Thursday, January 13, 2011

The 25 Greatest Horror Movies of 2000-2009 (Part 2)

Continuing on. Obviously, read the first part first.

13. Trick 'R Treat (2009)

This film is really, really great. And fun. And the best movie about Halloween since, well, Halloween. A pretty major cast, all of whom does a good job, great script from the writer of X-Men 2, and great direction. Also, it brings anthology horror movies back in a big way and does things with time like I've never seen before. On top of that, little Sam is just too damn adorable. And frightening.

12. Dread (2009)

Another movie based on a Clive Barker short story. Much more small-scale than Midnight Meat Train, which really suits the movie. It's not just gritty... this film is very intimate. It's personal. And that's exactly what the story is about, exposing people's deepest dread. In a movie like this, the characters have to be very complex to see them broken, as they do get. And they are. All the major points of Barker's story are there, and this is just as unnerving.

11. The Devil's Backbone (2001)

Okay. Pretty much everyone is in love with Guillermo del Toro now and every movie he even thinks of making. But listen, honey. He was mine first. I saw this ghost story (which, like Pan's Labyrinth, is set during the Spanish Civil War) before his Hellboy was even a thing. It remains one of the flat-out scariest movies I have ever seen. And it manages to scare equally on both the supernatural and realistic level, which I've rarely seen done.

10. Hard Candy (2007).

Like Dread, this is a very intimate film... only, intimate in the sense that the entire movie is basically a dialogue between two characters. A very traumatized girl and the (possible) sex-offender who invited her over to his house, without so much as an Ackbar to shout "It's a trap!" to either of them. And even though we know throughout the movie that this girl is in the right, she terrifies us. That's only a small part of what makes the movie incredible.

09. Martyrs (2009). And the award for "most disturbing film of the decade" goes to... but seriously. It's all kinds of fucked up. The film deals with people who want to study the afterlife by examing (and by examining I mean orchestrating) the deaths of young teenage girls to try and record what they see as they die. In addition, the one girl that got away brutally murders an entire family at their breakfast table because one of them probably had something to do with what happened to her. Even though she's right... holy shit.

08. The Descent (2006).

Remember Dog Soldiers, and it's director, Neil Marshall? Remember how I said he got even better? This is that better. In this one, he works with an all-female cast (directly opposed to the all-male cast of Dog Soldiers) and focuses on a woman coming back from the brink of losing her husband and child on a cave-diving trip with her friends. There are things in that cave. Things that eat. From there, the title comes through on multiple levels. The American theatrical release bastardized the hopeless ending, and that bastardization sadly led to an even more monumentous bastardization of a sequel.

07. May (2002)

Talk about an original film. May is the debut of the terrific Lucky McKee (as far as I know, totally his real name) and Angela Bettis, who has already gone on to become a genre star. May is a girl who is a little weird, and all she wants is a friend. As her mother always said, if you can't find a friend, make one. So she does, taking all the best parts from the best people she knows. Grotesque and funny where it shouldn't be.

06. The Devil's Rejects (2005).

Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses really set the standard for movies in this decade, and almost made the list... but the sequel is just so much fucking better. In the first one, the sick and twisted Firefly family torture and kill a group of students making a documentary on roadside attractions. It's a very Texas Chainsaw style movie, and that's the intent. In the sequel, all of a sudden the monsters become the protagonists. They're on the run for their crimes and we're all, "oh no! Run, Captain Spaulding!" even though they all totally, totally deserve to die.

05. Let the Right One In (2008).

This Swedish film is a really beautiful study of a boy who wants to kill the bullies that are mean to him, and the little girl who tells him it's okay, and she can show him how. She (?) is a vampire, and he may not know it, being eleven, but he is a killer. Together, they're still really cute. Very quiet, almost peaceful-feeling movie, even though it's terribly violent and unnerving. There's still something beautiful about it. I still have yet to see the American remake, but I hear good things.

04. High Tension (2004).

And the French strike again, this time leaving a nice, scarring impact. Two friends are on a trip, staying at one's house. A maniac comes, kills the whole family in minutes, and kidnaps one of the girls. All of a sudden, it's all on the other girl to track him down. The film is great retro-exploitation all the way to the shocking ending, where it's revealed what the film is really about, which makes it that much better.

03. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007).

I've put up a full review of this on the blog before. So I'll just say that this tongue-in-cheek movie is an incredible breakdown of the slasher film. It does everything Scream attempted, and does it even better. It's funny and really unsettling, in all the right places. The script, acting, documentary-style and direction are all spot on in a pretty much near perfect film.

02. Funny Games (2007).

Funny Games takes this spot for being where many of the other films on this list were, and taking the extra step. Going just a little further. Not in terms of violence, per se, but in terms of horror. The entire film is a descent. It goes further and further into darkness for this family, terrorized by two yuppy teenagers who look like a couple of pricks, but otherwise completely harmless. It literally gets worse for the family with each passing second, and while it FEELS like it's very hard to watch... well, you're still not looking away.

01. 28 Days Later (2002).

Think about how many times you've heard about zombies this week. Alright. Think about how many times you've heard about zombies today. You may not think that's a big deal, but if you were in the '90's, you may remember that zombies weren't. They took to comedy in the late 80's and totally fizzled out... until this British horror from director Danny Boyle changed everything. Now, the people in this film are infected by rage and are not true zombies, but it's the same genre, and this movie singlehandedly revived that genre in a big way. It harkens back to the best days of Romero in that this movie is not just about the infected cannibals, or even survival in a post-apocalyptic world. It is, in particular, about the survival of the human spirit. About keeping your humanity when everyone around you has lost theirs. It succeeds admirably as the best horror movie of the decade.

Honorable mentions: 28 Weeks Later, House of 1,000 Corpses, Jenifer, Bubba-HoTep, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland. And a lot of others. It was a damn good decade, and I can only hope this decade will hold a candle.

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