Greatest Horror Movies Since 2000: Part Two
Throughout the opening weeks of publication, Agony founder and horror fan Andrew Nicholls will be contributing a list of what he believes to be the greatest horror movies released since the year 2000. This list will be published in five parts, with films filed in no particular order.
Obviously, as with all lists, plenty of people are bound to disagree with the movies chosen and it would be a little upsetting if that wasn’t the case. If you’re one of those people, please do offer your own suggestions in comment form at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!
THE BABADOOK (2014)
META SCORE: 86
SYNOPSIS: Six years after the violent death of her husband, Amelia is at a loss. She struggles to discipline her ‘out of control’ 6-year-old, Samuel, a son she finds impossible to love. Samuel’s dreams are plagued by a sinister monster he believes is coming to kill them both. When a disturbing storybook called ‘The Babadook’ turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. His hallucinations spiral out of control and as he becomes more unpredictable and violent, Amelia is genuinely frightened by her son’s behaviour. But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real.
STARRING: Essie Davis, Barbara West, Daniel Henshall, Noah Wiseman.
DIRECTED BY: Jennifer Kent.
CRITICS SAY: “Six years after the violent death of her husband, Amelia is at a loss. She struggles to discipline her ‘out of control’ 6-year-old, Samuel, a son she finds impossible to love. Samuel’s dreams are plagued by a sinister monster he believes is coming to kill them both. When a disturbing storybook called ‘The Babadook’ turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. His hallucinations spiral out of control and as he becomes more unpredictable and violent, Amelia is genuinely frightened by her son’s behaviour. But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real.” -Kim Newman, Empire Magazine.
WE SAY: “As inventive and artistic as it is chilling and atmospheric, The Babadook isn’t just boosted by the impressive performances of Davis and Wiseman, but by phenomenal editing, puppetry and stop-motion animation.”
META SCORE: N/A
SYNOPSIS: When a London modelling agency booker dozes off while waiting for the midnight subway train, the subterranean terror that awaits her in the underground tunnels will send her screaming for her life through a dark labyrinth in this horror entry directed by Christopher Smith and starring Run Lola Run’s Franka Potente. Awakening to discover that the midnight train has passed and she is locked in the station, Kate (Potente) reluctantly steps onto a mysterious empty train for a ride she will not soon forget. As the train grinds to a stop in the pitch black tunnels of the London Underground, Kate realizes that she is not alone in the darkness and if she has any hope of surviving until dawn she’ll have to fight for her life against an unimaginable horror too terrifying for the light of day.
STARRING: Franka Potente, Vas Blackwood, Ken Hudson Campbell, Jeremy Sheffield.
DIRECTED BY: Christopher Smith.
CRITICS SAY: “A bloody, mostly boring slasher flick, Creep sees a party-seeking singleton (Franka Potente) fall asleep in a London Underground tube station and wake up hunted by something more ghastly than Ken Livingstone. Exploiting the tunnels and dark holes of the Tube is a fine idea (see Mimic), but there’s little, if anything, original about the running, screaming and stupidity shown here. Hardcore horror fans might wring some enjoyment from the action, but if you want real Friday night frights look elsewhere.” -Nev Pierce, BBC.
WE SAY: “Hated by critics, Creep brings terror to an already unpleasant location- the London Underground by night. Creep is unpleasant and raw and doesn’t try too hard, it’s wicked, gory and different.”
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2009)
META SCORE: 68
SYNOPSIS: After a young, middle class couple moves into what seems like a typical suburban “starter” tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night.
STARRING: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs, Amber Armstrong.
DIRECTED BY: Oren Peli.
CRITICS SAY: “It illustrates one of my favorite points, that silence and waiting can be more entertaining than frantic fast-cutting and berserk f/x. For extended periods here, nothing at all is happening, and believe me, you won’t be bored.” -Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
WE SAY: “The Blair Witch Project and its kin may have gotten their first, but Paranormal Activity re-spawned the found footage genre in an absolutely massive way, reminding audience that things might just go bump in the night in their own homes.”
WOLF CREEK (2005)
META SCORE: 54
SYNOPSIS: It was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime in the Australian Outback — full of fun, sun and adventure. But, what happened to a trio of 20-something backpackers took a wrenching detour into the depths of unrelenting terror. Based on true events, “Wolf Creek” is the haunting story of their unthinkable ordeal — a mounting white-knuckle nightmare so real it was destined to become horror legend. “Wolf Creek” is a startlingly intense motion picture experience of rapidly escalating dread and suspense. The chillingly believable events begin as freewheeling, college-aged pals Liz, Kristy and Ben head out for a holiday hike in stunning Wolf Creek National Park to see its mysterious meteor crater. When they return, their car won’t start. Trapped in the vast emptiness of the wilderness — all they can do is wait for rescue. Luckily, as night falls, along comes colorful local bushman Mick and his massive truck, offering a tow to safety. But, as the sun comes up the next morning, it becomes shockingly apparent that Mick has no intention of fixing their car or letting them leave the Outback…ever again.
STARRING: John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips.
DIRECTED BY: Greg McLean.
CRITICS SAY: “[It’s] scary cinema pushed to the brink of punishment. But there’s no question that what it sets out to do, it does alarmingly well.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety.
WE SAY: “Unrelentingly viscous, Wolf Creek is a cruel and well-crafted tale of road-side murder, with great moments of dark humour that accompany the carnage.”
META SCORE: 46
SYNOPSIS: “A young man named Adam wakes to find himself chained to a rusty pipe inside a decrepit subterranean chamber. Chained to the opposite side of the room is another bewildered captive, Dr. Lawrence Gordon. Between them is a dead man lying in a pool of blood, holding a .38 in his hand. Neither man knows why he has been abducted, but instructions left on a micro cassette order Dr. Gordon to kill Adam within eight hours. If he fails to do so, then both men will die; Dr. Gordon’s wife, Alison, and his daughter will also be killed. Recalling a recent murder investigation by a police detective named Tapp, Dr. Gordon realizes he and Adam are the next victims of a psychopathic genius known only as “Jigsaw.” With only a few hours left to spare, they must unravel the elaborate puzzle of their fate in the midst of mounting terror. The killer has provided them with only a few clues and two handsaws–too weak to break their steel shackles, but strong enough to cut through flesh and bone.”
STARRING: Leigh Whannekk, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Tobin Bell, Dina Meyer.
DIRECTED BY: James Wan.
CRITICS SAY: “Saw boasts an undeniably original premise and clever plot machinations that lift it several notches above the usual slasher film level.” -Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter.
WE SAY: “It may have been butchered by the critics and it may have had a few pointless sequels, but Saw was, to point it frankly, astounding. With a twist at the end that blew cinema-goers away, the movie spawned its own genre and left audiences reeling in terror and revulsion.”
INSIDIOUS 2 (2013)
META SCORE: 40
SYNOPSIS: The famed horror team of director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell reunite with the original cast of Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey and Ty Simpkins in INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2, a terrifying sequel to the acclaimed horror film, which follows the haunted Lambert family as they seek to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world.
STARRING: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Leigh Whannell.
DIRECTED BY: James Wan.
CRITICS SAY: “Insidious: Chapter 2 may be somewhat uneven, but at a certain point near the end, I realized I hadn’t taken any notes during the second half. For all its weirdness, the film had utterly transported me.” -Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
WE SAY: “While the original was less frightening than an average episode of Last Of The Summer Wine, Insidious 2 is well-constructed and undeniably chilling, with twists and turns that tie in perfectly with the mediocre first movie.”
THE DESCENT (2006)
META SCORE: 71
SYNOPSIS: One year after a tragic accident, six girlfriends meet in a remote part of the Appalachians for their annual extreme outdoor adventure, in this case the exploration of a cave hidden deep in the woods. Far below the surface of the earth, disaster strikes, and there’s no way out. But there is something else lurking under the earth.
STARRING: Shauna MacDOnald, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, Nora-Jane Noone, MyAnne Buring.
DIRECTED BY: Neil Marshall.
CRITICS SAY: “Working on terrific sets with imaginative lighting effects and cinematography, Marshall creates a palpable sense of claustrophobia and danger well before murderous cave dwellers make their appearance quite a ways into the movie.” -Lou Lumenick, New York Post.
WE SAY: “Savage and gory, The Descent takes claustrophobia to a new level of fear.”
THE RING (2002)
META SCORE: 57
SYNOPSIS: It sounded like just another urban legend–videotape filled with nightmarish images, leading to a phone call foretelling the viewer’s death in exactly seven days. As a newspaper reporter, Rachel Keller was naturally skeptical of the story, until four teenagers all met with mysterious deaths exactly one week after watching just such a tape. Allowing her investigative curiosity to get the better of her, Rachel tracks down the video… and watches it. Now she has just seven days to unravel the mystery of the “Ring.”
STARRING: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, Jane Alexander, Daveigh Chase.
DIRECTED BY: Gore Verbinski, Richard Magat-Serrano.
CRITICS SAY: “Boasts a real heart-stopper of a finale-an uncanny phosphor nightmare that depicts a marrow-deep fear shared by every kid who grew up in the video age.” -Mike D’Angelo, Time Out.
WE SAY: “All the years later the sight of Samara crawling from the television set fills us with complete and utter dread.”
THE UNINVITED (2009)
META SCORE: 43
SYNOPSIS: Based on Kim Jee-Woon’s 2003 Korean horror film, “Changhwa Hongryon,” “The Uninvited” revolves around Anna, who returns home after spending time in the hospital following the tragic death of her mother. Her recovery suffers a setback when she discovers her father has become engaged to her mother’s former nurse, Rachel. That night, Anna is visited by her mother’s ghost, who warns her of Rachel’s intentions. Together, Anna and her sister try to convince their father that his current fiancée is not who she pretends to be, and what should have been a happy family reunion becomes a lethal battle of wills between stepdaughters and stepmother.
STARRING: Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Massar.
DIRECTED BY: Thomas Guard, Charles Guard.
CRITICS SAY: “We’ve seen it all before, but that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment of first-time directors (and brothers) Charles and Thomas Guard, who clearly believe that a creaking door is scarier than a gouged-out eyeball.” -Chuck Wilson, LA Weekly.
WE SAY: “A movie that often leads you astray, the twist at the end of The Uninvited is completely obvious, and yet you never see it coming.”
META SCORE: 44
SYNOPSIS: “A group of people are trapped in an elevator, and one of them is the devil.”
STARRING: Chris Messina, Geoffrey Arend, Bokeem Woodbine, Caroline Dhavernas, Jenny O’Hara, Logan Marshall-Green.
DIRECTED BY: John Erick Dowdle.
CRITICS SAY: “The great cinematographer Tak Fujimoto has the time of his life on this low-budget horror feature, playing with dolly shots, abrupt zooms, and negative space inside the widescreen frame, and the fun is infectious.” -Ben Sachs- Chicago Reader.
WE SAY: “Devil is a movie that’ll have you guessing throughout, and if you solve the mystery early on, no one will believe you till the end.”
Look out for part three soon.