While others pound their chests proclaiming the top ten best horror movies of 2009, I thought I would take a different approach. Frankly, top ten lists are a dime a dozen these days. And why only ten? Who do we blame for limiting the best to only ten a year? I love reading these lists, though, but only when my favorites make the list (which I suspect is a habit we all share).
But what about all those regrettable horror movies you and I wasted time and money seeing in 2009? Now we're talking. Not the worst movies or completely bad movies necessarily, but movies that are most regrettable because they zigged when they should have zagged, leaving me, and possibly you, with a sour taste in our mouths in spite of all the popcorn and soda eaten to make up for the disappointment. In a word, those movies that looked so promising but let us down.
I should say 'let me down,' since this is my most regrettable list for 2009. Maybe it will be yours, too.
It came and went without collecting much of an audience. Torture porn horror hit its zenith in this slick nihilistic, but derivative, terrifying vision. In combining Cube-like lethal traps with a hint of Saw-styled ingenuity and malice, and yet another relentless masked-slasher victimizing a family in unsavory, bloodily grisly ways, Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (Feast) do their darnedest to pulverize the audience with fears of helplessness, torture, and death. They almost succeed, but choose to go the usual horror franchise-building byway at the end with a negative payoff.
2. Friday the 13th
Jared Padalecki (Supernatural) is the only reason I saw this movie. I like him. I like him in this movie. I hate everything else. Remakes can be a dice game to begin with, but trying to remake and re-imagine an icon of horror means you gamble on what stays and what changes. In this case, the gamble didn't pay off. What changed but shouldn't have is the mystery and uncertainty about Jason. What should have changed but didn't are the pick-a-number victims wearing "kill me, I'm stupid" signs on their butts.
A haunting without ghosts? How novel. While director Peter Cornwell and writers did manage to startle me twice, this movie has more in common with Tobe Hooper's energetic spookfest Poltergeist than the lingering, atmospheric scares in Lewis Allen's The Uninvited or Robert Wise's The Haunting--but not enough in common to make it as good. A missed opportunity to create real fright instead of resorting to the usual special-effects and grisly spookshow makeup theatrics; less experienced horrorheads will enjoy it. Those with more experience, like me, will nitpick. Such is life.