The 11 Scariest Movies Of The Last 11 Years
By Nate Hensley
We all know the tried and true horror classics – the scary movies from years gone by that still haunt us. The Exorcist. Jaws. Halloween. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They will never fade from out memories. And even more recent horror flicks, like Blair Witch Project, have achieved cult classic status as among the scariest movies ever. But even Blair Witch is getting on in years now. It was made back in 1999.
So what about the new century? What are the new classics? What the scariest damn movies in the last decade?
This is my list – the scariest 11 movies of the last 11 years. And bear in mind I’m talking movies that scared the crap out of me; there are a lot of great horror movies that aren’t on the list, even though they may be better films than some of the movies here. 28 Days Later is one of my top ten favorite movies of all time, and yet it didn’t scare me as deeply as others. Behind the Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon is an amazing film, and yet too funny to make the list. Frailty is a deep and intense film worthy of unmatched praise… and yet it isn’t on the list, either.
These are the movies to make your skin crawl, to make you jump, to linger in your head after they end and trouble your sleep. Disturbing, upsetting, frightening, startling, terrifying… these are the scariest movies of the last 11 years.
The Descent (2005)
Director: Neil Marshall
Like many great horror films, this one starts quietly. It builds slowly, developing the characters and giving them motivations and reasons for being in such a dangerous place with no back-up. When these ladies descend into the labyrinthian cave system for a grand adventure, it’s inevitable that everything will go wrong – but they have no idea just how monstrously wrong it will go. And although we, the viewer, do know something is waiting for them down in the darkness, we can’t prepare ourselves for the overwhelming intensity of fear, terror, and claustrophobia that Neil Marshall drops on us.
The premise is simple – a group of cave explorers get cut off from the surface, and have to go deeper in order to find another way out. But down below are things. Crawlers, they are called. Subhumans that live in the deep darkness and are hungry for fresh meat. But The Descent is anything but simple, the way it uses the character development at the start of the picture to put more and more twists into the plight of the trapped women. This attention to character keeps the tension of the film at a rapid boil, all the while Marshall is cranking up the fear and the gore with the approach of the crawlers.
If you are not claustrophobic, this movie might make you so. And if you are afraid of tight places, then open a window because The Descent may give you a heart attack.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Director: Alexandre Aja
Alexandre Aja has had a short but memorable career in horror so far, and has proven himself to be one of the most promising directors in the genre. His ability to generate tension is amazing, his visual technique is smooth and polished, and he brings the shocks and the gore with both fists. Even with all of those qualities in his favor, I never expected him to take one of the great classic Wes Craven horror films and absolutely blow it out of the water with his remake.
A family is driving cross country, and makes a wrong turn in the middle of the desert. Stranded, they are inconvenienced but have food, water, shelter, trained dogs, and a gun. They have no reason to fear the setting sun, right? They have no reason to think that a deranged clan of mutants are living out there in the barren landscape, like desert scavengers, waiting to descend on any prey who cross into their territory. The picture-perfect American Family is thrown into a battle of survival against their dark twisted mirror image, and just when it seems like things are at their worst the bottom drops out, and the horror really begins.
The Hills Have Eyes is a brutal film. It is unrelenting, and wrings every ounce of horror and revulsion out of every scene. The mutants are chilling, not only in appearance but in how utterly inhuman they are towards their victims. The Descent trapped its characters deep underground, and yet these characters are under the wide open sky and yet are every bit as hopelessly trapped. And best of all, everything builds towards a unexpected final half hour that turns everything on its head. A more satisfying horror movie might not have been made since.
Check back soon for the rest of the list!