Friday, April 19, 2013

Best Horror/Thriller Films of the Decade, So Far

Throughout this week of guest columnists, I've had friends schooled in film and members of the Philadelphia Film Society. Today, I have asked Stephen Fisher to offer some input on the finest horror and thriller movies so far this decade (released after 2010). While anyone who knows Stephen is well aware of his deep-rooted affinity for the horror genre, I felt comfortable placing this task in his hands. Although I disagree with some of his selections (his picks were heavy on the horror side while the honorable mention list was filled with recognized cinematic thrillers), Stephen offers a reputable insight into the genre that sparked my love of film. Here's his take on the best horror and thriller movies released since 2010:

            Sinister is a supernatural horror film that recently came out not too long ago.  The film follows a true crime novelist Ellison Oswalt (played by Ethan Hawke) who’s trying to publish his first bestseller since his previous book “Kentucky Blood” more than ten years ago.  He and his family move into a new house where a gruesome crime once took place.  Upon moving into the home, Ellison stumbles across a box in the attic filled with home movies shot on 8mm film.  Ellison watches one of the films and comes across the family who recently lived there; only to watch the final shot of how the family was brutally murdered by an unknown killer.   
            This modern horror film differs from others because director Scott Derrickson really focuses on plot development.  Also, he tries a different method by combing a “found footage” approach with traditional cinematography.  He does this by filming from the main character’s POV while watching these family films on the projector.  Overall this is a very well made horror film with some insane scares. 

            It had been 11 years since a previous installment from the Scream franchise arrived in movie theaters, but the wait was well worth it.  Kevin Williamson, the writer of the first trilogy, really put a lot of thought into this one and pays homage to his original.  The opening scene for this entry is by far the best he’s ever written for the entire franchise.  I don’t want to spool it because it’s that good and you need to see it for yourself to appreciate the experience. 

            The film starts off 10 years after the 3rd entry and takes place in the same town as the original, Woodsboro, where local teenagers are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the murders.  The original cast of Sidney, Dewey, and Gale (Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox) return for this 4th go-around, but we’re also introduced to the “new” generation of kids as well such as Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her friends Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) and Olivia (Marielle Jaffe).  There are others young characters who enter the mix such as Charlie (Rory Culkin), who is the “film buff” and knows everything about horror, and his buddy Robbie (Erik Knudsen).  The collection of young actors and actresses do a fine job of making Scream 4 stand out as a horror film. The movie builds on a strong foundation of plot and character development and concludes with an unforgettable final act.  Although the film pushes a two hour running time, which rarely bodes well in the horror genre, it all manages to pay off in the end. 

3. Frozen (2010)
Probably the most underrated thriller of 2010 goes to Frozen.  Adam Scott, who is best known for his old-school slasher-style Hatchet franchise, gives us quite a nail biter here.  The plot of the film is very simple, three college friends go up the mountains to take a break from school and enjoy the slopes.  Just before closing time, the friends go on the lift for one last run. However, a series of unfortunate circumstances and misunderstandings leave the three of them stranded there dangling stories above the frozen ground.  The plot may sound dumb, but the way Adam Green sets everything up forces the audience to form a connection with the characters. 

            The film is shot extremely well with intense close-ups of characters and their reactions to the bitter cold temperatures and the frost bite they’re experiencing.  The three main characters Joe, (Shawn Ashmore) Dan, (Kevin Zegers) and Parker (Emma Bell) give very convincing performances.  Compliments are also in order for the make-up team, as this is a film you don’t want to miss. 

            Talk about a film that is great from its opening shot until its closing credits.  This is Jeff Nichols’ second film and it illustrates his potential in becoming a household name in the movie industry.  He knows how to create genuine characters through an excellent screenplay.

            The film is about a middle-aged man named Curtis (Michael Shannon) who’s been having strange apocalyptic dreams.  He believes they’re going to come true, so he starts to build a storm shelter underneath the ground to protect his family.  Jessica Chastain plays Curtis’ wife and both her and Shannon have great chemistry onscreen which helps solidify their outstanding performances.  This should give Hollywood a wake up call and give Michael Shannon more leading roles, because the man is one damn good actor.  

            Talk about the best horror film of the last decade, first time director Drew Goddard hits it out of the park with The Cabin in the Woods.  The movie was written by both Drew and Joss Whedon, the director of the smash-hit The Avengers.  This film shows just how much these two men appreciate the horror genre by paying homage to various classics from the past few decades.   There are many hints in the film as to how they’re appreciating their predecessors’ work, but any true horror fan can surely figure it out.  Not only does the movie generate some good scares, but smart writing and a perfect blend of horror and comedy really help The Cabin in the Woods to stand out.  The last time this was executed so well was in the original Scream film, which is a completely iconic horror masterpiece.  There are also a few recognizable stars in the movie such as Chris Hemsworth and Richard Jenkins.

            The film follows 5 stereotypical college friends who set out for a fun weekend at a deserted cabin in the middle of nowhere.  When I say “stereotypical teenagers”, I mean there’s a jock, nerd, burnout, slut and, of course, the sacred virgin.  Once they reach the cabin, you’re introduced to mysterious people who are monitoring their activities for unknown reasons.  But one thing is for sure, they want these kids killed. That’s all I can say about the plot.  You’re in for a special treat if you take the time to watch this amazing film.  The last 15 minutes are an absolute blast!

Honorable Mention:


  1. Have you seen Spiral? It was the film Adam Greene made in between Hatchet and Frozen and I actually think it's his best movie (though I love the shit out of Hatchet)

  2. Matt,

    Neither of us (Steve or me) have seen Spiral, but I'll check it out if you give it the Saint Mort recommendation