The first decade of 2000 brought a great selection of horror films. We had remakes of classics (Halloween, Friday the 13th), remakes of Asian horror films (The Ring, The Eye), and new films that turned into series (Saw, Hostel). That’s not even counting the numerous films other countries brought it. It was certainly a diverse and exciting time in horror. Some films were better than others and did more for the genre than others. In no particular order, here is my list of the top 5 films of the last decade.
1) Dark Water
Dark Water, a Japanese film released in 2002, is one of the movies that helped along the craze of Asian-inspired horror. In fact, it received its own American remake in 2005. It is directed by Hideo Nakata who directed the original Japanese Ring films, as well as the sequel to the American version of The Ring.
The original gets my vote for its use of atmosphere and its very emotional story. Based on a short story by Koji Suzuki (who also wrote the books that inspired The Ring), the plot follows Yoshimi Matsubara and her young daughter Ikuko as she goes through a divorce. Yoshimi moves into an apartment with her daughter only to discover that the ceiling above has a very large leak. She soon discovers that the family who lived in the apartment before left after their daughter, who is about Ikuko’s age, suddenly disappeared. True to the horror genre, weird things begin to happen to Yoshimi and her daughter and only time will tell what is causing it. When the cause is finally discovered, it is extremely heartbreaking. The ending to the film is very bittersweet as well.
The setting of a very dingy and rundown apartment building really helps the story and the atmosphere. While the dim-lit corridors and corners frighten you, you also understand that it is the only sort of hope Yoshimi has for raising her daughter as a single mom. Nakata used this very much to his advantage and that is why Dark Water is one of the top films of last decade.
2) 28 Days Later
Also released in 2002, 28 Days Later provided something new to the zombie genre and I don’t think we’re ever going back. That’s right, fast zombies. 28 Days Later is perhaps the first horror film to feature zombies that didn’t slowly shuffle. They sprinted. It makes the zombies of years ago look boring.
This British film is about the accidental release of a virus named Rage. This virus turns people into “Infected”, crazed zombie-like shells of the people they once were. The story itself is pretty familiar to anyone who has seen a zombie film: survivors trying to survive. 28 Days Later updated itself so that it is even more relevant to today’s world. No longer are survivors hiding out in abandoned farmhouses. You now have people trying to survive right in the middle of the city. The only buildings where you can find beds are multiple story apartments, where anything could be in any of the hundreds of rooms. This manages to make the idea of a zombie outbreak even more bleak. We pride ourselves on being so connected these days but it has its disadvantages as well.
Identity was a shocker of a psychological film released in 2003 and definitely deserves a place on this list. This movie doesn’t just have a shocker ending; a full-blown twist is dropped halfway through. The movie mostly follows 10 strangers who all end up at a remote hotel in the middle of the desert. As they begin to die one-by-one they realize that a murderer is among them.
The movie is exceptional because you never know exactly what will happen next. There are so many misleading clues and twists and turns that you stay on the edge of your set the entire time. When the shocking twist is revealed, and you finally learn what is really happening, the events taking place get even more interesting than they did before. I won’t say too much about it because everyone deserves to see this movie unspoiled.
4) The Orphanage
The Orphanage, a Spanish-language film, was released in 2007 and got rave reviews. After watching it I can definitely see why.
This movie is another one that excels on atmosphere and emotion. The Orphanage is about a woman, Laura, who returns to the Orphanage she grew up in with her husband, Carlos, and son, Simon. While there, Simon claims to have a new friend named Tomas who wears a mask. After plenty of weird occurrences, Simon suddenly disappears. This begins Laura’s quest to find her son whom she does not believe to be dead.
To this day, The Orphanage is the only film that I can actually say scared me. The movie does an amazing job at creating very creepy scenes that rely purely on tension and atmosphere. There are many times where you know something will happen. Instead of having something suddenly pop out though, they let the events slowly creep up on you. You know they’re coming and you can see them coming. This is highly effective and creates extended periods of terror instead of short bursts. I loved this about this movie.
5) Dead Snow
My last choice is a Norwegian horror/comedy film released in 2009. Horror/comedy has always been a favorite of mine and Dead Snow does not disappoint in either genre.
The plot is simple and familiar enough. A group of friends decide to go on a trip up to a deserted cabin in the middle of nowhere and come face-to-face with evil. What makes this movie unique? The evil they face aren’t just zombies. They’re Nazi zombies!
The horror aspects will definitely delight fans of over-the-top gore and violence. Throughout the film you see someone’s head torn apart, a rope made of intestines, and an amputated arm. A scene near the end will specifically please fans as 2 of the heroes take on a horde of the Nazi zombies with weapons they recently found.
The humor is much the same as humor found in other horror/comedies. Specifically the Evil Dead trilogy and Braindead/Dead Alive (one of the characters even wears a Braindead shirt). For those unfamiliar with these films, most of the humor is from the very over-the-top violence and situations. Dead Snow also has some hilarious moments that are just plain genius. You’ll be cracking up at the way one of the heroes stops a nasty wound. There’s a Molotov cocktail scene that will also have you holding your sides. The amputation scene mentioned before is one of the funniest scenes as well. Ultimately this movie can not disappoint.
Internet Movie Database (IMDb).