following are the clear Top 10 Horror Films of 2011.
10. The Thing
Fans of the John Carpenter The Thing were divided when the topic of a prequel to The Thing arose. But once the film arrived, it stood well on its own and tapped into our deepest fears that when we’re isolated and alone, we are at our most vulnerable. Casting a female lead in Mary Elizabeth Winstead was a stroke of brilliance. The actress perfectly captured our fear as an audience with each step she took on that frozen tundra of terror.
9. The Rite
Anthony Hopkins is a Vatican priest whose specialty is exorcisms. The scope and feel of The Rite is pure horror film and Hopkins was the perfect vehicle to transfer the fear on screen to the audience. We have to say, the early trailer for The Devil Inside has us a little more fearful of the devil than The Rite, but all the same, Hopkins and company delivered a film firmly in the classic exorcism genre.
8. The Innkeepers
Movie Fanatic was treated to an early screening of The Innkeepers. The film arrives in limited markets before the end of the year and therefore, lands firmly in our Top 10 Horror Movies of 2011. The story follows a pair of hotel workers spending one last weekend at the New England Inn before it goes out of business. The establishment is supposedly haunted, but nothing has ever been confirmed. Since it’s their last hurrah, our two hotel workers will stir the pot in hopes of a supernatural visit. Guess what happens?
7. Red State
Kevin Smith directing a horror movie? Yes, and he does it with panache. Smith of Clerks fame delves into a new genre for the filmmaker and comes up roses. We can see why he was upset with the Independent Spirit Awards nominations and how his film was left off the list of those honored. It is an independent movie, through and through, told by an independent filmmaker. Honestly, the fact that it is a great horror film is probably what did it in.
6. Troll Hunter
One of the biggest surprises of the year in the horror genre, Troll Hunter took the most average of concepts and crafted a horrific thriller. A man who hates trolls goes after the vertically challenged demons and audiences earn an unexpected treat.
5. Fright Night
The debate maybe was not as fierce as it was on The Thing, but when word arose that Paramount was remaking Fright Night, people did wonder why. But, after witnessing the film starring Colin Farrell, we can say that the Irish actor made one of the best vampires on film this year. Fright Night is funny, full of fear and all horror. It never takes itself too seriously, which is another plus in the Fright Night column for top horror movie of 2011. Fright Night is also out now on Blu-Ray and DVD and is a don't miss!
4. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is from producer Guillermo del Toro and the man’s stamp is all over it. The film stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce as a couple living in a mansion while it is renovated. Things go bump in the night and Pearce’s daughter routinely sees the vicious beasts that inhabit the house. No one believes her, and that is only the beginning of the horror. Expertly told, visually stunning and riveting through and through, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a 2011 don’t-miss.
3. Final Destination 5
Like Fast Five was the best of its series of action films, Final Destination 5 was the best of the five Final Destination movies. First, it utilized 3D for the horror amplification factor to terrific results. Secondly, the means of death for its cast was brilliantly original. Third, several of the previous Final Destination films suffered from inconsistent pacing. A good horror movie should grab you from the opening moments and only find that grip getting stronger as the picture progresses. Final Destination 5 achieved that fact in droves.
2. Paranormal Activity 3
Simply terrifying, Paranormal Activity 3 exceeded expectations and was so astoundingly amazing, that we couldn’t be more excited that the fourth film is already in pre-production. By going back in time, Paranormal filmmakers were able to create a backstory to the horror of films one and two that allowed them to be extremely creative. The result was another Paranormal cinematic experience that literally produced physical reactions of pure terror from its audience.
As Movie Fanatic sat to watch Insidious, if you had told us that we would be watching the most gut-wrenching horror film of the year, you would have gotten a blank stare. But what Insidious did was deliver chills, thrills and jump-in-your-seat horror that is not easily forgotten. In fact, it is one of the few horror films of the year that is equally as terrifying the second time you see it.