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#1-#125

The 21st Century’s Most Acclaimed Horror Films: #1-#125

The 21st Century’s Most Acclaimed Horror Films: Introduction | #1-#100 | #126-#250 | Full List | Sources

Låt den rätte komma in

1. Låt den rätte komma in

Tomas Alfredson

2008 / Sweden / 115m / Col / Vampire | IMDb

Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm, Karl-Robert Lindgren, Anders T. Peedu


“Though subtlety and atmosphere may be two of the key factors that help distinguish Let the Right One In from a vast majority of jump-cut-laden adolescent vampire flicks, the filmmakers don’t shy away when the time comes for all hell to break loose. Not only does that stylistic decision allow cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema the chance to get a little creative during some of the film’s more intense sequences, but it also helps to make the violence all the more effective when it actually occurs onscreen, skillfully laying the groundwork for a beautifully executed payoff that will nudge Let the Right One In into near-classic territory for many.” – Jason Buchanan, TV Guide

The Descent

2. The Descent

Neil Marshall

2005 / UK / 99m / Col / Monster | IMDb

Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone, Oliver Milburn, Molly Kayll, Craig Conway, Leslie Simpson


“From the high-impact opening shock to the poignantly bleak ending, this underground Deliverance is designed to cause maximum stress in anyone remotely claustrophobic, vertiginous or afraid of the dark. Marshall’s expert choreography of the creepy “crawler” creatures provides the extra terror, while they provide the full-on skin-slicing gore. As a writer and director he has a keen understanding of what makes the horror genre tick, and overturns the usual conventions with canny wit. Super-scary and vicious, both psychologically and physically, this cleverly produced chill-ride is edgy British horror at its very best.” – Alan Jones, Radio Times

It Follows

3. It Follows

David Robert Mitchell

2014 / USA / 100m / Col / Monster | IMDb

Linda Boston, Caitlin Burt, Heather Fairbanks, Aldante Foster, Keir Gilchrist, Ruby Harris, Christopher Hohman, Olivia Luccardi, Maika Monroe, Lili Sepe


“It Follows is simply one of the most fascinating and atmospheric horror movies in recent memory. It oozes dread with its simple, single-minded concept that is as unrelenting as the titular “it” terrorizing the protagonists. It doesn’t waste time with extraneous subplots, long-winded backstories or even an explanation of what “it” is and where it came from. This is a lean, mean film that’s all about making you feel the paranoia that its characters experience.” – Mark H. Horror, AboutEntertainment

Shaun of the Dead

4. Shaun of the Dead

Edgar Wright

2004 / UK / 99m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Nicola Cunningham, Keir Mills, Matt Jaynes, Gavin Ferguson, Peter Serafinowicz


“A hybrid of stylish suspense and dry comedy, Shaun Of The Dead tries to do right by all its contributing elements and mostly succeeds. No laughing matter, the zombies come straight out of a George Romero film, lumbering along with a fearsome intensity. Wright directs with an expert sense of rhythm but never lays his technical finesse on with Guy Ritchie thickness; he lets his characters take center stage even after he’s shown he can frame them through a gaping hole in a zombie’s stomach.” – Keith Phipps, A.V. Club

28 Days Later...

5. 28 Days Later…

Danny Boyle

2002 / UK / 113m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Alex Palmer, Bindu De Stoppani, Jukka Hiltunen, David Schneider, Cillian Murphy, Toby Sedgwick, Naomie Harris, Noah Huntley, Christopher Dunne, Emma Hitching


“From eerie vistas of deserted London to unnerving views of Manchester reduced to burning rubble, this Dogme-driven apocalyptic nightmare from director Danny Boyle is a tense, exciting and terrifying horror. A powerfully iconoclastic Dawn-meets-Day of the Dead hybrid (written by Alex Garland, author of The Beach), this triumphantly executed piece of contemporary horror has genuine shock value with its down-and-dirty violence and disturbing authenticity. Shot on digital video for a documentary feel that is tempered with occasional, unexpected flashes of surreal artfulness, Garland’s compelling story grips on every level as Boyle’s visual concept dovetails perfectly with the atmospheric narrative to produce an engrossing assault on the senses.” – Alan Jones, Radio Times

The Babadook

6. The Babadook

Jennifer Kent

2014 / Australia / 93m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight, Benjamin Winspear, Noah Wiseman, Carmel Johnson, Hayley McElhinney, Craig Behenna, Peta Shannon, Cathy Adamek


“At the beginning, the tension is all wrapped up in this out-of-control child. Wiseman, who was 6 when the film was shooting and is making his screen debut, is an ideal mix of wide-eyed innocence and tantrum-throwing rage. At one point, as his screeches fill the car, you may wonder how his mum has managed to go this long without strangling him… That is the subtext running through the film — the threat of imaginary monsters and the real ones humans are capable of becoming… Many times along the way, you fear you know where things are going. But Kent is clever in choosing unexpected spots to pull the rug out from under you.” – Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

À l'intérieur

7. À l’intérieur

Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury

2007 / France / 82m / Col / Home Invasion | IMDb

Alysson Paradis, Jean-Baptiste Tabourin, Claude Lulé, Dominique Frot, Nathalie Roussel, François-Régis Marchasson, Béatrice Dalle, Hyam Zaytoun, Tahar Rahim


“A compelling, unusually nasty little horror flick, Inside takes an exceedingly simple premise – a pregnant lady is terrorized by a psychopath – and just runs with it. Sarah (Alysson Paradis) is nine months pregnant when a crazy maniac (Beatrice Dalle) breaks into her house and immediately makes it clear that she’s not leaving without the unborn child. Directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury have infused Inside with an exceedingly dark (both literally and figuratively) sensibility that proves impossible to resist; the incredibly stylish visuals (which certainly owe a lot to Panic Room) are undoubtedly a highlight, while Paradis does a superb job of ensuring that Sarah never quite becomes a horror-movie stereotype” – David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

Martyrs

8. Martyrs

Pascal Laugier

2008 / France / 99m / Col / Splatter | IMDb

Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Bégin, Robert Toupin, Patricia Tulasne, Juliette Gosselin, Xavier Dolan, Louise Boisvert, Jean-Marie Moncelet, Jessie Pham


“[Martyrs is] one of the most extreme pictures ever made, one of the finest horror movies of the last decade… What begins as an archetypal genre piece soon twists and snaps in unexpected directions, its dizzying plunges down midnight-black rabbit holes keeping viewers disorientated and vulnerable… Martyrs is, according to Laugier, the “anti-Hostel”, its savagery devoid of glee and its scalpel scraping at mind and soul… a technically brilliant, emotionally resonant, uncommonly cerebral horror film that dares to bend every rule, blend every mood. The first half comprises a reeling camera, disjointed cutting and a half-glimpsed phantom… The second half is mechanical and methodical, evoking Michael Haneke’s cruel austerity yet infused with genuine tenderness.” – Jamie Graham, Total Film

The VVitch: A New-England Folktale

9. The VVitch: A New-England Folktale

Robert Eggers

2015 / USA / 92m / Col / Witchcraft | IMDb

Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Lucas Dawson, Ellie Grainger, Julian Richings, Bathsheba Garnett, Sarah Stephens, Wahab Chaudhry


“Laying an imaginative foundation for the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials that would follow decades later, writer-director Robert Eggers’ impressive debut feature walks a tricky line between disquieting ambiguity and full-bore supernatural horror, but leaves no doubt about the dangerously oppressive hold that Christianity exerted on some dark corners of the Puritan psyche. With its formal, stylized diction and austere approach to genre, this accomplished feat of low-budget period filmmaking will have to work considerable marketing magic to translate appreciative reviews into specialty box-office success, but clearly marks Eggers as a storyteller of unusual rigor and ambition.” – Justin Chang, Variety

The House of the Devil

10. The House of the Devil

Ti West

2009 / USA / 95m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, AJ Bowen, Dee Wallace, Heather Robb, Darryl Nau, Brenda Cooney, Danielle Noe


“Yet another of this year’s homage-facsimiles, The House of the Devil forgoes campy self-awareness in favor of reverential faithfulness—and in doing so, implicitly critiques contemporary horror cinema. With its cinematography combining unadorned realism and angular expressionism, and its title sequence emblazoned with yellow title cards and marked by synth music, freeze frames, and sudden zooms, Ti West’s latest mimics ’80s horror flicks with a straight face. Its rhythms, dialogue, and period detail are so finely attuned to the style of its chosen era that, were it not for a technical dexterity generally absent from its predecessors, the film might pass as an exhumed relic.” – Matt Noller, Slant Magazine

Get Out

11. Get Out

Jordan Peele

2017 / USA / 104m / Col / Thriller | IMDb

Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Root, LilRel Howery


“Writer and director Peele has pulled off a masterstroke with one of the most timely and horrifying satirical takes on anxieties facing African Americans in the 21st century. If that’s not enough, it also takes aim at the horrendous slaving past that blights the country’s history… Peele’s writing is sharp and to the point. There’s not wastage in the story. It gets straight to the point – that racism in all its forms is a horror story in and of itself. While it may make some audiences uncomfortable shining a light on the subject in an entertaining way, it doesn’t lessen the impact of the ignorance. The film even has the balls to take a pop at US policing in a suitably scathing remark on how some officers go beyond their powers to target people of colour.” – Garry McConnachie, Daily Record

El orfanato

12. El orfanato

J.A. Bayona

2007 / Spain / 105m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb

Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Andrés Gertrúdix, Edgar Vivar, óscar Casas, Mireia Renau, Georgina Avellaneda


“This is a movie whose power and emotional pitch lie in the understated: the discreet performances, the lack of special effects, the laconic script. Yes, one can quibble over an unnecessary prologue, a drawn-out séance and a sentimental final sequence, but these are minor flaws in a poignant film that looks to the past and the world beyond to illuminate the realities of the present.” – Maria M. Delgado, Sight and Sound

Drag Me to Hell

13. Drag Me to Hell

Sam Raimi

2009 / USA / 99m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barraza, Chelcie Ross, Reggie Lee, Molly Cheek, Bojana Novakovic


“As scary as the film is, it is still downright hilarious in all the right (and sometimes very wrong) ways. I fear that the more casual horror fans won’t quite get the joke; the joke of course being that the entire film is actually One. Big. Joke. Drag Me To Hell is both an old-school celebration of classic eighties horror flicks and a pitch-perfect spoof of modern-day terror-tropes, from its Danny Elfman-aping score to its Ghostbusters-esque spectres. It would all be laughable if it still weren’t so damn frightening. Raimi teases the audience like a master seducer (note one sequence featuring a pesky fly flirting with Lohman’s upper lip). Each moment is almost unwatchable for its intensity, but you’d be crazy to look away.” – Simon Miraudo, Quickflix

Under the Skin

14. Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer

2013 / UK / 108m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb

Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay, Dougie McConnell, Kevin McAlinden, D. Meade, Andrew Gorman, Joe Szula, Krystof Hádek


“Glazer reportedly spent ten years developing Under the Skin, and some aspects of it are so immaculately realized that they seem eerily inevitable. The audio design immerses the listener, its layered soundscapes suggesting how overwhelmed the alien might feel on earth. Glazer disorients the viewer through his use of the Steadicam, exploiting its uncannily smooth movement to suggest, as Stanley Kubrick did in The Shining, the perspective of a superhuman voyeur. The most impressive effects come during the seduction sequences, as Glazer creates the blank, ever-shifting environment of a nightmare… Like its protagonist, Under the Skin effectively draws us in while managing to stay beyond our grasp.” – Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader

The Ring

15. The Ring

Gore Verbinski

2002 / USA / 115m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, Jane Alexander, Lindsay Frost, Amber Tamblyn, Rachael Bella, Daveigh Chase, Shannon Cochran


“Expanding on the strong visual sense evinced in the otherwise mediocre The Mexican, director Gore Verbinski creates an air of dread that begins with the first scene and never lets up, subtly incorporating elements from the current wave of Japanese horror films along the way. He succeeds mostly through sleight of hand. When the shocks come, they interrupt long stretches in which the camera lingers meaningfully as characters accumulate details that confirm what they already know: What they’ve seen will kill them, and soon.” – Keith Phipps, A.V. Club

El espinazo del diablo

16. El espinazo del diablo

Guillermo del Toro

2001 / Spain / 106m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi, Fernando Tielve, Íñigo Garcés, Irene Visedo, José Manuel Lorenzo, Francisco Maestre, Junio Valverde, Berta Ojea


“This is not a good advert for Hollywood. Not just because Del Toro’s poised and poignant ghost story contains more substance and is executed with more style than a half dozen Hollywood monster movies, but because, working for a major studio, Del Toro turned out such dross himself, namely Mimic. Here the director returns to his Spanish language roots for a complex Gothic horror set in a school for orphaned boys during the Spanish Civil War. Building slowly from a stately start, Del Toro manages to unite all his disparate elements – ghosts and gold, infidelity and politics – for a devastating final reel. The command of sound and colour is breathtaking.” – Colin Kennedy, Empire Magazine

Janghwa, Hongryeon

17. Janghwa, Hongryeon

Kim Jee-woon

2003 / South Korea / 115m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Su-jeong Lim, Geun-Young Moon, Seung-bi Lee, Park Mi-Hyun


“The film’s most striking aspect is Kim’s framing, which includes a fair number of overhead shots and off-kilter angles. The art of horror filmmaking lies in defining screen space, so that audiences are led to look beyond the foreground for what might be jumping into the emptiness. With A Tale Of Two Sisters, it takes time to adjust to what Kim shows, which means the audience—and the sisters—have a hard time figuring out where the scares are coming from.” – Noel Murray, A.V. Club

The Conjuring

18. The Conjuring

James Wan

2013 / USA / 112m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb

Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, Shannon Kook


“The Conjuring has just enough tongue-in-cheek visual elements—like the goofy yellow font introducing the film’s title and “true-story” origins, the ostentatious zooms, and the prevalence of high-waist jeans—to maintain an element of levity without undermining the film’s frights. The period touches never distract from the deft storytelling, in which Wan juggles two separate families and their distinct wants, fears, and stakes… As the thematic emphasis jockeys between their stories, multiple events often occur simultaneously, particularly toward the climax, giving the film a swift pace and a tension that primes the audience to jump.” – Sarah Mankoff, Film Comment Magazine

Kill List

19. Kill List

Ben Wheatley

2011 / UK / 95m / Col / Crime | IMDb

Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring, Harry Simpson, Michael Smiley, Emma Fryer, Struan Rodger, Esme Folley, Ben Crompton, Gemma Lise Thornton, Robin Hill


“It often looks like a film by Lynne Ramsay or even Lucrecia Martel, composed in a dreamily unhurried arthouse-realist style that is concerned to capture texture, mood and moment. Perhaps inspired by Thomas Clay’s The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, Wheatley has set out to supersaturate ostensible normality with a flavour of evil. In many scenes he succeeds impressively. It’s not entirely clear if Kill List is more than the sum of its startlingly disparate parts, or if the ending lives up to the promise of something strange and new, but its confidence is beyond doubt.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

[Rec]

20. [Rec]

Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza

2007 / Spain / 78m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Pablo Rosso, David Vert, Vicente Gil, Martha Carbonell, Carlos Vicente, María Teresa Ortega, Manuel Bronchud


“[Rec] softens us up with a gentle prologue in which the crew of a late-night ‘reality TV’ show… make a late-night visit to a fire station. Then comes a call about an old woman trapped in her apartment. When [they] break into the apartment, they are attacked by a shrieking, zombie-like woman in a blood-stained nightdress… The less you know about what happens next the better. Suffice it to say that nothing in the previous work of joint directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza prepared us for the nerve-shredding intensity of the ensuing scenes. A brilliantly staged early scare signals that the safety rails are off and, despite an unexpected, last-minute swerve into the supernatural realm, the edge-of-the-seat tension is sustained to the very last second.” – Nigel Floyd, Time Out

The Loved Ones

21. The Loved Ones

Sean Byrne

2009 / Australia / 84m / Col / Black Comedy | IMDb

Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine, Jessica McNamee, Richard Wilson, John Brumpton, Andrew S. Gilbert, Suzi Dougherty, Victoria Eagger


“An Australian horror picture in the tradition of New French Extremism, Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones adheres to the principle that if you delve into full-tilt repulsiveness wholly enough, the rest will just sort of take care of itself. You could call it “torture porn,” as many critics have since it was released in its native Australia two years ago, but then this isn’t exactly Hostel either; its tone is too light, its manner too cavalier, to be bogged down by the kind of portentous posturing that made Eli Roth’s film reek of self-importance. Byrne, a first-time director, has a lot of fun with what is essentially rote slasher material, endowing it with the kind of blackly comic wit and levity that virtually guarantee its entry into the contemporary midnight-movie canon.” – Calum Marsh, Slant Magazine

Ginger Snaps

22. Ginger Snaps

John Fawcett

2000 / Canada / 108m / Col / Werewolf | IMDb

Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers, Jesse Moss, Danielle Hampton, John Bourgeois, Peter Keleghan, Christopher Redman, Jimmy MacInnis


“John Fawcett’s cult teen horror film uses the idea of mutation – both biological and sociological – to provide a witty and intelligent exploration of what it means to become and live as a woman in middle-class suburbia. Twinned in Victorian boots, plaid skirts and over-sized overcoats, the fuzzy-haired Fitzgerald sisters – Ginger and Brigitte – are cast as mutants in the homogenous world of Bailey Downs, a fictitious Canadian town of pristine picket fences and sports pitch triumphs. The sisters deviate from the norm, not only in their Gothic fashion choices but also in their biological development. As their mother tactfully remarks in one of several awkward family dinner scenes, ‘the girls are three years late menstruating – they’re not normal’.” – Eleanor McKeown, Electric Sheep

The Cabin in the Woods

23. The Cabin in the Woods

Drew Goddard

2012 / USA / 95m / Col / Comedy | IMDb

Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker, Tim De Zarn


“Would you like your head thoroughly messed with? Then check straight into The Cabin in the Woods, the sort of horror movie that knows all the rules, knows that you know, and knows that you know it knows. But you still don’t know what’s coming next, for while this fiendish meta-horror makes a joke of its own mechanics – so much “how”, so little “why” – it also brings both victims and torturers into an unexpected alignment, one in which chaos is guaranteed and there’s literally nowhere to run.” – Anthony Quinn, Independent

Haute tension

24. Haute tension

Alexandre Aja

2003 / France / 91m / Col / Slasher | IMDb

Cécile De France, Maïwenn, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun, Andrei Finti, Oana Pellea, Marco Claudiu Pascu, Jean-Claude de Goros, Bogdan Uritescu, Gabriel Spahiu


“Director Alexandre Aja manages to create one of the most layered and suspenseful slasher films ever made since “Halloween” and while displaying often disturbing scenes of graphic violence, the film’s main point is its atmosphere and tension as these two people play a game of cat and mouse trying to outwit one another relentlessly. The film continuously runs on a loop of a pretty plot-less and utter pointless violence and gore which becomes an exercise in snuff and brutality that didn’t satisfy any need I had for a true horror movie.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

Lake Mungo

25. Lake Mungo

Joel Anderson

2008 / Australia / 87m / Col / Found Footage | IMDb

Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe, Talia Zucker, Tania Lentini, Cameron Strachan, Judith Roberts, Robin Cuming, Marcus Costello, Chloe Armstrong


“Anderson’s use of the documentary framework is an inspired choice, since it lends what we’re seeing an air of reality that helps build the tension to jangling point. It also gives him the opportunity to vary the look with the use of different types of film, including Super 8 and lots of still photography, smartly serving the story while keeping a grip on what was, presumably, a very tight budget. By staying true to the audience’s expectations of the documentary format, the sense of dread that settles over the family is also more readily conveyed than it might have been if we were watching something which looked more ‘fictional’. It’s not just the format that draws the viewer in, but also the manner in which the film is shot. Since much of what the family talk about relates to spooky images in pictures, Anderson’s camerawork draws you deeper and deeper into the frame with an increasing feeling of unease.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye For Film

Spring

26. Spring

Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

2014 / USA / 109m / Col / Romance | IMDb

Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Vanessa Bednar, Shane Brady, Francesco Carnelutti, Vinny Curran, Augie Duke, Jeremy Gardner, Some Other Guy, Holly Hawkins


“Just as we fall for their characters falling for each other, Benson’s metaphorically resonate script providing their space to emote is matched visually by Moorhead’s cinematography. Whether static aerials showing rotting corpses with snakes slithering through them, the shallow depth of field focusing on exactly what he wants us to see (showcasing Louise’s delicate balance between life and death with budding and withering flowers animated along her path), or a magnificent long take of Hilker following Pucci as he works his frustration out through the winding cobblestone alleyways of Apulia, the sense of place becomes a character in itself. Add the in-close cropping of creature effects and you get a genre film unencumbered by genre aesthetic. So if you’re someone who believes horror is mood, gore, and little else, Spring proves its validity as legitimate cinematic art.” – Jared Morbarak, The Film Stage

The Others

27. The Others

Alejandro Amenábar

2001 / USA / 101m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb

Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston, Alakina Mann, James Bentley, Eric Sykes, Elaine Cassidy, Renée Asherson, Gordon Reid, Keith Allen


“This is a modern horror film with an old-fashioned touch, relying on suspense and the suggestion of the supernatural to generate a disturbing sense of the Uncanny. In the manner of classic haunted house movies like THE INNOCENTS (1960) and THE HAUNTING (1963), THE OTHERS uses a deliberately steady pace to increase tension, gradually drawing viewers into its mystery until they are so engaged that they completely susceptible to the effectively executed scare tactics. Although the actual shocks are few and far between, the film maintains interest with its intelligent storytelling, and the rich atmosphere sustain the mood of supernatural dread throughout.” – Steve Biodrowski, ESplatter

Session 9

28. Session 9

Brad Anderson

2001 / USA / 100m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle, Josh Lucas, Peter Mullan, Brendan Sexton III, Charley Broderick, Lonnie Farmer, Larry Fessenden, Jurian Hughes


“The entire movie is like one giant jigsaw puzzle; mind you, this movie is very plot-driven and very loooong but stick with it, because in the end all the pieces puzzle will come crashing together and when they do, it’s a jaw-dropper. People looking for a quick scare here and there won’t find it here; there isn’t a witty ending, there’s not a lot of jumpy moments and there’s no masked man running around slashing teens. But what this lacks in the dazzle department it makes up for in brains and plot. I suggest you check out this intelligent horror flick, it’s a doozey.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

The Mist

29. The Mist

Frank Darabont

2007 / USA / 126m / Col / Monster | IMDb

Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Sternhagen, Nathan Gamble, Alexa Davalos


“Darabont generally understands what works and what doesn’t in King’s story and makes the best of what he can – his few changes only spell out stuff that was better left deliberately vague in book form but need to be highlighted in a movie. His filmmaking choices also yield some wildly fluctuating results – the handheld camera technique and lack of musical score are strengths, the production values are solid too, but the decidedly weak CGI renders some sequences – most notably the tentacle attack in the early scenes – almost laughably bad. Its the more practical effects moments, and the vague shapes in the distance of the mist, that prove far more effective.” – Garth Franklin, Dark Horizons

Saw

30. Saw

James Wan

2004 / USA / 103m / Col / Splatter | IMDb

Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Dina Meyer, Mike Butters, Paul Gutrecht, Michael Emerson, Benito Martinez, Shawnee Smith


“Saw is everything a thriller should be. Instead of a long-winded back story to lead into our premise, Wan and Whannell move right into the thick of things. The story is exceptionally clever, revealing the characters and Jigsaw himself very carefully. Just when you may think you’re getting a handle on a character or a situation, Saw throws you for a loop again and again. The intensity is constant and absolutely relentless. Much like the tests Jigsaw puts his subjects to, Saw is an endurance test. When you think you can relax and take a deep breath, it hits you again.” – Jeff Otto, IGN

Kairo

31. Kairo

Kiyoshi Kurosawa

2001 / Japan / 119m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Haruhiko Katô, Kumiko Asô, Koyuki, Kurume Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo, Shinji Takeda, Jun Fubuki, Shun Sugata, Shô Aikawa, Kôji Yakusho


“Cross the “Ring” series with “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and the result wouldn’t be far from “Pulse,” another step on the road back to the psychothriller genre by which cult Japanese helmer Kiyoshi Kurosawa first made his name overseas… Though “Pulse” has vague correspondences with Kurosawa’s more serious movies, like “Charisma,” it never strays far from its genre roots, with an ambiguous tone that oscillates between sheer psychothriller silliness and moments of haunting abstraction when time and the real world seem to momentarily freeze. Lensing by Junichiro Hayashi is a fillip throughout, with a cold, clammy patina in several scenes (such as Ryosuke and Harue in the subway) that could come from no other director.” – Derek Elley, Variety

Trouble Every Day

32. Trouble Every Day

Claire Denis

2001 / France / 101m / Col / Drama | IMDb

Vincent Gallo, Tricia Vessey, Béatrice Dalle, Alex Descas, Florence Loiret Caille, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Raphaël Neal, José Garcia, Hélène Lapiower, Marilu Marini


“Denis’s films have always been shot through with a current of menace just waiting to be made explicit: it’s present in their off-balance close-ups, faintly unstable camera moves, obsessive attention to the texture of hair, clothes, and skin, and habit of letting the camera slide caressingly around actors’ bodies when they’re at their least self-conscious and most exposed. Where other Denis films seem to circle and drift around indecisively, Trouble Every Day itches with a kind of nervous forward momentum. It’s an extended come-on, full of teases and hints and come-hither gestures, finally climaxing — in every way — with two scenes of gruesome sexual violence.” – Max Nelson, Film Comment Magazine

Gwoemul

33. Gwoemul

Joon-ho Bong

2006 / South Korea / 120m / Col / Monster | IMDb

Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park, Doona Bae, Ah-sung Ko, Dal-su Oh, Jae-eung Lee, Dong-ho Lee, Je-mun Yun, David Anselmo


“The mood shifts wildly between comedy, horror, serious drama, and action – but Bong always seems in control and by the end leaves one feeling satisfied (though not overstuffed) with the results as it’s both exciting and ballsy. Even our protagonists have an endearing everydayness about them which makes them easy to root for. In spite of its assorted lumpy bits, this is a far more successful monster movie than any creature feature Hollywood has churned out in a LONG time.” – Garth Franklin, Dark Horizons

Evil Dead

34. Evil Dead

Fede Alvarez

2013 / USA / 91m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore, Phoenix Connolly, Jim McLarty, Sian Davis, Stephen Butterworth, Karl Willetts


“Evil Dead is relentless. Once it starts, it never lets up. It becomes a constant barrage of gory fun, and in the spirit of the original, Alvarez and his team use make-up and real-world special effects rather than relying solely on CGI. Another distinctive and key part of the original series were the off-kilter and exaggerated camera angles. Alvarez adopts the film language of Raimi’s films, adds more to the bag of tricks, and keeps the sardonic attitude without necessarily being slapstick.” – Eric Melin, Scene Stealers

Insidious

35. Insidious

James Wan

2010 / USA / 103m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb

Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey, Andrew Astor, Corbett Tuck, Heather Tocquigny


“The masterminds behind the first Saw and Paranormal Activity join forces on Insidious for a bump-in-the-night shocker, which plays out in such a high, trilling key of baroque anxiety it’s both jumpy and ludicrous. Laughter in horror movies is often a good sign they’re doing something right, but this goes beyond even Sam Raimi’s brazen Drag Me to Hell as an elaborate wind-up, and reaches a tipping point where the guffaws take over from genuine scares… The final act is pure horror camp, even if director James Wan has raided the dress-up box to death by then. His film, barging its way around the genre with unrestrained glee, is nothing more objectionable than a rickety ghost-train ride, cackling as it speeds up and flies off the rails.” – Tim Robey, The Telegraph

The Devil's Rejects

36. The Devil’s Rejects

Rob Zombie

2005 / USA / 107m / Col / Splatter | IMDb

Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe, Ken Foree, Matthew McGrory, Leslie Easterbrook, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes, Dave Sheridan


“The Devil’s Rejects is a visceral little film that reverberates with nasty attitude, a knowing smirk, and a demented gleam of the eyes. That said, this is not a film for everyone. It’s a hard R, filled with disturbing imagery and f@#k laced spurts of dialogue, but it’s all part of the package and those who get it, however, will be treated to a high-octane thriller that operates on a much deeper level than your average slash-and-gore film. In the end it’s not only a perversely entertaining yarn, but a wickedly intelligent one, as well; a film that is destined to become a cult classic of the highest caliber.” – Spence D., IGN

The Strangers

37. The Strangers

Bryan Bertino

2008 / USA / 86m / Col / Home Invasion | IMDb

Alex Fisher, Peter Clayton-Luce, Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis, Glenn Howerton


“This premise is so simple, only a tyro writer-director like Bryan Bertino would dare pitch it. Even the similar French-Romanian movie Ils (Them) was constructed around a revelation that complicates its couple-terrorised-by-barely-seen-intruders business. This is a single idea, with only enough characterisation to force an audience to invest emotionally in the victims… an ingredient is missing – the most vicious ’70s horror films still had humour and perspective. This shows only a relentless commitment to being no fun at all, which is vaguely admirable but ultimately self-defeating. The message of ’70s horror was that straight society was crazy; the 2008 version is that other people are shit – it’s a fine distinction, but makes a depressing difference.” – Kim Newman, Empire Magazine

Bug

38. Bug

William Friedkin

2006 / USA / 102m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr., Lynn Collins, Brían F. O’Byrne, Neil Bergeron, Bob Neill


“Bug is not surprisingly being advertised as being “from the director of The Exorcist,” which says almost as much about the lingering power of that 1973 horror classic as it does about the disappointing nature of Friedkin’s career over the past three decades. The comparison is not just a marketing ploy, though, as Bug allows Friedkin to play on his strengths as a director–namely, managing actors in close quarters. For all the talk about pea soup and head-spinning in The Exorcist, that film was in many ways a chamber piece, with its issues of faith, religion, and the true nature of evil playing out largely within the tight confines of a little girl’s bedroom. By the end of Bug, Agnes’s motel room is as unrecognizable as Reagan’s bedroom was, transformed from a place of ordinary existence into a realm of extraordinary degradation in which two people finding love and acceptance culminates into a literal inferno.” – James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk

Akmareul boatda

39. Akmareul boatda

Kim Jee-woon

2010 / South Korea / 142m / Col / Thriller | IMDb

Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, In-seo Kim, Seung-ah Yoon, San-ha Oh, Chun Ho-jin, Bo-ra Nam, Kap-su Kim, Jin-ho Choi, Moo-Seong Choi


“I SAW THE DEVIL is a shockingly violent and stunningly accomplished tale of murder and revenge. The embodiment of pure evil, Kyung-chul is a dangerous psychopath who kills for pleasure. On a freezing, snowy night, his latest victim is the beautiful Juyeon, daughter of a retired police chief and pregnant fiancée of elite special agent Soo-hyun. Obsessed with revenge, Soo-hyun is determined to track down the murderer, even if doing so means becoming a monster himself. And when he finds Kyung-chul, turning him in to the authorities is the last thing on his mind, as the lines between good and evil fall away in this diabolically twisted game of cat and mouse.” – Gabriel Chong, Moviexclusive

Pontypool

40. Pontypool

Bruce McDonald

2008 / Canada / 93m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Hrant Alianak, Rick Roberts, Daniel Fathers, Beatriz Yuste, Tony Burgess, Boyd Banks, Hannah Fleming


“Scriptwriter Tony Burgess knows that by entering the world of cinematic zombiedom, he has a responsibility to comment, to satirise – to not just tear open and chew on but also engage the mind of his characters and audience. He does this via a stunning reveal as to the nature of the ‘plague’ that has corrupted the collective mind of society (a clue is in Mazzy’s role as a lowbrow social commentator). In the hope of curing the population of its new-found fleshy hunger, Mazzy unleashes a last-gasp broadcast that is a wild, frenzied meld of brilliant scripting and tour-de-force acting. Spouting nonsensical gibberish at an electrifying pitch, Stephen McHattie throws himself into the film finale with wild abandon and it is a sight to behold. Horror fans may gripe at the lack of blood-&-guts (though a couple of moments keep the ‘that’s gross!” factor high). Fuelled by committed acting, tight direction and a wonderfully focused script, Pontypool proves a winning combination of shuddery suspense and intelligent observations.” – Simon Foster, SBS

Antichrist

41. Antichrist

Lars von Trier

2009 / Denmark / 108m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm


“Antichrist is a boldly personal film, tossing all von Trier’s ideas about faith, fear, and human nature into an unfettered phantasmagoria, full of repulsive visions and fierce scorn. It’s also the most lush-looking movie von Trier has made in about 20 years. Antichrist starts with a gorgeous black-and-white prologue—spiked, in typical von Trier perversity, with explicit sex and operatic tragedy—then moves to woodland sequences where the edges of the frame look subtly distorted… Cinema’s leading Brechtian wouldn’t seem like the best choice for a visceral examination of real emotional pain, but von Trier makes Antichrist about how aesthetic control can be as impotent as therapeutic control when it comes to dealing with nature at its wildest.” – Noel Murray, A.V. Club

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

42. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Ana Lily Amirpour

2014 / USA / 101m / BW / Vampire | IMDb

Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnò, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Milad Eghbali, Reza Sixo Safai, Ray Haratian, Pej Vahdat


“Iranian-American writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour describes her weirdly exhilarating feature debut, which premiered at Sundance last year, as the Iranian love-child of Sergio Leone and David Lynch, with Nosferatu as a babysitter. It is set in the fictional Iranian ghost town of Bad City (the name nods toward Frank Miller’s Sin City) and plays out like the missing link between Kathryn Bigelow’s first two features; the ultra-cool biker pastiche The Loveless and the latterday vampire flick Near Dark. It is steeped in the pop iconography of the past, yet its crystalline anamorphic black-and-white photography has an unmistakably contemporary edge. Cinematically, it exists in a twilight zone between nations (American locations, Iranian culture), between centuries (late 19th and early 21st), between languages (Persian dialogue, silent cinema gestures) and, most importantly, between genres.” – Mark Kermode, The Observer

You're Next

43. You’re Next

Adam Wingard

2011 / USA / 95m / Col / Home Invasion | IMDb

Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Margaret Laney, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton


“Given its title, you can be forgiven for assuming that Adam Wingard’s home-invasion thriller will be just another blood-soaked body-count flick. But You’re Next is better than that… The relentless violence does get to be a bit much, but what juices this bare-bones premise and lifts it above the weekly slew of run-of-the-mill splatterfests is Wingard’s canny knack for leavening his characters’ gory demises with sick laughs and clever Rube Goldberg twists (razor-sharp piano wire hasn’t been used this well since 1999’s Audition). It’s like Ordinary People meets Scream… It’s so deliciously twisted, it will make you walk out of the theater feeling like you just endured a grueling, giddy workout.” – Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

Sinister

44. Sinister

Scott Derrickson

2012 / USA / 110m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb

Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, Rob Riley, Tavis Smiley, Janet Zappala, Victoria Leigh


“Put them all together and they make Sinister the horror film to beat this Halloween: scary and suspenseful without insulting our intelligence. The underlying concept proves sound, the development deftly avoids genre cliché, and the twist builds upon what came before instead of trying to blow our minds at any cost. It pulls threads from earlier horror movies like Ringu and The Shining, but remains beholden to none of them: creating an atmosphere that, while not completely original, remains resolutely its own. And good God, it actually comes from an original script. In an era (and a genre) littered with sequels, Sinister should be commended for standing by its ideas. It’s scary as fuck too: the only criteria that really matters for a movie like this.” – Rob Vaux, Mania

Mientras duermes

45. Mientras duermes

Jaume Balagueró

2011 / Spain / 102m / Col / Thriller | IMDb

Luis Tosar, Marta Etura, Alberto San Juan, Petra Martínez, Iris Almeida, Carlos Lasarte, Amparo Fernández, Roger Morilla, Pep Tosar, Margarita Rosed


“As the film’s character based plot wraps its well scripted hands around the viewer’s neck, the same noose closes in on César, as he dodges and uses his false smiles and quick thinking to avoid detection. Both eerily realistic and uncomfortable, the viewer can never be sure whether what they are watching borders on the absurd. But the movie loses all pretension that is found in more Americanised horrors, and avoids the temptation of over-scoring itself in an attempt to add drama, and instead lets the looks and silence in-between them to create the tension. This ensures a well rounded but by no means flat film, that will leave you squirming in, and on of the edge of, your seat.” – Ross Shapland, Shapstik on Screen

Detention

46. Detention

Joseph Kahn

2011 / USA / 93m / Col / Comedy | IMDb

Alison Woods, Logan Stalarow, Julie Dolan, Shanley Caswell, Daniel Negreanu, Will Wallace, Josh Breeding, Marco Garcia, Josh Hutcherson, Mickey River


“Don’t be turned off by Kahn’s satirical take on teen angst and high school drama though, even if you find yourself outside the tech generation of today. Detention still has enough polished oddities to win over anyone with an open mind and a hunger for cutting edge cinema. One can simply marvel at how our director effortlessly pulls off tonal 180’s, or creates such indulgently fun scenarios, but does so with grace and beauty while simultaneously throwing massive amounts of dense script material directly in our face. Both challenging and rewarding, Kahn’s sophomore feature oozes unfiltered creativity films like Jennifer’s Body tried so hard to emulate, given the whole horrific high school experience scenario. Most impressive is the usage of self-aware filmmaking, opening a hidden door of silly gags and playful interactions. Kahn ingeniously pokes enough fun at his own movie as a smack to the audience’s head, almost as to say “Hey, this is supposed to be fun and not serious! Just embrace it!”” – Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

Berberian Sound Studio

47. Berberian Sound Studio

Peter Strickland

2012 / UK / 92m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Antonio Mancino, Fatma Mohamed, Salvatore LI Causi, Chiara D’Anna, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Eugenia Caruso, Susanna Cappellaro, Guido Adorni


“Berberian Sound Studio has something of early Lynch and Polanski, and the nasty, secretive studio is a little like the tortured Mark Lewis’s screening room in Powell’s Peeping Tom, but that gives no real idea of how boldly individual this film is. In fact, it takes more inspiration from the world of electronic and synth creations and the heyday of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and it is close in spirit to Kafka’s The Castle or to the Gothic literary tradition of Bram Stoker and Ann Radcliffe: a world of English innocents abroad in a sensual, mysterious landscape… With a face suggesting cherubic innocence, vulnerability and cruelty, Toby Jones gives the performance of his career, and Peter Strickland has emerged as a key British film-maker of his generation.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Ils

48. Ils

David Moreau & Xavier Palud

2006 / France / 77m / Col / Home Invasion | IMDb

Olivia Bonamy, Michaël Cohen, Adriana Mocca, Maria Roman, Camelia Maxim, Alexandru Boghiu, Emanuel Stefanuc, Horia Ioan, Stefan Cornic, George Iulian


“Them has obviously been shot on the cheap, and although it lacks the professional sheen you get with bigger budget productions, its griminess suits the tone perfectly – stripped down to the bare essentials with no theatrics and no pyrotechnics, it’s an ugly movie that is wise to stick to the shadows, playing to its strengths by using what you can’t see rather than what you can. It could have perhaps done with a little more time in the editing room – some shots are re-used and the sound mix leaves something to be desired – but Them hits hard where it counts: the money shots are all worth their weight in gold. Perhaps ‘horror’ isn’t quite the right term to describe Them; ‘terror’ sums it up much better. Although the word has been associated with bearded bombers and cartoon advertisements of late, it’s not a movie that revels in gore or tries to shock you, rather one that tells a terrifying story that everyone can relate to. Sparingly shot and ingeniously executed, it’s a film that subscribes to the idea that real life is far scarier than anything you’ll see in the movies.” – Ali Gray, TheShiznit

Honogurai mizu no soko kara

49. Honogurai mizu no soko kara

Hideo Nakata

2002 / Japan / 101m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Mirei Oguchi, Asami Mizukawa, Fumiyo Kohinata, Yu Tokui, Isao Yatsu, Shigemitsu Ogi, Maiko Asano, Yukiko Ikari


“Nakata is a master of the uncanny, able to transform something as innocent as a little girl’s shoulder bag into an object to inspire terror. “Dark Water” positively oozes atmosphere, building up the tension slowly before allowing it to overflow into irrational shocks and strange epiphanies. Yet just beneath its surface horror this film conceals a deep reservoir of tragedy, addressing themes like family breakdown, isolation, abandonment, and – something of a taboo in Japan – the terrible legacy of mental illness. In the end, the keynote of “Dark Water” is not so much horror as an overwhelming sadness, in this masterpiece of tormented souls.” – Anton Bitel, Movie Gazette

The Woman

50. The Woman

Lucky McKee

2011 / USA / 101m / Col / Splatter | IMDb

Pollyanna McIntosh, Brandon Gerald Fuller, Lauren Ashley Carter, Chris Krzykowski, Sean Bridgers, Angela Bettis, Marcia Bennett, Shyla Molhusen, Gordon Vincent, Zach Rand


“A harrowing and often darkly hilarious horror satire about family values, feminism, and the nature of violence from the twisted minds of Lucky McKee and Jack Ketchum. A true find at Sundance for all fans who love gore and the twisting of Americana… When most horror movies today are concerned about gory pay offs instead of character driven violence or death, McKee connects us to the family and their dramatic dynamic through a series of musically-cut vignettes that add a haunting layer to the underlying theme of American Dream traveling through the bowels of hell. While the main focus is on Chris and the woman, each one of the characters in the Cleek family give exceptional performances.” – Benji Carver, Film School Rejects

May

51. May

Lucky McKee

2002 / USA / 93m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, Anna Faris, James Duval, Nichole Hiltz, Kevin Gage, Merle Kennedy, Chandler Riley Hecht, Rachel David, Nora Zehetner


““May” is a wonderful and powerful statement on the struggle for perfection and acceptance, and what lengths many of us will go through for it. Even the mentally unstable ones. A marvelous cinematic debut from director Lucky McKee, “May” is a tragic and gut wrenching look at a girl who would do anything to become the ideal person for the people in her life, and eventually unwound from the aftermath of imperfection and idealistic visions of our loved ones.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

Amer

52. Amer

Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani

2009 / Belgium / 90m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Cassandra Forêt, Charlotte Eugène Guibeaud, Marie Bos, Bianca Maria D’Amato, Harry Cleven, Jean-Michel Vovk, Bernard Marbaix, Thomas Bonzani, François Cognard, Delphine Brual


“This is basic movie Freud, elegantly mounted. The soundtrack (footsteps, dripping taps, creaking doors, banging shutters) is ominously exaggerated. The close-ups are extreme. Colours change melodramatically to fit the shifting moods. The music is borrowed from old horror films. The dialogue is at first sparse, then non-existent. Luis Buñuel (sliced eyeballs, insects crawling out of bodies), Mario Bava and Dario Argento are affectionately alluded to. Viewers are left to create their own narratives or absorb the events into their own dreams and nightmares. This is art-house horror, a pure cinema for connoisseurs, a return to late-19th-century decadence.” – Philip French, The Guardian

Trick 'r Treat

53. Trick ‘r Treat

Michael Dougherty

2007 / USA / 82m / Col / Anthology | IMDb

Dylan Baker, Rochelle Aytes, Quinn Lord, Lauren Lee Smith, Moneca Delain, Tahmoh Penikett, Brett Kelly, Britt McKillip, Isabelle Deluce, Jean-Luc Bilodeau


“[A] welcome addition to the post-modern meditation on the genre. An anthology at its core, but more a triumphant return to old school shivers, this unique narrative experience will instantly remind the viewer of cold Fall nights, years ago, when 31 October was a date to be reckoned with. A quasi-classic, this exceptional look at what Halloween really means is the byproduct of writer/director Michael Dougherty’s desire to craft, what he lovingly refers to, as tales of “mayhem, mystery, and mischief. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this love letter to ghosts, ghouls, and goblins is how accomplished it is. With only a few scripts under his belt (he co-wrote X2 and Superman Returns), Dougherty turns out to be as visually compelling as Tim Burton, or even Terry Gilliam.” – Bill Gibron, PopMatters

Wolf Creek

54. Wolf Creek

Greg Mclean

2005 / Australia / 99m / Col / Slasher | IMDb

John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips, Gordon Poole, Guy O’Donnell, Phil Stevenson, Geoff Revell, Andy McPhee, Aaron Sterns


“McLean captures that real horror in a brutally unHollywood way, one that goes beyond the frank, almost documentary style of the cinematography and performances and the presentation. The young actors playing the kids are so simply effective that they couldn’t be more removed from the jokey, self-aware snarkiness of most modern “horror” movies, in which everyone knows they’re following a formula and the ending is preordained and it’s all a big joke. And John Jarratt’s Mick is something of a throwback, in the best sense: he’s not a cartoon maniac, like Jason or Freddie, but a genuine human person who’s gone off a deep end that is, unfortunately, all too familiar in the modern annals of crime and depravity. Mostly, though, it’s how McLean refuses to give in to the expectations we typically bring to horror movies, that everything must wrap up in a particular way and concepts like justice and fairness must prevail. Cuz as we all know, the real world is only rarely that satisfying.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

55. Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Eli Craig

2010 / USA / 89m / Col / Comedy | IMDb

Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Philip Granger, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Chelan Simmons, Travis Nelson, Alex Arsenault


“High-concept horror comedies that actually work are a rare breed, yet Tucker & Dale vs. Evil manages to continually make the comedy-of-errors shtick work. Props should go not only to Labine, but Tudyk as well, who bears the brunt of the comic violence heaped upon the clueless duo. Thankfully, the laughs are evened out with a heaping of gore that’ll please the horror hounds in the crowd. Amazingly, even the unbelievable romance between Allison and Dale comes off as rather sweet. In its own pleasantly blood-soaked way, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil delivers a whole lot more than just a one-joke concept, making it a very worthy watch for genre devotees.” – Jeremy Wheeler, TV Guide’s Movie Guide

Paranormal Activity

56. Paranormal Activity

Oren Peli

2007 / USA / 86m / Col / Found Footage | IMDb

Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs, Amber Armstrong, Ashley Palmer


“Don’t expect CGI clouds of ectoplasm: the scares here are strictly bargain-basement, even reduced-for-clearance: a chandelier swings, a shadow looms and things go bump! – and then thump!, to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth. Peli’s film revives the honourable tradition of chills-by-suggestion, whereby what we don’t see is far scarier than what we do. In fact, the very eeriest moment is a lengthy shot in which we just gaze at an empty room, and dread what will come next.” – Jonathan Romney, Independent on Sunday

American Psycho

57. American Psycho

Mary Harron

2000 / USA / 102m / Col / Slasher | IMDb

Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas, Bill Sage, Chloë Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon, Samantha Mathis, Matt Ross, Jared Leto, Willem Dafoe


“[American Psycho] regards the male executive lifestyle with the devotion of a fetishist. There is a scene where a group of businessmen compare their business cards, discussing the wording, paper thickness, finish, embossing, engraving and typefaces, and they might as well be discussing their phalli… It is their uneasy secret that they make enough money to afford to look important, but are not very important… I have overheard debates about whether some of the murders are fantasies (“can a man really aim a chain saw that well?”). All of the murders are equally real or unreal, and that isn’t the point: The function of the murders is to make visible the frenzy of the territorial male when his will is frustrated.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Final Destination

58. Final Destination

James Wong

2000 / USA / 98m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Daniel Roebuck, Roger Guenveur Smith, Chad Donella, Seann William Scott, Tony Todd, Amanda Detmer


“Wong’s old-school modus operandi is superficially reflected in the decision to name the movie’s characters after well-known horror filmmakers (ie Hitchcock, Lewton, Browning, etc), yet it’s the ease with which the director cultivates an atmosphere of suspense that ultimately sets Final Destination above its slasher brethren – with the surprisingly tense opening fifteen minutes certainly standing as a highlight within the proceedings. Sawa’s personable turn as the hero is matched by a uniformly effective supporting cast rife with familiar faces , which – when coupled with Wong’s thoroughly capable directorial choices – cements Final Destination’s place as an innovative (and unexpectedly influential) exercise in horror.” – David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

Dawn of the Dead

59. Dawn of the Dead

Zack Snyder

2004 / USA / 101m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Michael Barry, Lindy Booth, Jayne Eastwood


“Like Romero’s pulpy progenitor, there’s a fair share of laughs, including a sequence where zombies are picked off from long distance based purely on their spurious resemblance to celebrities. Most of all, though, this is about zombie-crunching action, from the initial, tense opening – including a stunning pre-credits sequence in which we follow Polley through the beginnings of the unexplained plague – to a final kick-ass third in which our heroes load up with weaponry and souped-up trucks and head out to face the zombie holocaust. It’s here that the controversial decision to eschew the lumbering zombies of lore and go for fast-moving vicious bastards really pays off, generating a genuine sense of fear and revealing this for what it really is: a pared-down homage to Aliens.” – Empire Magazine

Calvaire

60. Calvaire

Fabrice Du Welz

2004 / Belgium / 88m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Laurent Lucas, Brigitte Lahaie, Gigi Coursigny, Jean-Luc Couchard, Jackie Berroyer, Philippe Nahon, Philippe Grand’Henry, Jo Prestia, Marc Lefebvre, Alfred David


“It helps to find the very dark, dark humor in “Calvaire,” a grueling, disgusting and quite effective horror film from Belgium. Part “Psycho,” part “Deliverance” and all creepy, it is simultaneously off-putting and absorbing… What sells this movie is the realistic attention to detail and the bravura direction of Fabrice Du Welz, who draws a gut-wrenching performance from Lucas, who cries, squeals and screams with the best of them… this feels different and fresh. At the very least, it gets under your fingernails.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

Batoru rowaiaru

61. Batoru rowaiaru

Kinji Fukasaku

2000 / Japan / 114m / Col / Splatter | IMDb

Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Tarô Yamamoto, Takeshi Kitano, Chiaki Kuriyama, Sôsuke Takaoka, Takashi Tsukamoto, Yukihiro Kotani, Eri Ishikawa, Sayaka Kamiya


“A few twists and turns keep the formula from becoming repetitive, and Fukasaku brings enough compassion to the deserving to keep the grizzly deaths from numbing our moral sensitivities. A sharp sense of humor assists him: aimed towards insight and ridicule rather than the nihilistic glee to which it might have succumbed. It chills us even as we snicker, and the resulting mayhem ultimately reads as a condemnation of our own violent tendencies rather than a tacit celebration. The underlying messages combine with sharp filmmaking for a gloriously entertaining ride, provided you have a taste for dark material and don’t mind the occasional poke in the ribs. Battle Royale completely engages us without losing track of its anti-violence message, a tricky balance that has sent many lesser productions spinning into hypocrisy.” – Rob Vaux, Mania

Frailty

62. Frailty

Bill Paxton

2001 / USA / 100m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matt O’Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Luke Askew, Levi Kreis, Derk Cheetwood, Missy Crider, Alan Davidson


“A resoundingly old-fashioned and well crafted study of evil infecting an American family, “Frailty” moves from strength to strength on its deceptive narrative course. Though Brent Hanley’s script feels like it’s based on an account of white Anglo-Saxon serial killers run amok in middle America, it’s a genuine invention that has its cinematic roots in the rich soil plowed by such disparate works as Charles Laughton’s “Night of the Hunter” and Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Pic’s dark-night-of-the-soul mood derives from the former, while the latter inspired the notion that the family that kills together stays together. Final effect is of a timeless work that could have been made at any point in the past 20 years.” – Robert Koehler, Variety

El laberinto del fauno

63. El laberinto del fauno

Guillermo del Toro

2006 / Spain / 118m / Col / Fantasy | IMDb

Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Doug Jones, Ariadna Gil, Álex Angulo, Manolo Solo, César Vea, Roger Casamajor, Ivan Massagué


“With its painterly palette and densely detailed production design, Pan’s Labyrinth evokes great works in any number of artistic mediums, from the paintings of Goya and Balthus to the films of Luis Bunuel and Dario Argento… It’s in its sophisticated politics that “Pan’s Labyrinth” qualifies as Del Toro’s most mature work; he depicts fascism not just as a failed political or philosophical system… but primarily as the failure of imagination. As Ofelia makes her quiet and courageous way through the faun’s to-do list — while the sentient world around her falls apart — her own imagination, her willingness to surrender to her own creative subconscious, becomes the means not just of escape but of survival.” – Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

Cloverfield

64. Cloverfield

Matt Reeves

2008 / USA / 85m / Col / Found Footage | IMDb

Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Annable, Anjul Nigam, Margot Farley, Theo Rossi, Brian Klugman


“Reeves, who’s been near anonymous in the pre-release hype, is masterful at choosing shots without appearing to do so. We view this unlovely goliath from all angles – a fleeting leg here, full-length in crafty helicopter shots on news footage there – but he’s even more effective as an unseen presence. There’s equal, if not more, dread in hearing furious roars as our band cowers in a side street, watching the military throwing everything they have uselessly at the beast. This is as much a triumph of sound design as of seamlessly blended CG and unsettling camerawork. Wise to the fact that the most frightening attack is the one without apparent reason, Cloverfield never chooses to explain its monster’s arrival. It’s suddenly there and, as one soldier notes, “it’s winning”. It intends to scare, not educate. The constant air of panic is so pervasive that it’s easy to miss the skilful creation of the sequences, which include a rescue from a collapsing skyscraper and a tunnel sequence so butt-clenching you’ll crap diamonds for a week.” – Olly Richards, Empire Magazine

Shadow of the Vampire

65. Shadow of the Vampire

E. Elias Merhige

2000 / UK / 92m / Col / Vampire | IMDb

John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Udo Kier, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack, Eddie Izzard, Aden Gillett, Nicholas Elliott, Ronan Vibert, Sophie Langevin


“The movie does an uncanny job of re-creating the visual feel of Murnau’s film. There are shots that look the way moldy basements smell. This material doesn’t lend itself to subtlety, and Malkovich and Dafoe chew their lines like characters who know they are always being observed (some directors do more acting on their sets than the actors do)… Vampires for some reason are funny as well as frightening. Maybe that’s because the conditions of their lives are so absurd. Some of novelist Anne Rice’s vampires have a fairly entertaining time of it, but someone like Schreck seems doomed to spend eternity in psychic and physical horror.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

The Guest

66. The Guest

Adam Wingard

2014 / USA / 100m / Col / Thriller | IMDb

Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick, Tabatha Shaun, Chase Williamson, Joel David Moore, Steve Brown


“Director Wingard and his regular screenwriter collaborator Simon Barrett are interested in genre mash-ups and the dramatic possibilities of comedy-horror, as evidenced by their previous full-length feature “You’re Next.” “The Guest” goes even further in that direction. The music (by Steve Moore) suddenly blasts throughout, with moments of pulsing techno unease, as Anna, crouched in her bedroom decorated with Goth-Girl skull-and-crossbones, desperately tries to figure out more about the hot interloper… Wingard and Barrett have a perfect eye and ear for this type of material. They have fun with their influences, paying homage to John Carpenter and others. They’re not afraid to be silly and bold.” – Sheila O’Malley, RogerEbert.com

Black Swan

67. Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky

2010 / USA / 108m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, Benjamin Millepied, Ksenia Solo, Kristina Anapau, Janet Montgomery, Sebastian Stan


“By the end, resentment has entered a psychotic dimension, and melodrama has morphed irretrievably into horror movie. Of course the possibility of it has been there, perhaps from the very first minutes when we saw Nina at home in her mother’s bedroom, plastered with self-portraits, a shrine to herself. If you think it all sounds overblown – nuts – you’d probably be right. But The Red Shoes was nuts, too, and it’s still a masterpiece. Black Swan dances itself dizzy in its urge to overwhelm us, but Aronofsky’s boldness and Natalie Portman’s exquisite, raw-nerved performance make the surrender very enjoyable.” – Anthony Quinn, The Independent

Halloween II

68. Halloween II

Rob Zombie

2009 / USA / 105m / Col / Slasher | IMDb

Sheri Moon Zombie, Chase Wright Vanek, Scout Taylor-Compton, Brad Dourif, Caroline Williams, Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, Dayton Callie, Richard Brake


“Despite the limitations inherent in the genre, it actually delivers. It’s not about the pure scares in a movie like this (almost any junky spookfest can get those, with the old face-in-a-mirror trick and various hoary techniques). No, a “character-based” monster flick – and Michael Myers is in that first generation, make no mistake – needs to play with that conceit, and Zombie’s dirty, disturbing, even dream-based approach works perfectly. And McDowell, that old pro, is a real hoot as Dr. Loomis… in a world where the “Hostel” and “Saw” films are the norm, and the recent remake of “Last House on the Left” set the bar nauseatingly low, Zombie knows a thing or two about keeping it pure.” – Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News

28 Weeks Later

69. 28 Weeks Later

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

2007 / UK / 100m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Idris Elba, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton, Amanda Walker, Shahid Ahmed


“Coincidence or not, the visual aesthetic and energy of Fresnadillo’s film bears a striking resemblance to Cuarón’s — both use a pallette of dull and desaturated colors, as if the colors itself were weary of the worlds they’re inhabiting. Fresnadillo’s camerawork, like that in Children of Men, is jittery, so restless and panicky, in fact, that you think it might burst forth from the screen. It’s the director’s deft and sylish hand with this material that makes 28 Weeks such a refreshing jolt, plying a genre routinely deadened by sub-par slasher-fests. The exhilaration evident in the smartly-cut action sequences, the glances at pathos in the sequences of loss, betrayal, guilt, and abandonment underscore Fresnadillo’s considerable directorial powers; the man is taking his job seriously and at full-steam, never condescending to it.” – Jay Antani, Cinema Writer

Gok-seong

70. Gok-seong

Hong-jin Na

2016 / South Korea / 156m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Do-won Kwak, Jung-min Hwang, Jun Kunimura, Woo-hee Chun, Hwan-hee Kim, Jin Heo, So-yeon Jang, Han-Cheol Jo, Chang-gyu Kil, Do-Yoon Kim


“A tense blend of genres, The Wailing succeeds at combining a mood of deep unease with visceral gore, buddy cop comedy, and a hallucinogenic mix of horror tropes, and in this sense the film becomes a unique creation of its own, setting its terrible events against the gorgeous landscapes and mountains of South Korea. And although overlong and not without flaws, there is enough in The Wailing to warrant a viewing, and the subtle force of the film confirms Na Hong-jin’s reputation as a director to be reckoned with.” – Pamela Jahn, Electric Sheep

Jisatsu sâkuru

71. Jisatsu sâkuru

Shion Sono

2001 / Japan / 99m / Col / Thriller | IMDb

Ryo Ishibashi, Masatoshi Nagase, Mai Hosho, Tamao Satô, Takashi Nomura, Rolly, Joshua, Masato Tsujioka, Kôsuke Hamamoto, Kei Nagase


“As frustrating as Suicide Club may be, there is no denying that it does succeed in hooking viewers with its highly original concept. The film manages to establish a sense of creeping dread; the anticipation of what lurks around each corner proves far more terrifying than the cheap scare tactics employed in other films. Ryo Ishibashi exudes a sense of decency and commitment to his mission—qualities that have a definite payoff later in the film. As Kuroda, Ishibashi gives the viewers a solid protagonist they can latch onto during the dark journey ahead. The lack of clear answers will frustrate many (this reviewer included) but what Suicide Club attempts to say and do, coupled with its success in executing some of those goals, makes the film worth recommending. And even with its baffling conclusion, there’s at least one lesson to be gleaned from Suicide Club: J-Pop may be hazardous to your health.” – Calvin McMillin, Love HK Film

Oculus

72. Oculus

Mike Flanagan

2013 / USA / 104m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan, James Lafferty, Miguel Sandoval, Kate Siegel, Scott Graham


“In many ways, Oculus feels like the best J-horror remake not based on an existing film (apart from being based on Flanagan’s own short films). There’s a pervasive sense of tragedy throughout, as the details of Kaylie and Tim’s tragic past are slowly fed to us through flashbacks and hallucinations, calling to mind the disorientation of The Grudge and the mournful quality of Dark Water… Flanagan delivers plenty of horrible little shocks courtesy of the mirror’s ability to delude and misdirect, with a couple of moments that will have you putting your hands over your eyes, but Oculus is refreshingly light on cheap jump scares… By rooting its clever narrative structure in a tragic story, Flanagan has created a horror that pulls on the heartstrings as often as it grabs you by the throat, helped every step of the way by an excellent cast.” – Jonathan Hatfull, SciFiNow

Let Me In

73. Let Me In

Matt Reeves

2010 / USA / 116m / Col / Vampire | IMDb

Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Cara Buono, Elias Koteas, Sasha Barrese, Dylan Kenin, Chris Browning, Ritchie Coster, Dylan Minnette


“In transliterating a foreign-language horror hit into an Anglophone movie it doesn’t follow [shot-for-shot]… though it does lift many scenes verbatim… If anything, this is a grimmer reading: as per Lindqvist, Abby genuinely feels for Owen, but the film suggests – via a photo-strip showing that she has been with her current protector since he was Owen’s age – that the vampire is going through another iteration of a relationship she has had before and will have again… Let Me In isn’t as rich or daring as Let the Right One In and seldom improves on it – but it plays better as a horror film, more concentrated in its focus on the creepy and shocking aspects of its unusual love story.” – Kim Newman, Sight and Sound

Mulholland Dr.

74. Mulholland Dr.

David Lynch

2001 / USA / 147m / Col / Mystery | IMDb

Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Ann Miller, Dan Hedaya, Justin Theroux, Brent Briscoe, Robert Forster, Katharine Towne, Lee Grant, Scott Coffey


“As difficult as Mulholland Drive may appear at first glance, every trajectory in this metaverse is the equivalent of dreams spiraling into REM sleep… [It] isn’t a movie about dreams, it is a dream (or, at least, until the blue box is opened) — a Hollywood horror story spun by a frustrated actress yet to cross into consciousness. Lynch’s narrative is carefully configured, painstakingly difficult to decipher, but boldly obvious should one embrace its dream logic… Mulholland Drive is a haunting, selfish masterpiece that literalizes the theory of surrealism as perpetual dream state.” – Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

The Children

75. The Children

Tom Shankland

2008 / UK / 84m / Col / Evil Children | IMDb

Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley, Hannah Tointon, Rafiella Brooks, Jake Hathaway, William Howes, Eva Sayer


“For parents, the film will play on their personal fears and insecurities. Some parents (non-horror fans and insecure parents) will likely be appalled by the idea of children killing their parents, and vice versa (likely the reason why the film didn’t see a theatrical release). Others will simply enjoy the scary good ride – which is a brilliant byproduct of our own fears driven by pandemic paranoia. Director Tom Shankland skillfully crafts intensity through mostly non-scary images. With the help of his equally talented editor (Tim Murrell), Shankland intercuts several horrifying moments, juxtaposed with an energetic, pitch-perfect score from Stephen Hilton. And with such quick, focused intensity at play, seemingly innocent images like pinwheels and coffee mugs, or shots of children playing, drive fear into the hearts of his audience.” – R. L. Shaffer, IGN DVD

Cabin Fever

76. Cabin Fever

Eli Roth

2002 / USA / 93m / Col / Body Horror | IMDb

Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, James DeBello, Cerina Vincent, Joey Kern, Arie Verveen, Robert Harris, Hal Courtney, Matthew Helms, Richard Boone


“Cabin Fever establishes its terror alert early on — contamination! eek! — and treats it lightly while taking it seriously. The comedy here is not the reflexive sort, wherein the characters have all seen this movie before. It comes out of the realistic reactions a group of none-too-bright underclassmen might have when faced with blood-spewing doom. Filled with gratuitous gore (at one point, an entire jeep drips with the stuff) and sex (a comely female character muses that she should be grabbing the nearest guy and having a last bout of we-who-are-about-to-die-have-sex activity; cut to her jumping the bones of the nearest grateful guy), the film is solidly of a subgenre I over-reference, but it fits: the beer-and-pizza flick.” – Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

77. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Scott Glosserman

2006 / USA / 92m / Col / Slasher | IMDb

Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Robert Englund, Scott Wilson, Zelda Rubinstein, Bridgett Newton, Kate Miner, Ben Pace, Britain Spellings, Hart Turner


“Once Vernon gets into character and stalks his prey, he’s a force to be reckoned with, and no one will stand in his way. The last act plays out how we suspect, but we’re left wondering if it will play as Leslie hopes or in a completely different manner. You can pretend to know what’s coming, but you don’t know shit. Either way, we’re left with one final satisfaction; Glosserman has given us a surefire horror classic, and I couldn’t be happier. And for the love of god, stick around after the credits. As a hardcore fan of the slasher genre, “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon” is a wet dream of a slasher re-construction that sets itself apart from every other slasher film ever made. Compared to this, “Scream” is pure child’s play, a wannabe that states the obvious. “Behind the Mask” is a pure horror film masterpiece, and slasher fans would be best to acknowledge it.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

The Hills Have Eyes

78. The Hills Have Eyes

Alexandre Aja

2006 / USA / 107m / Col / Slasher | IMDb

Aaron Stanford, Kathleen Quinlan, Vinessa Shaw, Emilie de Ravin, Dan Byrd, Tom Bower, Billy Drago, Robert Joy, Ted Levine, Desmond Askew


“The remake to “The Hills Have Eyes” (Wes Craven who has his hand firmly placed in the cookie jar as producer) still isn’t a perfect film, but for what it gives us in its ninety minute run time, is a true definition of a horror movie. Aja knows how to make a horror movie that’s realistic, bold, and provides all the bloodhounds with a satisfactory amount of gore. This remake of “Hills” is superior not only because it provides us with the amount of violence that’s been missing from horror for years, but basically because it has more focus on the survival aspects. There’s more tension, more urgency, more dread, and less camp. Aja’s new film has a sort of eeriness to it from the very beginning as we’re introduced to this family taking a crossroad journey for their vacation (you know how the usual story goes).” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

Teeth

79. Teeth

Mitchell Lichtenstein

2007 / USA / 94m / Col / Comedy | IMDb

Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Josh Pais, Hale Appleman, Lenny von Dohlen, Vivienne Benesch, Ashley Springer, Laila Liliana Garro, Nicole Swahn, Adam Wagner


“While “Carrie” is the obvious influence (with genital transmogrification instead of telekinesis, and the other sex doing the bulk of the bleeding), “Teeth” could be seen as a “Reefer Madness” for the New Chastity Generation. The camp sensibility, however, is fully self-aware, not unlike certain Todd Haynes’ movies: the Barbie-doll biopic “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,” or the black-and-white venereal horror/sci-fi segment of “Poison.” Writer-director Lichtenstein, best known for his central part in Robert Altman’s 1983 film of David Rabe’s “Streamers,” straddles one line between earnestness and facetiousness and another between horror and satire, shifting and pivoting from one to the other. Most of the time his balance is just right.” – Jim Emerson, Chicago Sun-Times

Resolution

80. Resolution

Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

2012 / USA / 93m / Col / Drama | IMDb

Peter Cilella, Vinny Curran, Zahn McClarnon, Bill Oberst Jr., Kurt David Anderson, Emily Montague, Skyler Meacham, Carmel Benson, Justin Benson, Catherine Burns


“The horror in Resolution is effective because it’s well-crafted, but it’s greatly heightened by the fact that its two central characters matter. Chris and Michael really do come across as lifelong friends, at least at one time close to the point of basically being brothers. There’s a chemistry, a rapport, a genuine bond that’s rarely glimpsed in horror. There are layers and dimensions to these characters that transcend two or three word stock descriptions. The usual Junkie’s Running Dry clichés like the pale, gray makeup and hollow eyes you’re probably picturing are all noticeably absent; hell, Chris is the funniest and most charismatic guy in the movie. Resolution greatly benefits from having such an outstanding cast” – Adam Tyner, DVD Talk

Honeymoon

81. Honeymoon

Leigh Janiak

2014 / USA / 87m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway, Ben Huber, Hanna Brown


“Janiak is concerned with exploring how relationships break down and Honeymoon operates much better as an examination of married life than it ever does as a creepy horror flick. One morning Paul wakes up and feels like he doesn’t know his other half anymore. He feels frustrated, he feels trapped. Their sex life grinds to a halt. Bea finds her identity being chipped away by a relationship that is feeling increasingly like a performance. She still wants to love her husband but she can’t talk to him about what’s really going on and how she’s feeling. That’s the real horror of the piece – questioning how well you really know the person you’ve committed your life to. This is all subtext, of course, but it’s wonderfully conveyed in way that’s both subtle and hard to miss.” – Joe Cunningham, Film4

The Battery

82. The Battery

Jeremy Gardner

2012 / USA / 101m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Jeremy Gardner, Adam Cronheim, Niels Bolle, Alana O’Brien, Jamie Pantanella, Larry Fessenden, Kelly McQuade, Eric Simon, Ben Pryzby, Sarah Allen


“The problem with most modern zombie films is that the writers forget that the humans should be the centerpiece of the film, and not the zombies. Director Jeremy Gardner’s “The Battery” is the prime example of how to handle this kind of genre entertainment with a low budget. Rather than flood the screen with zombies, the monsters are used sparingly and for great moments of terror and memorable scenes, while Gardner focuses primarily on character, building two complex and unique people we can love and hate, in many ways.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

Paranormal Activity 3

83. Paranormal Activity 3

Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman

2011 / USA / 83m / Col / Found Footage | IMDb

Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Hallie Foote, Dustin Ingram, Johanna Braddy, Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden


“This paradox—the less you see the more you think you see, or the more you think about seeing—is what used to make horror go. Before Tom Savini and Dan O’Bannon, and before the essential redundancy of torture porn, scary movies depended on viewers’ imaginations. The Paranormal Activity films return to that low-budget idea, with an exponentially high profits pay-off. Their plots are rudimentary, and this third installment’s architecture is both banal and ludicrous (as it elucidates how the sisters came to know the demon plaguing them in the first two films, it wades into hoary-old-witches waters). But you don’t go to horror movies for story. You go for sensation, to be moved. Paranormal Activity 3 not only gets that, it also asks you to get it, to be aware of how you’re being moved, and your part in the moving.” – Cynthia Fuchs, Pop Matters

Grave

84. Grave

Julia Ducournau

2016 / France / 99m / Col / Cannibal | IMDb

Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella, Laurent Lucas, Joana Preiss, Bouli Lanners, Marion Vernoux, Thomas Mustin, Marouan Iddoub, Jean-Louis Sbille


“This exhilarating French-Belgian debut from writer/director Julia Ducournau is a feast for ravenous cinephiles, an extreme yet intimate tale of identity crises that blends Cronenbergian body horror with humour and heartbreak as it sinks its teeth deep into the sins of the flesh… Directed with the same cross-genre dexterity as Kathryn Bigelow’s seminal vampire western Near Dark, Raw is a thrillingly confident and vigorously executed work. From the chilling opening shot of a car crash to the woozy, single-take sojourns through drunken student raves, Ducournau and cinematographer Ruben Impens lead us effortlessly into Justine’s underworld. A tethered horse on a treadmill canters in slow motion through Justine’s tortured dreams, while scratching fits and metamorphosing sweats are captured from within the claustrophobic confines of imprisoning bed-sheets.” – Mark Kermode, The Observer

Frontière(s)

85. Frontière(s)

Xavier Gens

2007 / France / 108m / Col / Splatter | IMDb

Karina Testa, Samuel Le Bihan, Estelle Lefébure, Aurélien Wiik, David Saracino, Chems Dahmani, Maud Forget, Amélie Daure, Rosine Favey, Adel Bencherif


“There’s enough blood in the unrated French horror film “Frontier(s)” to satiate even the most ravenous gore hounds. The real surprise here is that this creepy, contemporary gross-out also has some ideas, visual and otherwise, wedged among its sanguineous drips, swaying meat hooks and whirring table saw. Much like other recent French-language horror films (“High Tension,” “Calvaire,” “Inside”), this one owes a debt to the modern American slasher flick, the original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” among many others, though “Frontier(s)” adds an amusingly glib and timely political twist to its wholesale carnage… “Frontier(s)” finally works because its shivers are as plausible as they are outrageous.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

30 Days of Night

86. 30 Days of Night

David Slade

2007 / USA / 113m / Col / Vampire | IMDb

Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Mark Boone Junior, Mark Rendall, Amber Sainsbury, Manu Bennett, Megan Franich, Joel Tobeck


“Like “28 Days Later,” this is a film in awe of its creations, eager to unleash them into a world that lacks the glitz and polish of a supernatural thriller and focused in the intent to expand their visage into one of remarkable believability. There are moments here when we are not just staring back at movie villains or even watching on with misplaced hope at the antics of a cluster of desperate survivors. If a good horror picture means to transport us into the fabric of its bleak narrative and imprison us there, then here is one of those rare movies that penetrates the membrane separating all those disposable “gotcha” scarefests from genuinely engrossing supernatural thrillers, and finds a resonating chord.” – David Keyes, Cinemaphile

What We Do in the Shadows

87. What We Do in the Shadows

Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi

2014 / New Zealand / 86m / Col / Vampire | IMDb

Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford, Ben Fransham, Rhys Darby, Jackie van Beek, Elena Stejko, Jason Hoyte


“Fans of Clement and Waititi’s previous work know the kind of humour to expect: bone-dry, beautifully observed and deeply silly. There’s a brilliantly funny sequence in which the three speaking vamps furiously debate the washing up rota, the importance of virgin blood is floridly discussed, while a dinner party sequence in which potential victims are confronted with re-enacted Lost Boys sequences is beautifully done… Clement in particular is clearly having a brilliant time, as it soon becomes apparent that the lascivious Vlad’s best years are behind him, while Waititi slays with his portrayal of the sweetly heartbroken Viago. In short, the most important thing to know about What We Do In The Shadows is that it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious” – Jonathan Hatfull, SciFiNow

The Endless

88. The Endless

Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

2017 / USA / 111m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb

Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington, James Jordan, Emily Montague, Lew Temple, Justin Benson, Ric Sarabia, Aaron Moorhead, Kira Powell, Peter Cilella


The Endless opens with a quote from cult horror author H.P. Lovecraft, whose dread-filled mythos of ancient alien gods and terrifying occult knowledge is a key influence on Benson and Moorhead’s work. But the tone here is more classic low-budget indie drama, restrained and cerebral, than nightmarish horror. Initially, at least… A key future challenge for the duo will be how to bring this fine-grained auteur approach into the commercial mainstream without diluting their strongly original vision.” – Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter

Eden Lake

89. Eden Lake

James Watkins

2008 / UK / 91m / Col / Splatter | IMDb

Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Tara Ellis, Jack O’Connell, Finn Atkins, Jumayn Hunter, Thomas Turgoose, James Burrows, Tom Gill, Lorraine Bruce


“Though nightmarish and visceral, it’s the most intelligent horror film to have been made by a British director since Jack Clayton’s The Innocents in 1960. And it fulfils the two purposes of horror: it involves you emotionally and it’s frightening… It’s a thoroughly credible set-up and the process of escalation whereby Jenny and Steve alienate, then anger these feral youths until they’re ready to stab, torture and even burn them to death is worryingly authentic. Unlike most horror films, in which the heroes steer themselves into danger by their own stupidity, Jenny and Steve behave with complete plausibility and a tragically unrequited sense of kindness and social responsibility.” – Chris Tookey, The Daily Mail

Green Room

90. Green Room

Jeremy Saulnier

2015 / USA / 95m / Col / Thriller | IMDb

Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, David W. Thompson, Mark Webber, Macon Blair, Eric Edelstein, Michael Draper, Andy Copeland


“A merciless maelstrom set within grungy, cramped quarters for much of its 94 minutes, “Green Room” mounts and mounts with grabby urgency and anything-can-happen danger. A battle of wits and survival begins as Darcy uses his power of persuasion from the other side of the door and asks the band to hand over the gun they’ve retrieved, forcing The Ain’t Rights to become resourceful in other ways as they plan their escape out of that one door. When the kill-or-be-killed spree takes off in the second half, the violence is very savage and matter-of-fact without coming across gratuitous for the hell of it. It’s also underscored by cinematographer Sean Porter having an eye for making nerve-shredding chaos look controlled.” – Jeremy Kibler, The Artful Critic

Stake Land

91. Stake Land

Jim Mickle

2010 / USA / 98m / Col / Vampire | IMDb

Connor Paolo, Gregory Jones, Traci Hovel, Nick Damici, James Godwin, Tim House, Marianne Hagan, Stuart Rudin, Adam Scarimbolo, Vonia Arslanian


“Making the most of a modest budget, director and co-writer Mickle profitably focuses on establishing character and the film’s overall haunted tone rather than simply conjuring gratuitous mayhem. An effective economy of style and the faded color scheme admirably suit this stripped-down aesthetic. The lead performances are solid, despite somewhat generic characterizations, and all-importantly, the vampires’ acting, makeup and costuming are persuasive, even if they appear nearly as dim-witted as a typical zombie. Stake Land’s trenchant worldview, both dystopian and completely rational, shows more affinity with the likes of The Road, 28 Days Later and Night of the Living Dead than it does with movies inclined to romanticize or demonize vampires. The message that America, with all of its social ills and conflicts, is a nation devouring itself seems particularly appropriate as budget battles and culture wars rage on unabated.” – Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter

Gerald's Game

92. Gerald’s Game

Mike Flanagan

2017 / USA / 103m / Col / Psychological | IMDb

Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Chiara Aurelia, Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, Adalyn Jones, Bryce Harper, Gwendolyn Mulamba, James Flanagan


Gerald’s Game is a single-setting thriller for the majority of its runtime, so Flanagan and his longtime cinematographer Michael Fimognari use constrictive camera shots and precise editing (which Flanagan also handled) to maintain a suffocating sense of atmosphere throughout the scenes set in Jessie and Gerald’s bedroom, in spite of the unchanging scenery… Gerald’s Game generates horror more through suggestion that onscreen imagery for much of its runtime, but be warned: when things do get explicit, the movie becomes rather graphic and very disturbing, very quickly.” – Sandy Schaefer, ScreenRant

The Nightmare

93. The Nightmare

Rodney Ascher

2015 / USA / 91m / Col / Documentary | IMDb

Siegfried Peters, Stephen Michael Joseph, Yatoya Toy, Nicole Bosworth, Elise Robson, Age Wilson


“Ascher makes a persuasive case that it is the physiological phenomenon of sleep paralysis that has created the nightmare tropes now commonplace in art and literature: they are recognisable, diagnosable symptoms. This condition, he says, both pre-exists and is the inspiration for scary movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street – and not the other way round. It also accounts for alien-abduction delusions. However, his film also listens sympathetically to sufferers who interpret their condition in spiritual terms. He films his interviews and reconstructions in a self-consciously creepy way; it’s possibly a bit overdone, but often disturbing, especially the dream where the man gets a call on his mobile phone from a polite voice saying: “I wonder if you can do me a favour?” I jumped.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Bone Tomahawk

94. Bone Tomahawk

S. Craig Zahler

2015 / USA / 132m / Col / Western | IMDb

Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, Evan Jonigkeit, David Arquette, Fred Melamed, Sid Haig, Maestro Harrell


“There’s an elegance to Bone Tomahawk that doesn’t let up even when it veers into cult-movie territory. Zahler is a patient director, willing to let scenes unfold, with tension developing organically. He uses music sparingly; the early scenes in town are almost unnaturally quiet, with the moody, minimalist score (credited to Jeff Herriot and Zahler himself) only kicking in once the search party strikes out for the territory. As the men become more and more desperate, the camera comes in closer and closer. But even the final act is devoid of the kind of unhinged stylistic hysteria that can take over films that upend genre. You could even say that’s what makes it so disturbing — the director’s unflinching eye reveals both character and violence.” – Bilge Ebiri, Vulture

Stoker

95. Stoker

Chan-wook Park

2013 / UK / 99m / Col / Thriller | IMDb

Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, David Alford, Matthew Goode, Peg Allen, Lauren E. Roman, Phyllis Somerville, Harmony Korine, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich


“Park Chan-wook’s long-awaited English-language debut is a gorgeously mounted family mystery dressed up as a gothic fairytale. The atmosphere is suffocatingly effective, and if the scarcity of shocks leaves some viewers feeling cheated (Park created the South Korean Vengeance trilogy after all), this misdirection is also one of the movie’s great strengths. Stoker is a puzzle. Its lush visuals, allied with Clint Mansell’s eerily dynamic score, are MacGuffins to some degree. After Sunday night’s world premiere at Sundance, Chan-wook spoke of his admiration for Alfred Hitchcock and homage courses through Stoker like, well, blood… Literary references and symbolism abound in Stoker. You can get tied up trying to figure out who is what. That is the idea. All the clues are there. You just have to look closely.” – Jeremy Kay, The Guardian

Maniac

96. Maniac

Franck Khalfoun

2012 / USA / 89m / Col / Slasher | IMDb

Nora Arnezeder, Brian Ames, America Olivo, Genevieve Alexandra, Liane Balaban, Jan Broberg, Aaron Colom, Joshua Delagarza, Alex Diaz, Megan Duffy


“With the accomplished Maxime Alexandre serving as cinematographer, and Raphael Hamburger providing a euro-trashy synth score, Maniac proves exploitative horror flicks need not seem hastily slapped together to unsettle and disturb. Maniac is technically impressive, which is more than can be said for most schlock of its ilk. If you’re watching Maniac to admire cinematic handiwork, to ponder our culpability in slasher flicks, or to compare Wood’s performance with the original’s Joe Spinell, I can safely recommend it.” – Simon Miraudo, Quickflix

It

97. It

Andy Muschietti

2017 / USA / 135m / Col / Evil Clown | IMDb

Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgård, Nicholas Hamilton, Jake Sim


“I’m no expert on Stephen King, and I leave it to other writers to weigh up this movie’s faithfulness to the canon from which it derives. But a look into the grief of children can only come across in a movie that’s been put together well, and this one has. Go expecting jump scares, and you will be rewarded handsomely. But you’ll also find a well-crafted meditation on the pain that communities refuse to see and the effect that pain has on the young and powerless. It is study in trauma to match the best of them.” – Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic

Dog Soldiers

98. Dog Soldiers

Neil Marshall

2002 / UK / 105m / Col / Werewolf | IMDb

Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Thomas Lockyer, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robson, Leslie Simpson, Tina Landini, Craig Conway


“One of the best all-out, no-apologies, hell-bent-for-leather horror films to emerge from the beginning of the 21st century—a modestly-budgeted, action-packed effort that pits British soldiers against local werewolves with a taste for human flesh. DOG SOLDIERS is derivative of any number of previous films (reduced to its essence, one might call it a hybrid of THE HOWLING and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD), but it works on its own tongue-in-cheek terms, fillings its dialogue with references to its antecedents.” – Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique

Busanhaeng

99. Busanhaeng

Sang-ho Yeon

2016 / South Korea / 118m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung, Dong-seok Ma, Woo-sik Choi, Sohee, Eui-sung Kim, Gwi-hwa Choi, Terri Doty, Jang Hyuk-Jin


“Crucially, [director] Yeon has come up with a take on zombies that is rooted deep in the genre but still feels innovative. Like Romero’s undead, these are an inescapable evil spreading across the world to offer a sly commentary on our modern society… Yeon establishes himself as a gifted action director: one mid-journey stop at an apparently deserted station turns into a terrifying set-piece that’s among the year’s best. But it’s a slow struggle through carriages full of infected people to reach a stranded loved one that really stands out… In the end, Yeon goes back to the human story and delivers a surprisingly emotional climax. It may seem like a shift of tone, but maybe family ties were the point all along.” – Helen O’Hara, Empire Magazine

The Taking

100. The Taking

Adam Robitel

2014 / USA / 90m / Col / Found Footage | IMDb

Jill Larson, Anne Ramsay, Michelle Ang, Ryan Cutrona, Anne Bedian, Brett Gentile, Jeremy DeCarlos, Tonya Bludsworth, Julianne Taylor, Jana Allen


“This is not your average devilish demon wreaking hellish havoc while looking for a human host cliché. A clever origin story accompanies Deborah’s mania and the supporting players in her life are woven into its fabric very well. One item to note is that snake-related mythology plays an important role. Anyone fearful of slithering shapes will have double the reasons to find the film’s imagery terrifying and its climactic scene uniquely disturbing. Something else deserving a mention is how the film’s characters are written to behave with rational thought. When inexplicable events and increasingly deadly circumstances reach an intolerable point, one member of the documentary-making trio says enough is enough and abruptly exits, never to be seen again.” – Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

Orphan

101. Orphan

Jaume Collet-Serra

2009 / USA / 123m / Col / Evil Children | IMDb

Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman, CCH Pounder, Jimmy Bennett, Margo Martindale, Karel Roden, Aryana Engineer, Rosemary Dunsmore, Jamie Young


“Spaniard Jaume Collet-Serra’s wickedly entertaining, if slightly over-stretched, variation on the familiar ‘evil child’ scenario displays an unusually complex grasp of twisted psychology… Producer Joel Silver regularly specialises in routine horror remakes, such as Collet-Serra’s previous ‘House of Wax’. But here, courtesy of an insidious screenplay by David Leslie Johnson, we are in more disturbing territory. More of a psychological thriller than a horror movie, ‘Orphan’ does contain explosions of shocking, though not especially graphic, violence.” – Nigel Floyd, Time Out

Bakjwi

102. Bakjwi

Chan-wook Park

2009 / South Korea / 135m / Col / Vampire | IMDb

Kang-ho Song, Ok-bin Kim, Hae-suk Kim, Ha-kyun Shin, In-hwan Park, Dal-su Oh, Young-chang Song, Mercedes Cabral, Eriq Ebouaney, Hee-jin Choi


“Throughout very audible kissing and slurpy blood-drinking, the film proves to be scary, remarkably moving, and startlingly evocative. And like most Park films, it doesn’t end when the audience expects it to. The final section of the film transforms the characters and retains their humanity, even amid their most frenzied embrace of their obsessions. Park’s film is an ingenious look at a sleepy topic, proving that the vampire movie hasn’t lost its verve, but that most directors making them have. Place a filmmaker like Park behind the camera and suddenly the genre awakens from its slumber, digs itself from out of its own grave, and emerges ready to feed from the ideas of a great director.” – Brian Eggert, Deep Focus Review

Trolljegeren

103. Trolljegeren

André Øvredal

2010 / Norway / 103m / Col / Found Footage | IMDb

Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alf Larsen, Urmila Berg-Domaas, Hans Morten Hansen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Nærum, Eirik Bech


“With this Bizarro-World trek through the fjords, fields and mountaintops of wintry Norway, Andre Ovredal joins a select group of European filmmakers who have clearly paid attention to Hollywood’s lessons – particularly in the class on creature-features old and new – without negating their own specific cultural sensibility… Some plot turns don’t entirely hold water in the exciting climactic stretch, and the agitated hand-held visuals can grow wearying. But this is nonetheless an original and highly assured fusion of B-movie lore and fairy-tale terror. The premise may be absurd but the filmmaker and his able cast show unwavering commitment to the story’s elaborate mythology.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

We Are What We Are

104. We Are What We Are

Jim Mickle

2013 / USA / 105m / Col / Drama | IMDb

Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Laurent Rejto, Julia Garner, Ambyr Childers, Jack Gore, Bill Sage, Kelly McGillis, Wyatt Russell, Michael Parks, Annemarie Lawless


““We Are What We Are” is mostly not terrifying, offers almost nothing in the way of traditional horror-movie shocks and jolts, and does not get bloody until the last 20 minutes or so. (At which point, whoo-boy.) It’s a sinister, wistful and even sad portrait of one family that has followed the insanity and bloodthirstiness of American history into a dark corridor with no exit. There’s a hint of Terrence Malick (or David Lowery, of “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”) in the often-gorgeous photography of Ryan Samul, and a hint of Shakespearean grandeur in Sage’s portrayal of a dignified and honorable American father infused with an ideology of madness. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an exploitation film played so effectively as human tragedy.” – Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

Somos lo que hay

105. Somos lo que hay

Jorge Michel Grau

2010 / Mexico / 90m / Col / Drama | IMDb

Francisco Barreiro, Adrián Aguirre, Miriam Balderas, Carmen Beato, Alan Chávez, Juan Carlos Colombo, Paulina Gaitan, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Miguel Ángel Hoppe, Raúl Kennedy


“Once under way, We Are What We Are is a long journey through an urban miasma to the end of a dark and bloody night, a modernist score adding to the anxiety around the invariably messy kills. This is a movie in which mise-en-scène trumps the suspense. Played out in shadowy streets, dilapidated overhead highways, grime-encrusted underpasses, and fetid clubs, We Are What We Are seems an organic product of Mexico City’s teeming sprawl. (There’s a hint of Buñuel’s Los Olvidados in its life-feeding-on-life Darwinian struggle.) The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls—or rather tonelessly chanted on a rattling train in a sequence providing the movie’s appropriately off-key lyrical interlude” – J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

The Innkeepers

106. The Innkeepers

Ti West

2011 / USA / 101m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb

Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Alison Bartlett, Jake Ryan, Kelly McGillis, Lena Dunham, Brenda Cooney, George Riddle, John Speredakos, Sean Reid


“The suspense built up in this story is real. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat but there was a knot in my stomach as I wondered what was going to happen next. From a creepy basement visit with the ghost to a scene where the aging actress warns Claire about the spirit world, this movie is slow but tantalizing. “I’m just here for one last bit of nostalgia,” the hotel’s final visitor says, a nod to why the film works so well. It’s a nostalgic film that should remind viewers of what suspense really feels like. Suspense isn’t watching a man getting hacked into pieces. It’s watching a woman realize that she’s in too deep when she starts asking too many questions about paranormal activity. And that what “The Innkeepers” delivers.” – John Hanlon, Big Hollywood

Ju-on

107. Ju-on

Takashi Shimizu

2002 / Japan / 92m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Megumi Okina, Misaki Itô, Misa Uehara, Yui Ichikawa, Kanji Tsuda, Kayoko Shibata, Yukako Kukuri, Shuri Matsuda, Yôji Tanaka, Yoshiyuki Morishita


“The creep factor in this film is high, not because either the kid, or the specter look particularly scary (though the latter may fit that description at points), but because Shimizu is a master of camera shots, timing and the unexpected. Your nerves are left perpetually unsteady, never knowing the reach of the specter’s killing power. Not even the best of the slasher movies can compete with the non-stop, pulse-racing tension found here.” – John Strand, Best Horror Movies

Slither

108. Slither

James Gunn

2006 / Canada / 95m / Col / Comedy | IMDb

Don Thompson, Nathan Fillion, Gregg Henry, Xantha Radley, Elizabeth Banks, Tania Saulnier, Dustin Milligan, Michael Rooker, Haig Sutherland, Jennifer Copping


“It’s no surprise that the majority of laughs are ably captured by Fillion, showing off the knack for deadpan delivery previously tapped by Joss Whedon in Serenity. As Pardy, he fills out the role of an unlikely hero dealing with extraordinary events, bringing bumbling affability to a part that could so easily have been lost to square jaws, steely eyes and other clumsy stereotypes. Tipping its hat at everything from the original Puppet Masters to bargain-bin trash like Ted Nicolaou’s TerrorVision, Slither is a carefully crafted parody (the Predator nod in particular will bring a smile to your face). But this is the scalpel to the Scary Movie series’ bludgeoning sledgehammer, skirting cheap imitation in favour of affectionate irreverence and managing to produce a genre hybrid that’s far more than the sum of its pilfered parts.” – James Dyer, Empire Magazine

Shutter Island

109. Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese

2010 / USA / 138m / Col / Mystery | IMDb

Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, John Carroll Lynch


“With an Oscar on his mantelpiece, Martin Scorsese takes a breather from prestige pictures with “Shutter Island,” an exquisitely crafted potboiler… He creates a seriously creepy mood in the film’s opening moments and tightens the screws amid elaborate sets (some scenes were shot in an actual abandoned state asylum) and gorgeous cinematography — though cinematographer Robert Richardson’s rather pretty vision of Dachau made me queasy… “Shutter Island” strikes me as one of Scorsese’s more minor works, a rather elaborate trifle one of our greatest directors has devised for his — and our — amusement.” – Lou Lumenick, New York Post

Jeepers Creepers

110. Jeepers Creepers

Victor Salva

2001 / USA / 90m / Col / Monster | IMDb

Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck, Patricia Belcher, Brandon Smith, Eileen Brennan, Peggy Sheffield, Jeffrey William Evans, Patrick Cherry, Jon Beshara


“Throughout, Salva’s skill as a director keeps the movie afloat, helping to propel us through some of the dodgier narrative stumbles (the “let’s go back to the obvious death trap for no reason other than to facilitate a horror film!” moment, or a weird, stretched-out, yet excellently tense confrontation with a crazy cat-lady played, distractingly, by Eileen Brennan), and making the best moments sing. Every inch of the sequence inside the pipe is carried off brilliantly, and not just Darry’s half: as Trish stands guard outside, there’s a truly breathtaking false scare that uses an out-of-focus depth of field in a profoundly clever, subtle manner; as indeed, the film consistently makes outstanding use of hiding details in corners of the frame where, because of composition or focus, we don’t necessarily expect to look.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

The Grudge

111. The Grudge

Takashi Shimizu

2004 / USA / 91m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, William Mapother, Clea DuVall, KaDee Strickland, Grace Zabriskie, Bill Pullman, Rosa Blasi, Ted Raimi, Ryo Ishibashi


“For the American émigrés that populate ‘The Grudge’ are portrayed as struggling with the basics of Japanese language, confused even by the products on a Japanese supermarket shelf, and generally lost and out of place – and it is a mutually uncomprehending relationship between an American and a Japanese which turns out to have engendered the curse at the heart of the film. Shimizu, it seems, is not only exploiting this cultural clash to amplify his characters’ alienation, hopelessness, and terror, but also to comment wryly on the bizarre love affair between America and Japan which makes a film like this possible. It is as though the original ‘Ju-on’ had been merged with Lost in Translation, and the result is an intelligent reflection on Hollywood’s flawed attempts to recreate Oriental horror in its own image –as well as a great scare or three for the uninitiated West.” – Anton Bitel, Movie Gazette

Hostel

112. Hostel

Eli Roth

2005 / USA / 94m / Col / Splatter | IMDb

Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Barbara Nedeljakova, Jan Vlasák, Jana Kaderabkova, Jennifer Lim, Keiko Seiko, Lubomír Bukový


“Eli Roth’s “Hostel” is an agonizing experience to sit through – disheartening, unpleasant, bursting with torture, detached and harsh, and unrelenting in its passion for the horrific. To call it a challenge in the visual sense does not begin to explain its ability to completely rob you of the comfort of artifice; it so fully indulges in its reality that every cut, every bloodcurdling moment in which pain is inflicted on a number of unsuspecting victims, is felt rather than seen. That may rob the movie of repeat value even in the hands of audiences who willingly embrace this overzealous sub-genre of torture-driven horror, but it does provoke deeper considerations: in the hands of skilled filmmakers who know how to establish reason and perspective, can extreme visual depravity rise above its nature to merely sicken and appall?” – David Keyes, Cinemaphile

[Rec]²

113. [Rec]²

Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza

2009 / Spain / 85m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Jonathan D. Mellor, Óscar Zafra, Ariel Casas, Alejandro Casaseca, Pablo Rosso, Rafa Parra, Pep Molina, Andrea Ros, Àlex Batllori, Pau Poch


“The story being depicted elaborates on the original scenario and is endlessly intriguing. We only got a taste of the virus’ demonic nature in the original and here, that concept is expanded in a frightening manner. This is no longer the story of crazed infected humans running around biting each other’s faces off; it’s a terrifying tale of deadly people being influenced by a demonic source… Balagueró and Plaza really know what they’re doing. The continuation of their story is what keeps you intrigued, but it’s the eeriness and constant need to be prepared for what’s lurking around the corner that makes this film downright as horrifying as it is relentless. REC 2 it isn’t as good as its predecessor, but only finds itself a notch below, making it an enjoyable and honorable sequel” – Perri Nemiroff, CinemaBlend

The Ruins

114. The Ruins

Carter Smith

2008 / USA / 90m / Col / Nature | IMDb

Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey, Shawn Ashmore, Joe Anderson, Sergio Calderón, Jesse Ramirez, Balder Moreno, Dimitri Baveas, Patricio Almeida Rodriguez


“Enjoyable, well made and genuinely creepy horror flick that transcends its ridiculous premise thanks to a strong script, some sure-handed direction and superb performances from a talented young cast… The script is excellent and director Carter Smith gets the tone exactly right, playing everything straight, despite the ridiculous premise, and orchestrating some genuinely creepy scenes. He also includes some impressively nasty gory moments that, crucially, derive naturally from the characters and situations rather than just looking to gross you out for the hell of it… In short, The Ruins is a worthy addition to the Tourism Is Bad genre that ensures that you’ll never look at a rustling vine quite the same way again.” – Matthew Turner, ViewLondon

Gin gwai

115. Gin gwai

Oxide Pang Chun & Danny Pang

2002 / Hong Kong / 99m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb

Angelica Lee, Lawrence Chou, Jinda Duangtoy, Yut Lai So, Candy Lo, Edmund Chen, Yin Ping Ko, Florence Wu, Wisarup Annuar, Yuet Siu Wong


“The story winds up going to familiar places, with Mun and her doctor (Lawrence Chou) doing the obligatory investigation into the former owner of Mun’s new eyes. But while this is stuff we’ve seen before, the screenplay (written by the Pangs and Jo Jo Hui) goes the unexpected route and finds an emotional base to these later scenes. There’s a great sadness hanging in the air here, mixing with the horror in such a way that the frights never feel cheap. This movie understands that while ghosts may be here to scare the crap out of us, whatever happened to make them ghosts must add some sort of tragedy to their existence. This is a ghost story that cares about its ghosts as much as it cares for its living characters. By giving their movie such emotional weight, the Pangs have crafted a horror movie that’s more effectual than most because it reaches us on a more complete level. But don’t think it’s all emotion here – there are plenty of powerful shocks and nifty spook-outs to satisfy anyone looking for a strong horror treat.” – David Cornelius, eFilmCritict

Freddy vs. Jason

116. Freddy vs. Jason

Ronny Yu

2003 / Canada / 97m / Col / Slasher | IMDb

Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter, Kelly Rowland, Chris Marquette, Brendan Fletcher, Katharine Isabelle, Lochlyn Munro, Kyle Labine


“Two dead horror franchises and two one-note jokes combine their burnt-out story lines and collective myths in “Freddy Vs. Jason,” and the result is a horror movie that’s better than it has any right to be… The Jason (‘Friday the 13th’) and the Freddy Krueger (‘Nightmare on Elm Street’) series were limp self-parodies long before they went dormant. But something in the combination of the two villains wakes things up. The presence of Freddy liberates this Jason entry from the monotony of a guy lumbering about with a ski mask and a sword, while the presence of Jason liberates this Freddy film from the monotony of the usual endless dream sequences… Director Ronny Yu… keeps it as light as possible.” – Mick LaSalle, SFGate

Splice

117. Splice

Vincenzo Natali

2009 / Canada / 104m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb

Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac, Brandon McGibbon, Simona Maicanescu, David Hewlett, Abigail Chu


“Splice is not a David Cronenberg film but it comes closer to capturing the sensibility of Cronenberg’s films from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s than anything Cronenberg himself has done in the past decade… Underpinning the stylish production values and moments of shock are strong characters and engaging writing. What holds your attention throughout Splice is the changing sympathies you constantly have for Elsa, Clive and Dren as they all constantly shift from positions of being the aggressors to being the victims. Splice is science-fiction/horror at its best, underpinning its daring moments of bodily horror and sexual anxieties with flawed characters to care about and moral issues to wrestle with.” – Thomas Caldwell, Cinema Autopsy

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

118. The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

Tom Six

2009 / Netherlands / 92m / BW / Body Horror | IMDb

Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura, Andreas Leupold, Peter Blankenstein, Bernd Kostrau, Rene de Wit, Sylvia Zidek, Rosemary Annabella


“So what is the use of a genre film that doesn’t conform to the conventions of genre? Plenty. You know this movie is called The Human Centipede. You will watch the film knowing you will see a human centipede. And when it is over, you will be able to claim you have now seen a human centipede. The evocative title, the lack of motive and the absence of genre tropes are completely intentional – Six is giving us what we want, reminding us all the while that getting exactly what we want is usually the last thing we should ever really have. Basically, The Human Centipede is a better, more effective satire (experiment?) than Michael Haneke’s Funny Games.” – Simon Miraudo, Quikflix

Land of the Dead

119. Land of the Dead

George A. Romero

2005 / USA / 93m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, Eugene Clark, Joanne Boland, Tony Nappo, Jennifer Baxter, Boyd Banks


“The ideas fly as fast and furious as the body parts, but brilliantly Romero never stoops to obvious, dialogue-driven harangues, instead opting to submerge his conceit- that is, a divided society where zombies reflect our own political complacency – in the forgotten stuff of subtext. The gore is amped up appropriately from earlier films, and provides a literal cross-section of destruction and dismemberments; some of them exist for sheer thrill value, but Romero, unlike many of his style-stealing disciples, knows that substantive storytelling is the key to evoking true dread, not a coroner’s checklist of body parts.” – Todd Gilchrist, IGN Movies

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

120. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Scott Derrickson

2005 / USA / 119m / Col / Possession | IMDb

Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Carpenter, Colm Feore, Joshua Close, Kenneth Welsh, Duncan Fraser, JR Bourne, Mary Beth Hurt


“By giving us the facts as seen through the eyes of the various beholders, the film is asking us to be the jury that decides the case, and the information provided is very intentionally left open to interpretation. Rather than seeming wishy-washy and indecisve, this results in a film with a great deal of tension and suspense. Structuring the story as a courtroom drama increases the horror because it takes place in a believable context: whether you think Emily is ill or possessed, what happens to her is almost beyond endurance. Moreover, because the fate of the priest rests on the trial’s outcome, it’s clear that the horrific events in the story have dramatic consequences: what happens is part of a convincing story, not just a series of gratuitous special effects shocks.” – Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique

Funny Games U.S.

121. Funny Games U.S.

Michael Haneke

2007 / USA / 111m / Col / Home Invasion | IMDb

Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearhart, Boyd Gaines, Siobhan Fallon, Robert LuPone, Susi Haneke, Linda Moran


“This transposed Funny Games registers more strongly than the original as a film about privileged white people… Next to their Austrian equivalents, Corbet and Pitt seem less outwardly presentable, more outlandish and fey… While both iterations of Funny Games are schematic to a fault, their anti-illusionism opens up a Pandora’s box of unanswered questions. Haneke scolds us for our bloodlust, yet leaves us wondering how the suffering of a fictional character can carry any weight at all. As onscreen narrators employed to articulate these puzzles, Peter and Paul could be cousins to the Joker in The Dark Knight or Javier Bardem’s smiling assassin in No Country For Old Men.” – Jake Wilson, The Age

Dans ma peau

122. Dans ma peau

Marina de Van

2002 / France / 93m / Col / Body Horror | IMDb

Marina de Van, Laurent Lucas, Léa Drucker, Thibault de Montalembert, Dominique Reymond, Bernard Alane, Marc Rioufol, François Lamotte, Adrien de Van, Alain Rimoux


“It’s mostly the suggestion of what Esther is doing to herself that worms its way into your mind and won’t leave you alone, and that’s what people were finding so uncomfortable that they couldn’t continue to watch the film. Being confronted with a sudden boundary between “me” and “my body” isn’t something many of us have dealt with, and our innate inclination for self-preservation tells us to run from the suggestion that such a thing is possible. That might make In My Skin the ultimate horror movie, one the proposes that, given the right stimulus, we ourselves could be our own worst mortal danger.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher

Zombieland

123. Zombieland

Ruben Fleischer

2009 / USA / 88m / Col / Zombie | IMDb

Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Bill Murray, Derek Graf


“You could argue that the film is really about ‘family’ or ‘friendship’ or ‘romance’ or ‘finding acceptance’, because these are the elements that make up life, and thus, are the building blocks of most stories. But, life in Zombieland isn’t exactly life at all. Our four protagonists struggle to find normalcy in their situation, and although they succeed to a certain degree, it is only once they learn to accept (and enjoy) the disemboweling of their undead enemies. No, this film is not some Michael Haneke-esque lecture condemning audiences for enjoying the violence within. It is a celebration. It’s nice to see a movie in which the very fabric of society falls apart, yet humanity still soldiers on; not through feats of extreme bravery or powerful self-sacrifice, but through a sense of humour.” – Simon Miraudo, Quickflix

Inland Empire

124. Inland Empire

David Lynch

2006 / USA / 180m / Col / Experimental | IMDb

Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux, Karolina Gruszka, Jan Hencz, Krzysztof Majchrzak, Grace Zabriskie, Ian Abercrombie, Karen Baird, Bellina Logan


“Because watching movies is a bizarre business, and a movie creates its own world, in some ways more persuasively cogent and real than the reality surrounding it, Lynch positions himself in the no man’s land between these two realities and furnishes it with a landscape and topography all his own… It is mad and chaotic and exasperating and often makes no sense: but actually not quite as confusing as has been reported. Even the most garbled of moments fit approximately into the vague scheme of things, and those that don’t – those worrying rabbits – are, I guess, just part of the collateral damage occasioned by Lynch’s assault on the ordinary world. How boring the cinema would be without David Lynch, and for a long, long moment, how dull reality always seems after a Lynch movie has finished.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

Triangle

125. Triangle

Christopher Smith

2009 / UK / 99m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb

Melissa George, Joshua McIvor, Jack Taylor, Michael Dorman, Henry Nixon, Rachael Carpani, Emma Lung, Liam Hemsworth, Bryan Probets


“After his passable, low-budget horror movie, Severance, the British writer-director Christopher Smith takes a big leap forward with this clever and compelling occult thriller. Shot on the coast of Queensland but set in Miami, it interweaves to potent effect Nietzsche’s theory of “eternal recurrence”, the mystery of the Mary Celeste and Sutton Vane’s once popular play Outward Bound… It’s creepy, atmospheric stuff and at every twist of this Möbius strip we wonder how Smith will keep things going. But he manages it with considerable skill and we leave his picture suitably shaken.” – Philip French, The Observer