It's that time of year again! Who else has been watching non-stop horror this October? I must admit I've been a little behind on my 'to watch' list, but after the new season of the Black Mirror was released on Netflix yesterday I feel I've almost made up for it after watching all 6 episodes in 24 hours (sidenote: Black Mirror is an incredible series and you need to get. on. that. now).
Last year I wrote about the 15 best horror films since 2000, and I thought I'd do a follow-up post to get you all in the Halloween spirit. I've seen a whole lot of great horror films since I wrote this, not to mention there's a few that I neglected in my last post. It's time to turn off the lights, get a blanket to hide behind, and queue up some of the best horror films since 2000.
15. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.
Waking up from a car accident, a young woman finds herself in the basement of a man who says he's saved her life from a chemical attack that has left the outside uninhabitable.
Tying a new film to Cloverfield is a pretty ambitious task, as the original had such huge following and was adored by many (myself included). I didn’t know what to expect with 10 Cloverfield Lane, and I’m so glad I went in blind as it was a hell of a ride. I don’t want to give away any plot points, but I'll just say that the 3 main actors are absolutely brilliant, with one in particular giving an incredibly chilling performance.
14. Train to Busan
Directed by: Yeon Sang-Ho
Starring: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-Seok, Jung Yoo-mi
Marshal law is declared when a mysterious viral outbreak pushes Korea into a state of emergency. Those on an express train to Busan, a city that has successfully fended off the viral outbreak, must fight for their own survival…
I only watched this film recently, and barely drew breath the entire time. It was incredibly fast-paced and largely set in a confined space, so the tension was pretty high right until the last shot. South Korea sure do know how to make great horror films, and Train to Busan (which was released this year) only proves they’re getting better.
13. Dawn of the Dead
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell
A group of surviving people take refuge in a shopping center after the world has been over taken over by aggressive, flesh-eating zombies. A remake of the 1978 zombie film of the same name.
Hearing the words “remake” and “Zack Snyder” in a sentence together is often enough reason to strike a movie from your ‘to watch’ list, but I actually didn’t mind this movie at all! It has one of my favourite opening credit sequences (that Johnny Cash song is so good), and it’s just a good, fun, horror film. With zombies.
Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall, Louise Harris, Frank Cwertniak
Based on true events, 16 year-old Jamie falls in with his mother's new boyfriend and his crowd of self-appointed neighborhood watchmen, a relationship that leads to a spree of torture and murder.
A strong stomach will be required for this one. Snowtown is another entry in the resurgence of Australian cinema that has been occurring over the past few years and marks the debut of a very promising director whose bleak, uncompromising style is a perfect fit for the telling of the notorious Snowtown murders that took place in the late 90's. What could easily be exploited for pure shock value, of which there is still plenty in the film, is instead a slow-burning account of acts of inhumane depravity set in a part of society equally as unforgiving and brutal. The depressing quality of the living conditions in Snowtown are constantly prevalent and make the film a life-sucking, harrowing experience.
11. Your Next
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Starring: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Joe Swanberg
When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of their victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.
There is a lot to like about You're Next. Everything looks GREAT. For it being a very low-budget project; the cinematography was very impressive. Every shot was also extremely well done. The music also worked very well, it added a lot of suspense and tension to the film. The kills were so ruthless and filled with gore. Unlike other horror movies this one shows that the killers are not invincible super beings, I can't be more pleased about that.
10. The Skin I Live In
Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes
A brilliant plastic surgeon creates a synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.
Does saying there’s a twist count as a spoiler? I don’t think so, and there’s no way anyone could guess the twist that takes place in this incredible movie. I dare not say more!
9. The Cabin in the Woods
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams
Five college friends spend the weekend at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.
Something about the horror/comedy genre works so well – I think it must be because the funny scenes allow us to laugh and release tension from being terrified. The Cabin in the Woods is particularly great as it draws from many other horror films, and part of the fun is seeing how they’re drawn in to the plot. While still scary in parts, this film is a whole lot of fun.
8. Attack the Block
Directed by: Joe Cornish
Starring: Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Luke Treadaway, Flaminia Cinque
A teen gang in a grim South London housing estate must team up with the other residents to protect their neighbourhood from a terrifying alien invasion.
I’d heard great things about Attack the Block, and finally got around to seeing it this year. Directed by Joe Cornish (frequent collaborator of Edgar Wright), this is a scary/funny film that often feels like a different take on the (now classic) Indonesian film The Raid. Definitely worth a watch!
7. I Saw The Devil
Directed by: Kim Jee-woon
Starring: Lee Byung-hun, Choi Min-sik, Jeon Kuk-Hwan
Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) is a dangerous psychopath who kills for pleasure. He has committed infernal serial murders in diabolic ways that one cannot even imagine and his victims range from young women to even children. The police have chased him for a long time, but were unable to catch him. One day, Joo-yeon, daughter of a retired police chief becomes his prey and is found dead in a horrific state. Her fiance Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun), a top secret agent, decides to track down the murderer himself. He promises himself that he will do everything in his power to take bloody vengeance against the killer, even if it means that he must become a monster himself to get this monstrous and inhumane killer
Although Cinema of South Korea has never been afraid to show the dark side of human nature and the filmmakers have been equally uncompromising as well, I Saw the Devil still ranks as one of the most extreme features out there as far as violence in mainstream cinema is concerned. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted and it is definitely not for the easily distressed, so do make up your mind before venturing into this dark alley because it sure won’t be a pleasant experience but it certainly will be one of the most unforgettable ones.
6. 28 Weeks Later
Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Starring: Imogen Poots, Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Idris Elba
In this chilling sequel to 28 Days Later, the inhabitants of the British Isles appear to have lost their battle against the onslaught of disease, as the deadly rage virus has killed every citizen there. Six months later, a group of Americans dare to set foot on the isles, convinced the danger has come and gone. But it soon becomes all too clear that the scourge continues to live, waiting to pounce on its next victims.
It’s not often the sequel can live up to the original, but 28 Weeks Later is a worthy follow-up to the incredible 28 Days Later. It does the same things that the first film did well: fantastic soundtrack, great cast, and bringing back the terrifying humans infected with the rage virus that return in horrific numbers.
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, Odette Annable, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, T.J. Miller
Five young New Yorkers throw their friend a going-away party the night that a monster the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city. Told from the point of view of their video camera, the film is a document of their attempt to survive the most surreal, horrifying event of their lives.
Disclaimer: I’ve never been able to watch this film in one sitting, as the handheld camera makes me nauseous to the point that I have to take a break for a few hours. Having said that, I love this movie! It’s a great take on the traditional kaiju horror film (read: Godzilla), and it’s genuinely terrifying as you’re experiencing everything as though you were actually there.
4. The Others
Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Alakina Mann
Grace is a religious woman who lives in an old house kept dark because her two children, Anne and Nicholas, have a rare sensitivity to light. When the family begins to suspect the house is haunted, Grace fights to protect her children at any cost in the face of strange events and disturbing visions.
The Others is an outstanding piece of horror filmmaking that's patiently crafted, deftly scripted, elegantly shot, brilliantly paced, calmly scored and strongly performed and exhibits a wonderful balance in all aspects to deliver a genuinely chilling experience to its audience. And on the strength of its interesting premise & proper attention to characters,
3. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi
In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a subversive horror tale in which role reversal makes for an interesting shift in the usual power balance so predominantly present in the genre (or most genres for that matter). The beauty of this monochromatic gem is, however, that it is never on the nose about what it tries to convey. This might just be my favorite Vampire film ever.
2. Mulholland Drive
Directed by: David Lynch
Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Ann Miller, Dan Hedaya, Justin Theroux
After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesic, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.
Ok, so the only reason this isn't number one is because it's not solely a horror film, but it's just so damn good and creepy that it deserves to be mentioned - I'm also somewhat annoyed at myself for forgetting to include it in my original post. As with all of the director’s most Lynchian films it has a strange off-kilter and artificiality that permeates every facet of the picture. It is safe to say most of the actors here deliver career-best performances, particularly the magnetic Naomi Watts. Given her character in the film there is an element of life reflecting art as the film turned Watts into a genuine star. Mulholland Drive is a surreal, beautiful, intricately crafted and captivating work of art.
Directed by: Robert Eggers
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
New England in the 1630s: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life with five children, homesteading on the edge of an impassable wilderness. When their newborn son vanishes and crops fail, the family turns on one another. Beyond their worst fears, a supernatural evil lurks in the nearby wood.
The Witch has everything you could possibly want in a horror film. First and foremost it's scary as hell. It's also full of tension and suspense. The slow burn nature of the film really gets to you. The score is amazing. Aside from being scary, the second most import thing for me when it comes to a horror film is the score. Sometimes the score alone can make or break a horror film. In The Witch's case the score makes the film. And finally, the acting is top-notch. Anya Taylor-Joy was incredible as the lead. Even the young children were fantastic.
What's your favourite horror film?