My Top 10 Horror Movies of the Noughties- Part One
Horror films have always been a guilty pleasure of mine, in all honesty it does take a lot to actually scare me; but even so I can’t get enough of the genre. With the recent release of “Scream 4” (2011) my love for the genre has been re-ignited and part of me is hoping that the film will have brought the genre back to life in the next 10 years, very much like it did back in the mid-90’s. I am aware there are so many classic horror films out there such as “The Exorcist” (1973), “The Shining” (1980) and “Halloween” (1978) that would definitely hit my all time favourites list, however I want to look at the films that defined my generation and that I personally enjoyed. It is true that these types of films did lose a lot of credibility during the latter part of the decade with endless remakes being churned out, some are admittedly awful but for me some did surpass their original. So here we go, the countdown of my personal favourite horror films of the noughties:
10. Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)
Okay to kick off the countdown, this film to most isn’t particularly memorable or perhaps well-liked by horror fans, just your standard slasher sequel, similarly to the “Scream” or “I know what you did last summer” franchises but I actually enjoyed this film. The concept is un-original and its the sort of film where you know what you’re in for. I was a fan of the first film that came out in 1998 where evidently from the title its suggested that somebody is committing murders in the style of urban legends, we’re all familiar with stories such as a killer with a hook for a hand murdering teenage couples or the babysitter and the clown doll, and the many variations of these stories, this film however delivered what is probably my favourite and one of the sickest urban legends, the kidney heist! Despite being aware as an audience of what is going to happen the scene did come across as pretty disturbing and intense and it was definitely gory enough for my liking, especially when the killer aggravates her wound, its enough to make you squirm! The concept of waking up, discovering you’re missing an organ is both sick and freaky as hell, so for me it was the best scene in the movie. I also liked that the film was set on a film set and the plot centred around student film-making- something I can personally relate to! Without spoiling it too much I enjoyed the little homage at the end where we get a cameo from the original “Urban Legend” (1998) killer conversing with the killer of this film. I’m glad this part of the franchise ended with this sequel because I can’t see it remaining scary or interesting, I think its best I don’t comment on the non-canon third film that was made “Urban Legends: Bloody Mary” (2006)! For me this film is somewhat of a guilty pleasure, its enjoyable enough but don’t expect anything particularly ground-breaking!
9. Valentine (2001)
“Valentine” (2001) continued the trend of the 90’s slasher genre back in the early noughties; it is partly predictable as the audience is aware of the killer’s identity from the beginning of the film. It centres on five girls who reject the stereotypical school “geek” at a valentine’s day themed dance and follows them into adulthood where they are now being stalked, receiving threatening cards and gifts off perhaps a “not-so-secret-admirer”. The identity of the rejected boy could be anyone in any of the main protagonists lives but they are unaware of this, so there is a slight build up of mystery for the audience in terms of guessing which character is out for revenge. I found the killer’s mask in this film pretty creepy, its that of a cherub and the fact that it is supposed to represent love and happiness makes it all that more ironic and sinister. The film did feature quite a few stars such as Denise Richards, David Boreanaz and Katherine Heigl. I found the killer’s reveal done more subtly than a lot of horror films, again not to spoil anything, when the cherub has murdered someone for some unknown reason his nose bleeds, at the end of the film the same happens to the unmasked killer. I thought the cards and gifts the girls were receiving were quite creative, notably when one of them is given a box of chocolates only to find they’re full of maggots! I’d recommend watching this film on or around valentine’s day, especially if you’re one of those people that thinks its an absolute consumerist waste of time and refuses to even acknowledge the day like myself! The film has its creepy moments but like “Urban Legend” and all the other similar films, don’t expect a master-piece of horror.
8. The Hitcher (2007)
Yes I am aware I have put a remake into my countdown, but we have been extremely limited with this decade to be fair! Admittedly, I have not actually seen the original “The Hitcher” (1986), and I know this remake version wasn’t well received by genre fans or critics, but I’m going in with an open mind here as I have no concept whatsoever of the original film. What I liked was that the cast is small, you grow attached to the protagonists played by Sophia Bush and Zachery Knighton, there is a sense of fear for them as unlike other horror films they haven’t got the security of a large cast to be bumped off one by one. Yes the film has its formulaic tendencies such as getting stuck in the rain and stopping at a deserted gas station, but from the moment we are introduced to the hitcher himself, played by Sean Bean the film for me became gripping and intense, his character is just pure evil. I found the film engaging especially when the police begin to believe the protagonists are responsible for the murders. There is definitely something scary about someone who can commit terrible crimes and then becomes untraceable. The film really puts the audience on edge especially when you have this sense of nobody is safe, meaning the protagonists, all I will say is only one of them survives so you do feel empathy for the remaining character but ultimately by the end the film is satisfying enough. Again its not particularly amazing or ground-breaking but it put me on the edge of my seat and gave me that similar feeling of intensity that the original “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) did.
7. Wolf Creek (2005)
“Wolf Creek” (2005) is slightly different to the previous films in my countdown. Immediately there is something extremely harrowing about a film, especially a horror, that is actually based on true events. Through this we aren’t given our a typical horror film and have to open our minds to the concept that anything can happen and a happy ending isn’t guaranteed. The film is slow to begin with but that only builds up the atmosphere and tension. It is set in Australia and focuses on tourists backpacking through the outback, these true events took place in 1999. The three backpackers, one male and two female encounter some difficulties when they discover a crater, all their watches have stopped and their car won’t start, this paves the way for them having no choice whatsoever apart from accepting help off a complete stranger, who appears nice and helpful enough; he lures them back to what looks like an abandoned mining site, he then drugs them with infected water, resulting in them falling unconscious. The scene after this really did freak me out, one of the female characters wakes up disillusioned in a shed, she then escapes and comes across her friend tied up along with being tortured and sexually abused by the man that had helped them, there was something so disturbingly real about this scene, to this day I get chills thinking about it, what makes it ultimately disturbing is next to the girl being tortured there is a decomposing body suggesting this isn’t the first time he has done this and that his new victim can see exactly what will happen to her, there is also that notion of feeling powerless and putting your own life at risk in order to save a friend. There was no sense of justice by the end of the film as the girls disappeared without a trace and the male victim becoming convicted for the crimes. Its terrifying holding the knowledge that the killer is still out there somewhere and possibly will never be found.
6. Wrong Turn (2003)
“Wrong Turn” (2003) could be considered an update of “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977), again it lies within the slasher sub-genre of horror. The film is set in the West Virginia Woods, where a group of people find themselves hunted down by a bunch of inbred cannibals. In a sense this film lines itself between a slasher film and a monster movie as the killers look so disfigured, they appear less than human. Perhaps this film could be considered less scary in that respect as its not a normal looking man committing the murders therefore reverts itself from reality, as an audience we don’t believe this situation can happen to us as such. Eliza Dushku, in my opinion is a fantastic and diverse actress, I have been a fan of her’s since she portrayed the notorious Faith in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003) therefore she was probably the biggest appeal for me to watch this film, her character isn’t your stereotypical female horror protagonist, she is strong and can look after herself and isn’t male-dependent. The film echoed towards older horror films such as “Friday 13th” (1980) and as I previously stated “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977), with the cliche of the abandoned woods setting. Ultimately I think “Wrong Turn” is your average horror film, its fun, its intense in parts and its gory, and it sets out to meet the expected slasher film conventions. The film also falls into another sub-genre known as “Outlaws” or “Crazies” where a group of people end up getting lost on the highway and terrorised by a group of sadists. Overall I would recommend this film, its a decent horror and that also has that old-school feel of the splatter films of the 1970’s and 1980’s to it.
…and there we have part one! Part Two will be posted soon, where I will countdown from number 5 to 1 of my top horror films of the past decade…
Hayley Alice Roberts.