Boo! If you were scared by that, you really shouldn’t watch anything on this list; I don’t think your heart could take it. If you rolled your eyes at my utterly pathetic attempt at a scare, you’ve probably already seen most of these. Join me, won’t you, on this disturbing trip down memory lane? Was 2010 just last year? I already feel like Black Swan was so 2009.
This movie is messed up. I mean that in the best possible way, but seriously dude, this movie is messed. Up. You suspect it the entire time – anytime you’re dealing with gene splicing and misplaced maternal instincts on a “creature” you’re usually dealing with something messed up coming your way. But this goes so far beyond. Adrien Brody – dude, that was messed up. Must see for anyone hoping to see something they’ll later wish they can un-see. In a good way.
2). Black Swan
It may have been nominated for an Oscar, and Natalie Portman may have won one, but make no mistake: Black Swan was a horror movie. There are scenes in just as disturbing – if not more so – than anything to come out of the mind of Wes Craven. There’s an insane protagonist, psychological sleights of hand, Barbara Hershey looking suspicious all the time, and hot lesbian action that ends in disappointment and bloodshed. And it’s about ballet. I personally can’t think of anything more horrific.
3). The Crazies
The Crazies feels like a callback to classic horror movies, like Amityville Horror and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Isolated in a small town, a group of people fall victim to a compromised water supply. Drugged up madness ensues. Timothy Olyphant is one of the most talented underrated actors out there, and Radha Mitchell complements him nicely as one of the most talented underrated actresses out there. The Crazies is good, clean, small town horror fun.
4). The Last Exorcism
A lot of criticism was hurled at this movie, mostly by people expecting it to be different than it was, particularly toward the end. Expectation is the number one cause of disappointment in America. That’s probably not a statistical fact, but it’s pure truth. Exorcism may not be the scariest movie ever made about an exorcism, but it’s scary and disturbing in a different way. If you go into it without pre-conceived notions, you won’t be disappointed.
The premise sounds a little bit like a bad joke. “A bunch of people are trapped in an elevator with the devil…” Essentially, the movie is a bit of a “whodunit?” in an enclosed space. Who is really the devil? Director Dowdle (who wins the award for best last name it sounds like I made up) helmed the surprisingly intense 2008 mock-doc horror flick Quarantine and if he continues down this path, he’ll make quite the horrific name for himself.
6). Let Me In
A re-make of a Dutch film, Let Me In was either loved or hated, mostly based on whether or not the person watching it had previously loved the original. I found the English version easier to be engaged with, but that’s probably because I speak English. If I were Dutch, I’d be singing a different tune. In fact, this entire top ten list would probably be different. For one, it would be written in Dutch. Or perhaps Flemish. But back to the movie – this is a real, original (except for the part where it’s based on a Dutch film) take on vampires that unintentionally highlight the defanged nature of those sparkly Twilight creations.
7). Paranormal Activity 2
It’s not as scary as the first one. It’s a very small microcosm of film that exists wherein a sequel is actually better – at least artistically – than the original vision that birthed it. That said, Paranormal Activity 2 is still genuinely creepy, and because of its elevated budget, a lot slicker to look at, too. So, congratulations, Paranormal Activity 2, for being a better sequel than Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows. Wear this distinction with pride.
If you’ve ever been so cold that you fear freezing to death, you’ll understand exactly how terrifying this movie is. The choice between certain death and almost certain death isn’t as easy as you might think. Also, how freaky is the idea that you could be on a ski-lift and partway up the mountain they just forget you’re there, turn off the lights, and go home? Enjoy those slopes, ski bunnies!
While not a traditional horror film (there are no monsters, no serial killers, no screaming virgins about to be sacrificed), Catfish was scary in a way few films are. Whether it was a real documentary or not, it shined a harsh light on our generation. We conduct business and personal affairs over vast networks with people we’ve never met, and in some cases, never even spoken to on the phone. The classic cautionary tale is that we might be interacting with a pedophile or an axe murderer, but, as in the case of Catfish, the truth may very well be less monstrous, and, in an ultimate dichotomy, a great deal scarier.
10). Hatchet 2
The first Hatchet movie was something of a surprise – a classic blood and guts monster-stalks-you-in-a-swamp type deal – and Hatchet 2 does a commendable job of paying respect to the first, while adding a twist: what if the people being stalked had weapons of their own, and instead of running scared, were determined to do away with the monster themselves? Production values are not high, but much like “The Evil Dead” before them, they do a lot with a little. The fine people behind the Hatchet franchise (you only need 2 for a franchise, right?) are on the right track for a new generation’s comic horror series. If only Bruce Campbell were somehow involved.