You’ve all been waiting, and now it’s here: the unveiling of Bloody-Disgusting’s list of the Top 5 horror films of the last ten years. Again, the list reflects the opinions of all B-D contributors (each of whom came up with their own personal Top 20 list from which the results were tabulated). You may not agree with the films on the final list (in fact, it’s inevitable that the majority of you probably won’t, at least not in the order they’re assembled), but these five movies are all excellent examples of the genre that will go down in history as classics in the eyes of the majority of horror movie fans. Of course, if one of your faves was left out and you’d like to rant about it, let us know. We can relate: keep in mind that every B-D contributor had films from their own personal lists that didn’t make the cut either… And now, without further adieu, we present to you the Top 5 horror films of the 2000s.
As they often say in real estate, location is everything. And Brad Anderson couldn’t have set his nerve-wracking, slow-burning horror opus in a better one: an abandoned New England mental hospital. Of course in filmmaking, location really isn’t everything, and Anderson clearly understands that. Which is why Session 9 isn’t just a cheap, hack `n’ slash, instantly-forgettable type horror film, but a psychologically probing, deeply unsettling journey off the edge and into the abyss of the human mind. The film is old-school in a lot of ways, particularly in that it doesn’t just rely on cheap shocks to scare the living daylights out of us. Indeed, the scariest moments in the film are those that involve disembodied voices, eerie visuals and the mere suggestion that something horrible is about to happen. This is the stuff bad dreams are made of.
Frank Darabont, known for helming adaptations of Stephen King’s more dramatic works, totally nailed this adaptation of King’s short story about a group of small town folk who become trapped inside a grocery store when a mysterious mist rolls into town and simultaneously unleashes a host of nasty creatures. The scary stuff works extremely well (including a mostly-great use of CGI), but what really drives this one home is Darabont’s focus on the divide that forms between two factions of the townspeople – the paranoid, Bible-thumping types led by rabid fundamentalist Mrs. Carmody (played by a great Marcia Gay Harden) and the more rational-minded, decidedly left-wing members of the populace. Love or hate that downer of an ending, this allegorical microcosm of Bush Jr.-era America is spot on, and elevates an already-excellent film to even greater heights.
This Neil Marshall-directed film begins as a tale of gung-ho female empowerment and ends in a blood-soaked orgy of every-woman-for-herself pandemonium. One of the scariest films of this or any decade, The Descent is so effective because Marshall understands how to layer on the frights. It would be bad enough if this group of female spelunkers was facing flesh-eating humanoids in a normal, everyday setting, but the fact that they’re battling them while trapped in a series of claustrophobia-inducing caverns is almost too much to bear. Marshall is an expert at conveying an all-consuming dread and disorientation, but what really makes the film work is that he takes the time to give the characters actual personalities so we truly care what happens to them. Ultimately, The Descent is the purest kind of horror film – ruthless, unforgiving, showing no mercy.
Shaun of the Dead isn’t just the best horror-comedy of the decade – it’s quite possibly the best horror-comedy ever made. Edgar Wright’s film about a couple of aimless English blokes caught in the middle of a zombie pandemic seemingly came out of nowhere and went on to become one of the biggest cult films of all time. It’s a case of all the right elements coming together at just the right moment – not only is the film smartly and stylishly directed, but the endearing performances by the entire ensemble cast are pure comic gold. Wright also takes a page out of Romero’s book by providing a sharp satiric subtext that serves to elevate the film above mere slapstick. Simply put, Shaun of the Dead is about as close to perfection as movies get; intelligent, thrilling, one-of-a-kind.
It’s rare enough for a horror film to be good; even rarer are those that function as genuine works of art. Let the Right One In, adapted from the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, is one of those films – an austerely beautiful creation that reveals itself slowly, like the best works of art do. The simplicity of the story – a young boy, bullied in school, meets a young girl who just happens to be a 200-year-old vampire – allows Swedish director Tomas Alfredson to focus on these two pre-teen characters with a penetrating insight that not only makes it a great vampire film but a great coming-of-age film as well. Of course, calling it a coming-of-age story is likely selling it short. Because at its core, Let the Right One In is, simply, a human story, a pensive meditation on the transcendent possibilities of human connection. Most of all, it’s a film that sticks with you, and whose stature will continue to grow in the decades to come.
Editorial written by Chris Eggertsen
*Editor’s Note: For those of you interested in knowing how the list came to be, here’s an explanation. Bloody Disgusting writers collaborated on a list of some of the best films this decade. The entire list was given to the Bloody Disgusting staff who then built their own Top 20 lists. Each film was given a point value. 20 received 1 point, 19 received 2 points, and so on all the way to number 1, which received 20 points. The numbers were tallied and the result are the top films listed. The bonus film had tied with #20 and the tie was broken by the number of actual votes.
The following participated in the project: Mr. Disgusting, Tex Massacre, BC, David Harley, Ryan Daley, Chris Eggertsen, Jeff Otto, John Marrone, Horror_Guy, Mr_Bungle, Klown, Caustic Coffee and Tool Shed