Upon reaching 2012′s cinematic midway point, I’ve found some grade-A entries into the horror genre haunting enough to make me clutch a blanket over my eyes, but man did I have to sift through some garbage to do so.
For every Cabin In The Woods, we got ten complete abominations incomparable to even the most mediocre productions, but I guess that’s what makes discovering phenomenal horror feel oh so good.
It’s a dirty job watching some of the films listed below, but I do it for you! Diving head first into the bloody mess of genre specific stinkers witnessed this year, I surface out of the muck to bring you my Top Five Worst Horror Films of 2012…so far.
Without further adieu, let’s take a second to honor those crap-tacular films, which still pollute screens.
5. Monster Brawl
It’s such a shame that I have to include what should have been a horror nerd’s wet dream on my bottom five list.
Monster Brawl is exactly what it sounds like: a WWF Pay Per View rip-off featuring all your favorite horror creatures fighting to the death in tournament-style action. Authenticity is strived for in this mock event by including everything from monster divisions, weight classes, color commentators, ring girls, to special guest cameos. It’s just too bad that the script, seemingly written by current WWE scribes, makes Monster Brawl feel unbalanced and unjustly dull.
First off, don’t get excited thinking you’re about to see a featherweight match between Chucky and Leprechaun, or a star-studded smack down between Robert DeNiro‘s Frankenstein and Tom Cruise‘s Vampire. Monster Brawl includes all the classic monsters, just slightly ripped off as to avoid paying royalties. We get characters like “Swamp Gut” (who is just an overweight version of Swamp Thing) and “Werewolf” (who is just a random bro turned by the curse), though that didn’t bother me so much.
What did chap my ass were the poorly inserted origin stories, shoehorned in before each creature entered the arena. Apparently, this was some sort of attempt to establish an emotionally resonant backstory for each warrior, though they all were quickly forgotten as soon as the fights began. Without a true overarching story, each introduction was nothing but wasted screen time.
Each fight also played out in a hokey and fake manner. Watching what appeared to be two stunt actors wearing silly costumes perform power bombs and pile drivers over and over got boring quick. Sans one or two high-five worthy horror fatalities, so much more could have been done to bolster the gore and to create monster-specific fighting techniques.
I’m sure some will love the fact that they can watch Frankenstein choke-slam a werewolf, but Monster Brawl exists better as a concept than low-budget independent horror film. Even surprise appearances by professional wrestling/MMA celebrities Kevin Nash, Herb Dean, and “Mouth from the South” Jimmy Hart couldn’t elevate director Jesse T. Cook‘s first solo effort to B-Movie greatness.
I will say that Monster Brawl got selected for this list based on sheer disappointment, but it does have a few redeeming qualities. One can only hope something worse comes along and prevents Jesse T. Cook from being on my end-of-the-year naughty list!
Let’s get this out of the way now: yes, that dude on the right used to be resident Nickelodeon-chubby-kid Josh from Drake and Josh. Laugh laugh, har har, he pulled a Jonah Hill - we good now?
Single location horror films are always a gamble, both from a production standpoint and from the viewer’s perspective. There are always challenges created by having zero variety in setting. That being said, I’m a sucker for Alice Eve and normally have faith in IFC Midnight releases, so I tried to cash in on a late night watch. Damn you sexy Alice Eve, duping me into another horror misfire!
ATM succeeds in making all the mistakes a single-location horror film could.
Non-existent character development causing me to root for the trio’s sweet release coupled with an abrupt ending are not things you want to include in a film that really only has those three characters to focus on.
Sorry Josh Peck, not one ounce of my fiber wanted to see you walk out of that tiny booth after turning into a sniveling brat (at least your buddies provided somewhat credible performances). Acting and character development? A big fat strike one.
Storywise, Buried scribe Chris Sparling falls prey to every horror cliché imaginable, be it body count, the execution of kills or the existence of basic logic. Nothing against Canadians, but honestly, if at 2:00 AM if you see a shadowy hooded figure walking briskly towards you, why aren’t you instantly sprinting another direction? Oh, and I’m sure the bumbling security guard is here to save the day! Oh no, wait – yup – dead.
ATM was missing any semblance of creativity, as if Sparling wrote in supporting characters just to appease horror audiences with uninspired and forced deaths. Strike two!
Three strikes and you’re out, right?
David Brook‘s snooze-fest of a claustrophobic horror fails one last time by incorporating a killer with no back story, motivation, or charisma. In the realm of named horror icons, all I’ve got for this guy is “Hoodie” (ooh, ahh?) Terrifying murderers always tend to have a sick agenda or tortured upbringing, but we’re supposed to believe Mr. Creepy just plays the game for giggles in an all too “we’ve seen this before” manner.
Keep on moving people, this ATM is fresh out of cash.
3. 388 Arletta Avenue
Now, while the cast of ATM may have been unlikable, the lead character James (Nick Stahl), from 388 Arletta Avenue, easily wins the award for Most Hateable Horror Character of the Year. Again, I couldn’t bring myself to even muster the slightest shred of compassion as James frantically burned bridges and acted suspiciously abrasive when outsiders tried to offer help. Ultimately, this set him up for inevitable failure early on as he hunts for his kidnapped wife.
Apparently, ATM‘s killer also moonlights stalking suburban families on the side, as 388 Arletta Avenue provides an exact replica of “Hoodie,” down to the oversized hood and inevitable cut scene showing each villain lurking in their hideout planning yet another hellish ride for out protagonists. Two films, same mistake, same bottom five fate.
Let’s not forget 388 Arletta Avenue‘s found footage nature, capturing shots from cameras positioned by Hoodie #2, which provides 24/7 coverage of James’ constant struggle. Now, I can understand being oblivious in the right scenario, but we’re not talking about a shifted coffee table here. Numerous digital cameras were placed around James’ house yet he meanders about apparently unaware of the obvious alterations. Wouldn’t you question why a random camcorder is sitting on your bedroom bookcase in the perfect position to watch you sleep?
Maybe if I could actually relate to James and want him to crack his crazy stalker conundrum there would have been some redeeming qualities to 388 Arletta Avenue - if.
Hate a main character, hate the movie. It’s that simple.
2. The Moth Diaries
How do you make a vampire story without even including an actual vampire? Just ask director Mary Harron.
The Moth Diaries is nothing but a cushy, safe, horror romp for tweens, as this estrogen-filled, best-friends-forever, coma-inducer includes only about two scenes that actually even belong in the horror genre. Besides all the excruciating waiting for those brief moments of actual horror, we’re treated to nothing but an overly stereotypical sleepover full of snobby school girls who gossip and bitch. Actually, I take that back, that sounds horrifying.
Taking place in an all girls boarding school, rumors arise that one pasty new outsider could possibly be a vampire, hell-bent on stealing one girl’s soul. That, or main character Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) is stark raving mad and fabricates every detail for her own (in)sanity. Pick whichever explanation you’d like, it’s not like The Moth Diaries does simple things like wrap up plot points and provide closure – its dreadfully awful writing leaves us completely in the dark.
Sure, Inception could pull off such tomfoolery because exemplary filmmaking was constructed by Christopher Nolan. The Moth Diaries (to put it politely) does not.
Maybe I’m just the wrong demographic, as I possess no female anatomy and enjoy coherent storytelling. The Moth Diaries exists as nothing but another cheap attempt to cash in on screaming “Twi-hards”, hungry for the next big vampire offering.
Want to see what real vampires do? Go watch Stake Land. Then tell me you want to marry Edward Cullen.
1. Area 407
Let me start by saying I have never hated a movie in all my existence. I may not have liked movies, may have been bored, may have dismissed them, but I have never, ever, outright wrote off a film to have zero cinematic qualities worth noting. That was, until I watched Area 407.
Directors Dale Fabrigar and Everette Wallin attempted to create an independent creature feature on a shoe-string budget in five days, with actors ad-libbing their lines. Suffice to say, Area 407 ended up as a Frankenstein of a failed project.
In Area 407, survivors from a plane crash face a monster that hunts the group and kills them slowly (oh how I wish the plane killed them all and the movie could have ended early).
Area 407 consists of cardboard characters screaming “what is that?!” as they vanish off-screen one by one while atrocious direction offers nothing but shaky-cam antics, exploitative found footage scenarios and soul-sucking pacing. They didn’t even attempt to provide a spec of excitement until thirty-five minutes had passed, and even after that, agonizingly-awful creature design couldn’t even keep our monster consistently scaled from scene to scene.
Improvisational tactics are supposed to bring genuine realism to film and make characters seem grounded, yet all Area 407 managed to record were actors over-using simplistic dialogue and shouting over one another as if vying for the most screen time. As a result, they all seemed unintelligent and rather annoying. Even for an independent horror film, I’ve never seen such piss-poor acting stink up the screen this badly.
Plain and simple, you can’t call a character disappearing off-screen horror – seriously. My favorite scene depicted character Charlie walking away from the group near dense foliage to relieve himself. The camera pans back towards the others, and when the focus returns to Charlie, he’s gone. My horror intellect has never been more insulted in my life.
Area 407 doesn’t stop at being the worst horror movie of the year so far, I’m awarding this genre embarrassment the label of worst horror film I’ve seen all decade (and every other encompassing award that goes with it).
It may be a tad premature to deem Area 407 one of the worst horror film I’ve ever seen, but congrats goes out to our two directors for being the front-runner right now.
Now it’s your turn to chime in. Head down to the comments and let us know which horror films you hated this year.