10. Warm Bodies
On the podcast, Eric called it adorable; we would have said whimsical and charming. Regardless, if your cynicism is stowed in the overhead compartment during viewing, this should be a pretty enjoyable experience.
Guillermo Del Toro finds a way to attach himself to another creepy ghost story (after directing “The Devil’s Backbone” and producing “El Orfanato”), this one with some truly unnerving ghost effects and a surprisingly dark ending for certain characters who are usually off-limits in films of this type.
8. Insidious: Chapter Two
It threatens to collapse under the weight of its gimmicks, plot machinations, and retcons; but writer Leigh Whannell is fully committed to his outlandish premise, and director Wan ends his career in horror on a strong note by somehow holding it all together to make a solid entry in what looks to be a continuing series.
7. Evil Dead
They remade it right. We’re as surprised as you are.
6. We Are What We Are
The mysterious backwoods culture of “Deliverance,” the cannibalistic family meals of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and the dingy gloom of director Jim Mickle’s previous film “Stakeland” combine to make this reimagining of Mexican director Grau’s original film a haunting and unique work that excels on its own merits.
5. The Conjuring
A period ghost story about a wholesome family seeking the help of paranormal investigators? A sincere and twist-free horror film with scares instead of gore? In a summer of big-budget flops, the audience has spoken by making this movie a huge success, and we couldn’t agree more.
4. Room 237
Freeze-framed images, slow motion replays, and endless close-ups of moments from Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” all set to the disembodied voices of some very big (and very obsessed) fans with wildly varied theories on the real meaning of the film. This documentary effectively makes conspiracy theorists seem as frightening as the theories in which they believe.
3. Upstream Color
A filmic version of an M.C. Escher painting, “Upstream Color” is a beautiful Rubik’s cube of a film whose shifting perspectives ultimately click into place for a clarifying and emotionally satisfying finale. While you may not understand everything the movie says, you’ll know exactly how the movie feels.
An indie horror film that strips the process down to its barest essentials (two lead actors, one location, and a cool concept), and uses them to great effect. Covering drug addiction, ancient mythology, and knowing nods towards the tropes of found footage movies, the film is bolstered by two of the best recent low-budget horror lead performances and make for a thoughtful and surprising little indie.
Exorcisms are tough. So is comedy. Director J.T. Petty and a cast of great character actors take a wild premise and push it to the edge, making one of the only truly original possession films since “The Exorcist”.