Greatest Horror Movies Since 2000: Part Three
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!
DEAD SILENCE (2007)
META SCORE: 34
SYNOPSIS: There is an old ghost story in the sleepy town of Ravens Fair about Mary Shaw, a ventriloquist who went mad. Accused of the murder of a young boy, she was hunted down by vengeful townspeople who cut out her tongue and killed her. They buried her along with her “children,” a hand-made collection of vaudeville dolls. Since that time, Ravens Fair has been plagued by death. The ghastly dolls from Mary Shaw’s collection have gone missing from the grave and reappeared over the decades. In the dead of night–wherever they are glimpsed–families are found gruesomely murdered with their tongues torn out. Far from the pall of their hometown, newlyweds Jamie and Lisa Ashen thought they had established a fresh start. But when his wife is grotesquely killed, Jamie reluctantly returns to Ravens Fair for the funeral, intent on unraveling the mystery of her death.
STARRING: Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Fairman, Joan Heney, Bob Gunton.
DIRECTED BY: James Wan.
CRITICS SAY: “Director Wan demonstrates that he’s equally effective working in a more classical vein, especially with his skillful use of chilling low-key sound effects and silence in several scary sequences.” -Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter.
WE SAY: “A film that on paper seemed, well, crap, Dead Silence is a genuinely quite terrifying, brilliant chiller that sticks in the mind.”
JEEPERS CREEPERS (2001)
META SCORE: 49
SYNOPSIS: Trish and her younger brother Darry are driving home for Spring break — it’s a routine road trip home from college, with the siblings bickering and enjoying the drive. They recall a spooky tale of a teenage couple from their old high school who disappeared twenty years earlier along the same stretch of road that they are on. As the story goes, they found her body but they never found him…or her head. Later, driving past an old church, they see a mysterious cloaked figure, who chases them before vanishing. Soon, their road trip is turning into a heart-stopping race for their lives, as they find themselves the prey of an indestructible force that relentlessly pursues them and gives a new and chilling meaning to the old song “Jeepers Creepers”.
STARRING: Justin Long, Gina Philips, Jonathan Breck, Patricia Belcher, Eileen Brennan, Brandon Smith.
DIRECTED BY: Victor Salva.
CRITICS SAY: “A clever thriller-chiller combining laughter with creepiness that should satisfy horror fans looking for a late-summer diversion”
WE SAY: “Not exactly scary, Jeepers Creepers is intriguing and unsettling, building up suspense and expectation throughout.”
WRONG TURN (2003)
META SCORE: 32
SYNOPSIS: Chris has a job interview in Raleigh in three hours and he’s making good time–until an accident miles down the highway turns Chris’ manageable trip into a six-hour wait. Determined to make his critical appointment, Chris makes a hard U-turn and heads back up the West Virginia highway. Running low on fuel, he finds a shortcut, it’s clearly a road less traveled, but to Chris it seems to be a quick fix to avoid the traffic jam. Not far away, Jessie and her friends, Carly, Scott, Evan and Francine, stand quietly–stunned as they survey what’s left of their road trip after the tires blow out on their SUV. They’ve been left stranded, deep in the middle of the woods. Chris heads down the dusty road, accidentally hitting the SUV along the way, scattering the foursome around it. Luckily no one is seriously hurt in the collision, but egos are bruised and tempers flare. Chris is apologetic, and Jessie is the calming force when she discovers that the reason they’re in their predicament is that barbed wire had been stretched across the road. Therefore, their blown out tires were seemingly the result of a prank. The group quickly bands together, determined to find a phone. Evan and Francis stay with the cars, as the other four make their way down the road. As they venture deeper and deeper into the woods, the assumed idea that the trap was set by a prankster grows dim upon their discovery of a mountain cabin filled with grisly hunting weapons and horrific souvenirs of the hunt. They are now certain that whomever–or whatever–lives in the cabin is responsible for the barbed-wire trap that derailed their trip. What the foursome doesn’t know, however, is that Evan and Francine are now dead, mercilessly mutilated by three gruesome mountain men. Facing an uncertain and possibly horrific fate at the hands of these men, the four friends are sure of one thing: they will never go camping again.
STARRING: Desmond Harrington, Eliza Dushku, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto, Lindy Booth, Julian Richings,
DIRECTED BY: Rob Schmidt.
CRITICS SAY: “The sole saving grace of Wrong Turn is its honesty. You get exactly what you expect — blood, guts and people being taken to the killing floor. But just because it’s honest doesn’t make it good.” -Kevin M Williams, Chicago Tribune.
WE SAY: “For those that were either too young to watch Deliverance or just didn’t bother, Wrong Turn is a bloody reminder of what might be waiting for them in the backwoods of West Virginia, a far cry from the Beverly Hillbillies.”
THE SKELETON KEY (2005)
META SCORE: 47
SYNOPSIS: Caroline, a hospice worker, is hired to tend the very old and dying Ben Devereaux. Devereaux lives in a huge Louisiana mansion, where he’s watched over by his wife, Violet. Caroline soon discovers that a pair of century-old spirits haunts the mansion. The spirits are evil and are manipulating the living to fit their desires, and Caroline herself is at the center of one of their sinister schemes.
STARRING: Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarshaard, Joy Bryant, Maxine Barnett.
DIRECTED BY: Iain Softley.
CRITICS SAY: “A diverting, stylish thriller that, despite pivoting on that and other whoppers, deserves credit for creating an authentic, original vibe.” -Ann Hornaday, Washington Post.
WE SAY: “Interesting and entertaining with a great twist at the end, The Skeleton Key is a decent and watchable horror yarn that’ll keep your attention.”
FINAL DESTINATION (2000)
META SCORE: 36.
SYNOPSIS: Alex Browning, is embarking on a trip to Paris with his high school French class. In the plane’s cabin, buckled-in and ready for take-off, Alex experiences a powerful premonition. He sees the plane explode in a fiery blaze moments after leaving the ground. Alex panics and insists that everyone get off the plane. In the melee than ensues, seven people including Alex, are forced to disembark the ill-fated aircraft. Back in the departure lounge, Alex and his friends Billy and Tod; Clear a young woman who instinctively heeded Alex’s warning; Carter, whose derision of Alex’s paranoia had him and his girlfriend Terry thrown off the plane; and Ms. Lewton, the teacher who volunteers to stay with the disembarking students, all watch as Alex’s horrific premonition proves tragically accurate when the plane explodes in a catastrophic fireball. Ironically, even though Alex’s intuition saves lives, after the crash he is plagued by both guilt and suspicion. Ominous portents of doom as well as the FBI, dog his every step. Alex comes to believe that somehow, he and the other survivors have briefly cheated death, but will not be able to evade their fate for very long. Clear befriends Alex, but no one, not even she, really believes his macabre theory — not even as one by one, these fugitives from fate fall victim to the grim reaper.
STARRING: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Daniel Roebuck, Roger Guenveur Smith.
DIRECTED BY: James Wong.
CRITICS SAY: “Generates a respectable amount of suspense and takes a few unexpected turns while covering familiar territory.” -Joe Leydon, Variety.
WE SAY: “Intense and at times unpredictable, Final Destination makes you look over your shoulder in fear of the wrath of the environment around you.”
THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT (2009)
META SCORE: 33.
SYNOPSIS: Based on a chilling true story, Lionsgate’s “The Haunting in Connecticut” charts one family’s terrifying, real-life encounter with the dark forces of the supernatural. When the Campbell family moves to upstate Connecticut, they soon learn that their charming Victorian home has a disturbing history: not only was the house a transformed funeral parlor where inconceivable acts occurred, but the owner’s clairvoyant son Jonah served as a demonic messenger, providing a gateway for spiritual entities to crossover. Now, unspeakable terror awaits, when Jonah, the boy who communicated with the powerful dark forces of the supernatural, returns to unleash a new kind of horror on the innocent and unsuspecting family.
STARRING: Virginia Madesn, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas, Martin Donovan, Amanda Crew, Ty Wood.
DIRECTED BY: Peter Cornwell.
CRITICS SAY: “Director Peter Cornwell and writers Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe set up their version of the Connecticut haunting with remarkable efficiency and credible atmospherics.” -Greg Quill, Toronoto Star.
WE SAY: “At times remarkably frightening, The Haunting In Connecticut tells a tale of terror exceptionally well .”
META SCORE: 28
SYNOPSIS: Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It’s pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They can’t remember anything. Who are they? What is their mission? With Lt. Payton staying behind to guide him via radio transmitter, Cpl. Bower ventures deep into the ship and begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Slowly the spacecraft’s shocking, deadly secrets are revealed, and the astronauts find their own survival is more important than they could ever have imagined.
STARRING: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Cam Gigandet, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Eddie Rouse.
DIRECTED BY: Christian Alvart.
CRITICS SAY: “Riffing on Alien, Sunshine and Resident Evil, the German director Alvart finds an effective balance between action-excitement and psychological chills.” -Tom Charity, UK
WE SAY: “Sci-fi horror isn’t normally this scary.”
META SCORE: 64
SYNOPSIS: Renowned horror novelist Mike Enslin believes only in what he can see with his own two eyes. But after a string of bestsellers discrediting paranormal events in the most infamous haunted houses and graveyards around the world, he has no real proof of life?afterlife. But Enslin’s phantom-free run of long and lonely nights is about to change forever when he checks into suite 1408 of the notorious Dolphin Hotel for his latest project, “Ten Nights in Haunted Hotel Rooms.” Defying the warnings of the hotel manager, the author is the first person in years to stay in the reputedly haunted room. Another bestseller may be imminent, but first he must go from skeptic to true believer–and ultimately survive the night.
STARRING: John Cusack, Samuel L Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub, Christopher Carey.
DIRECTED BY: Mikael Håfström.
CRITICS SAY: “Things certainly go bump in the night in this slow-burning Stephen King adaptation. But 1408’s short story origins are very clear: think a long, if enjoyable, episode of The Twilight Zone.” -Anna Smith, BBC.
WE SAY: “For once a quality adaptation of a Stephen King story, 1408 is a tale of paranoia as much as terror. As an audience we can only watch in awe as pscyhological twists and great cinemotography tear down the walls around Cusack.”
THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE (2005)
META SCORE: 46
SYNOPSIS: In an extremely rare decision, the Catholic Church officially recognized the demonic possession of a 19 year-old college freshman. The Exorcism of Emily Rose chronicles the haunting trial of the priest accused of negligence resulting in the death of the young girl believed to be possessed. Inspired by true events, the film stars Laura Linney as the lawyer who takes on the task of defending the priest (Wiklinson) who performed the controversial exorcism.
STARRING: Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Carpenter, Colm Feore, Joshia Close.
DIRECTED BY: Scott Derrickson.
CRITICS SAY: “An unusually intelligent genre item that manages to mix full-bore horror with courtroom drama.” -Derek Elley, Variety.
WE SAY: “It may suffer standing in the shadow of The Exorcist, but The Exorcism Of Emily Rose attempts to move in a different direction. Avoiding the usual jump scares and gore of modern horror, the Derrickson has instead gone for a film that challenges it audiences, making for a compelling and interesting piece.”
AN AMERICAN HAUNTING (2006)
META SCORE: 38
SYNOPSIS: The wind whispers ominous warnings of death before a malevolent entity arrives to claim the life of a young girl as director Courtney Solomon brings author Brent Monahan’s chilling, fact-based story of supernatural murder to the screen in this tale of terror starring Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek. The year is 1818 and the Bell family is a quiet clan residing on a remote farm in Red River, TN. A normal, loving family by all accounts, the uneventful lives of the Bell family begin to take a dark turn when strange noises around the farm are followed by the arrival of a black wolf with piercing yellow eyes said to strike unspeakable fear into the very soul of all who encounter it. As the sadistic spirit singles out the youngest daughter of the Bell family for torment and her frightened parents search frantically for a rational explanation to the chilling events unfolding in their once-happy home, an eerie, disembodied voice promises death from beyond the grave. With the struggle rapidly turning violent and the Bells’ desperate prayers for mercy going unanswered time and again, the shocking murder that followed would prove the only case in recorded American history where the death of a human being was directly attributed to an attack by an evil entity or spirit.
STARRING: Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek, James D’Arcy, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Matthew Marsh, Thom Fell.
DIRECTED BY: Courtney Solomon.
CRITICS SAY: “Translating a legendary ghost story to the screen, writer-director Courtney Solomon crafts a quality horror piece from strong performances and effects.” -Sherri Linden, Hollywood Reporter.
WE SAY: “While Solomon appears to have forgotten to make it frightening, An American Haunting is a great looking, highly-atmospheric and well-constructed moving that tells its compelling story well.”
Look out for part four soon.