M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved starting with the year I began reviewing the genre officially October 1, 2010 through October 1, 2011. I have posted my best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around a bit. I’ve even added a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st 2010 and September 30, 2011 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number, 31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on March 25, 2011. Available On Demand, digital download, Bluray/DVD and on SHUDDER!

#25 – WAKE WOOD (2011)

Directed by David Keating
Written by David Keating, Brendan McCarthy
Starring Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle, Timothy Spall, Ella Connolly, Ruth McCabe

Though it doesn’t have Christopher Lee hissing, a leaping Peter Cushing, or damsels sporting fancy dress and loads of cleavage, Hammer Films’ WAKE WOOD is a straight up and unapologetic horror film through and through. Writer/director David Keating pulls off a story of loss and the lengths some will go to avoid it.

Patrick and Louise are trying to put their marriage back together after the tragic death of their daughter Alice (Ella Connolly). The couple moves to the simple town of Wake Wood for a new start. With Louise working in the pharmacy and Patrick taking up as the town veterinarian, everything seems on the road to being hunky-dory again. But when the couple’s car breaks down on the side of the road, they witness a ritual performed by the town elders which seemingly brings a person back to life who had recently died. Louise (played by Eva Birthistle) immediately wants to find a way to perform the ritual on their recently deceased daughter. Patrick (played as surprisingly likable by Aidan Gillen, who has been known to play complete shits in THE WIRE and GAME OF THRONES) is more than a little leery but wants to console his wife. If you’ve seen PET SEMETARY, you know where this is going. Alice is brought back, but something is definitely off with her. Horror ensues. But whereas the overrated original PET SEMATARY exceeds in camp over true chills (specifically talking about the resurrected kid here), WAKE WOOD plays things deadly straight and never stumbles all the way until the diabolical and harrowing end.

I got a whiff of DON’T LOOK NOW (the Donald Sutherland classic about parents haunted by what they believe to be the ghost of their dead daughter) and even ALICE SWEET ALICE while watching WAKE WOOD, especially since this Alice wears a yellow slicker similar to the little monsters of those films (and her names Alice…). But despite the similarities to other horror films, WAKE WOOD is a wicked little film filled with druidian Old English horror you don’t see a lot of in modern cinema. The acting is top notch with Gillen (sporting an unfortunate head of hair in this one) and Birthistle serving up heartbreaking performances. Timothy Spall is, as usual, fantastic as the town elder who performs the ritual and little Ella Connolly does a fantastically haunting job as Alice without the amateur air that usually hangs around child actors in this sort of role (see Gage in PET SEMATARY).

This one is going to shock you. While it is definitely a Monkey Paw style film (a tale told many, many times), there are no no punches pulled and it succeeds when it comes to gloom, gore, and tip top notch acting, WAKE WOOD capably upholds the great tradition that is Hammer Films.

THE 2010-2011 COUNTDOWN!

#27 – HUSK
#30 – LA HORDE

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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