Movies & TV / Columns

A Bloody Good Time 12.27.12: Top 10 Horror Movies of 2012

December 27, 2012 | Posted by Joseph Lee

Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.

The end of the year is here, and that means that it’s time to rank the ten best horror films of 2012. I think it’s been a fairly weak year for horror, especially mainstream horror. I’d argue that it’s been the weakest since I’ve started doing this, but I’ll leave that up to you. Even the independent scene had some outright clunkers, especially from names I like in the genre (like Ti West’s The Innkeepers). Even the usually reliable, for me anyway, Paranormal Activity series turned in a huge bomb this year.

So in a year with a lot of disappointing or outright bad horror, it’s just a question of which was the worst? Previous winners of being the worst of the year include One Missed Call (2008), It’s Alive (2009), Case 39 (2010) and The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (2011).

The Three Worst Horror Films Of 2012:

#3: Playback

I guess if you want to see Christian Slater play a pervert this is the movie for you, but I just found most of it to be silly and a waste of an interesting idea. The concept is that the camera really does take your soul, and one man has figured out how to pass his soul into his next of kin through the decades to stay alive and murder people. So he gets set loose in 2012 to terrorize a group of teens. The idea is about as interesting as this movie gets as it quickly turns into a generic slasher with a prolonged stalk and chase finale and only one decent kill. But hey, Christian Slater plays a guy who likes to spank it to high school locker room footage. I really have no idea what purpose his character plays in the grand scheme of things except to give him a payday. At least it’s not Alone in the Dark.

#2: Below Zero

I remember this movie was playing at a horror convention I went to and I was a little upset that I didn’t get to see it. Of course, I decided a panel featuring Kane Hodder and Tyler Mane would be a much better idea and it was. When I ended up catching this on Netflix months later I wondered what the hell I was thinking even considering watching it. This movie has zero dramatic tension, and I’ll tell you why. It is established rather quickly that everything that happens is contained within the script that Edward Furlong is writing. Hard to care what happens when you know that even in the context of the movie there is nothing at stake. Then the film throws about three or four false finishes before the real one, officially making this the Return of the King of horror films…only, if Return was a pile of junk. It’s hard to say that you expect better of Michael Berryman, but yeah. I expected better of Michael Berryman.

#1: The Devil Inside

Say what you will about the movies before this, or any other film that you think was the “worst” of this year, but at least they all had endings. As I said in my review: The Devil Inside is a poorly executed found footage exorcism film that fails in nearly every attempt to scare. It starts various plot threads only to drop them and it doesn’t explore anything that could make it a more engaging film. When you add the incredibly anticlimactic ending to that, it’s easy to see why this film is already a strong contender for worst horror film of the year.. The only difference between then and now is that I know this is the worst horror film of the year. This is one of those movies where the more I thought about it, the more angry I got. If I reviewed it now, I’d probably give it an even lower score than I originally did.

Now let’s get into the love-fest, as I present the year’s best. Previous winners include Grindhouse (2007), Let The Right One In (2008), Paranormal Activity (2009), Buried (2010) and Tucker & Dale Vs Evil (2011).

Now I present A Bloody Good Time’s Top Ten Terrors Of 2012!

#10: Penumbra

Director: Adrián García Bogliano, Ramiro García Bogliano
Cast: Cristina Brondo, Camila Bordonaba, Berta Muñiz, Arnaldo André, Mirella Pascual
Story: A woman hesitantly rents an apartment to an eerie man who she soon realizes has a part in the solar eclipse that is taking place.

There’s something to be said for a movie that knowingly places a main character that is completely unlikable within the story and dares you not to root for her. Compared to the crazy people that she runs into, you almost have to cheer for her. She may be conniving, manipulative and a liar, but at least she’s not a crazy cult member, right? This movie suffers from the lead bordering on annoying and it could have done without the final thirty seconds, but overall it’s a solid watch.

The film is about creative a sense of mood and it starts that right from the beginning by making you think that this woman is losing her mind just as she does. I don’t know about anyone else, but once the big twist is revealed I also assumed that everyone the woman had run into was in on it. It was satisfying to see that wasn’t the case, as any other horror film probably would have went there. Penumbra isn’t perfect, but it’s a decent ninety minutes and something different from the rest of the genre right now.

#9: Silent Night

Director: Steven C. Miller
Cast: Jaime King, Malcolm McDowell, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong, Brendan Fehr
Story: A small-town sheriff and deputy are on the hunt for a murderous Santa Claus terrorizing their community on Christmas Eve. But with the streets full of Santas for the annual Christmas parade, the killer is hiding in plain sight. He has made his list, checked it twice, and the naughty are going to pay with their lives.

This movie is more of a remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night in the sense that they are both about killer Santas. Actually, I’d call this more of a remake of Christmas Evil, considering it doesn’t really pull much from the original Silent Night outside of the killer Santa and some references here and there. It just takes the idea and does it’s own thing. Which is great, because no one really wants to see the same movie twice.

The best remakes are the ones that take flawed originals and improve upon them. I wouldn’t really say this improves on the original (that had a killer that was fully fleshed out, this one is run-of-the-mill) but it does a solid job in being a killer-Santa-on-the-loose Slasher with some fun kills and Malcolm McDowell hamming it up every single chance he gets. Sometimes a slasher movie doesn’t have to be anything more than it is, and this is one of those times. Watch it next year before Christmas and have a good time.

#8: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anthony Mackie, Jimmi Simpson, Rufus Sewell
Story: Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.

Speaking of fun, how could you not have fun with a movie that takes a historical figure like Lincoln and throws him into the world of vampire hunting? There were some complaints that this movie took itself too seriously, and I counter with a fight scene that includes a horse being thrown at someone as a weapon. This movie may have seemed like it was too serious, but it really wasn’t. It’s a movie called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Trust me, it knows exactly what it is.

They also throw in the stylistic direction of Timur Bekmambetov that made me love Night Watch just to make the movie look even more different than the average summer blockbuster. Benjamin Walker plays a pretty decent Lincoln, although he ended up being the third best (there were three Lincoln movies this year…weird) overall. This movie is in its own little world and I enjoyed what it brought to the table. It’s Abe Lincoln killing vampires with an axe that also doubles as a gun. It’s a big-budget b-movie. Are you a patriot or a vampire?

#7: The Woman In Black

Director: James Watkins
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Liz White
Story: A young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.

While Hammer made a comeback with some other films before this, this is the real return of Hammer horror. It’s a moody, atmospheric period piece that builds up a sense of dread and sadness. It’s a return of gothic horror, and in today’s climate that actually feels fresh and new compared to everything else. While it does suffer from some occasional jump scares, it mostly uses its time to focus on suspense and playing with the shadows to build its tension.

This was Daniel Radcliffe’s role after Harry Potter and while I think he’s a little young for the role he has, he does a good job. He’s going to need more roles like this to break away from the shadow of an eight film franchise. More horror films will probably help that cause (he has Horns next). I also enjoyed Ciaran Hinds, who is perfect for these kind of movies. Once again, I could have done without the final minute or so, but it doesn’t really change what was a strong horror film.

#6: REC 3: Genesis

Director: Paco Plaza
Cast: Leticia Dolera, Diego Martín, Javier Botet, Àlex Monner, Mireia Ros, Carla Nieto, Ismael Martínez, Ana Isabel Velásquez, Emilio Mencheta, Blai Llopis
Story: A couple’s wedding day turns into a horrific events as some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness.

I really enjoy Paco Plaza’s REC series and this is no exception. While REC 3: Genesis doesn’t quite hit the heights of REC 2, it’s a solid-enough film on its own that’s sort of a prequel to the first two. It’s only a prequel in the sense that some of it happens before the incident in the first film, but it’s still technically a prequel. A good portion of it actually happens at the same time, as we see footage from the first on a TV. One of the guests also makes mention of a dog bite before he goes insane and starts killing people.

The best thing I liked about this movie is that while is starts like any other film in the series, it quickly abandons the “found footage” aspect because the characters realize how stupid it is to carry a camera around, even as the guy says that people “have to be told about this.” The lead’s reaction to that statement is one of my favorite movie moments of the year. This movie is a really enjoyable “zombie” film with lots of nasty kills, some fun moments and great characters (it’s all about SpongeJohn for me). Bring on REC 4!

#5: V/H/S

Director: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence
Cast: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Hannah Fierman, Drew Sawyer, Joe Swanberg, Sophia Takal, Norma C. Quinones, Helen Rogers, Daniel Kaufman, Radio Silence
Story: When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.

The often maligned found footage genre collides with the usually celebrated anthology genre for one of the more unique and crazy horror films of the year. This features six stores, including the wrap-around. Each story is completely different than the last and I would argue they get progressively more insane as the movie goes on. Personally, I would have removed “Second Honeymoon”, as it was the weakest. The wrap-around wasn’t great either, but it was only there to introduce the footage of the rest.

My favorite story is probably the final one because of how crazy it gets before its over. The moment when our heroes try to escape the house is just insane. That’s really the only word I can think of to describe it. It’s one of those stories where a re-watch is probably necessary because there is so much happening in such a short period of time. The story “Amateur Night” is also enjoyable for how that one ends. This is a movie I would welcome a sequel to. Who doesn’t love anthology films? That’s actually another reason I really want to see The ABCs of Death this year.

#4: Lovely Molly

Director: Eduardo Sanchez
Cast: Johnny Lewis, Alexandra Holden, Gretchen Lodge, Lauren Lakis
Story: Newlywed Molly moves into her deceased father’s house in the countryside, where painful memories soon begin to haunt her.

This movie is one of the only films this year to really get under the skin. While I enjoyed the following three a bit more, this comes close. Gretchen Lodge gives a really good, insane performance as Molly and we have lots of nice little tone and mood shifts to keep us on our toes. It plays a delicate balancing act with making her completely unlikable and making her sympathetic, and I think it manages to succeed with the latter more often than the former.

The only thing I really didn’t like was the ending, when everything is confirmed to be one thing instead of how it was trying to appear through 3/4 of the movie. It’s an obvious cop-out for what could have been a ballsy character study with some disturbing atmosphere. It’s left open to interpretation, but I think the evidence sides more with the theory I didn’t want than the harrowing character study I was enjoying.

#3: Sinister

Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Clare Foley, Michael Hall D’Addario
Story: A true-crime writer finds a cache of 8mm “snuff” films that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose career dates back to the 1960s.

I’ve really enjoyed just about every movie I’ve seen from director Scott Derrickson. Sure, he’s responsible for the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, but I’m willing to let that slide since he directed Hellraiser: Inferno, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and this. Rather than repeat myself, I’ll just quote my review for this very website that I wrote when it came out.

Sinister, while obviously flawed, is one of the better horror films this year. It is very dark and suspenseful in tone and that carries through past any misgivings for a scary ride with a smartly told mystery that is aimed at adults and doesn’t play down to its audience. This definitely a step above most of Hollywood’s horror output this year and definitely the scariest so far.

#2: Prometheus

Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron
Story: A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

Prometheus was a very divisive film. While critics generally liked it and a lot of people did love it, there are some who are very vocal about their dislike. Just having it on this list is sure to get me some scathing comments, but at #2? I’ve got my flame-retardant outerwear on, just in case. But Prometheus was one of the few big-budget (really big budget) horror films from Hollywood this year to work on every level for me. As a sci-fi film, it offers up a lot of big questions and like an older sci-fi film, it doesn’t have to answer them all. I’m not saying this is anywhere near as good as 2001, but did that film offer up a single explanation for anything that happens? Not really.

Most of the arguments against this movie that I’ve seen has been really nitpicky stuff, but I’m not going to focus on that. Instead, I’ll just say what I liked. I like the fact that it wasn’t a straight Alien prequel. We get a little of that, but this is mostly a standalone sci-fi/horror outing that’s in that universe. I really enjoyed both Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender in their respective roles. I actually think Fassbender should be up for some awards this year for his role as David, but I know that’ll never happen. This movie is also great to look at, even when there are some nasty things happening. Prometheus is a very divisive film. You’re either going to love it or hate it. I love it, and will continue to do so.

#1: The Cabin in the Woods

Director: Drew Goddard
Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Amy Acker
Story: Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

This is not only my favorite horror film of the year, but it’s my favorite movie of the year. I’ve yet to see anything that makes me as happy as a movie-goer as this one does. If you’ve read A Bloody Good Time at all this year, you probably saw this coming. I mean at one point, I said this: I’m not going to sit here and pretend I am not completely in love with Cabin in the Woods, because I am. I want to make sweet love to that movie and create little Joseph Lee-Cabin in the Woods babies. I love this movie. It is everything that a horror fan could want.

Cabin in the Woods is a love letter to everything that is horror, while at the same time twisting many conventions in order to provide a completely different spin on a tired old story. Talking about my favorite moments would give those moments away and I really don’t want to do that to you. This is a movie that no matter what you think by seeing the trailer, you don’t really know what’s going to happen. It’s a weird, hilarious, amazing homage to horror and I can’t express my joy in watching it enough. For a really fun night, combine this and Tucker & Dale vs Evil as a double feature. You’re welcome for the idea.

Ending Notes:

That’s it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week, I begin a month-long look at horror directors with the ten best John Carpenter films. See you then.

Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)

A Bloody Good Time: The Store is now officially open! Like this design? You can now find it on most of my merchandise! Click here to find shirts, posters and more!

For those interested in more of my movie reviews, I’ve created a new blog! Check out the brand new Not-So-Bloody Good Time!

And of course, if you want to know if I’ve ever covered anything or want to read a past edition, there’s the Bloody Good Time Archives! Yes, you can finally read every edition of ABGT going back to the beginning! Just ignore my early writing style…I was new.

See you next week!

article topics

Joseph Lee

Comments are closed.