This was a very slim year when it came to horror movies. Most of the popular films of 2011 turned out to be science fiction, fantasy, or straight up animation. And they all had lots of action – Harry Potter, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean. Wizards, robots, and super heroes ruled the day. As for the horror genre, the most successful flicks were, as to be expected, sequels in very lucrative franchises. The Paranormal Activity and Final Destination sequels did well, and the long-awaited fourth entry in the Scream series did not disappoint, box-office-wise. None of them really broke new ground, but helping things out was a sprinkling of indie and foreign successes which suggest that lower-budget horror still has life in it. Thankfully, filmmakers like Joe Cornish, Eli Craig, Jason Eisener, and André Øvredal made room for themselves when Hollywood had a creative vacuum. Their entries in our list of the top 10 horror movies of 2011 prove that good horror doesn’t require lots of money to implement.
The Top 10 Horror Movies of 2011
Cool low budget monster movie done up in the same found-footage style as REC – group of Norweigan college students chase down a supposed bear poacher only to discover that he’s a secret troll hunter working for the government, whose job it is to make sure the giant trolls don’t leave their mountainous territory. Effects are very clever, and Otto Jespersen as the weary troll hunter Hans is great.
9. Hobo with a Shotgun
Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun is as close to true grindhouse as you’ll get in 2011. It’s full of gore, extreme violence (against a schoolbus full of kids, even!), and has Rutger Hauer in one of his best roles in years. Pretty awesome to watch visually, too. A worthy exploitation film, equal parts horrific and funny. Reviewed here.
8. Paranormal Activity 3
A prequel most of the time, Paranormal Activity 3 goes back to the 80s and shows forever tormented sisters Katie and Kristi as children and their introduction to a certain imaginary friend, which turns out to be terrifyingly real. It’s all caught on VHS, found-footage like the previous two entries. PA3 does tie in to the previous films and was another box office success, although many fans expressed anger that scenes from the trailer (like the girls playing Bloody Mary) never made it into the theatrical release. Update: there is a new director’s cut for the DVD/Blu-Ray release. It is reviewed here.
7. Final Destination 5
The Final Destination movies just don’t stop. It would appear that there are infinitely many ways for death to “come calling”. FD5 includes a bridge collapse, deaths in a gym and massage parlor, and a rather gross laser eye surgery accident. There is also a tie-in to the first film, and Tony Todd is back. This was much better received by audiences than the last installment.
6. Scream 4
Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson are back with the fourth installment of the popular Scream series, arriving some 11 years after Scream 3. It beats Phantasm II in length of time between sequels (9 years) but the king still remains Psycho II (22 years). Fans generally liked Scream 4 and preferred it to the third movie, still conisidered the weakest in the series. Returning characters are Sidney (Neve Campbell), Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox).
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