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News Article

Best of 2011: Movies


Asking us to name our favorite films of the year is always a difficult task. It's kind of like asking someone to name the foods they most enjoyed eating. So we decided to turn to our fearless writing staff and showcase their thoughts on the subject. Check out which movies FEARnet's finest liked best in 2011 after the jump.

Gregory Burkart

Troll Hunter
Just when I thought the "found footage" genre was getting a little tired, a bunch of Norwegians brought in psychotic fifty-foot muppets for the win. Plus this movie shows how to draw blood from a rabid Ringlefinch, so that's a new one for my bucket list.

I Saw the Devil
The two main characters are ruthless, brilliant and completely insane, which is also a perfect description of this movie. The 360-spinning-camera "cab kill" is worth the price of admission, but I could have done without the diarrhea scene.

I always thought the song "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" was high-octane nightmare fuel, and so did the makers of this movie. Now they owe me sixteen grand for all those months of therapy.

The Ward
Haters gonna hate, but I thought John Carpenter did a damn fine job on this one, and I hope he stays in the game. I kinda wish John had composed the music, just for old times' sake, but Mark Kilian's score as one of the year's best.

Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2
Usually when you start expanding the mythos behind a slasher villain, he stops being scary, but this dude's full of surprises. I still prefer the first in the series, but this one has a very impressive body count, which is pretty much the whole point anyway.

Bryan Cairns

A haunted house romp by the creators of the Saw franchise, Insidious proves the creepiest movie of 2011 doesn't need over–the-top effects, or heck, a big budget, to scare the bejeezus out of you.   

Paranormal Activity 3
|Most horror franchises begin to die down by the third instalment, but by presenting a solid prequel that touches on the early days of these royally pissed-off demonic spirits, Paranormal Activity 3 broke that curse.

Super 8
With its alien mayhem, young cast of Goonie-esque filmmaking characters and an old-school nostalgic vibe, the Steven Spielberg-produced Super 8 was the feel-good horror event of the year.

Fright Night
Inspired by the 1985 movie of the same name, the Fright Night remake successfully balanced humor and intensity for a bloody fun ride. It also didn't hurt that Colin Farrell oozed sexuality, charisma and danger as the hungry vampire next door.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes:
A horror film with a message? That's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a compelling movie that features extraordinarily intelligent simians on the rampage, breathtaking CG technology and thought-provoking undertones. Plus, everyone knows, monkeys rule!

Carl Lyon

Final Destination 5
While not the best movie in the franchise, the movie earns bonus points for returning to its roots with a bridge-based catastrophe sure to leave gephyrophobes squirming in their seats (a massive upgrade over number 4's lame NASCAR pileup), as well as a twist ending so absolutely mind-blowing it makes the movie's sins (particularly the world's sleaziest Jew stereotype) completely forgivable.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
This Guillermo del Toro penned-and-produced remake of an ABC TV movie from the 70's may have lacked the famed director's usual creative insanity, but made up for it in its sense of wide-eyd wonder and fairy-fuelled frights.  The inherently silly premise—tiny monsters living in the basement—is completely forgiven by the childlike feelings that it stirs within its viewers.

Super 8
J. J. Abrams' love letter to 80's era Steven Spielberg, Super 8, elevates hero worship and emotional emulation to a science.  The story of a group of friends filming a zombie movie on the eponymous Super 8 camera and the interplanetary incident that they stumble upon is pure 1980'a sci-fi, and the emotions that run underneath the extraterrestrials and explosions are pure Spielberg.  I didn't expect one of my favorite movies of the year to get me a little misty-eyed, but Super 8 did just that.

The Troll Hunter
Norwegian export The Troll Hunter asks a lot of you right out of the gates, with its loony concept of a documentary filmmaking team that follows the titular troll hunter as he faces off against some absurdly huge foes.  However, it pays you back for your suspension of disbelief with good old fashioned movie magic and a sense of scale that Hollywood could certainly learn a thing or two from.

Hobo with a Shotgun
Probably the strangest thing I've watched in a very long time, Hobo with a Shotgun is an offensive and irreverent piece of Troma-seasoned sleaze-and-cheese that would gain a small cult following on its own gore-soaked merits.  However, somehow managing to cast veteran actor Rutger Hauer as the shotgun-wielding hobo was a stroke of mad genius.  The Dutch legend brings a sense of gravitas and genuineness to an absurd role, making him both an oasis and the epicenter of the storm of violent sleaze erupting around him.

Joseph McCabe

Troll Hunter
meets Cloverfield. Fun, inventive, and fresh.

I Saw the Devil
Brutal and uncompromising. Proves the serial killer genre still has new things to offer in the 21st century.

Paranormal Activity 3
Possibly the most satisfying third chapter in a horror film series since Romero's Day of the Dead.

Final Destination 5
The funniest and perhaps most outrageous of the Final Destination films, FD5 is this year's Piranha 3D. Director Steven Quale (James Cameron's frequent second unit director) makes an assured feature film debut; and even the 3D is great.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Attack the Block (tie)
Two future horror comedy cult classics. It's icing on the cake that both feature folks too often portrayed in movies as mere social problems to be solved (rednecks and inner city kids) as their heroes.

Alyse Wax

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
Tucker and Dale do for hillbilly horror what Zombieland did for zombies.

Attack the Block
A fun, high-energy alien action flick.

Paranormal Activity 3
Aside from the last fifteen minutes, this is the best of the Paranormal Activity series.

A Horrible Way to Die
A unique take on serial killer film that builds tension with every moment.

A surprisingly intelligent entry into the "torture porn" arena.

Scott Weinberg

We Need to Talk About Kevin
If you don't think it's a horror film, watch it with your mother.

The Skin I Live In
Takes the sexually-repressed mad scientist to a whole new level.

Black Death
Adventure quest, cerebral horror flick, and indictment of organized religion all in one.

The Woman
A portrait of wild madness colliding with structured lunacy.

I Saw the Devil
A powerfully dark and psychologically bruising serial killer thriller.

Lawrence P. Raffel

Tucker and Dale vs Evil
I know it's been around for a few years but the films' official release was this year. It's even better than the hype suggests.

[REC] 2
I know I'll take some heat for this but I think it's better than the original and that's a TALL order.

Easily the best haunted house movie I've seen in a very long time and now one of my personal favorites. Ranks up there with Poltergeist, The Haunting (1963) and The Innocents.

Black Death
Creep, Severance, Triangle, Black Death...Christopher Smith is quickly climbing the ladder to become one of my favorite genre directors.

You wouldn't think that a movie about a telekinetic killer tire could make my top of the year...and here we are.

Honorable mention to Final Destination 5 and Shark Night 3D, not two of the best films I saw this year, but both a hell of a lot of fun.