Let the Right One In
Let the Right One in is one of those special stories is great in literally every medium The source novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the screenplay for this film) is one of the best horror books of the century, even it’s supposed soulless American remake, Let Me In, is far better than it has any right to be. But it’s Thomas Alfredson’s 2009 theatrical version that is probably my favourite horror film of all time. It’s got vampires, metaphors galore, and it’s oppressive snowy location transposes Let the Right One Into something of a fairy-tale.
Back when I was a child and completely terrified of horror movies (thanks a lot, Jaws!) The Mummy hit that sweet spot of just enough action and comedy for the frankly horrible body-horror and zombie lovers to go down a bit easier. The Mummy is a special movie to me because every time I watch it I’m reminded of myself, my mum and my brother, with my cat tucked in between, with a big plate of bourbons screaming and laughing all the way through to the forbidden city.
Rec makes an impression. Of all the movies on this list, Rec is the one that I’ve seen recently, as in this year. Thanks to Louise’s passion for horror, I’ve become a bit more battle-hardened when it comes to horror movies, but Rec scared the shit, not only out of me, but my horror-loving step-dad as well. Rec makes a big fucking impression.
Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods broke horror movies for me. That’s not to say that it ruined the genre, but it definitely ruined Hostel. Yes, my recent bile at Eli Roth’s most famous movie can be summed up as Cabin in the Woods asked the question, what if we cared about the teenage cannon fodder? Cabin in the Woods does a shitload more than that, but it’s biggest triumph, and the non-meta reason that it’s on this list, is because Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon told me to care.
Ready or Not
The survival horror movie is one of my favourite sub-genres of horror, mainly because it’s so simple. Protagonist is put in a situation where he or she has to survive, and Ready or Not is the best example of this I’ve ever seen. It’s a really fun movie, anchored by Samara Weaving’s winning performance, and given surprising depth through Adam Brody’s supporting turn. It’s just really fun, and sometimes that’s all you need to make an impact.
From the brilliantly fun to the deadly serious. If you’re a regular reader of this site you will know that I’m trying to turn No But Listen into an exclusive Mike Flanagan shrine, but I made myself only pick one of his films for this list, y’know, so I don’t seem too clingy. Oculus takes the prize, as it can be taken as his career in miniature: ghosts, childhood trauma, different and overlapping timelines, MIRRORS! – it’s all here in a movie that is the very definition of haunting.
The Ring is that rare thing, an American remake of a Japanese horror movie that is better than the original. I realise that this is borderline blasphemous to say, but the reason that the remake works better than the original is simple, Gore Verbinski is a better director than Hideo Nakata. Verbinski’s movie is full of atmosphere, chills, and a compelling against the clock mystery that elevates The Ring above its many imitators. It’s one of my favorite horror movies because it gets everything about the ghost story right and manages to frame it in the midst of a procedural of the crime waiting to be uncovered.
I have a thing about vampires. I watched Buffy, Angel, and The Lost Boys at an early age and became obsessed; I’ve read all of the good Anne Rice Vampire chronicles and some of the bad ones too. But Fright Night is special. A lot of metaphorical stuff went over my head the first million times I watched Fright Night, but my most recent watch showed me that the vampire movie is horny before it’s anything else. It’s also packed with great action, brilliant performances (especially from the legendary Roddy McDowell as Peter Vincent), and did I mention it’s horny? No wonder I imprinted on this as a teenage boy.
Scream is perfect in a way that few movies can be. The list of movies that ride that fine line of parodying a genre while also being a great example of it are few, and Deadpool isn’t good enough to count (an always necessary digression). Scream is the greatest slasher movie ever because it did that 90s thing of realising that the horror genre can exist in the horror movies – and then perfected it to boot.
My favourite Tim Burton movie that has nothing to do with Batman, Sleepy Hollow is one of those action horror mystery hybrids that seemed to be big in the 90s. It’s scary, gory, it has Johnny Depp’s best performance as the jittery, cowardly detective Ichabod Crane, and once again, it’s really fun. This was one of Burton’s last truly great movies, and he puts everything into it to create a fantasy horror that makes you think most of today’s horror movies should try a little harder.
By Kevin Boyle
(header image via Moviefone)