William Pattison’s Top Ten Horror Movies from 2021
By William Pattison
Gore and Scares everyone! 2021 was a really good year for horror. I watched a lot of good horror films, so many it was really hard to choose just ten, but I prefer doing a top ten rather than a top twenty. So, after a lot of deliberation, here is my top ten horror movies for 2021…
In 1985, Enid Baines works for the British Board of Film Classification during the height of the Video Nasty controversy. Enid's co-workers call her "Little Miss Perfect" due to her strictness in recommending that violent content be cut or banned. While Enid is having dinner with her parents, they discuss the disappearance of Enid's sister Nina when the two were little. Enid's parents have since declared Nina legally dead, but Enid is convinced that her sister is still missing and is the star of the film she is currently censoring.
This was a very interesting psychological film. this film strongly echoes the works of Argento, Fulci & Cronenberg with its splendid use of color, style & mood. Those films within the film pay homage to the low-budget horror & exploitation films of the 1980s while its own plot is missing chunks of flesh. It also gives away the ending rather early with hints of a dark past concerning our protagonist but remains gripping.
9. Halloween Kills
David Gordon Green
John Carpenter (based on characters created by)
Debra Hill (based on characters created by)
Jamie Lee Curtis
The Halloween night when Michael Myers returned isn't over yet. Minutes after Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) left masked monster Michael Myers caged and burning in Laurie's basement, Laurie is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, believing she finally killed her lifelong tormentor. But when Michael manages to free himself from Laurie's trap, his ritual bloodbath resumes. As Laurie fights her pain and prepares to defend herself against him, she inspires all of Haddonfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster. The Strode women join a group of other survivors of Michael's first rampage who decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a vigilante mob that sets out to hunt Michael down, once and for all.
This installment in the rebooted Halloween franchise was quite effective. The entire audience was screaming and shouting and just, in general, having a spooktacular time. The storyline was modern but yet paid homage to the original. The scares, the gore, the stupid decisions, it all came together to make one killer movie.
Henry Chaisson (screenplay by)
Nick Antosca (screenplay by)
Scott Cooper (screenplay by)
Jeremy T. Thomas
In a small town in central Oregon, Frank Weaver runs a meth lab out of an abandoned mine. While his young son Aiden waits outside the mine in his truck, Frank and an accomplice are attacked by an unseen creature. Investigating strange noises, Aiden is also attacked by the creature. Frank and Aiden survive their encounter with the creature and return home, where their condition quickly worsens. Frank sets up a locked room and demands that no matter what, Aiden's older brother Lucas keeps them locked inside.
This movie was quite surprising to be fair, I was expecting a typical horror with the basic format of a scare here and there with a cliche ending, but no this creature feature is actually quite unique with very interesting themes about trauma and abuse and has great parallels between the two main characters. The effects were pretty good and the creature looked really good when it was finally revealed. The acting was solid even the kid actors weren't bad at all. The score was pretty cool and fit the creepy vibe of the film. Not too long and not too short of a film, perfect length for these sorts of films as they drag on if they're too long and feel bogged down with exposition. Not much to say really about this one. Just a solid horror.
7. Blood Red Sky
Stefan Holtz (scenario)
Peter Thorwarth (scenario)
Carl Anton Koch
A woman with a mysterious illness, who is with her young son, is forced into action when a group of terrorists attempt to hijack a transatlantic overnight flight. The result is a bloodbath.
This film is an original twist on the vampire saga. Don't take it all that seriously and you are going to see a rather good movie. It's all there that you want from a vampire flick and somehow it did remind me a lot of the series The Strain. You know, the airplane were things go wrong.
6. Wrong Turn
Mike P. Nelson
Alan B. McElroy
Friends hiking the Appalachian Trail are confronted by 'The Foundation', a community of separatist people who have lived in the mountains since the Civil War.
I must say that I only saw the original Wrong Turn film so I went into this with no real expectations about what should happen. It turns out it was one of those few reboots that outdid the original horror film. There are plenty of scary moments as well as quite a few unpleasant deaths. The protagonists aren't particularly likable; they may be diverse and politically liberal but they have their own prejudices. Without going into retails I thought the way friends crossed paths with The Foundation; the various traps were fun and the Foundation appeared scary. On the downside one really does have to suspend one's disbelief; The Foundation might be a danger to hikers but one can't imagine the authorities would be ignorant and tolerant of people disappearing on a particular mountain for a hundred and seventy years! The setting looks great even though it was filmed in Ohio rather than Virginia. Overall I'd say this is worth watching but not a must-watch for horror fans; just don't take it too seriously.
James Wan (story by)
Ingrid Bisu (story by)
Akela Cooper (story by)
Twenty-seven long years after the brutal Simion Research Hospital incident, abused Madison wakes up in a hospital in present-day Seattle. But with numbing visions of murder getting in the way of a normal life, more and more, Madison's obscure past emerges, baffling both herself and the local detectives. Are these explicitly violent killings figments of Madison's troubled imagination? Either way, someone, or better yet, something, links the past to the present, demanding closure and blood. Is the bogeyman real?
Horror movies are tough to make. Especially when you are
trying to please the general crowd and the hardened horror aficionados.
Especially the latter might depict your movie and quite a few things you chose.
Now James Wan seems to love a moving camera ... and I think that works nicely.
But he also seems to like action ... which is apparent towards the almost
insane action set piece almost at the end of the movie. It is so over the top,
that one might feel it doesn't belong in there.
It still sort of works if you suspend your disbelief. Other points you can criticize are things that are being built up without a payoff. While it may not be too bad when it comes to the (comedic) romance subplot, it is more than weird with a location towards the end. It gets such an epic ... introduction and yet it deflates into almost nothing.
Maybe there is more (deleted scenes I'm quite sure), some scenes obviously have been cut, one, in particular, comes to mind with more romantic stuff, that didn't make it into the movie. Dialog wise that is, just in case you are wondering.
But if you only see the negative, you will miss out on the fun and the horror the movie dishes out. The story/plot does check out and while you'll be trying to figure out what is what (and again hardcore horror fans will probably be onto Wan early on), it does not take anything away from the journey.
There are some horror clichés too (the very last frame may annoy you), but overall the movie is a nice mixture between horror, comedy and action. If you can dig that, you are on a good way to really like this.
4. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (screenplay by)
James Wan (story by)
Chad Hayes (based on characters created by)
Based on the infamous demon murder case. A chilling story of terror, murder, and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of the most sensational cases from their files, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they'd ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense.
Everyone who's complaining that they're too much story and not enough scares, are you kidding? Story and character is the reason why we care about the stakes that's where drama, tension, and horror come from. If it was all jump scares and lacking in the story (the movie Winchester comes to mind), I guarantee y'all would've been even more disappointed. But if that's your thing, you'll probably be just as entertained by a jack in the box. While remaining faithful to the Conjuring universe, I appreciated that this third movie explored new territory so it wasn't just a repeat. It is a quality addition to the series with good production value and much more thoughtfully written than the spin-offs. It's a win for what it is considering the impossible task the writer and the director had of pleasing all these harsh fans who couldn't even tell you what they liked about the first two conjuring movies other than "it was scary."
3. Army of the Dead
Zack Snyder (story by)
Shay Hatten (screenplay by)
Joby Harold (screenplay by)
Ana de la Reguera
With the abandoned, walled city of Las Vegas overrun with zombies, after a disastrous government fault, billionaire casino magnate Bly Tanaka realizes he has left something behind in Sin City: $200 million to be more precise. But for the time being, his mountains of cash are safe behind an impenetrable casino vault. Now, Tanaka is willing to pay $50 million to decorated former mercenary Scott Ward and his hand-picked team to retrieve the money before the US President nukes the entire city. Indeed, this is a life-changing offer Scott cannot refuse; nevertheless, the rules have changed, and this time, the horde of the walking undead seems to be more organized than they might have expected. And, above all, time is running out. Will Ward's crew return from Vegas in one piece and rich?
Oozing with a gung-ho attitude, smeared with a brawny touch, and brimming with an unabashed brainlessness, Army of the Dead has all the hallmarks of a silly, idiotic & extravagantly dumb yet fun blockbuster with a bonkers premise & stupid characters to steer the adventure and not only does it deliver what it set out to do but also does so with panache & near-fatal overdose of style.
2. Last Night in Soho
Edgar Wright (story by)
Krysty Wilson-Cairns (screenplay by)
In acclaimed director Edgar Wright's psychological thriller, Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer, Sandie. But the glamour is not all it appears to be and the dreams of the past start to crack and splinter into something far darker.
Edgar Wright seems to polarize with this movie. Although
generally speaking the majority seem to love this as much as I did. Or in
similar fashion - no pun intended. And for a genre movie it starts off ... well
off (weird). You don't get a shocker, quite the opposite it starts off with a
music number/dancing. Which makes sense when you think about it in hindsight
and still sets a tone for the viewer - even if not one that is as menacing as
the movie becomes later on.
Technically speaking the movie is impeccable. Anyone arguing differently surely has not seen far lesser movies produced than this and is probably blinded by the fact they don't like the movie. Which is more than fine, just don't let your dislike turn into a general bashing. One does not have to like a movie that is well made. We have different tastes and that is a good thing.
There are things that depending on how you view things, may feel like flaws or things the movie did not get right. Like the moral ambiguity or the love interest. The latter may feel a bit one dimensional, but ask yourself this: how many female love interests have been played or rather written the exact same way? So this is nothing unusual - unless you count the gender swap for who is playing the gullible and way too nice person to be real ... having said that, again that may not be enough to sway you to like the movie or the characters.
And the moral issues the movie displays including an ending that some may not be entirely left satisfied with (character choices and so much more) - with many unanswered questions ... on the other hand, some things are better left without an answer, so we as viewers can fill in the blanks.
Stylish and probably with quite a few in-camera effects (I imagine certain tricks were used to avoid a higher special effects cost, but I may be wrong), this movie has a few exquisite jump scares and a really good story as a backbone. Oh and before I forget, a great cast. It has been ages since I last saw Terence Stamp on the big screen.
Anyway, really good genre movie by a director who knows what he wants - for an audience who mostly seems to appreciate it.
1. Willy’s Wonderland
G.O. Parsons (screenplay by)
A quiet loner (Nic Cage) finds himself stranded in a remote town when his car breaks down. Unable to pay for the repairs he needs, he agrees to spend the night cleaning Willy's Wonderland, an abandoned family fun center. But this wonderland has a dark secret that the "The Janitor" is about to discover. He soon finds himself trapped inside Willy's and locked in an epic battle with the possessed animatronic mascots that roam the halls. To survive, he must fight his way through each of them.
I like the general premise and the place. I love Cage's obsessive cleaning although his character should start differently. Instead of a bad mother driving a muscle car, he should be a simple workman driving a beat-up truck. He should be poor which would explain him working as a janitor more easily. I like the teen group for the most part and they are good cannon fodder anyways. I like the animatronic killers although the killings get a bit repetitive.
So, there you go my top ten for 2021. Hope you found them interesting. I’ll see you next year around this time for the top ten of 2022. Keep America Strong, Watch Horror Films…