My Top 10 Horror Movies Of The Noughties- Part Two
So far I have looked at some of my favourites and guilty pleasures in regards to horror films of the past decade, from urban legends to cherub masks to utter sadists to disfigured cannibals, but now I am going to countdown what I personally consider to be the best horror films to come out of my own generation, the noughties; this is where I go into a much scarier territory; because the best horror films are the ones that send chills down your spine, here goes…
5. Paranormal Activity (2007)
I remember literally clinging to my best friend in the cinema during the climax of this movie; I went in not expecting to be impressed, but I was seriously proved wrong! This movie is responsible for causing me sleep deprivation for a few weeks after viewing it. Considered to be “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) of the noughties, personally I think its less distracting compared as there’s not as many shaky hand-held camera shots. I think its clever how the film is placed in the context of a home-movie situation, you believe these characters are real people, and that the events are actually happening to them, its even made more personal when the actors real names Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston) are used for their characters names. As I stated before when looking at “The Hitcher” (2007), the audience is put on an edge when the focus is on only two protagonists without a large supporting cast that will continually get killed off throughout the course of the film. I found this film truly chilling, it puts the audience in the position of what it would be like if the supernatural really existed, there’s no special CGI effects, and its incredibly creepy as we can’t actually see the entity; its true, all humans fear the unknown and what they can’t see. I felt put on edge constantly throughout the film, the build up was incredibly intense and slow paced, the terrifying moments in the film tend to happen around 3am so when the bedroom is being filmed in the middle of the night and the clock hits 3am we know something is about to happen, when these scenes first began I just laughed at the odd door slam, thinking that it was going be pretty lame, but they cleverly built up the tension and as the nights went on the occurrences got scarier and scarier. I think the parts that freaked me out the most have to be when Micah finds Katie sleepwalking and when he finds her childhood photo in their attic. I’m pretty sure I saw the theatrical ending in which Katie stares at Micah for at least three hours then sleepwalks down the stairs, eventually she screams his name and he runs down the stairs, the next thing the audience sees is Micah being flung towards the camera, then Katie crawls towards the camera and chillingly screams at the audience. That is probably one of the most disturbing cinematic moments in a horror film that will be imprinted on my mind forever! Weirdly enough I think I find slasher films as more of a horror comfort zone, any movie focusing on supernatural elements like ghosts etc. completely gets me again relating back to this idea of the fear of the unknown.
4. The Amityville Horror (2005)
In my personal opinion I think this remake of the classic 1979 horror “The Amityville Horror” is actually better than the original, feel free to agree or disagree with me on this, but maybe its more a generation appreciation factor here; I was not terrified in the same way by the original film as I was with this one. This was the film that for me highlighted how versatile an actor Ryan Reynolds is, his performance is incredible as the possessed father George Lutz, making it a long stretch from his comedic portrayal of Van Wilder in “Van Wilder: Party Liaison” (2002), which by this point was the only film I’d seen him in. Allegedly the story of the Amityville haunting portrayed in this film is based on true events, personally I’m not a believer in anything regarding the supernatural, paranormal and religion etc. but I agree the whole concept of the events actually happening is very scary. I believe the house was allegedly built on an Indian burial ground and since that a man took a gun and murdered his whole family, leaving their spirits stuck in the house. What I enjoyed about the movie was that it was jumpy in all the right places, and that the audience is actually given a sense of empathy with the characters, resulting in caring about what happens to them, which is normally a rarity in horror films. The freakiest part of the film for me was the little ghost girl, I think the idea is enough to make you shudder, especially the scare tactic they used with her at the end of the film. What’s strange is I first watched this film alone and wasn’t actually disturbed by it in any way, however when re-watching it with other people I found it a lot more scarier, I think the opposite effect would have occurred if it had been “Paranormal Activity” (2007)! I think this film is definitely enjoyable, features excellent performances and does give some good scares.
3. House of Wax (2005)
Like most people, admittedly I only rented this film to see Paris (Hilton) die! I think that was even used as a promotional tagline for the film. I was pleasantly surprised to discover an enjoyable, twisted, modern slasher. I don’t really consider this film to be a remake of the classic 1953 Vincent Price film of the same name, apart from the title and the plot involving wax models I think the films should be considered as separate texts. Very much like the slasher films of the late 90’s it marketed itself by consisting of a cast of the recent television stars including Jared Padalecki (known as Sam Winchester from the then lesser known “Supernatural” (2005-present), also he starred as Rory Gilmore’s long term boyfriend Dean for five years in “Gilmore Girls” (2000-2007) and Chad Michael Murray (known as Lucas Scott from the popular teen drama “One Tree Hill” (2003-present), Chad had also appeared in “Gilmore Girls”). The film did deliver the usual horror cliche’s of the 80’s, such as getting stranded and camping in the woods as a motivation in order to lure the characters to meet their demise. I thought that it was interesting that the protagonists Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) and Nick (Chad Michael Murray) were put on a parallel level with the killers Vincent and Bo (both played by Brian Van Holt) in regards to the theme of sibling rivalry, I also liked the nod to “Whatever happened to Baby Jane” (1962) when its shown in the cinema sequence. The film had the right mix of scary and gory, sometimes gore can be overdone resulting in a film losing its scariness but I think this film balanced them well; I have to say Wade’s (Jared Padalecki) was probably the most terrifying death scene, I find it uncomfortable viewing to this day, the poor guy is still alive when he’s being covered in wax! I think it was more disturbing than anything we have seen in something like “Hostel” (2005). “House of Wax” is a funny, intense horror film and if you dislike Paris Hilton, its a bonus!
2. SAW (2004)
When I think about this movie I find it depressing that the cleverness and compelling nature of it has literally been massacred by a series of pointless sequels. “SAW” could be considered the modernisation of horror films, it took the genre to a whole other level and was an introduction to the “torture porn” sub-genre. For the first time that I can remember in a horror film, there was more empathy towards the killer than the actual victims, Jigsaw (played by Tobin Bell) has a twisted yet justifiable motive, he is cancer-riddled and feels an immense bitterness to those who don’t appreciate their lives, what is even more clever is that he does not kill his victims by his own hands, he sets a series of cruel traps in order to test their want to live. Even though the film is shocking and gory it does reach out on a psychological level, I like the limited isolated setting, we are presented with two complete strangers who wake up on the opposite side of a dirty, unfamiliar bathroom, chained to the pipes, in the middle of the bathroom there is a body, clutching a handgun in one hand and a tape recorder in the other; as the film progresses we learn more about these character’s purpose in this setting and the lengths they will go in order to survive. As clever as this film is I feel it can only be watched once to be truly appreciated as the twist at the end is gasp-worthy and once you are aware of the twist it doesn’t master the same effect. “SAW” was definitely something different that placed itself within the genre and as I previously stated I feel since the amount of ridiculous sequels, with pointless characters, plots and it has also become completely gore-focused has resulted in the original film losing its credibility; as the original did leave itself on a cliffhanger I was looking forward to a part two, which did not meet out my expectations, I gave up by part three, I went to see “SAW 3D” (2010) in the cinema and was disappointed in how it had become a parody of its former self. Jigaw could have been scary but these days I can take him as about as serious as Chucky!
…and now for what I consider to be the number one horror movie of the past decade…
1. Final Destination (2000)
Next to the “Scream” franchise “Final Destination” has to be my second favourite. The first film in particular went beyond my expectations. Like other films such as “Paranormal Activity” (2007) its the concept of what we can’t see and what we don’t know that scares us the most and the notion of “Final Destination” does just that! It is the ultimate human fear. I picked up this film in the rental store, as I was an established slasher fan the cover implied to me that the plot was going to consist of a killer bumping off a group of youths, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The tone of the film begins creepy enough but its when the group board an air plane to take a school trip to France the action really kicks off. The moment the plane starts to crash is probably one of the most intense and horrifying scenes I have ever seen in a film, I think it highlights the natural apprehension people have of flying, there is then a sense of relief when the protagonist Alex (played by Devon Sawa) awakes to find it didn’t actually happen, however there are signs showing to be exactly like those in his nightmare and he panics, advising everyone to get off the plane as he knows its going to crash; ironically this film was released prior to the September 11th attacks in 2001, the scene is pretty harrowing to watch especially watching it now since the disaster. My first thought at this point in the film was it was some sort of conspiracy theory plot and perhaps Alex or another character had done something in order for disaster to strike and had a motive for wanting everyone to die. Once the majority of the group is off the plane it crashes for real and fingers are pointed at Alex, the audience is now in the position of questioning “how was he aware of this?” By the time the second death sequence of the film takes place it becomes apparent in the plot that its not some murderer in a mask, its not Freddy or Jason or Ghostface, the killer of “Final Destination” is pure and simple Death, itself. Death has a desgin, its the natural order of things, the plane was meant to crash, everyone was meant to die but Alex changed that causing a disruption in death’s design and now Death has returned to restore the natural order and kill each character off in the order they were meant to die on the plane. The concept was fresh and different for a slasher film, questioning mortality, even though we want to see the survival of our protagonists what is different here is we know they cannot fight the inevitable. So, why is “Final Destination” the best film of the noughties for me? its cleverly thought out, has interesting characters, it was also cool to see a male horror protagonist for a change and the female character placed second to him, and finally the killer is much scarier than in any other in film I can name, the original was genuinely scary but similarly to “SAW” the concept is now tired and done to the death! (excuse the pun!).
…So there we have my personal countdown, did you agree or disagree?! Let me know what you think….
Hayley Alice Roberts