Best Genre Films of 2011: Part 4

By: Heather Seebach

Part 1: Click here!

Part 2: Click here!

Part 3: Click here!

5. Bellflower

Going in, I had no idea what to expect from this low-budget film about two men who dream of building a Mad Max-style apocalyptic muscle car. I discovered that the film is really a tension-building drama about friendship and heartache. It’s basically the manliest love story you’ve ever seen, with all the painful realism, too. Director/star Evan Glodell not only built the custom flamethrower featured in the film but built the very camera this movie was shot on in order to get the shots he wanted. His gritty style is great, and he’s a pretty solid actor, too. He and his co-stars are very likable and keep the story humming along even before shit hits the fan. And the soundtrack, comprised of original songs and electronica, is the best film OST of the year.

4. Drive

This marks the first American film of director Nicolas Winding Refn, who has long been kicking ass with Danish-language films such as the Pusher trilogy. Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver by day and getaway driver by night. Although a loner by nature, the driver slowly falls for his married neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan). When her husband pisses off the wrong criminals, the driver is pulled into a world of danger in order to protect Irene and her son. Refn’s style is slow and beautiful as always, while Gosling oozes badassery as the quiet, smoldering hero. The film is equally capable of being shockingly violent or sugary sweet. The soundtrack, featuring technopop much like Bellflower, is perfectly suited to the films pseudo-80s style. 

3. Insidious

It truly is rare these days to find a horror movie that is scary, especially one without any gore. James Wan accomplished just that with this Poltergeist-esque tale of demonic possession and astral projection. When a young couple moves into a new home, their son slips into an unexplainable coma and they are soon haunted by a terrifying force. Many horror movies are content to make you jump at a cheap scare and giggle, but every time I saw this film in the theater, the audience was legitimately shrieking. The demonic villain of this story has drawn jeers from some, but personally I love the makeup FX approach. This is a quirky film, no doubt, with silly ghost hunters, an eccentric psychic, and Tiny Tim music – but that is a huge part of why I love it so much. This is a flat-out fun, scary “haunted house” style picture, the likes of which nobody has made in decades. 

2. I Saw the Devil

This Korean thriller comes from director Kim Jee-woon (A Tale of Two Sisters) but it would fit right in with Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy. When a serial killer (Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik) brutally murders the fiancĂ©e of a secret agent, the grieving agent sets out on a path of revenge. But this is not a conventional cat-and-mouse tale – the good guy becomes something dark and terrifying in his desire not just for justice, but for absolute vengeance. The movie runs about 2.5 hours but it moves swiftly and never bores. This film is a must-see, especially for fans of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and/or Lady Vengeance.

1. Attack the Block

Movies like this make me believe in love at first sight. I saw this for the first time back in May and I knew then and there it was going to be my favorite film of 2011. Not just of genre films – all films. Around the same time, Super 8 had come out and it was being hailed as the ultimate 1980s throwback, but I disagree. That movie was alright but Attack the Block is the perfection resurrection (not just homage) of genre classics like The Goonies or Monster Squad. In these films, kids are the stars - they are in genuine danger and they kick genuine ass. Attack the Block is a kid-adventure story for the 21st century, where the heroes are foul little hoodlums but they alone bravely stop an alien invasion. The film has fast-paced action, witty dialogue, a kickass soundtrack by Basement Jaxx, and sweet practical FX (yes those are monster SUITS and yes, there’s lots of blood). Furthermore, all the kid actors are great and not one character blends into the next – each is unique and great. Writer/director Cornish’s socio-political commentary on the state of crime and youth in London is never overbearing or distracting - just an inevitable and truthful footnote in an otherwise fun flick.

DISCLAIMER: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is not on this list because it was among my Best Films of 2010. If it had been on this list, I assure you it would be very high!

So you may be wondering about some other flicks that are missing. Allow me to explain….

The Ones That Let Me Down:

These are all very popular among my horror friends and I was very excited to see all of them. However, they did not quite make the cut for my list and below I explain why. Still, I am mentioning them here because they are worth watching at least once if you are a genre (especially horror fan). This is far from a worst-of list, just a few that disappointed me but may very well be loved by someone reading this.


There was a lot of hype surrounding this film though I'm not really sure why. Most of the film is pretty dull, and personally, I find home invasion movies uninteresting when the invaders just want money. Sure, it's realistic, but spice it up a little, would you? It's beautifully shot but forty-five straight minutes of two women sobbing gets old. The ending is a nice, bleak kick in the balls but it's not enough to elevate an other mediocre horror flick. Worth watching once but doubtful I will revisit this one. Oh, and it's worth noting that the opening scene of this film is GREAT. I don't know how the first 2 minutes are so much better than the rest but they really are.


I had such high hopes for this! I love horror anthologies and I am a fan of the filmmakers involved. But overall it fell flat, save a few good bits. The first segment, "Wadzilla", is corny but funny. Ray Wise is always fun to watch. "I Was a Teenage Werebear" is a bit of chore to sit through with terrible singing and a reference to The Room that is so forced it makes The Room look good. Adam Green's "Diary of Anne Frankenstein" is easily the stand-out of the movie - clever and hilarious (Joel David Moore's fake German-speak kills me). And "Zom B-Movie" should have been my favorite bits but they ended up being my least favorite. My beloved AJ Bowen couldn't even save this mess of forced movie references. Use some subtly and be clever if you want to quote cult classics, don't just shove them anywhere!
Hobo with a Shotgun

I know, I know, blasphemy! I enjoyed this film mostly, but it let me down because I don't think it touches the original trailer upon which it is based - and that was obviously much shorter! Rutger Hauer makes a good hobo (though David Brunt will always be my Hobo). For all the over-the-top cheese and gore, I don't know, I just couldn't get behind it. Something is missing - perhaps I set the bar too high? I am not sure. Perhaps time will help me form a bond with this one. I hope so, because I want to love it. 

The Innkeepers

The latest from Ti West is another one I mostly enjoyed but ultimately felt like it left me empty. It's fairly slow for a haunted house flick, mostly focusing on the leads. Cute and likeable as the leads are, I just felt there should've been more real scares instead of fake ones (Oh, it's just my friend....Oh, it's just a bird...). There is 1 scene that gave me chills, I'll give it that. My other big issue with the film is its vague ending. Plot points are introduced and never explained, and the ending left me cold. Overall, the film felt like a decent throwback to old haunted house movies but brought nothing new to the table, though it tried.

So that's all of it! Feedback is appreciated so feel free to comment below if you agree with my choices, or have some others you think I should see!

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