We kick off our 6 Days of Halloween feature with a rundown of the greatest horror films from the last 10 years. There were a lot to choose from (2007 was one hell of a year for horror in itself!) but here’s our definitive list of the best modern horrors you need to see!
6. The Conjuring (2013)
Director James Wan made a horror name for himself with 2004’s Saw and like it or not Insidious (2010) had some very effective scares. The Conjuring takes everything that worked from those two films and combines them to make one of the most effective horrors of the last 10 years. It follows the
not remotely true true story of real-life ghost hunters Lorraine & Ed Warren as they investigate a haunting; there are scares a-plenty (who can forget that dreaded clapping game?!) but what makes The Conjuring great is its attention to its investigators who are struggling with their own inner demons after fighting evil for most of their lives.
5. It Follows (2014)
There are some dumb moments in It Follows that make me furious (it could have been the greatest horror ever made!) but it’s the idea behind the movie that’s so frightening. The “It” in question is like a machine – once you’re infected/cursed it will follow you until you’re dead. It doesn’t have any other reason for being other than to catch you and kill you. And while it may be slow, it’s always coming for you. It Follows is so effective because you’re forced to participate in the experience and plan your own strategy – you could drive for 100 miles then take a nap, but while you’re sleeping It is still coming for you. Spine-tingling stuff!
4. Black Swan (2010)
If you don’t think this is a horror movie then you’re mistaken; director Darren Aronofsky takes an unwavering look at the world of ballet and amplifies it ten-fold. When Nina (Natalie Portman) earns top-spot in Swan Lake she is forced to balance the pure innocent performance of the White Swan with the sinister darkness of the Black Swan. She struggles with the task but as she embraces her “other side” she begins to lose touch with reality to the point where not even the audience knows what is real anymore.
All of this is perfectly combined with Nina’s strained relationship with her controlling mother (the sublime Barbara Hershey). Much like Carrie (1976), Black Swan is the story of a young woman pushed to breaking point, with Natalie Portman delivering her greatest performance to date (she earned an Oscar for the role) and features Aronofsky’s trademark refusal to look away. With some very physical terror (Nina’s slow transformation into the Black Swan is haunting!) it is psychological horror at its best!
3. The Babadook (2014)
Horror films have long shone a light on mental illness but recent years have highlighted it heavily (2013’s Mama is also worth a look). The Babadook is the definitive exploration of the horrendous effects of depression and grief. Essie Davis plays Amelia, whose husband died during the birth of their son. Having never dealt with her own grief she struggles through each day while trying to manage her troubled son who has more than his fair share of issues.
Young Samuel is one of the most unsettling children in recent horror history and understandably so considering his mother’s condition. When the Babadook appears to them one day the line between reality and imagination blurs as Amelia and Samuel’s issues are brought to the forefront in equal measure. Rarely does a film so expertly balance two equally-distressing issues and handle them both so delicately. The Babadook trades jump scares for atmosphere and gives us one the most cathartic and meaningful endings to any horror film since The Exorcist (1973).
2. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
This Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard collaboration rewrites the book on horror movies and arguably retires the genre completely. Much like Scream (1996) it’s insanely self-aware and somehow manages to both parody and pay homage to its predecessors. When a well-rounded group of youths visit a middle-of-nowhere cabin a mysterious agency begins to pull the strings and forces them into roles that suit their needs.
The gods they are trying to appease are so clearly the horror audience as it is today as we demand the deaths of idiotic teenagers at every turn. Featuring Whedon’s trademark wit and humour, combined with Goddard’s gory horror, The Cabin in the Woods is equal parts critical essay and love letter to the horror genre. Game, set, and match!
1. Let the Right One In (2008)
The vampire movie has long been stale – back in the 1980s they were intimidating and fearsome. But since the early 2000’s
bastardisation re-imagining of the genre there’s been nothing worth paying attention to. But Let the Right One In breathes new life with a story we’ve never seen before. Based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s book of the same name, director Tomas Alfredson crafts a beautiful tale of boy-meets-girl but with layers of horror for good measure.
Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a troubled boy who has isolated himself from everyone at school. He is constantly bullied and is close to breaking point. Enter Eli (Lina Leandersson), a girl where nothing is as it seems. She and her father figure have moved from town to town for years; she is a vampire and he is the one charged with caring for her. Let the Right One In oozes atmosphere and its title is more a direction to Eli than a warning to Oskar; as the two grow closer it becomes apparent that Eli will soon be in need of another carer. The result is an ending that, while beautiful, is layered with dread as the two friends set off in search of a new town.
Drag Me To Hell (2009), You’re Next (2011), The Descent (2007), The Orphanage (2007), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Paranormal Activity (2007), 30 Days of Night (2007), The Awakening (2011), Mama (2013), Insidious (2010).
What do you make of our choices? Have we committed a crime against cinema by missing out a true modern horror classic? Tell us your own list in the comments below!