Continuing our “Best/Worst in Horror 2011” coverage, here is contributing writer Paul Doro’s selections. As I stated earlier with Jeff Allard’s top 5, each writer is bringing his own opinion to the table, so please respect that. We love healthy debate, so use our comment boards with respect. – Ryan Turek, Managing Editor
THE REEF:It may help to already have a serious fear of water and sharks, but the second half of The Reef is remarkably tense. You know the sharks are out there. The characters, bobbing along in the middle of the ocean with little chance of rescue, know the sharks are out there. We just dont know when theyll strike. When they do, it is jarring and brutal and fast. Excuse the hyperbole (and, yes, competition isnt exactly stellar), but this is the best shark movie since Jaws.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN:Yes, you read that right. Make no mistake about it, though this may appear to be an art house drama, it is a horror movie. And it is more disturbing and terrifying than any movie released this year. Kevin, a teenage outcast who commits unspeakable crimes, is a monster, all the more so because he is a human being and not supernatural. The slow-burn suspense is almost unbearable by the end, which is nothing less than shocking. This movie sticks with you long after its over.
FINAL DESTINATION 5: As good as a sequel can possibly be and so much better than anyone expected. With great use of 3D, this was an absolute blast in theaters. The opening is the best in the series, even better than part two’s much-praised (rightfully so) freeway pile-up. The kills are inventive and often startling, and the ending is an unexpected surprise, something that seems incredibly rare these days. The filmmakers appeared to really get what works and what doesnt in this series, and the audience reaped the benefits.
GOOD NEIGHBORS: This low-key and odd mystery from Canada generates significant tension by deftly exploiting the idea that we never really know our neighbors. Outside, a serial killer is killing young women. Inside, three building residents, including a new tenant, slowly realize that each is hiding something. It isnt really giving anything away to say that no one is who they seem. It has a few real surprises up its sleeve and maintains a creepy and ominous tone from start to finish. An effective little thriller.
KIDNAPPED: If you feel like home invasion horror is played out, give this one a chance to change your mind. At first it will feel familiar. A nice, normal, wealthy family is moving into a new house. The teenage daughter fights with her parents. After the sun goes down men in ski masks break into the house. So what? A potent sense of dread is present throughout. You know this isnt going to end well. It doesnt. The final moments will have your jaw on the floor, and the last few minutes make the previous 80 worthwhile.
Stay tuned for more year-end coverage on Shock throughout the week!