April 22, 2011

Top 13 Of The 2000's (Horror)

Are you ready to have an even lesser opinion of me and my taste in films? You should be.

This is the first entry of a weekly feature where I post some sort of list every Friday, preferably a top 13 (Friday - 13, get it?), but I know for a fact that won't be the case every week. This first list is pretty self-explanatory and it was also a lot more tedious to put together than I anticipated. It was extremely hard to narrow it down to just 13 movies, but in the end I went with a combination of favorites and movies that aren't necessarily "favorites", but ones that I feel should be praised for obvious reasons. The bottom line is, if I were gonna be stranded on a deserted island and had to take only 13 horror movies released between 2000 and 2009 with me, I'd take the movies on this list. The hard part would be figuring out where to watch movies on a deserted island, but I'm sure I could figure something out.

#13 LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008; Tomas Alfredson) - I wasn't as crazy about this movie as much as other horror fans were when it first came out. Some people called it the best movie of the year in which it was released. I don't think so. But it's not to say that this unconventional vampire tale from Sweden isn't excellent. A bit too overhyped, maybe, but excellent nonetheless. What I love about the vampire genre (and the werewolf genre to a certain extent) is that, if one approaches it with a creative mind and a willingness to take chances, it can be presented in a completely brand new way while staying loyal to certain elements in the mythology and lore. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN does just that and to great effect. Nothing more really needs to be said as far as that goes. This is far from the most re-watchable movie on the list, nor is it one I seek out ever, but I'd feel wrong for not including it.

#12 ROGUE (2007; Greg Mclean) - While looking over the list of a hundred or so movies to consider for this post, the one that kept popping in my head and standing out was the Aussie killer-croc movie ROGUE. I've made numerous changes to the list, moving films around, adding films, removing films, and this movie was never included, but yet it's always been on the back of my mind. So I figured, "fuck it" and threw it on the list. Are there better horror movies from the 2000's that could have made the list? Absolutely, but I have fond memories of first seeing ROGUE and still consider it to be a very underrated and overlooked horror movie that shouldn't be confused with a lot of the lower budget Nature Run Amok movies out there. It's a quality film with a good cast and some decent gore. It's also a film that I find to be terrifying on a personal level, seeing as I'm not a fan of dark water and things that have the ability to attack us from below (especially sharks).

#11 MARTYRS (2008; Pascal Laugier) - I contemplated not even putting it on the list because I've had a few issues with it since first seeing it (particularly a certain reveal at the end, which was a bit ridiculous and took me out the movie), but, like LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, I wouldn't feel right if I excluded it in favor of a lesser movie that I'd want to champion more than anything. MARTYRS deserves to be on this list. I can't think of any other horror movie from the 2000's that left me feeling as moved as I was by the time it was over; not in terms of being emotionally moved, but the uneasy feeling you get when you see something violent and shocking, in both real life and in cinema. The only other film that made me feel this way in the last decade was PASSION OF THE CHRIST, which is arguably a horror movie. Overall, it's a well made film that admire for leading the audience blindly into some dark places (kinda like the lead character in the movie!) and playing with viewer expectations.

#10 CABIN FEVER (2002; Eli Roth) - As much as people want to hate on Eli Roth (myself included), the truth is: he hasn't really made any TRULY awful films, nor has he ever done anything to justify all the venom from the so-called "horror purists" out there. Sure, his material lacks anything that would suggest he's one of the most brilliant minds working in the genre today, and sure, his movies may contain one too many references to other horror films for them to hold their own merit, but can we at least give the guy credit for not directing a remake yet? Anyway, CABIN FEVER is undeniably flawed and somewhat of a mess in spots (literally and figuratively!), but it brought Splatter back to the big screen and features some of the most memorable gore sequences of the last decade. Personally, it was one of my most re-watched movies of the 2000's, and it's a lot of fun, which is really all that matters when it comes to something like this.

#9 A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (2003; Kim Jee-woon) - One of my favorite Korean films and one of my favorite horror movies from Asia in general. I can't even express how fortunate I was to have seen this before the American remake, THE UNINVITED (which I also enjoyed), because the revelation at the end of the film is a motherfucker and it knocked me on my ass more so than any horror movie I've seen in recent years; not because of what it revealed per se, but how it was presented and executed, and how it affected the rest of the film up until that point. In general, it's a beautiful and masterfully-constructed film from acclaimed South Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon. I'm sure most of you reading this have already seen this movie, but for those who haven't, the less said about it the better.

#8 SANTA'S SLAY (2005; David Steinam) - Yes, really. While there are a lot more movies that didn't make the list that I would consider to be far superior to this in terms of filmmaking, quality, and overall impact, I'd much rather watch this than most of the French splatter movies or American ghost stories that could have easily made the list. It's an absolutely ridiculous and over the top film with former pro-wrestler Goldberg playing an evil jacked-up Santa Claus. Need I say more? No, but I will. SANTA'S SLAY, nowadays, just might be my favorite Christmas-themed horror movie out there, and yes this includes BLACK CHRISTMAS, which I'm honestly not a huge fan of. Goldberg is excellent as the killer Santa, there are some interesting cameos in the film (including an uncredited James Caan), and in general everything about it just kinda hits the spot when I watch it. Hilarious!

#7 DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004; Zack Snyder) - I have no issues with expressing my hatred of the zombie genre and how much I want it to disappear, so for this movie to leave a lasting impression on me must mean it's really something special. Not only is it a zombie movie, but it's a remake, too! In theory, this should have been one of my least favorite movies of all time, but the fact is, I can't think of a lot of movies from the 2000's that were as much of a blast as this one was to watch. After having a George Romero marathon last year and watching all of his movies in somewhat of an order, I have a new appreciation for him as a director and a human being, and a new appreciation for the original DAWN OF THE DEAD as well, which I always found to be overrated. However, Zack Snyder's remake blows the original out of the water and it easily ranks as one of my favorite zombie movies of all time (as much as I dislike the genre now, it was great once upon a time).

#6 SAW (2004; James Wan) and SAW II (2005; Darren Lynn Bousman) - Yeah, I'm cheating with this one by including two movies, but I wanted to talk about them both and still leave some room for another movie. I like the first SAW for personal reasons because I watched it with some close friends when it came out in theaters and it was one of the most memorable movie-going experiences I had with them. It also has, in my opinion, an amazing ending (the twist and the final shot of the movie). While I wouldn't consider myself a fan of the entire franchise, I have seen them all and I will be the first to say that - as shitty as some of those movies are (especially THE FINAL CHAPTER, which is uneblievably awful) - each of them knew how to end on an amazing note. As for SAW II, I much prefer it to the first and think it's a genuinely solid film for a number of reasons that I don't really need to get into. The rest of the series kinda blows, though.

#5 GINGER SNAPS (2000; John Fawcett) - If I were to make a list of best "blind" movies - as in I went into them with zero expectations or knowledge of what they were about and ended up being utterly amazed when it was all said and done - there's a possibility that GINGER SNAPS would be at the very top of that list. A high point for modern-day Canadian horror and a brilliant take on the werewolf genre, with lycanthropy as a metaphor for achieving womanhood, for lack of a better term. With each time I revisit this movie, the dialogue between Ginger and Brigitte becomes more and more annoying, but it's not enough to take away from how great this movie really is. The duo of sisters are amongst my favorite on-screen pairings in horror cinema. I also like the sequels quite a bit, but they don't even come close to touching the original.

#4 SESSION 9 (2001; Brad Anderson) - One of the most impressive films of the 2000's is Brad Anderson's psychological horror/thriller, in which a group of contractors do some maintenance in a rundown mental hospital and gradually make some chilling discoveries about the place... and themselves. Bold statement alert: I don't think I've ever seen a building or a single setting in ANY film have as much of an intimidating presence as the Danvers State Hospital (an actual place located in Massachusetts) in this film. Not only is the setting visually terrifying (and beautiful in its own dark way) with its long hallways and numerous blind spots, but it basically becomes another character in the story. Aside from that, we also get a great ensemble cast that simply wouldn't be thrown together if this were produced by a major studio. SESSION 9 is perhaps the most atmospheric horror film of the 2000's and one of the best psychological films I've seen period.

#3 JEEPERS CREEPERS (2001; Victor Salva) - Unfortunately for director Victor Salva, anything he has ever accomplished in his career, or could HOPE to accomplish, has been tainted by his troubled personal life. As a man, I have no real opinion of him, but as a director I will always be grateful to him for making JEEPERS CREEPERS - one of the funnest and best original horror movies of the 2000's, in my opinion. It does get a bit ridiculous towards the back end, especially when you can plainly see the fucking zipper on the back of the Creeper during one of the jailhouse scenes, but it has one of my favorite first acts of all time, in a horror movie or otherwise, and as a whole there's a very refreshing idea beneath the film's technical flaws.

#2 HIGH TENSION (2003; Alexandre Aja) - The French slasher that really stepped up the level of gore and brutality on a somewhat mainstream level, and the film that put the new wave of French extremism on the map in terms of demanding attention outside of their country. People can say what they want about the infamous twist ending, but I personally don't mind it and found it to be a refreshing way to close out a horror film such as this when I initially saw it. Unlike the other films that are considered to be the more important titles of the new wave of French extremism, this one holds its own as an entire film and isn't overshadowed by its memorable moments of carnage. Easily the best slasher of the 2000's, in my opinion. It's just a shame that director Alexandre Aja seems content with directing remakes for the rest of his career instead of putting out original material such as this. Guy's gotta make a living I guess.

#1 THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (2005; Rob Zombie) - Love him or hate him, Rob Zombie has a great mind for the horror genre and a unique style that separates him from the rest of the Splat Pack. Most importantly, he cares about the genre and has been a devout fan for most of his life. You wouldn't be able to tell that based on some of the decisions he's made in his career, but I believe he has good intentions that more or less don't translate well onto screen in most people's eyes. Personally, I think Rob Zombie's weakness is and always will be writing dialogue, but, as a director, I love his unnecessarily flashy and flamboyant approach to his work because they make his films more of an "experience". As for DEVIL'S REJECTS, it's hands down his most solid film to date (which, for most people, isn't saying much). A HIGHLY re-watchable film for me with a great old-school exploitation aesthetic and a wonderful soundtrack.


  1. Yea! Love for "Ginger Snaps" and "Session 9"! As for "The Devil's Rejects", it has one of the best lines (and one I personally quote often)- "We like to get fucked up and do fucked up shit, goober!"

  2. Man, I love lists. Will be looking forward to see what you come up with in the following weeks.

    As for this one, you've got some really interesting picks there. Let the Right One In, Saw, Ginger Snaps, Session 9 and Dawn of the Dead are classics for sure, though I love that you also included some overlooked films such as Martyrs and The Devil's Rejects. Well, Martyrs isn't really overlooked now that I think about it, but it has garnered very mixed opinions over the years. Still gotta see Jeepers Creepers, Santa's Slay and Rogue.

    Good stuff man, looking forward to next week!

  3. First off, great new layout, Aaron! The list is an eclectic mix of grand genre moments and a few curious additions, but you explain your reasons nicely. I agree wholeheartedly about ROGUE. It had a little bit of everything and some of the most stunning photography for a killer animal flick. That movie failed to catch on even in its home country, unfortunately. I would have loved to have seen it in a theater, myself. I do hope McClean gets opportunities to make more movies, though.

  4. This is a great list!

    I'm in full support of Devil's Rejects as number one. I've seen it more times than I have personality defects...heh heh. He does indeed have great instincts as a movie maker. There's not a wrong move in that movie. Although I might argue with you about the dialogue. I found it insanely quotable and catchy.

    "I keep thinking about the old days..like when you was a f'cking baby..."

    Or the OTC sound clip:

    "i'm sure your knowledge of bullsh't is limitless..."

    No, it's not how real people talk. But that's all right.

    I think Let the Right One is a little overhyped too. I was actually kind of underwhelmed when I saw it. It sinks in after a while, though.

    And I'll admit, I've missed a few of the movies on the list. Will rectify that soon (and I won't tell anyone which ones).

  5. Thanks, everybody, for the feedback!

    Bevin: I think that line was from HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, but I could be wrong. Either way, it's one of Zombie's many great quotes!

    Atroxion: I'm shocked you haven't seen JEEPERS CREEPERS yet, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I just figured everyone has seen it by now. I wish I could watch it again for the first time! Good stuff.

    Brian: Thanks and glad to hear you're a ROGUE supporter as well.

    Dusty: Thank you. The problem I have with Zombie's dialogue is that all of the characters are written exactly the same and none of them have their own identity as far as what they'd say. That might be a little nit-picky on my part, but I guess not everyone can be a Tarantino or a Mamet in that respect. I do love the quotable-ness of his dialogue, though. As far as LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, I actually prefer the remake, but the original is great as well. Glad we can both agree on it being somewhat overhyped.

  6. I'm totally with you on Cabin Fever and I think it may have been one of my own most watched films of the decade, too. I completely forgot about Cabin Fever when putting my best of the decade list up sometime back, but it is one of my favorites of the decade and has become a great comfort food film for me.

    As for the rest, I'm not a huge Saw fan, I like Santa's Slay but don't love it and I haven't had the chance to see Rogue yet, but outside of that, this list is very on point. And kudos to having The Devil's Rejects at the number one spot!

  7. Thanks, Matt, and I know what you mean about CABIN FEVER. I re-watched the shit out of it for a while. I have kinda distanced myself from it in the last couple of years but it's always gonna be a lock for my favorite horror movies of the 00's. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on ROGUE, man.