Sunday, December 27, 2009
Top 20 Best horror films of the decade 2000-10
First off this list is not going to contain Hostel or Saw, they were ok but to me this list are the movies that helped expand the genre. When I say a film is scary I want to point out horror film watching 101. No piece of horror fiction works without you the viewer/reader doing their part. You must put yourself in the shoes of the characters. If you look at any of these movies and say – Well that didn't scare me. Go back and put yourself in the character's shoes. I understand that it is the filmmakers's job to make you care about the characters, but I think a failure to scare is more often on the viewer than the filmmaker.
Surveillance: I would not mention that David Lynch's daughter directed this movie, if it didn't seem like a movie he would have made when he was younger. Bill Pullman is awesome in this movie which he did at the last minute as a favor to the lynch family. Strange characters twists and turns and a brutal story line. I'm sorry this movie didn't get a wide release.
Below: Haunted submarine story mixes a classical horror tale with one of the most scary themes to me in horror fiction isolation. At one time Darren Aronofsky the director of the wrestler and Requiem for a Dream was working on this film, the script has couple of intense moments that remind me of DA's films. Bruce Greenwood is a stand-out as the captain of the submarine but really the whole cast is excellent. Dimension films did nothing but dump this movie on DVD and that is too bad. David Twohy was on a horror role after his excellent cult hit Pitch Black.
Wrong Turn: Nothing original here, but it is basically a better remake of the Hills Have Eyes then the one with the same name. Six college kids in the woods, a crazy cannibal family andsall kinds of demented-ness. What makes this one good is that it is intense and scary, not just gore drenched. Well it's still gore drenched. I have heard the sequel is good, but have not gotten there yet.
The Devils' Rejects: I hated House of 1,000 Corpses. I thought it was a mess, made no sense, and had not one minute of tension in it. I felt nothing in it. The only thing that made me uncomfortable in the film was how goofy it was. So I am not sure why I went to see the sequel in the theater. Much like Requiem for Dream I thought Devils Rejects was great but I never want to see it again. Zombie made a hell of sequel, I forgot about the original. Rejects is a dirty, nasty film. With no likable characters, well the freebird montage was bit much I found myself squirming at this one. Well done.
Splinter: Very recent monster movie, with a very Lovecraftian razorbacked thing like monster. Very rich characters and suspenseful directing. It is short with a lot of scares a little bit of gore and above all I didn't feel dumber for having watched it. The film has several strong performances, with a suspenseful plot before the monster even shows up.
The Others: Not the best, but a horror film based on atmosphere and Nicole Kidman is great as a deranged mother. The ending may have been predictable but it's a traditional ghost story that was well directed and acted by the Spanish director that was behind the excellent late 90's film Open your eyes. I loved it.
28 Days Later/ 28 Weeks Later: Danny Boyle made the best zombie movie of the decade and doesn't get much credit for bringing back the zombie movie. While the I didn't like the way it was shot with grainy shakey cam, the movie had great characters and it was intense. The sequel had some of the best most intense post apocalyptic action scenes ever set to film. The story was a little weaker and the Dad re-appearing five hundred times was just silly. But still pretty damn good.
Martyrs: This French horror film was hard to watch. Makes Hostel look like it's PG-13. You know when the DVD comes with an introduction by the director apologizing for the film he just released that something messed up is coming. The main character is kidnapped and tortured in an old slaughterhouse. There is a strange cult behind the “Experiments” in the film. The last half hour was a bit over the top with the torture. I could go my whole life and never see this movie again. This film is a part of an ultra-violent new wave of French horror movies. There was another one I liked a lot called 'Them'. This director was set to direct the remake of Hellraiser, Clive Barker approved based on the strength of Martyrs. Not sure why, but the Director has since left Hellraiser.
3 Extremes: A three part horror anthology with filmmakers from China, Korea and Japan. Each segment is different. The first one Dumplings is kinda gross and somewhat of a black comedy. The second film from the director of Oldboy is intense character drama about a film extra torturing a director. The third by Takeshi miike is a super surreal film called Box. It is just plain bizarro, and not for everyone. Three great examples of Asian horror, that showcases filmmakers not coping hollywood.
Frailty: Starring and Directed by veteran actor Bill Paxton Frailty is an underrated southern Gothic horror film. Told in flashbacks to the 70's when the movie takes place. The period is done subtle but effective. Paxton plays a single father who is able to see “demons” hiding as humans. Is he a crazy man killing innocent people or does he really have this gift? I really loved this one, Bill Paxton knocks the ball out of the park in both the acting and directing. Bummed me out he went on to make a crappy baseball movie.
Trans-Siberian: This is one of the best modern Hitchcock-ish films. Directed by Brad Anderson who will have a film higher on this same list. I don't know how the world missed this excellent thriller. Some with say it's not horror. A Suspense, or action movie. It's all those things and horror. Starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer (She was in Woody Allen's excellent Match Point),and Ben Kingsley(You might have seen him in a minor threat video). There is also a great performance by Spainish actor Eduardo Noriega who I remember best from his role as the bully in Devil's backbone Excellent performances all around but Emily Mortimer shows a much more mature performance than her role in Match Point. Tight Suspense and amazing direction. This film should not be missed, Brad Anderson is not fluke he is three for three on full length, his episode of Fear itself my only dissapointment.
Wolf Creek: Based on a true story, well maybe not. This Australian movie takes a little while to warm-up and I have heard people complain that it takes too long. The director is just letting you know about the characters, hang in there it's worth it. This is the best of the high tension, Texas chainsaw stalker in the woods type movies. Set in the Australian outback Wold Creek has some grisly moments and the best horror villain of the decade played by Aussie stuntman Nathan Phillips. Roger Ebert gave it zero stars, which he almost never does. I usually agree with him but not here. I think it is a skillfully brutal horror film. With a villain who would be a true nightmare.
A Perfect Getaway: I'm afraid to say anything about this movie, you really should just see it. Another Hitchcock style thriller, almost lost and forgotten at theaters. This happens a lot to director David Twoy who already made this list withBelow. Pitch Black and Riddick were he only “hits” although Riddick didn't really become a hit until video. This is excellently written and directed thriller is designed to be watched multiple times. I have not seen it for the second time yet, but I promise it will be a different movie on the second spin. Spoilers are bad news. Don't read reviews, watch trailers or anything. Go in as blind as possible and rent this sucker. Don't read the back of the box even.
Unbreakable: M. Night's masterpiece. This film is dark and unsettling in a way that none of his others films do. He wasn't trying to make his characters funny and likable, which was a problem for signs, and he didn't have the 'Lucas style over confidence' that led to duds like Lady in the Water and The Crapenning. This is a solid film that works as a superhero origin story and as a creepy horror film. The scene at the table with the gun and the scene where Bruce Willis tracks the killer are intense and scary.
Bruce Willis is outstanding, Sam Jackson is solid(pun intended), M Night needs to get back this kind of mojo.
A Tale of Two Sisters: this is a subtle Korean horror masterpiece. If you want action and excitement watch this director's more recent film The Good, the Bad, the Weird. His more recent film was an insanely awesome Asian Western, with over the top gun battles. Tale is a quiet but intense family drama horror film with some great acting. Best Korean horror since Tell Me Something in 1999. Sadly this was remade into a hollywood film called The uninvited which I am afraid to watch.
Vacancy: This was the biggest surprise for me. I got it because it was free at the library, didn't expect much. The nail bitingly best horror film I watched on video this decade. Directed by Nimrod Attel (who made the Hungarian film named Kontrol) and is next to make a Predator movie. The writing and directing is spot on with tons of suspenseful moments. The characters and the story of motel manager and his friends moonlighting as snuff directors is off-the hook good. Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson are great, every thing is top notch. Infact I need to see that again soon.
Stir of Echoes: Would been right here but it was 1999. Too bad I loved that movie.
The Machinist- This was a brilliant piece of horror film making. If you disagree I'll almost bet a finger you watched it on video. I saw this movie opening night in the theater in San Diego. Much of course was made of Christian Bale losing ridiculous amounts of weight. And yeah it is was way more disturbing to see it huge on the screen. The environment of the film is not as engulfing on video, the crazy-ness of the film on the big screen is like a 9 or a 10 on video it's a 3 at best. Few movies have suffered so much when taken out of the theater. Still one dark and messed up piece of film making by Brad Anderson(Session 9) who made the list already with Trans-Siberian. He has a fan here now. I can't believe there are people who don't think this is a horror movie.
It also doesn't hurt that there was an amazing cameo by Cult actor Michael Ironside (V- The final Battle, Total Recall, Starship Troopers). Great score and haunting Black and White.
Oldboy – Not a horror film you say? Did you see the end of that movie? Did you grab your mouth in horror when the guy had his teeth ripped out with a hammer. The greatest revenge movie ever. This film is funny, sad, engaging and extremely violent. The fights are great, the acting is amazing and the end is just masterful. Might be my favorite film of the decade. Except...
Pans Labyrinth – Before you tell me it's a fantasy, I'll tell you to shut up. It's the best horror film or monster fairy tale of the decade. The scene with the tall man chasing the girl down the hall is one of the most frightening things I have ever seen. The film was perfectly written and directed. Del Toro deserved his Oscar nominations and validates the genre. It's not a horror director making Oscar bait in another genre, he made the movie in this genre and won for it.
Honorable mention: Panic Room, The Devils Rejects, Moon, A History of Violence, Blade 2, Land of the Dead, The Host, The Descent, Them (French horror), War of the worlds, Wrong Turn, R-point, There will be blood (listen to the score on that movie, it's a horror movie)
Pretty good decade, probably better than the nineties but not as good as the eighties.