The Screen Junkie Awards: The Most Insane Movies Of 2012
“Insane” is a fairly subjective term, so let’s just consider this an opinion piece in the misguided hope that everyone will respect this list as one man’s opinion, which he has a right to. And those who take issue with any selections or omissions will understand that not everyone has the same taste, and insanity is in the eye of the beholder.
Predictably, none of the entries on this list were mainstream hits. Probably because when studio execs are sitting around a table, berating their assistants and spit balling summer tent-pole ideas, they normally aren't building franchises around films which log lines contain the word “insane.”
But they should. Here are the most insane movies of 2012. Like, Busey level insane.
Although it didn’t really enter the public consciousness (probably because it was weird and foreign), Holy Motors was critically acclaimed (also probably because it was weird and foreign). The film follows a man who exits a portal in his apartment and finds himself in several surreal situations with studio audiences, often with the uneasy ambiance of all-too-quiet dream.
It’s also in French, which adds to the insanity, and it features pop star Kylie Minogue prominently, which is pretty insane in and of itself.
Holy Motors is the type of ultra high-concept film that defies categorization or even expectation, along the lines of Von Trier’s Dogville, but much better.
The Cabin in the Woods
Insanity, thy name is Whedon. Cabin on the Woods, the long-gestating horror film produced by fanboy favorite Joss Whedon, did a lot of things at once. It served as a satire (a funny one at that – just reference the “giant molesting tree”), a genuinely scary horror film, and a meta-mystery.
The fact that the film sat on the shelf for so long, normally a kiss of death, seemed to add to the anticipation and allure, as though it was too hot for theaters.
Beyond the wacky concept (which I’m really not at liberty to divulge), the final 30 minutes of the film just become batshit-crazy, introducing a wide variety of villains, both familiar and hilariously contrived, with mayhem following shortly thereafter.
It’s a common refrain, but rather than listening to an explanation of why a movie is crazy or weird, and have the surprises given away, just see the movie!
Safety Not Guaranteed
What’s most insane about this film about a time-traveller taking out a classified ad for a companion is that the basic premise is rooted in truth. Someone actually took the ad out, with the qualifications that the companion’s safety was “not guaranteed,” and that the poster had “only done this once before.”
For a movie that follows such a whimsical premise, the casting of the ridiculously non-whimsical Aubrey Plaza as a journalist figuring out what the hell is up with that ad serves as a very nice counterbalance.
The sci-fi time-travel aspect of the plot often takes a back seat to the characters’ personal journeys, but as with many insane films, the last scene pays off nicely for those who have the patience.
It’s a quirky, cute movie that probably won’t make many best-of lists, but that’s why this list exists: To take in the weird with the great.
From producer Todd Phillips, who has made quite a name for himself with feature films that depict epic days and nights of debauchery, comes this film that, in verite style, depicts a high school house party gone completely wild.
By all accounts, the film is a misfire that aims for the accomplishments of a Cloverfield, albeit in a party atmosphere, but the ambition of the film is startling. The whole “found footage” approach is a very difficult one to get right, and holding back on the adult content handicaps the film by targeting it at clearly a younger set, even though the younger set is largely filtered out by the R rating.
This movie about a party gone bad is probably best presented in the background, on mute, of a party that’s going well.
This Must Be The Place
The trailer does most of the heavy lifting here. An aging androgynous rocker (think Robert Smith), living a quiet life in Britain, goes back to New York to right a wrong committed to his deceased father during WWII.
While that logline doesn’t exactly scream “INSANE,” the film features a very, very, very, very bizarre character played by Penn. Normally off-putting in a gruff standoffish manner, his portrayal of Cheyenne is off-putting because of his timid, freakishly timid demeanor.
It might be a welcome departure from the characters that Sean Penn normally plays, and the character of “Sean Penn” that he plays in real life, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not equally crazy and weird.