As it stands, this list will reflect the movies I've seen. There are a couple of movies I've yet to see that stand a chance at breaking on this list, namely Let Me In, Paranormal Activity 2, and The Last Exorcism, while others I will likely never make an effort to watch--Piranha 3D, I'm looking in your direction.
This is why I never liked skiing: Frozen starring Sean Ashmore [review here]
Think Open Water, but on a mountain. I watched Open Water 2 earlier in the year, was getting kind of bored in the last half, so I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy a movie so similar in plot but based on a ski lift. The key to movies that take place predominantly in one tight setting, and revolve a very small cast, is strong dialogue and actors who can carry it off and convey the mounting tension. The trio in this did well, and whoever did the sound editing went out of their way to make me cringe during a key scene when something goes crunch.
I'm just happy they didn't sparkle: Daybreakers starring Ethan Hawke [review here]
Maybe folks would rather classify this one as sci-fi, but there are enough ingredients in the film to make me comfortable in sticking it in the horror genre. Ethan Hawke does a real good job in this movie, which I was thankful for because when he's mailing it in he has a knack of dragging a movie down. Pretty much all of the cast play to their respective strengths, maybe to a point of cliche. And considering this one has been swept under the rug for a lot of year-end lists, I just wanted to give it a positive mention.
Sarah Polley might be my favorite Canadian actor, at least from the past decade. And she, along with Adrien Brody, does a fantastic job of portraying a scientist with a wee bit more ambition than what could be considered safe. And Delphine Chaneac as Dren, the genetically engineered monster, is f-cking magnetic in just about every scene she's in. What really helps the movie, especially her performance is the fact that the CGI is not distracting and most of the time I wasn't overtly aware of it. I just got sucked into the story.
They're not zombies, but they'll do: The Crazies starring Timothy Olyphant [review here]
With so many horrible remakes, reboots, and sequels, I was relieved to sit down and watch this one and walk away thoroughly entertained. Maybe that's because I never saw the original, or maybe it's because this iteration of a movie about a town torn apart by some kind of infection that turns townsfolk crazy to a homicidal degree does more than offer a body count. Characters are sympathetic, the action seems plausible for the most part, and the pacing of the action is great the whole way through. It's not quite as good as Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later, but it's pretty close in my view.
Bad Boston accents not withstanding: Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio [review here]
Leo can't carry a Beantown accent, but I'll leave the final verdict to New Englanders. Other than that niggling detail, this movie was about as great as I could have wished for. After seeing the trailer for this in 2009, I went out and got the Dennis Lehane novel on which it was based. Loved the book and salivated at the chance to see the movie. It has a wonderful blend of Hitchcockian suspense that is amplified by Scorsese's direction. This is one of those films that is shielded from the "horror" label in favor of "psychological thriller", but regardless of how you want to classify it, it's a damned good movie.
So there is my fave five in horror films. What were your favorite scary movies of 2010?