Listomania: My Top 10 Horror Films of The Decade

It’s October and that means I’m going to be watching as many Horror movies as I can in 31 days.  The golden age of Horror films seems to be mostly behind us but the last decade has brought us a handful of gems for your seasonal viewing.  Here are my favorite Horror films released between 2000-2009.

1. THE RING (2002)
The best horror film in a decade manages to overcome two potentially crippling handicaps: it’s a remake and it’s rated PG-13.  But it’s a good mystery, it’s scary as hell and the American version manages to improve upon the original in every way creating a modern horror masterpiece.    

It’s not a spoofEdgar Wright’s debut is a near perfect genre mashup: the Zom Rom Com.  Few films have succeeded as spectacularly at mixing horror and comedy, which puts the film in the rarefied company of Evil Dead II and An American Werewolf In London as a classic of it’s kind.

If you haven’t seen it, you’ve never seen anything quite like it.  It’s a horror film that puts its characters first, deftly handles switching between horror, dark comedy, and coming of age film and doesn’t shy away from gore.  The American version is great but the original is unforgettable.

While it contains many familiar horror elements, this underrated film spins them in such a way that you never know what will happen next.  The film starts out as Duel, becomes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and then turns into a full-on monster movie. 

5. 28 DAYS LATER (2002)
Danny Boyle’s (technically not zombies) film single-handedly resurrected zombies for the next decade (and beyond). Plays more like a story of survival than a standard horror film where the scares come from actually being invested in the characters.  While the film steals liberally from Romero’s Zombie Trilogy, it does so without ever feeling like a throwback or an homage.

6. THE OTHERS (2001)
A very creepy atmospheric ghost story in the vein of The Changeling and The Sixth Sense.  It’s a spooky well-made movie for people who don’t normally like horror movies.  It’s also probably the last time Nicole Kidman could move her face.

7. HOSTEL (2005)
Maligned for being “torture porn”, the scenes of gore are actually used sparingly, though for maximum impact.  While it’s not a perfect horror film (it’s a little fratty at times), it manages something that few horror films can nowadays: it’s effectively scary.

8. THE DESCENT (2006)
The less you know about it the better.  Contains some of the most claustrophobic scenes ever filmed as well as a 2nd act twist that spins the film in a whole new direction.

9. SAW (2004)
Guilty of spawning the “torture porn” genre as well as a half dozen terrible sequels, it’s easy to forget that the original Saw was actually a good movie.  (It even played Sundance!)  It was an original mystery (yes, with a few horrific moments), that kept the audience guessing until the end.

10. CLOVERFIELD (2008)
On the surface it’s Godzilla meets the Blair Witch project.  But Matt Reeves update of a monster movie was a pretty great thrill ride, especially to see it in New York.  (I recognized my street!) 

Probably the most fun horror movie of the decade.  Not as good as the original Nightmare on Elm Street, but better than pretty much every Friday The 13th movie.  Takes the highlights from 17 films and distills it to 90 minutes of nostalgic slasher fun.

Top Films 2008

Impossibly lived up to my expectations. A relentlessly suspenseful, incredibly dark, complex drama where all the pieces fall into place. The acting is great all around, the action sequences are thrilling and the story is constantly surprising. The worst part about watching the film is knowing there will never be another Batman film as good as this one.

Completely unexpected nearly perfect little movie.  The script, the direction, the acting all work together perfectly to hit just the right notes. You spend the first half of the film trying to put together who’s who as the story unfolds naturally. The film is unpredictable and steers away from cliche while revealing more about the characters. This was a really nice surprise.

This is a horror film that puts its characters first and is unlike any I’ve ever seen. It deftly handles switching between horror, dark comedy, and coming of age film. The horror scenes are scary and stylish and doesn’t shy away from gore. The cinematography and score are beautiful and I can’t imagine finding better child actors.  You will hold your breath during the climax.

Underrated, engrossing, entertaining documentary.  It was fascinating watching these kids facing the pressures of high school and seeing the drama in their lives. The animated interludes were unnecessary but there were enough genuinely affecting moments to make the film a great experience.   Makes me remember how glad I am to have survived high school.

A surprisingly dark film from Pixar whose dark view of the future I was not prepared for.  Still, it’s a brave film and the genuinely emotional moments work like a charm.

A mix of City of God and Danny Boyle’s own film Millions, this is the feel good/bad/good film of the year! Though some of the scenes veer into melodrama and the premise itself is fairly preposterous the film itself is charming. The youngest actor playing Jamal was so cute I wanted the whole film to be about him!

While the story is familiar, the way it is told makes it worthwhile. Mickey Rourke really makes feel for his character as much of the film is shot from behind him you really experience things from his perspective. A complete reinvention for filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, he elevates this material with some of his more personal touches.

Knowing so little about this film going in made for one of the most effective theatrical experiences of the year.  Though the scariest part of the film is what happens before you actually see the monster the 9/11 imagery is still frightening.

Not the film I wanted it to be, it takes a sometimes comical look at early 60’s suburban angst.  The trailers sparse heavy dialogue set to the music of Cat Power & Nina Simone evoked such an emotional response I was disappointed not to find that in the film.

Though it was uneven it was still one of the most entertaining films of the year.  Franco and McBride give hilarious performances and the final scene almost makes the whole thing worth it.

NOTABLE: The Foot Fist Way, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Synecdoche NY, The Fall, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Che, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Waltz With Bashir, Religulous