I’m already regretting this list. It isn’t easy coming up with something profound to say about all of these movies. I try to tell myself what’s important is getting the recommendations out. These are all great movies. Even if I don’t have much to say about them.
One observation I made was that my first list had a lot of horror-comedies. This list has a lot of found footage. Is there a psychology to how I’m ranking these films? I’m not sure. Maybe it means nothing. Maybe I’m going mad. But we’re all a little mad, aren’t we? So without further ado, here’s 40-31 of my “Top 50 Horror Movies of the 2010s” or whatever I’m calling it.
I hate reviewing anthologies because it’s like reviewing five movies in one. Half of it is listing the directors. So I’ll cut to the chase. There’s a lot of cool people that worked on this found footage anthology. There are creative uses of the medium with stories told from the POV of hidden cameras, webcams, you name it. There are stories about murderers, succubi, ghosts, and everything in-between.
Some people give found footage a bad rap for looking cheap. They find the camerawork nauseating, which is fair. My counter is that found footage is a great tool for telling stories from a more intimate perspective. V/H/S does this well, and hey, it’s bloody too! So that’s fun!
In the ‘50s and 60 British film company Hammer was the King of Gothic Horror. They made films with classic monsters in spooky castles. They made Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing horror icons. Then in the late ’70s, Hammer’s old school style fell out of fashion and they vanished. Only to remerge in the late 2000s with more contemporary horror films like Beyond the Rave and Let Me In. Until 2012, when Hammer returned to their gothic roots with James Watkins’ The Woman in Black.
Based on Susan Hill’s 1983 novel (this is the second film adaptation) The Woman in Black is the story of solicitor Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), in Edwardian era London (early 1900s), sent to retrieve and review documents from Eel Marsh House. Which not only is located in a remote village but supposedly haunted by the Woman in Black.
It’s standard haunted house fare but done in that classic Hammer style. Radcliffe gives a performance worthy of an MTV Movie Award for “Best Scared-As-Shit Performance” and the Woman in Black truly is the thing of nightmares. Let’s hope Hammer sticks around this time.
One of my favorite things about the Duplass Brothers is Mark’s motto to “Make Movies, Not Meetings.” Creep feels like a direct result of that philosophy. A “Let’s just shoot something” kind of movie. It’s improvised and unpredictable. It’s not perfect, but that’s also what I love about the film. That and it’s the best Craigslist horror movie I’ve seen.
A collaboration between Mark Duplass (sans Jay) and director Patrick Brice, Creep is about Josef (Duplass), a terminally ill man in who hires a videographer named Aaron (Patrick Brice) to film him at his remote cabin so that his unborn son will have something to remember him by. Kind of like that Michael Keaton movie My Life but a lot darker. Darker because as we learn Josef hasn’t been entirely truthful about his identity or intentions.
The film is done with a handheld camera filming Duplass from the perspective of Brice’s character, providing an intimate (there’s that word again) found footage quality. This technique grounds the film to the point that it’s almost too real. The film can even be mundane at times. Some might find it boring but
I love the home movie feel. Duplass mixes just the right amount of silly and scary to make the character work in a simple yet effective thriller.
My most controversial ranking. People love this movie. I like it a lot I just wish we got more of my man the Dook in the film. It’s crazy to me how iconic the Babadook character has become. He’s been parodied on What We Do in the Shadows and has somehow become a gay icon. The character is great but the film uses him sparingly. Because in a way (that I’m trying not to spoil) the film isn’t really about him.
Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is about the horrors of motherhood. Specifically, the horrors Amelia (Essie Davis) faces in raising her aggravating son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), after the death of her husband in a car crash. Coincidentally, it was in a car headed to the hospital so that Amelia could give birth to Samuel. Things take a turn when Samuel becomes obsessed with a monstrous storybook character (you know who I’m talking about) that he believes is coming for him. Is the Dook real? What can Amelia do to stop all of this and save her son? And where can I get a copy of that freaky book from the film? Not that I need a Babadook haunting my ass.
Excision should have made Richard Bates Jr. a household name. At least an Art-household name. Not so much a horror movie as a really F’ed up coming-of-age film, Excision is about Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord), an introverted high schooler who wants to be a surgeon. She also has vivid dreams of mutilations. Of course, these two details culminate in one hell of an ending.
What makes Excision effective is the film’s horror comes from how scary it is to be a teenager. Pauline is misunderstood by her peers and locks horns with her mother (Traci Lords) often. It’s because of this that she acts out in disturbing ways. It’s uncomfortable to watch at times with how bluntly the characters speak and act. Yet it’s an honest film with a lot to say. I guess it ain’t easy growing up for anybody.
Ethan Embry has come a long way from playing the happy-go-lucky bass player in That Thing You Do. In The Devil’s Candy, Embry plays Jess Hellman, a long-haired, tattooed dad who paints while blasting heavy metal. Moving into a new house with his wife and daughter, Jesse starts hearing a sinister voice in the house. He learns about the house’s dark past and the demonic ties it may have.
This movie opens with a disturbed man (Pruitt Taylor Vince) waking up in the middle of the night, plugging in a red Flying V, and then killing his mom. What I’m trying to say is this movie is metal as fuck. When so many haunted house movies seem to exist solely as a vehicle for jump scares, it’s refreshing to see a film that subverts tropes and has interesting scenarios and characters. Nice work, Satan.
Willow Creek is one of the most disturbing found footage films I’ve ever seen. So it’s no surprise that it was made by… Bobcat Goldthwait? That’s right. The film is about a couple (Alexie Gilmore and Bryce Johnson) with a video camera exploring iconic Bigfoot locations deep in the forests of Northern California. If that doesn’t sound like much that’s because it isn’t. Most of the film doesn’t even feel like a horror film. It’s mostly the couple visiting kitschy tourist traps and interviewing backwoods locals. But the end… Oh shit.
Willow Creek has one of the most disturbing final acts to a found footage movie I’ve ever seen. The amazing part is it’s accomplished with so little in the way of visual effects, or even visuals for that matter. I don’t normally highlight sound design but damn, this has the scariest sounds I’ve ever heard. I think about this film a lot. Who would have thought such a powerful piece of horror-filmmaking could come from that annoying funny voiced comedian from the ‘80s? Not this guy (points to myself).
It’s a meta found footage/dark comedy/documentary with zombies. I love it! I reviewed it just last October. Check out my review!
Why doesn’t anyone talk about Clown? Does everyone just hate clowns THAT much? You might be surprised to hear Clown is among the few films on my Top 50 that did not get good reviews. Yet it does feature incredible makeup effects and launched the career of director Jon Watts who has since directed Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
The premise is genius. Realtor Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) is a loving dad putting on a birthday party for his son, Jack. However, the clown scheduled to perform at the party cancels. Rushing to find a solution, Jack finds an old clown costume in the basement of a house he’s selling. He performs as a clown and the party is a hit… Except… Kent can’t take the costume off.
Stuck with pasty white skin, a bloody-looking nose, and a puffy jumpsuit, Kent also starts turning into a child-eating monster. There’s even a scene where he stalks children in a McDonald’s-style PlayPlace. It’s just the best idea and it’s effective. Now when is the Clown gonna fight Spider-Man?
Werewolf movies are tough. They call for a lot of visual effects and even then it’s a monster that can only appear one night a month. So the strength of a werewolf film relies on the framing device. In this case, it’s about a blind Vietnam veteran, Ambrose (Nick Damici), living in an assisted living community seeking revenge on the werewolf that killed his dog. So not only does he have a mere 30 days to figure out who the werewolf is, he is to get ready to fight it too.
Nick Damici is great in this film. So much so that I’m shocked he isn’t a bigger star. The werewolf looks iffy but the film more than makes up for it with its mystery and a talented ensemble cast including; Ethan Embry, Lance Guest, Tina Louise, Rutanya Alda, and the great Tom Noonan to name a few. Watching this film was such a pleasant surprise the first time I saw it. If you haven’t seen it maybe you’ll be surprised too. Happy Haunting.