Simon Barrett - You're Next!
Here's a trick for you. How do you write a slasher/home invasion flick that's both effectively horrifying and truly funny without descending into self-parody? And how do you write a movie that's funny, yet contains no real jokes? Also, how do you write this movie in such a way that if the horror elements were removed, it would still be an engaging family drama? Ask Simon Barrett. Not only are the characters and dialogue genuine, but the tightly crafted plot unwinds expertly, with each reveal perfectly timed. While I was watching it, the first big reveal seemed to come too soon in the movie. I felt like, I'm not supposed to know that yet, but Barrett knows what he's doing. This information sets up some truly Hitchcockian tension later on. This guy knows his horror, and plays with audience expectations like a true veteran. Here's to a long, productive career, Mr. Barrett.Best line: "I stuck a blender in his head and killed him."
Moira Buffini - Byzantium
Adapting her own stage play: A Vampire Story, Moira Buffini penned some of the most eloquent dialogue even spoken in a genre film. The story itself is relatively simple, yet the way Buffini structures it endows the film with enough mystery to keep it compelling while keeping the central focus on her characters. The device of having Eleanor tell bits of her story to various people keeps the narrative non-linear and allows Buffini to time her reveals with surgical precision. Eleanor and Clara are two very different women with wildly different experiences in their formative years, yet who have been together for two centuries. The fun of Byzatium is that we see these women at a specific point in their lives, get to know their wildly different personalities, and bit by bit, get pieces of insight about what made them the people (okay, vampires) they’ve become. A compelling story, beautifully told.
Don Coscarelli - John Dies at the End
I'm not sure how much of it is Don Coscarelli and how much is David Wong, but I will be quoting dialogue from John Dies at the End on my deathbed. From what I understand, adapting a book as insane and expansive as this took some doing. People who've read it complain that Coscarelli used only about a third of the book, picking and choosing scenes he wanted to include and leaving out major events. To me, this only proves his skill as a screenwriter. Instead of trying to jam everything in, he created something distinctly different, yet in the same spirit as the novel. It's also encouraging to see that someone who's been in the horror game as long as Coscarelli is only getting better while his contemporaries fade from the spotlight.
Best dialogue (aside from "That door cannot be opened."):
David: "Are you familiar with the old human saying, 'I want to shoot you so bad my dick's hard'?"
Roger North: "I don't believe I do."
David: "Well maybe you'll hear it again in the next 24 hours if you don't fuck with me."
Chad and Carey Hayes - The Conjuring
The Conjuring is one slick, tightly-crafted thrill ride of a movie. Make no mistake, this is mainstream Hollywood stuff, but it's not the cynical, just-out-to-make-a-buck piece of Michael Bay-produced shit. This is quality horror, lovingly created by people who actually give a shit about making an awesome movie. And while director James Wan gets the lion's share of the credit for the film's mood and pacing, he was building on a rock solid foundation laid down by the Brothers Hayes. They deserve major props just for the decision to not only open with a pee-your-pants-scary possessed doll sequence, but to spring that little bitch on us again in the third act.