A special top ten for Halloween. The top ten horror movies of the decade. The problem with a genre list is that you don’t only have to pick films that are good enough for the list but also fit the genre, therefore although good enough to make the list Zombieland (2009) and Shaun of the Dead (2004) have been dropped as they are more comedy than horror.
10 Eden Lake (2008): A British horror thriller with a relatively low budget. From first time director James Watkins. The success and failure of the film relies on a great leading performance from Kelly Reilly. The chav, asbo, hoody kids of the movie are a clichéd Daily Mail representation of all that is wrong with modern society. The characters make stupid irrational decisions that symbolise bad horror. Despite these problems it is still a great little film.
9 Drag Me to Hell (2009): 2009 is a special year, Sam Raimi is back to doing what he does best, horror with a comic twist. I shouldn’t have to describe the film, if you are reading a movie blog and you haven’t seen this film yet what is wrong with you? For those that haven’t seen it, it is the story of a young woman who becomes the victim of a supernatural curse that threatens to drag her to hell. It is funny, scary and shocking with no Lycia clad superheroes, everything a Sam Raimi film should be!
8 The Orphanage (2007): Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona the film had Guillermo del Toro attached as a producer, you would be forgiven for thinking it was one of his films. Full of layered characters and strong performances the film is more chilling and disturbing than actually scary but it will still make you jump from time to time. Like any film with Guillermo del Toro’s name on it the photography is nothing short of stunning.
7 [•REC] (2007): Fake documentary horror films with shaky cameras will always be compared to Blair Witch Project but once in a while there is a great example of the genre. This Spanish film is one such example. Set in the confines of an Barcelona apartment block the film chronicles’ the beginning of a zombie outbreak. The simple story with minimal plot and down to earth dialogue is elevated by charismatic performances and some really scary moments. Like the successful Japanese horrors of recent years the film has also had the Hollywood remake treatment.
6 Switchblade Romance(2003): Original title Haute tension, released as High Tension in some countries is a French horror/thriller directed by Alexandre Aja whose remake of The Hills Have Eyes nearly made the list too. It is a simple story of two young women who are terrorised by a crazed killer, or is it? The film is graphic, bloody and violent, it really lives up to the tag horror!
5 Ginger Snaps (2000): Whilst these days we are inundated with Vampire movies, 2000 saw the first good and original werewolf movies since An American Werewolf in London. The eponymous Ginger and her sister Brigitte are slightly weird and moody outcasts at school to begin with, then Ginger becomes a werewolf. This complicates maters somewhat! The film works as a visceral horror as well as a metaphor for puberty.
4 Let the Right One In (2008): When you mention a vampire movie based on a book all people can think of these days is Twilight. While I don’t have a problem with the teen romance vampires of that particular saga this Swedish vampire movie offers so much more. The film centres on the relationship between a twelve year old boy and a girl who appears to be a similar age who turns out to be a vampire. The film explores lots of issues and lingers in the mind long after you have seen it.
3 The Devil’s Backbone (2001): Set during the Spanish civil war The Devils Backbone is one of visionary director Guillermo del Toro’s best films. More an eerie ghost story than an outright horror. Told from the point of view of an abandoned child in an uncertain situation, the characters mirror the political turmoil of the era and setting. The film is both beautiful and unnerving.
2 28 Days Later(2002): Zombies got reinvented as The Infected in Danny Boyles modern horror classic. Cillian Murphy awakening to a deserted London is an amazing creepy and memorable scene. Subsequent scenes offer some gruesome horror and genuine scares.
1 The Descent (2005): With a relatively unknown cast Neil Marshall created a fantastic film. There is a great sense of foreboding from the start as the group of female friends descends into the darkness of a cave system. Foreboding gives way to unsettling before becoming seriously tense and scary. Great characters, strong performances and horrific images what more could you ask for.
When compiling the list it didn’t occur to me until I started adding the photographs that most of my chosen films feature strong female roles often leading roles. Is this a pointer to an ingredient that makes horror movies good or just a reflection on my taste?