The folks over at Movies, Films and Flix have been on a 21st century horror tear as of late. They determined the most beloved 21st century horror films by breaking down mass quantities of critical and audience data and the results started a pretty great horror discussion on the internet. In the "best of" post they had a poll that asked the readers to vote for their favorite 21st century horror films. The poll collected thousands of votes and the winner is sure to incite lots of horror discussions.
The post featured the 21 top 21st century horror films. I am going to break down the top ten. Click here to read the rest of the post.
10. Drag Me to Hell
Sam Raimi is my hero and Drag Me To Hell is a pure gooey joy. I loved every second of the mayhem and any film featuring demon goats and staplers used as weapons is cool with me.
9. Mulholland Drive
Mulholland Drive may not be a stereotypical horror film but it features some terrifying moments. Interior director Zach Beckler had some neat things to say about it.
There are many moments of dread and suspense in Mulholland Drive that cannot be traced to this genre, like the Club Silencio, “This is the girl,” and the unexplained changes in identity. But if there was still any doubt, the “Man Behind Winkies” scene puts it to rest and delivers one of the most effective scares in the history of cinema. It is a perfect self-contained unit, using the sort of dream logic you find in 70’s Italian horror that Lynch perfected throughout his career.
8. Shaun of the Dead
What I love most about Shaun of the Dead is how they featured an incredibly rehearsed and ambitious two-minute steadicam shot. The moment isn’t about terror, violence or showing off. The shot centers around a slacker making his way to a shop while not noticing the carnage around him. He is so checked out that he doesn’t notice the blood he slips on or slow-moving zombies all around him. It is a moment of pure cinematic nerd glory and proves that this film about two dudes, a lady and a pub is a lovingly made zombie film. Viva la Cornetto and Edgar Wright!
7. The Babadook
The Babadook is a visually arresting horror hybrid that proved to be an amazing calling card for director Jennifer Kent. The Babadook is the type of movie that transcends genre and much like Rosemary’s Baby adds class to the horror world. The fact that The Babadook was universally praised by critics while featuring a truly bonkers plot proves that we are in a solid time for horror. I love what Kent said about horror filmmaking to New York Magazine.
I continue to watch modern horror films, despite the constant disappointment. I don’t think a lot of the filmmakers making horror now know its worth, or realize the potential of the genre. Just because it’s a horror film doesn’t mean it can’t be deep. I think a lot of filmmakers who make horror now go in with dubious motives — money, predominantly. They want to make a film that will feel like a theme-park ride, and ultimately make a lot of money.But horror is a pure form of cinema. I think there are some modern-day filmmakers our there who understand that. The films that will stand the test of time are the ones that have depth
6. It Follows
Director David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover) takes my favorite aspects of horror (urgency, dread, patience) and combines them with a beautifully simple story about the dangers of sex. Mitchell lets the film breath and this allows the rabbit and hare story to unfold organically. The teens sleepless state creates a dreamy atmosphere that is captured nicely by the lingering camera and patient editing. The film moves at a methodically slow pace yet you have a hard time catching your breath. It Follows is a perfect example of 2014-2015 horror. It takes familiar elements and makes them fresh again.
5. Let the Right One In
Let the Right One In takes zero shortcuts, makes nothing easy and might be one of the best looking horror films ever made. It is painfully serious and respects the audience in its desire to hold nothing back. It is the rare film that appeals to the arthouse and grindhouse. It is an unforgettable masterpiece that will linger in your memory and make you think twice about bullying somebody while in an indoor swimming pool.
4. The Descent
Director Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Game of Thrones, Doomsday) is a maestro of mayhem who keeps his films moving briskly and expertly. He understands urgency and the need to keep moving forward. If you stop you die, and the ladies in The Descent have no choice but to keep moving. He directed a beautifully layered horror film that juggles, claustrophobia, monster mayhem and urgency. If you listen to the commentary you realize that it wasn’t a fluke. It is a carefully crafted movie that was thought out on every level and achieves the “pure cinema” label.
3. 28 Days Later
A brilliant nightmare that has proven to be incredibly influential. The opening shot of Cillian Murphy alone in the city is my favorite horror moment (Second is the scene in The Descent). Danny Boyle brought his A+ game as he added a level of urgency and fear that will never be matched. 28 Days Later is a Heart of Darkness-esque horror masterpiece that reinvigorated the zombie world.
2. Pan's Labyrinth
I will let Roger Ebert and his immaculate prose speak for Pan’s Labyrinth.
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006) took shape in the imagination of Guillermo del Toro as long ago as 1993, when he began to sketch ideas and images in the notebooks he always carries. The Mexican director responded strongly to the horror lurking under the surface of classic fairy tales and had no interest in making a children’s film, but instead a film that looked horror straight in the eye. He also rejected all the hackneyed ideas for the creatures of movie fantasy and created (with his Oscar-winning cinematographer, art director and makeup people) a faun, a frog and a horrible Pale Man whose skin hangs in folds from his unwholesome body.
What makes Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” so powerful, I think, is that it brings together two kinds of material, obviously not compatible, and insists on playing true to both, right to the end. Because there is no compromise there is no escape route, and the dangers in each world are always present in the other. Del Toro talks of the “rule of three” in fables (three doors, three rules, three fairies, three thrones). I am not sure three viewings of this film would be enough, however
1. Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods put a spin on the horror genre, turned it 180 degrees and let a Merman eat it. It is a much delayed horror classic that incorporates humor, blood and a trowel as a death weapon. It isn’t afraid to kill its characters and has some huge genre killing balls. Drew Goodard and Joss Whedon have given the world a beautiful horror hybrid that started as an underdog and has become a classic of the genre. In an interview with the AV Club, Joss perfectly encapsulated Cabin with this quote:
If you love horror, then you’ll love Cabin in the Woods !” And: “If you don’t love horror, you still might love Cabin In The Woods!” It’s designed for hardcore horror fans, but it’s also designed for everybody else. There’s enough thought and care and love and great craft that went into doing it, that the fact that it has some thrills and some hideous gore is—well, it’s either the cake or the icing. I’m not sure which. There’s cake. All I know is, you see it and you get cake.
For our next Moviepilot Magazine, it's all about fear. So we're polling our readers to find out what terrifies them. You can help by answering the question below!