Top 10 Horror Films of 2009
1- The Children
The concept of killer kids is nothing new, but The Children can safely join the list of great horror movies like The Omen, Home Movie, The Exorcist, The Innocents and Village of the Damned. The film is directed by Tom Shankland who also adapted the script form a story by Paul Andrew Williams the director and writer of London to Brighton and The Cottage. Shankland delivers a simple film, with a simple set up and a simple pay off. What’s not simple are his sublime directorial flourishes. Shankland might add a few jump scares, but avoids genre clichés and wisely chooses an effective slow burn. The journey is unnerving, relentless, packed with suspense with a terrifying and brutal atmosphere. Easily one of the best horror films of the decade and destined to become a Brit Classic.
2- The Loved Ones
Sean Byrne’s debut feature, The Loved Ones, crosses various horror touchstones, touching on teen angst, torture porn, melodrama and conventional slasher tropes. It’s a gore-filled shocker that goes for laughs by paying homage to the outlandish low-budget video nasties of the ’70s and ’80s, blending together Misery, Saw, Prom Night, The Evil Dead and Carrie. The fusion of these horror classics makes The Loved Ones one of the best offerings at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Bound to provoke reactions from more sensitive audience members, The Loves Ones is destined to become a cult fave. Leaving most viewers with their hands over their eyes and a smile grinning from ear to ear, this dark horse independent gem is a guaranteed wild and unforgettable ride… (read the full review)
3- Drag Me to Hell
Where other horror pioneers’ attempts to return to the cinematic styles that earned them their reputations have generally ranged from middling (George Romero’s Land and Diary of the Dead) to embarrassing (Dario Argento’s Mother of Tears), Sam Raimi effortlessly slips back into “spook-a-blast” mode with the outrageously fun Drag Me to Hell. Viewers worried about Raimi’s long absence from the genre need not worry about his directorial touch, nor the PG-13 rating; Raimi has kept many of his trademark flourishes handy in the Spider-Man series anyway (first-person perspectives, Dutch angles), and his Evil Dead films were more about manic entertainment than conspicuous bloodletting… (read the full review)
4- House of the Devil
House of the Devil is not a perfect film, and much like the 2009 hit The Strangers, it’s an exercise in style that is short on story. The already too-familiar plot mixing of Halloween and Rosemary’s Baby may disappoint some, and unfortunately it is devoid of any real payoff, but House proves that the journey is always more terrifying than the destination, making it a remarkable entry into the horror genre… (read the full review)
Park Chan-Wook reinforces his reputation has one of the leading directors working today and although Thirst may not be the greatest vampire movie ever made, his desire to try something different makes it a fresh take on the genre. The key ingredient to its success is the pitch perfect performance of Korea’s leading actor Song Kang-ho (The Host), who carries the film’s broader themes of guilt, conscience and redemption almost single-handedly.
Plunging headfirst into a realm of depraved evil, leaving behind him any and all polite norms of filmmaking (mainstream, independent or otherwise), Lars von Trier has unleashed his most audacious creation to date, which has been branded everything from “misogynistic” (according the Cannes` Ecumenical Jury, who awarded it a special “Anti-Prize”) to an elaborate joke on von Trier`s part. Make no mistake, however: Antichrist is deadly serious, both in intent and result. To consider it anything less than that – whether you find yourself disgusted or enthralled – is to misread both the film and von Trier`s intentions… (read the review)
[REC]2 delivers the same nonstop thrills but adds on a new spin to the tale, taking cues from Aliens and The Exorcist with a subplot about demonic possession. This is far from your cut and dry sequel. It has enough invention and wit to keep fans happy; it’s a non stop adrenaline pumping terror ride into hell. Much like [REC], the sequel blends a clever mutation of horror standards seen in everything from Romero’s films to Outbreak to The Blair Witch Project… (read the full review)
8- Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Activity successfully marks the return of the classic ghost story. For a long while, horror films were limited to slasher-style gore fests or grisly torture porn, but Peli goes back to basics with his feature debut. The frights in Paranormal Activity are subtle yet powerful because they’re very close to home. Is that the house settling in the middle of the night, or someone (or something) walking up the stairs? Many of us have had to contemplate this fearful question at least once (if not many times) in our lifetime. Peli relies on our own anxieties to feed Paranormal Activity’s scares and that’s precisely what happens… (read the full review)
It’s been a couple of years since critics started calling the zombie trend dead and yet new films featuring our favourite brain gobbling monsters continue to fill theaters and draw crowds. Subgenres like the zom-rom-com have breathed a little life into things, but the question remains whether there are enough new things to say about our undead friends to warrant so many movies. Ruben Fleischer’s debut feature “Zombieland” doesn’t really answer any of these questions, it’s just a whole hell of a lot of fun… (read the full review)
Joining the (surprisingly long) list of evil baby horror films is Paul Solet’s Grace, a chilling and often disturbing picture with a great amount of imagination. From Rosemary’s Baby to It’s Alive, this particular sub-genre isn’t anything new in horror, but Grace does more for the genre than most give it credit. Similar to films like Teeth and May, Grace has a male director working behind the camera tackling on a number of woman’s issues – especially those revolving around the potential horrors of childbirth. As an undercurrent to all this insanity, Solet induces themes of lesbianism, old science vs. new science, veganism and animal cruelty, pushing its boundaries and delivering a powerful, provocative, smart, solid directorial debut… (read the full review)