January 17, 2011

The Best Movies of 2010: Horror

There's nothing I love more than a truly good horror movie. That's because they're so rare. Maybe if I could be bothered with Netflix I'd have better access to horror films of merit, but I'm admittedly a bit of a Luddite, reluctant to bow at the altar of one more corporation. Or I'm just cheap.

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.

Who knew tails were sexy: Splice starring Sarah Polley [review coming soon]

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?


  1. Ugh. I hated SPLICE. You're right that the alien child was magnetic, but the story was way too out there for my tastes. I must have said WTF 1000 times during that movie.

  2. I too was a little left out of most of 2010 horror because I didn't really make the effort to go see them, but I truly enjoyed Frozen, The Last Exorcism, and Piranha 3D (do not dismiss before you see, it is such a gory good time, really). Shutter Island seriously kicked some ass and had some of the best music I heard all year.

  3. Aw, that's too bad you didn't like Splice, Lenore. I'm curious to know what might have been your fave horror movie from last year. Shutter Island? Maybe PA2?

    As for Pirahna, Girl, I'll watch it if I accidentally stumble into a room that's playing the DVD, but I won't make an effort to see--let alone pay money to do so. :)

  4. I liked The Crazies but didn't love it. I'm not sure what I was missing, but I was missing something from it. Daybreakers I just didn't like at all. I think it's because I want Vampires to be evil again and while some of them were in the movie I want them to be truly monsters again.

    I know it didn't come out last year but one of my favorite movies that I watched was "The Carriers" it was way better than I thought it would be going in.

  5. Good list. Other than THE CRAZIES, I don't know of a new film in 2010 that blew me away. Then again, as much as I lag behind, I'll probably know what I liked about 2010 about 2016.


  7. Ryan - A really good, balls-to-the-wall vampire movie would be nice. There were a couple of indy movies with vamps last fall that looked promising, screened at TIFF, but I think they got panned by critics.

    Kent - I know what you mean about not being overwhelmed by a truly great horror film this year. I did see the Swedish version of Let the Right One In finally, however, and that was magnificent--just not from 2010.

    Will - Just checked out the summary for Lake Mungo on Amazon. Looks interesting. I'll have to give it a go if I ever see it, though living in the sticks hampers my chances.

  8. I've watched 3/5 of those. Just added Frozen and the Crazies to my instant Netflix queue. So we'll see how that goes. :)

    Splice was decent, but not too fond of the ending. Hoping for a sequel though.

    When I think of Daybreakers, I get a satisfied sort of feeling, so I'm thinking I enjoyed it greatly. Such a short memory at times. haha

    Shutter Island... hmmm. I'm not a DiCaprio fan at all. It's odd to think of him steering away from those young folks movies and being an adult. He's working on me though. I'm not getting any bad vibes, so I'm guessing I thought it was an okay movie at the time.

    Like I said... short memory, so I have to rely on vibes and such.

  9. DiCaprio was an odd choice when you think about it. But, Scorsese seems to have his muse.

    I think you'll like The Crazies.

  10. I have seen 3 of these movies. I loved Daybreakers and didn't even mind The Crazies. As far as Shutter Island is concerned, Scorsese and I just don't get along. (Same thing with me and Tarantino.) Our imaginations are not on the same page, ever it seems.

    AubrieAnne @ http://whosyoureditor.blogspot.com/

    I can't think fo anything to add at the moment. I am having a hard time recally last year. lol. I'll think of something at some point though.