So often I hear people discussing the decline of horror movies in this day and age. Where it would appear that remakes and the “Torture Porn” genre ruled most of the decade there’s surprisingly been a handful notable bone-chillers as well, you just got to know where to look. Though good American horror films may be somewhat of rarity these days, I think you’d be surprised by how many good foreign horror films were released in the 2000s. Unfortunately I could only tackle so many movies this year, here’s some flicks I’ve heard good things about but haven’t seen.
– Thirst (2008)
– Slither (2006)
– Inside (2007)
And now on to my list, enjoy.
10. Dog Soldiers (2002)
It was tough picking a number ten, it really could of gone to any of my honorable mentions (listed at the bottom) but I went with my gut and chose the gory, tongue and cheek U.K. flick Dog Soldiers. Following a squad of British soldiers training in the highlands of Scottland, all seems well until the team discovers a wounded Special Forces captain and the last remains of his men. So next thing you know we have our cast, lead by Kevin McKidd (Trainspotting) facing off against seven foot tall werewolves for an action packed, blood filled 100 or so minutes. It’s not one to be taken too seriously but there’s still some good scares and impressive makeup effects.
9. Paranormal Activity (2009)
Maybe it’s a little premature to add a film that I just saw yesterday but seeing that it’s already topped The Blair Witch Project for most successful indie film must account for something significant. I’m confident that this is one that horror fans will remember and cherish for years to come. It’s scary, unique and a definite highlight in this era of low budget shaky cam films.
8. REC (2007)
Jesus Christ! Remember when I said I’d mention the scariest movie I’d seen in years? Well this is it and this Spanish horror film is a relentless 75 minutes of non -stop shit jumping out at you like some high adrenaline monster thrill ride. I assume most people are probably more familiar with this film’s American remake Quarantine (2008) but this is where it all started and it’s another triumph of the handheld video camera era. Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) is a television reporter in Barcelona who along with her cameraman Pablo is filming a segment for a show about people who work various nightshift jobs. For this night Angela accompanies a couple of firefighters as they’re called out on a disturbance to a local apartment building. What starts out as routine call soon escalates into a viral breakout transforming residents into enraged psychopaths. The building quickly becomes quarantined and the next thing you know, everyone is trapped in a frightening fun house of thrills and chills. Wanna see a freaky flick? Check out REC.
7. Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Sam Raimi’s return to horror is another gooey, gross out instant classic (classic in cult horror sense.) An offbeat take on the infamous “Gypsy curse” scenario, Drag Me To Hell may be the closest we’ll ever get to another Evil Dead movie. Alison Lohman stars as Christine Brown an ambitious loan officer attempting to get ahead. Though what she didn’t anticipate was an encounter with customer Mrs. Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver), of course Christine denies her an extension on her mortgage and from then on, all hell breaks loose. All in all it’s basically a dark comedy that’s good for a quick laugh and a few “jump out of your seat” moments.
6. The Mist (2007)
Although a bit of downer particularly the ending, The Mist has an outstanding ensemble cast, entertaining creature effects and a striking atmosphere. Based off the Stephen King short story, The Mist is about a group of citizens in a small town in Maine that hold up in grocery store after the appearance of a mysterious fog. Waiting for it to pass, things only get worse after a man arrives warning everyone of “something in the fog” and the next thing you know all hell breaks loose as waves of bizarre creatures attack the townspeople. This film seemed to go more or less unnoticed when it was released but it still did well financially and critically. I guess it really struck a chord with me, I love those “isolation” type movies that pin people against each other.
5. The Host (2006)
Not only South Korea’s most successful film of all time but perhaps the best “giant monster” movie in years. Opening with a U.S. run military base dumping formaldehyde into the Han River, four years pass when suddenly a vicious tadpole-like monster emerges attacking the people of Seoul. We follow Park Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) a slow witted man who along with his oddball family attempt to track down the creature to rescue Gang-Du’s daughter. Almost as much a comedy as a horror film The Host is an excellent creature feature with a lot to say, check it out if you’re in the mood for a monster.
4. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
A great horror fan himself it’s no surprise that Guillermo Del Toro had a great horror movie brewing within him. The Devil’s Backbone set in an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War, is about Carlos and his experiences with ghosts and a cruel caretaker. It’s powerful and fascinating film that although chilling has a lot of heart. If you liked Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth than I highly recommend this film that Guillermo calls the “brother companion piece” to Pan’s Labyrinth (Pan’s Labyrinth of course being the sister companion.)
3. Let the Right One In (2008)
Still a relatively new movie, (that’s soon to be remade for American audiences) Sweden’s own vampire romance story is both a dark and moving film. Oscar is a bullied young boy living between divorced parents in Blackeberg, Stockholm until one evening when he finds love and revenge through Eli, a young gil who turns out to be a vampire. Now I’m sure everyone’s pretty damn tired of vampires in this day and age but this one is a return to tradition and respects the mythology. It’s a wonderful story, the cinematography is magnificent and the acting between the two young leads is worth high note. This is definitely one that will go down as one of the great horror films of this decade.
2. 28 Days Later (2002), 28 Weeks Later (2007
At this point I’m not sure about my order. I’ve really come to appreciate the seemingly bleak but fascinating 28 Series but whether I like it better than Let the Right One In? I don’t know it’s a tough call. I doubled these two up because for some reason I can’t think of one without thinking of the other. They’re both violent, yet human views at a post-apocalyptic world. It’s funny too how they reflect a lot of issues that our world has faced in this decade. 28 Days Later is definitely the better film but they’re both notable highlights in the genre and have definitely made a big impact.
1. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Perhaps the best homage/tribute to the genre Shaun of the Dead is an incredibly layered horror comedy that’s endlessly quotable, a little creepy and all out hilarious. Out of all of these films it’s just the one I enjoy watching the most and has quickly become one of my favorite movies of this decade. I’ve discussed it before so I’m gonna keep it brief and say that Shaun of the Dead is perhaps the greatest horror/comedy film of all time (at least in my eyes) and will continue to be remembered through it’s already large cult following.
Finally it’s done and I have a few honorable mentions below, Happy Halloween.
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Mothman Prophecies (2002)