Top 10 horror movies of the last decade

A married Friday the 13th these days is more likely to feature Renée Zellweger than Freddy Krueger.

Haute Tension
Haute Tension (2003)
Haute Tension
Haute Tension (2003)

My top horror movie of all time? Easy. And perhaps a bit of a surprise: Rosemary’s Baby (1968). It’s perfection, wrapped up in a neat, quirky Polanski stroller. But there are many, many greats (Top 10 Horror Movies of All-Time). Picking the top 10 of the last decade, however, is decidedly trickier.

I’m a confirmed horror movie fanatic. In my bachelor days I could easily down a six-pack of Oranjeboom tall boys while watching NOES 1-5 (Google it).

It’s not so easy any more.

A married Friday the 13th these days is more likely to feature Renée Zellweger than Freddy Krueger. Still, thanks to Netflix, I’m able to catch up on many of my favorites — The Omen (1976), The Shining (1980), Psycho (1960), and guilty pleasures such as Straight-Jacket (1964) with Joan Crawford in full-on camp mode, and the Amityville Horror (1979), a horror movie in search of a drinking game if I ever saw one.

But what about the last 10 years?

Is fright night still alive?

Unlike decades in the past, the stand-outs are harder to find. The craft has become somewhat commercialized. Franchises such as Saw and Scream both dumbed down the genre, despite the original entries in both series being milestones. Then there was torture porn. Forgettable stuff. As if that wasn’t enough, the bogey man returned again and again in woeful remakes: Halloween (2007), Fright Night (2011), Friday the 13th (2009). What made the originals so great was their unaware tom-foolery; not to mention, their complete lack of budget.

So, it’s been hard to keep up. Nevertheless, I’ve tried to compile my list of the TOP 10 HORROR MOVIES OF THE LAST DECADE – dum, da, dum, da, dum… (bucket of blood)… all work and no play makes Clint a dull boy

10. Session 9 (2001)

Haunted house, re-imaged. David Caruso leads his crew into an abandoned mental hospital. Chilling soundtrack. Lots of bump in the night, but doesn’t cheat the viewer.

9. Saw (2004)

A crafty twist like this can only be pulled off once. The sequels: junk.

8. 28 Days Later (2002)

I’m not a zombie guy (hey, I play hockey), but this is a rapid fire, fast paced retake on the classic genre. Intelligent.

7. The Ring (2002)

I like Naomi Watts (see: Mulholland Drive). I don’t like VHS.

6. Identity (2003)

Saw this one in the theater. Juicy camp. Nice twist that keeps you guessing.

5. Frailty (2001)

Memorable entry directed by and starring Bill Paxton (of Titanic fame). I soak this stuff up because of the religious angle – if God tells you to kill, is it OK?

4. The Descent (2005)

A sleeper. Claustrophobic, well told. Hikers get trapped in a canyon. Again, ignore the sequel. This is original filmmaking that’ll give you the chills.

3. May (2002)

Independent horror film lives… and dies! With all those Argento references it would be hard for me to pass this one over. Actress Angela Bettis may well be the sexiest crack pot in recent memory.

2. American Psycho (2000)

Pushing the decade limit here a bit. Okay, totally cheating. This is Christian Bale before Batman. Based on a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, the 80s backdrop is Wall Street creepy. As is the self indulgent, narcissistic characters… but who can believe any of that anyways?

1. High Tension (Haute Tension) (2003)

J’aime this brutal flick. Not for the feint of heart, and widely misunderstood (just search the Internet for so many off the mark interpretations). Pay close attention. The clues abound in this French slasher. A flat-out wicked horror film. Totally original, with a great score. My #1 of the last 10 years of horror films.

Fans of Black Swan — which includes me, big time (that shoulder cam!) — note that it’s not eligible because I don’t consider it a horror flick… although I could be persuaded otherwise.

Also, upon review I realize this list is front-loaded. I double checked my horror lists, and Netflix queue, and am convinced that the first half of the 2000s were a better time for the genre.

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