16 October 2012

Horror Club: Top 5 post-2000 Horror Movies

Ally's List:

5) The Woman - I didn't have very high expectations when I brought this film to the table, but I was really surprised by how good (and original) it was. A really interesting film, with some memorable and shocking moments, it is very well acted (particularly Pollyanna McIntosh and Sean Bridgers) and the music wonderfully adds to the unsettled tone. The violence isn't overt (*cough* Inside): the director doesn't rely on the sight of blood to produce moments of brutality and horror, and that's a skill many horror directors could learn from. Not perfect, but certainly underrated.

4) The Orphanage - One of those rare horror beasts (along with my number 1) that stands up to being a good film regardless of genre. It is just an excellent film that happens to be a horror movie too. Achingly sad and beautifully shot, it's a film that stays with you for days afterwards. Think it might be the only horror movie that I had to pretend to have 'something in my eye' during the final moments. It also has some real frights.

3) [REC] - It has been a superb decade (or so) for Spanish Horror. I've seen [REC] twice and both times I found it absolutely terrifying. It's just a first rate horror film - it has wonderful tension and jumps, the story unfolds quickly all the way to a menacing (and shocking) conclusion. If I had to recommend one film on this list that would guarantee a true horror (visceral) experience this would be it.

2) The House of the Devil - I've only seen this film once, and I've wondered if it would have anything like the same impact on second viewing. The thing is, my reluctance to ever see it again tells you everything you need to know about how scary I found this movie. While I've been critical of his other work, I can't fault Ti West for anything here. It's an absolute triumph. Particularly the way he manages to make it authentically look like a film made in the 80s. It might be the type of film that some people don't find scary, but for me this remains my most terrifying movie watching experience since I first saw The Exorcist.

1) Let the Right One In - In a similar vein to The Orphanage this stands up against any film, regardless of genre. In fact, if I was composing a top 5 (post 2000) movie list this would make a strong case to be number 1 on that too. It's just a really beautiful, tragic vampire tale with some of the best child acting I've seen. Not hugely scary (although it has its moments) Authentic and atmospheric, I just couldn't get enough of this film when we watched it, and we continued to talk about it for weeks. A remake is sacrilegious, this film is nearly flawless.

(Honourable Mentions - The Mist, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Descent, 30 Days of Night, Session 9)

Fin's List:

5) [REC]- Watching The Rec felt like a short sharp slap to the face, in the short space of 78 minutes directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza put the viewer through an emotional and physical trial. The directors manage to take the genre of the found footage horror film, a genre that has basically run out of ideas, and create something new and fresh. It is rare that a horror film genuinely scare you but REC manages to be truly terrifying.

4) The Mist- Stephen King adaptations have a long history of being terrible. For every Shining there are 5 or 6 The Langoliers or Pet Cemeteries. As a result I went into The Mist with very low expectations. It was therefore even more satisfying when this film turned out to be a modern classic monster film. This is a rare film where the story and emotional impact of a number of great acting performances are more important than the monsters. Like all great monster films Frank Darabont uses his creatures as a tool to tell a story and not the other way round and this is a much more emotionally affecting film than one would expect. The acting is universsaly strong and Marcia Gay Harden's performance as the religious fanatic is Oscar worthy. Darabont created a modern prison classic with the Shawshank Redemption and he does the same with the creature feature with The Mist.

3) Let The Right One In- With the glut of mediocre vampire fare we have been served up with this decade Let The Right One In was a breath of fresh air. It is one of those rare horror films which are of such quality that they cross into mainstream culture. I would recommend this film to anyone and that is not something I would say for most of the films we watch at horror club. Let The Right One In is film of depth and emotion which manages both scares and poignancy. It is a well acted and beautifully crafted film and is a must see for any fan of cinema.

2) The Women- Lucky McKee's ferocious chiller of small town madness and barbarism hiding behind the trappings of respectability came right out of left field for me. I watched this film on the back of a number of strong reviews however much of these reviews portrayed The Women as a continuation of much modern horror focusing on gore and violence to the exclusion of anything else. And while the film is indeed brutal Lucky Mckee has a the skill to portray this violence in an effective, unique and powerful way without resorting to gore. The Women has a look and style that is both exciting and unique and strangely moving. The Women is definitely a film you have to see.

1) House of the Devil- What more can be said about House of the Devil anyone who reads this blog will know that we are all big fans of this film. I came to this film completely fresh with no expectations and was absolutely blown away by it. It is brilliantly made- stylish, cool, retro but so fresh it is unlike anything else you will have seen. However most importantly it is balls out scary with enough tension to cause a heart attack. This film is Ti West's masterpiece and as much as I'm looking forward to the upcoming release of Innkeepers it would have to be something special to better House Of The Devil. Not only the best of the decade but for my money one of the best horror films of the last 30 years.

Clarky's List:

In an attempt to shake things up a bit and ruffle a few feathers I have put up a slightly alternative list to the films I have recognised in my all time list. I'm not going to pretend that it's not been painful to cut out some films (Let the Right One In especially) and its not that I don't enjoy all the movies on the other 2 lists, because I do. I really like them all and would have probably had them on my list if I didn't feel the need to mix it up. This is primarily because there is a lot of crossover between the three of us, and mainly because I like to antagonise Fin and Al!

5) Drag Me to Hell- The first bone of contention no doubt. Slated by Al and Fin I feel I need to give this film the respect it deserves on the blog. By no means a classic, this film is however a pure thrill ride. The reason it works is the fact that Sam Raimi knows exactly what this film is and doesn't try to get the film to punch above its weight. Its funny and scary all at once and is sure to get your adrenaline pumping and leave you with a smile on your face. Best viewed in a big group or at the cinema if you can.

4) A Tale of Two Sisters- Another film that I viewed at the cinema and it really added to the proceedings. Almost half the cinema left at some point during the screening and the tension at times was unbearable. This was the first South Korean film we viewed at HC and whilst at the time this was a benefit, I can't help but feel that The Eye and The Host have somewhat tainted the memory of my cohorts. This film creeped us all out at the time and provided a (possibly the only) scare that caused all three of us to jump of the couch (and possibly let out a little shriek!).

3) The Descent- A film that for whatever reason doesn't seem to have stood the test of time for Fin and Al, but one that had the heart pumping at the time. Even though I had seen this film numerous times before I had forgotten how tense and nerve wracking this film was and the incredible job that Neil Marshall does in giving a real sense of claustrophobia. The tension does drop off once the monsters start to have more screen time, but this is true for almost every horror film I have ever seen, and what comes before is so damn good that it deserves a place in my top 5.

2) The House of the Devil- When Fin brought a haunted house story to the table I wasn't sure what to expect. Especially when the opening credits looked like they were straight out of the 80's. Was this going to be another one of Fin's 80's style B movies like Re-animator or Fright Night? I couldn't have been more wrong. Whilst there is nothing fresh with regards to the story line, it is the matter in which this story is told that is impressive. Ti West has complete and utter faith in slowly racking up the tension. Playing with your expectations, from seeing other horror movies, there are surprisingly few jumps but the tension never dissipates. A masterful piece of direction that shows the Saw generation how nuanced and effective horror can be if done correctly, rather than focussing on gore to make the viewer uncomfortable.

1) The Orphanage- There can be only one winner for me and it is my inaugural choice at horror club. The Orphanage is a stunning film that is hauntingly beautiful. A horror film, but also a portrayal of grief and a mothers love. This film has it all - stunning direction, incredible acting (not least by Belen Rueda as the grief stricken mother), a strong script that takes its time to unravel, genuine jump out your seat scares, high tension, incredible cinematography and a shock ending that is truly shocking, Guaranteed to shock and delight in equal measure, this is not just a great horror film, this is one of the great films post 2000 in my eyes.

(I realise I have left out Let the Right One In out of my top 5 and this is not a decision I took lightly, but given the love it has already and the fact that it is not an out and out horror as it has hardly any scares or jumps I have had to leave it out in order to portray a wider range of films for this list. It's a great film and I don't want anyone believing I think otherwise! Also honourable mention must go to REC as well, a film that reinvigorated the somewhat tired found footage genre.)


  1. Good List only weak spot I can see is Drag Me To Hell. A truly bad film.

  2. Clarky, I rate The Descent and A Tale of Two Sisters pretty highly. Both are placed around the 20 mark on my all time list, I think that's pretty high praise.

    The only other thing I wish to do is once again register my contempt for Drag me to Hell.

  3. These are very good lists, to include "Tale of Two Sisters" which I was surprised by how much I liked it. The Orphanage is a magnificent film and one in which my wife looked at me during the final scene and while sobbing heavily said/yelled "This was suppose to be a fucking scary movie".

    The only additions that I would add to these lists are: 1. "The Devil's Backbone" which is the older sibling to "The Orphanage" (and had the same director). In my opinion, this is a slightly superior film to The Orphanage and also has a pretty cool ending and 2. Martyrs. Hard to describe this movie but it was a tough watch but one that made me think pretty hard afterward.

    And Ally...I was happy to see you include "Session 9" on your honorable mention list. That movie was...very interesting.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Rugby Weather. I was laughing at your Orphanage story, I felt much the same way. The Devil's Backbone was a film that we reviewed last month, actually. Even though I think it was a really good film, something about it (maybe the pacing?) stopped me from connecting with it in the same way as The Orphanage.

      Martyrs... This is a film that I've been debating bringing to our weekly film viewing. The only problem is that I've heard it's out there in terms of violence. I don't mind violence necessarily, but I can't watch 90 minutes of women getting tortured. I've heard it's worse than Inside, and that was beyond my limits. However, I've seen it pop up on a lot of horror lists, so we probably owe it to ourselves to give it a go. Eventually...

      Let us know if you have any other recommendations.

  4. I really wasn't to freaked out with Martyrs. Maybe because the premise was interesting. It can be a bit overwhelming at times because the violence can be a bit over the top...and the last 1/8th of the film is very explicit. But like I said, I was interested in where they were heading so I didn't let it overwhelm me.

    That being said...there is a french movie called Man Bites Dog that is about a documentary crew following a serial killer and recording his actions. Although not a horror story, that movie bothered me alot more than Martrys. Check that one out if you get a chance.

    Have you seen Audition? As much as that movie interests me, I don't think I can stomach the violence in that flick.

    1. I saw Man Bites Dog way back, but I remember really enjoying it at the time. It's kind of black comedy, I think? It's probably been 10 years since I saw it.

      I think we'll have to give Martyrs a go since you speak so highly of it. Audition was just weird, in my opinion. I couldn't really take much away from that film. Although that's been true for a lot of Asian Horror that we've watched. I think you're right about the importance of the relationship between story and how you much violence you can take. If you're not engaged then it's just a horrible experience with little to redeem it.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.