Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Favourite Horror Films of the '00s.

First off, happy new year to you handful of lovely people who actually read my blog. It's actually more than I ever expected, so cheers to you guys for breaking the glass ceiling of three readers for me! With a new year comes the ever-popular New Year's resolutions we make to break. Actually, I hardly ever bother, but this year I'm resolved to doing more writing outside of just film and beer criticism. That means getting back to my first love of fiction writing. I've been a very lazy boy in 2009, having started several short stories, finishing none. I think eventually I may start posting my stories online on a separate blog, or perhaps just on my own personal web space my service provider gives me. We'll see. At any rate, because I am generally lazy I figured I'd ignore my massive backlog of reviews that I still need to post (both for film and beer) and just do a best-of list this time around. I considered going for an overall best films of the '00s, covering every genre, but that would take far too long (this post is going to be long as hell as it is). Seeing as how this blog seems to focus on horror films more than any other genre, I've decided to present to you my favourite horror films of the '00s. It was actually a strong ten years for horror despite the flood of uninteresting PG-13 horror films in theatres, remakes, and the overkill of horrible low budget films choking the direct-to-video market. Even though I watch a lot of movies, keep in mind that I haven't seen everything, so my list reflects that. First I'll list several runners-up and then present you my personal top ten. It should be noted that some of the films might not strictly fall into the horror genre, thus spoofs, horror-comedies and films with strong horror elements were up for consideration:

The Runners-up:

Ginger Snaps (2000)
Wild Zero (2000)
Dagon (2001)
The Devil's Backbone (2001)
Joy Ride (2001)
The Others (2001)
Shadow of the Vampire (2001)
Blade II (2002)
Bubba Ho-tep (2002)
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Frailty (2002)
May (2002)
28 Days Later (2002)
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
High Tension (2003)
Identity (2003)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Wrong Turn (2003)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Hellboy (2004)
Riding the Bullet (2004)
Toolbox Murders (2004)
Dark Water (2005)
The Descent (2005)
The Devil's Rejects (2005)
Hostel (2005)
Land of the Dead (2005)
Red Eye (2005)
Sin City (2005)
Abominable (2006)
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Big Bad Wolf (2006)
Cold Prey (2006)
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
Slither (2006)
The Tripper (2006)
The Zombie Diaries (2006)
Bug (2007)
Dead Silence (2007)
Dead Wood (2007)
Death Proof (2007)
Fido (2007)
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)
The Orphanage (2007)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)
Planet Terror (2007)
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Vacancy (2007)
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)
Cloverfield (2008)
Splinter (2008)
Doomsday (2008)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
Mirrors (2008)
The Ruins (2008)
Trick 'r Treat (2008)
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Friday the 13th (2009)
Orphan (2009)

The Top Ten:

10. The Mist (2007)
A bleak and depressing Stephen King adaptation by Frank Darabont that goes one step further than King did in the original novella. A great cast with solid effects bringing the monsters from the mist to life. A tense monster film that pulls no punches. For my money it's the best of the Stephen King horror adaptations to appear on the big screen.

9. Let the Right One In (2008)
An atmospheric Swedish import that's both a vampire film and one of the more effective and strange love stories to be found in the genre. A film that builds slowly and stings the viewer with sweetness and sadness. Touching and horrific. One of the best vampire films ever made. Sadly, the North American remake Let Me In is set for release sometime this spring.

8. Session 9 (2001)
A little-known gem that owes a lot to The Blair With Project, starring David Caruso. Moody and tense. It wisely presents more questions than answers, leaving the viewers to mull over just what happened. And like in The Blair Witch Project, those possible explanations are not comforting.

7. Rogue (2007)
Not just the best giant killer crocodile film ever made, but in my opinion it's hands-down the best written, best acted and best made giant animal attacks movie since Jaws. The effects and the decision to not make the croc so huge that it becomes unbelievable help launch this to the top of the pile in a decade or more that has seen far too many horrible giant alligator/crocodile films come and go.

6. From Hell (2001)
Although the theory presented here about who Jack the Ripper really was is not a new one, the film itself is a dark and beautiful -- and slightly supernatural -- mystery with strong performances from a top notch cast. More serious in tone than 1999's Sleepy Hollow, which also starred Johnny Depp, but it holds many of the same nods to the Hammer horror films of old, and for that it holds a warm place in my heart.

5. The Prestige (2006)
On the surface it seems like Christopher Nolan is not giving us a horror film here, but deep down this film about an intense rivalry between two magicians really is. The lengths that Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale go in order to out-do each other take a turn to the outright horrific when the secret behind Jackman's ultimate illusion is discovered. In the case of these two men, not only do they destroy themselves, but they destroy everyone else around them.

4. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
It's healthy to be able to both equally love your influences and to take some funny pot shots at them as well. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright pull it off. Shaun somehow perfectly balances humor with effective notes of seriousness. It's a film that never fails to make me laugh like a mad bastard and get a little choked up when things start to go bad for Shaun and his band of zombie-fighters.

3. Wolf Creek (2005)
It's noteworthy that Australia's Greg Mclean appears twice on this list (he also directed Rogue), as he's only directed two feature length films so far, but they have proven to be great examples of their respective genres. Here he gets right to the bleak reality of the Texas Chain Saw-style slasher film, using a good cast of potential victims and an effective villain in John Jarratt's murderous bushman. Mclean knows how to use the landscape of the Outback in his films to both draw awe from the viewer as well as to box the characters into a place they may not escape. It's a beautiful country, yes, but it's also remote, lonely, alien and ultimately deadly if you don't respect it.

2. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
The '00s was Guillermo del Toro's decade. One of the most imaginative directors going, he hit the scene in the '90s and then quickly climbed to the top of the mountain with several great films. It seems that (for the moment) he can do no wrong. It's hard to imagine how he can top this film, but somehow I think he has it in him (At the Mountains of Madness anyone?). A beautiful and dark fairytale with strong Lovecraftian influences. The range of emotions it pulls from me is something few films have managed to accomplish. Behind everything beautiful in his films there's always something equally horrible or tragic waiting.

1. The Children (2008)
No film in the last ten years has quite caught me off guard and creeped me out like this film has. Such a low key release, with a simple but taboo premise, that's executed pretty much to perfection. It contains a lot of what many so-called horror films are missing these days: the ability to really get under your skin and make the entire world feel cold and empty. The ability to inject true horror and dread instead of dulling our senses with tired jump scares.


David Dowling said...

Superb list of movies and I agree with you on From Hell and Wolf Creek. Both great movies. I now have to look for Session 9, Rogue, The Prestige and The Children.

Funnily enough I started watching The Prestige but got a bit bored. I will endeavour to keep my attention focused this time as it does tend to stray.



Lee said...

Thanks, Dave. Hope you find some stuff from this list that you enjoy.