The mid-2000’s were an especially trying period in horror movie history. While it was not totally void of good or decent horror flicks, the vast majority were far from stand-outs. The only remarkable quality many of them shared was just how mediocre or down-right terrible they were. This was the time-period where the SAW movies were being hammered out at a frightening (only real use for the word in this case) rate, and were cheapening with each passing installment. The only real standout among these travesties was the 2009 box office flop The Human Centipede. This stood out not by how scary it was, but how many buckets of vomit it filled in its brief visit at the box office.
The horror movie industry was seriously struggling around this time period, we were lucky to get Drag Me to Hell (2009), or the small gift of Paranormal Activity (2009). For the most part we were bombarded by half-assed sequels or somber remakes of Japanese horror flicks (i.e. One Missed Call (2008)). Things were looking bleak, and quite honestly, we were convinced horror movies had permanently lost their luster because Hollywood was simply out of ideas.
Don’t throw away your buckets of blood just yet, because the 2010’s rolled around, and brought a glimmer of hope back into films of the creepy variety! It didn’t happen right away, but we gradually began to see an improvement. More and more frequently, we started to see movies that actually stopped using gross-out factors, jump-scares, and CGI ghosts to enhance our yawn factors. These are movies that were being produced with care, and did their jobs right, making us hold our security blankets tighter as a result.
The Conjuring (2013)
Making its way directly into our hearts so that they could rip it out is the James Wan directed 2013 instant classic, The Conjuring. Finally, a stand-out horror film that genuinely gave us a creep factor that kept us up at night. It is a movie that knows what it takes to build up a tone, and hold you in a very dark atmosphere that makes you question if the monster really was in your closet when you were a snot-nosed brat. Even when it adds the tired premise of an exorcism, it still pulls it off with grace. It even gave Lili Taylor a wonderful return to the genre after her not so wonderful stint with it in The Haunting (1999). Even the beginning side plot with the doll was somewhat terrifying, it’s just a shame that the same could not be said about the subsequent spinoff, Annabelle.
Another creep-fest from 2013 is a movie about a mirror, and the study behind that mirror. Some of the most interesting scenes are when we’re brought through the mirror’s many victims and what happened to them. While the beginning is somewhat of a science-fest, the story behind the mirror is definitely the most interesting part. Join a brother and sister as the movie brings us back to their family’s history, and shows us the psychotic episodes that the mirror causes in their lives. Slowly but surely, the atmosphere creeps up on you and you can’t help but hug your teddy bear just a little closer. At least that was my experience.
A surprisingly good film that takes itself quite seriously, and for good reason. With a very creepy first scene, and the movie that ensued. We are treated to Ethan Hawke sitting and watching some of the nail-bitingly freakish footage of gruesome murders! With jump-scares a rare sight in this film, and a twist ending that is not especially easy to see coming, this gem of the genre really delivers! As for the sequel… Well we don’t like to talk about the sequel.
From our friends down under, comes a truly strange, but welcome, addition to the genre. We follow a middle class mother as she attempts to survive the single parent life with one of the most horrible little kids you’ve ever seen put on the silver screen. If you can get past the little shrimp’s shrill screams of mock terror, you can definitely survive the one known as the Babadook. It takes a moment, but if you are patient, the scene grows grim, and the terror begins in sweet, Australian bliss.
Though not universally loved, this was one of the jump-starts of the new horror movie era, and it was fairly well received. The setting was rather standard, but over time, we were brought into an abstract world of whimsical terror for all to see. Many have said that the demon from this film gave them many nightmares with the mere glimpses we saw of him through out the film. Though, the ending was rather easily seen coming, it did open the door for it’s second chapter, as well as a prequel. Overall, it’s worth a good watch.
It Follows (2014)
An indie film that got it right on a shoe-string budget, and a premise that causes goose-bumps. Imagine if something was chasing you, and no matter what you did, it never stopped for anything. The only one that can see it is the one it follows, or the one is has followed before. If it catches you, it will tear you apart. The movie is imaginative, and fun to watch. The best part is we never truly learn what the thing is. We only know that it is invisible to the common folk, and it can take any form it wants. It never runs, it only walks, and it only follows.
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
A love letter from Joss Whedon to all horror movies. A movie that breaks down hundreds of horror films to their very core and pokes good-natured fun at it, while making a good film at the same time. The problem with the movie is that if you read anything about it, it could give away the premise itself, which is kind of a spoiler. Suffice it to say that if you love horror movies, and a good serious-natured comedy, you will absolutely adore this movie. Do not pass it up.
A more unknown film from 2013. Its strong points are not so much from its premise, it’s from the characters, especially the little sister, who says very little, but you end up rooting for her anyway. Two children are left alone in a deserted house in the forest, and how they survived is a mystery. When asked who took care of them this entire time, they only say “Mama.” Like any good scary flick, it’s light on the jump-scares, and heavy on the mystique of its premise. We meet Mama, alright, and it is beautiful.
The Woman in Black (2012)
Straight from Harry Potter comes Daniel Radcliffe in one of his more memorable roles outside of that series. It’s a pretty mundane reasoning behind him visiting the house, and the movie is not fantastic overall. However, what it does deliver on is some very creeptastic moments, and a mystery worth watching. The ending is rather uninspired, but there are wonderful payoffs that make the film a great rental!