Monday, October 26, 2009

Top Ten Horror Movies of the Decade

According to my spiffy Hotel For Dogs calendar, this year is almost over. Now it would be the professional thing to wait the final months until unveiling this list, but I say nay! October is the time for horror so I apologize if the scariest movie comes out in these remaining weeks, but here are my Top Ten Horror Films of the Decade

#10 – Caché

This is more of an unconventional choice and that’s why I decided to place it so low. It’s not really a horror film, but it’s an unsettling movie with a few powerful scares. Georges is a talk show host who keeps receiving videotapes on his doorstep. The tapes show surveillance of him and his family. The director, Michael Haneke, is not interested in giving you a lot of answers, but he does keep you on edge for the duration of the film.

#9 – Saw

Remember when there was only one? Saw broken into the horror scene and shook it up. Now a couple torture-porn movies come out a year, but Saw was unique. Yes, the themes in the movie are rather stupid and the acting is all over the place (Not in the good directions), but this is still a fun, gruesome ride. Also Michael Emerson is in it so you know it’s worth the #9 spot on that alone.

#8 – The Ring

Once again, just ignore the sequel. Saw started the torture-porn movement and The Ring gave us a million Japanese remakes. So why in the world would I be rewarding these? Despite all the havoc they inadvertently gave to the multiplex, the initial entries were still great. Naomi Watts and Gore Verbinski bring a lot of credibility to what could have been just another horror movie. The conclusion to the madness isn’t very satisfying, but we’re still left with a large handful of really creepy images and a very cheap way to prank your friends. “Seven days.”

#7 – Signs

Yes! I like Signs! A lot! I’m not sure when the backlash began for Signs, but it hasn’t stopped for many years. In reality, this is M. Night Shyamalan’s best and most mature movie. The suspense is top-notched and earned. Its messages about religion and faith are handled well especially when you have Mel Gibson performing the monologues. Yes! I like Mel Gibson! Despite his crazy drunk bigoted ramblings, he’s still one hell of an actor. Why do I have to justify myself to you? Next movie!

#6 – The Descent

When The Descent is really good, it’s crazy good. When it’s just okay, I can’t frankly remember most of those scenes. The Descent is about a group of girls who decide to go spelunking and low and behold a lot of things go wrong. It takes longer than it should for things to go wrong, but once it does it becomes masterful. The film treats its audience with intelligence by never explaining things, but giving you enough clues to let you form your own conclusions. Also make sure you watch the original ending, not the lame American one.

#5 – Paranormal Activity

You can see my full review for Paranormal Activity on this site so I’ll just give you the shortened version. This is definitely an imperfect movie, but that won’t stop me from recommending it to people. The movie is very clever with how it uses its low budget and really shines thanks to the realistic performances by its leads. Don’t let yourself be spoiled from others about any of its scares; they’re rather cool. Yet some advice if you’re in a similar situation as this couple: Try locking the bedroom door? Couldn’t hurt.

#4 – The Orphanage

The best horror movies aren’t about how scary the monster looks, but how unnerving the sounds are when it’s coming towards you. The Orphanage is a master class for atmosphere. It’s about a woman who is reopening the orphanage where she grew up. Soon after she arrives, her son befriends someone who his mother can’t see. Lead by a tour-de-force performance by Belén Rueda, this movie will creep you out. Also I have complained about a few of the endings thus far on the list, but I guarantee you this one is fantastic.

#3 – Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Remember Scream? Remember how awesome and groundbreaking it was in deconstructing the genre? This is even better. I found this film basically by accident, but I’m thrilled that I did. Behind the Mask is a mockumentary following a man named Leslie Vernon who wants to be the next Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers. He shows the documentary crew all the steps it takes to be a successful serial killer. This almost validates all of the silly Friday the 13th and whatnot movies because it gives the illusion of all the work each of these serial killers. This movie also stars Robert England in the reverse role as the “Ahab.”

#2 – REC

Like all good foreign horror movies, this one has already been remade. Ignore Quarantine (but it looks like most of you already had) because REC is a very tight and suspenseful thriller. Like Paranormal Activity, REC is made up entirely of raw footage from a film camera. Yet this scenario is a little more plausible than most to why the characters are constantly filming everything. It is about a local TV news team who is filming a regular segment called “While You’re Sleeping.” They are following the firefighters when they get a mysterious call to an apartment complex. Once they arrive, things go nuts and everyone inside has become quarantined. It’s a shorter film, but there is not a wasted second.

#1 – Let the Right One In

I adore this movie. So much. People often forget there were TWO vampire romance movies that came out last year. This one just happened to be Swedish and involving twelve year olds. Also this one has actual vampires, not ones doused in glitter. Let the Right One is the very eerie tale of a young girl vampire who moves into town and is hungry. She isn’t a monster, but because of what she is, she has to be monstrous. The movie brings up some complex themes of dedication and existence while juxtaposing them with beautifully haunting images. See this as soon as you can before the American remake comes out next year.


  1. I think "Saw" was too iconic by the time I saw it for me to thoroughly enjoy it. I had heard so much about it and was so inundated with hype that it didn't surprise me.

    I thought the way it opened was clever--launching you right into the madness with the two guys in the torture chamber and then moving backwards to explain it (I love that kind of structure. If it were up to me, almost every film would open in that way.)

    I also had fun with Cary Elwes hamming things up (screaming "FUCK THIS SHIT!" as he cuts his leg off--Great stuff.)

    Great list. Particularly "Cache," the movie everyone in IB Film (including Mr. Peterson) gave me crap for loving.

  2. Wait, including the teacher? Why did he show the movie in class then? Man, I wish I could have been there. It would have been like Crash, but in reverse. (Yet I'm still right, of course.)