This Monday over at Twitch, new correspondent Scott Weinberg (of Cinematical fame) put forth a list of the 50 Best Horror Films and I couldn’t resist the urge to chime in on it. My thoughts were too many to be left in the post's comment section, and to rebut with a full ranked list of my own would be too cumbersome an undertaking right now.
So, what I figured I’d do was break down his list in tens, like it was featured on the site. Now, let me preface my comments by saying that for the most part I agree with Weinberg’s choices. Just by seeing obscure gems like Isolation, Splinter and Sauna on there, it is clear that he knows his stuff. However, there are also some glaring omissions as well as some titles I’ve always felt were a little overrated, but I’ll get to those as they come up.
Also, I was pretty chuffed to find that out of the fifty-three films listed below, I’ve seen fifty-one of them. Click on the movie titles to read my original reviews, where applicable. You can also see my “Bloody Best of the 00's” post from 2009 by clicking here. To see Scott Weinberg's original Twitch post, click here.
The Top 50 Horror Films, 2000 to 2009
Countdown: 50 - 41
50. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006): I’ve always had a soft spot for this colourful slasher, so glad to see it squeaked on here.
49. The Devil's Chair (2007): Even though I like this movie more than most do, I think there are better, more even films in Mason & Boyes catalogue. However, having said that, I don’t think they would have made my list.
48. The Broken (2008)
47. Dark Water (2005): At first I thought he meant the Japanese original, but on further inspection, I see he means the remake. This would be the title I would most contest on his list. Weinberg saying this film is “never boring” is just dead wrong.
46. Splinter (2008)
45. Hatchet (2006)
44. The Others (2001)
41. Isolation (2005)
I can’t comment on The Broken as I never saw it, but everything else here is solid.
Countdown: 40 - 31
40. 30 Days of Night (2007): I would put this a lot higher. Not only is it an excellent adaptation of the comic, it gave vampires their fangs back amidst all this Twilight nonsense. Let’s just try to forget what David Slade went on to do next.
39. The Signal (2007): If it was all like the first third, I'd agree with it being on the list, but as it was, it would likely not appear on mine.
38. Dance of the Dead (2008): As far as comically-tinged zombie flicks go, I would have slated in Dead Snow over this.
37. Open Water (2003): This would’ve been way higher for me. Very few films of this era affected me as much as this one did, but that could be my overt fear of sharks talking.
36. Slither (2006)
34. Grace (2009)
33. The Midnight Meat Train (2008): This movie was enjoyable enough, but a better horror featuring Bradley Cooper was Marc Evans’ 2002 flick My Little Eye.
32. Dog Soldiers (2002)
Paranormal Activity & Dog Soldiers are deservedly placed. As for Slither and Grace, even though I liked them both very much, I'm not sure they'd make it. The same goes for The Burrowers. I’m a bigger fan of J.T. Petty’s earlier work S&Man.
Countdown: 30 - 21
30. Sauna (2008): This is a great flick and embodies the slow, yet engaging qualities that Weinberg was referencing for Dark Water. But this one actually delivers.
29. The Children (2008): I'd probably put this a little higher. I saw this is early 2009 and it knocked my socks off.
28. The Living and the Dead (2006)
27. Dawn of the Dead (2004): Of all the classic remakes we were inundated with in the 2000's, this one does rate among the best.
26. The Loved Ones (2009): To be honest, I don't love this movie. I went in knowing nothing and couldn't help but thinking “oh, it’s just one of these movies” about half-way through. I'd be willing to give it another watch, as a recent revisit of Jon Hewitt's Acolytes improved my initial lukewarm opinion.
25. Carriers (2009): I saw this last month. It is a solid flick, but not Best 50.
24. Hostel (2005) // Hostel Part 2 (2007): I'll agree on the first, but the second? No way.
23. The Ruins (2008): The distracting CG is pretty much the only negative of this very good effort.
22. Teeth (2007): This is probably the film I liked the least on Weinberg's list.
21. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003): A fantastic film, but this area of the list would be reserved for other Asian entries like The Eye, Ju-on, Shutter or Alone, all of which are conspicuously missing from his list.
Countdown: 20 - 11
20. The Mist (2007): A solid King adaptation, with a brave ending. The B&W version on the DVD is even better because it masks some of the more dodgy CG.
19. High Tension (2003): This is my favourite of the French new wave and would no doubt be higher on my list.
18. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
17. Grindhouse (2007): This one is maybe a tad high. It is a very important title in the grand scheme of things, as it paved the way for such retro-sheik titles such as Machete, Hobo With A Shotgun and House of the Devil.
16. Saw (2004): This is another important film for indie horror, but not 16th place important.
15. Trick 'r Treat (2007): I loved this long-awaited anthology as much as the next guy, but 15th is way too high.
14. 28 Days Later (2002) // 28 Weeks Later (2007)
12. The House of the Devil (2009): I love it, but not this much. Maybe with a stronger ending, I would relent.
11. The Descent (2005): The fact that this isn’t top five is one of my biggest gripes with Weinberg's list. I would put this one in the top three, if not at number one, on my list.
Shaun of the Dead, the 28 films and Devil’s Backbone are all deserved teens.
Countdown: 10 - 1
10. Martyrs (2008): A powerhouse of a film to be sure, but I would still put High Tension and Them (which was completely absent from his list) above it because they are much more enjoyable viewing experiences.
09. The Host (2006): I've always thought this was a decent creature feature, but not worth the high praise it always seem to garner among many cinephiles.
08. [REC] (2007) // [REC] 2 (2009)
05. Frailty (2001): This film is criminally underrated, but I wouldn't go so far as to put it in the top ten.
04. Inside (2007)
03. May (2002): Lucky McKee's debut is exceptional, but not better than most of the titles Weinberg put in his top twenty.
02. Session 9 (2001)
01. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Numbers six through eight absolutely deserve top ten. Session 9 and Inside would likely be somewhere between ten and fifteen for me. As for his number one pick? Well, it is a bit of a stretch. Although, I do believe it was my second favourite film of 2006 (Children of Men being tops), so if I did consider Pan's Labyrinth horror – I always figured it was somewhere between dark fantasy and historical drama though – I guess it would rank quite high.
I rhymed off at least half a dozen titles that I would've omitted from Weinberg's list, so what would I replace them with? Well, let's see...
Ginger Snaps (2000): I realize Weinberg isn't a Canuck, but there's no excuse for this not being on there. Two great performances from Emily Perkins & Katharine Isabelle and a dark sense of humour make this a wonderful allegory for female adolescence.
Hard Candy (2006): The perfect example of minimalist filmmaking. Get two fantastic actors (Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page) and put them in a room together with a dialogue-driven script. Magic.
Orphan (2009): You seeing a trend here? Another strong cast spearheaded by the chilling Isabelle Fuhrmann as the title character. The marketing did this film no favours, but I was really impressed with this movie.
Mulberry Street (2006): Jim Mickle's rat-zombie apocalypse in New York feels way more epic than his budget would imply and always feels grounded by characters that you actually feel something for. To pull that off is rare these days.
Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006): Clever, self-referential and most importantly, fun. Nathan Baesel kills as a serial killer in training.
The Eclipse (2009): The surprise of Fantasia 2009. What seems like an Irish romantic drama hits you with a ghost story in some of the most inventively scary ways I've ever seen. This movie still haunts me.
And here are a few more that may have made it on...
Aussie croc flicks Rogue and/or Black Water (both 2007)
Whew. I feel better now. Lighter. Talk soon.
Look, I liked The Host, but honestly I wouldn't have even put that in my top 50. I would've liked to see The Strangers get some love, but oh well.
PS you didn't like Teeth?
I really liked The Strangers too, but it was kind of an unofficial remake of the French flick Them (Ils) which I adore.
No, not a fan of Teeth. The premise was better than the movie. I also took issue with EVERY male character being an asshole.
A lot of people don't realize this about The Strangers, but it was actually made in 2005, it just wasn't released for a couple years. The release date unfortunately made it look like an Ils remake.
I suppose that's true of Teeth, still enjoyed it though. I know I personally had never seen a vagina dentata in a film before.
Yes, I was aware that Strangers sat on the shelf for a while, but I thought it was shot in 2006. I'm not sure I buy that Ils wasn't an influence.
Good call on Ginger Snaps being omitted. I generally agree with most of your points except one: that High Tension is better than Martyrs. Not even close, in my opinion. I think High Tension was a concept that has been done dozens of times before while Martyrs really was a unique premise and execution. Just my two cents.
But yeah, Pan's Labrynth as #1? Love that movie, but it's not horror.
Yeah, if I was basing it strictly on their endings, then I'd have to agree, but the screeching score, gore by Gio de Rossi and intense set pieces made High Tension superior in my book.
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