Annabelle: Creation, the prequel to the spin-off from 2013’s The Conjuring, is the latest installment in The Conjuring universe; Hollywood just love their movie universes don’t they… anyway, Annabelle 2 is just around the corner, so before I review the prequel/sequel to the god-awful Annabelle, I’m going to count down my favourite horror movies from the last 10 years.
Now remember, these are just my opinion and I haven’t got round to seeing every horror movie of the past 10 years, these are just the ones that stood out for me. Anyway without further ado, let’s get into it.
10: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007)
This is the movie that really kick started the found footage genre, now I know some people consider this is a knock off of The Blair Witch Project (1999) but the only similarities is that its filmed using a home camera and 1st person view (found footage). The film centres on a young couple who start to experience disturbances from a demonic presence during the night. The film doesn’t bombard you with loud noises and cheap jump scares to induce fear, it’s much more subtle in its attempt to frighten us, a slam of a door and footsteps build more tension than someone touching a character on the shoulder proceeded by a loud noise. It sticks with you after seeing it, you’re checking every corner of your bedroom before turning off the lights, and I dared leave my foot dangling off the edge of my bed, I don’t want to be dragged down the hallway screaming, no thank you.
9: YOU’RE NEXT (2011)
This was a surprising one… the film focuses on a family reunion/anniversary getaway, and when the happy occasion is interrupted by a gang of mysterious, mask wearing murderers, an unlikely party guest will give the killers a run for their money. The movie is very creative and innovative, whilst still following some of the usual horror movie tropes, the killers aren’t just killing for the sake of it, there’s motivation behind their actions, as well as the classic “final girl”, she isn’t just surviving various encounters because she’s lucky, and just runs away, she fights back in some brutal, and delightfully gory ways. The film incorporates some great scares, solid gore and some funny moments, throughout the film it makes you think, who could be involved in the invasion and why are they doing it. Overall, a great addition to the slasher genre.
8: THE STRANGERS (2008)
Now for another home invasion horror! This film follows the story of a young couple staying in a secluded vacation home. A simple knock at the door in the middle of the night kick starts a violent invasion by three masked strangers. Oh and it is inspired by true events, excellent… This is a very tense movie with the first half building tension with a little amount of jump scares, as well as some creepy imagery, the acting was very convincing with a lot of it being non-verbal. Liv Tyler’s performance felt very real, and I also read that the director wouldn’t tell her when a jump scare would happen, in order to get a realistic reaction which made for some very authentic moments of terror. The second half does veer into some clichéd territory which was a bit disappointing but overall I found the film very creepy and suspenseful, something like this could actually happen which makes it that more terrifying.
7: GREEN ROOM (2015)
This one I caught on Netflix, did some research, it had some good reviews so I gave it a go, and I wasn’t disappointed. The film focuses on a punk rock band who witness a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar, trapped in the green room, they must fight for survival as they are the only evidence that proves this murder took place.
This movie made me very stressed, in a good way, it is definitely a grim movie, it’s brutal and relentless and doesn’t slow down for a second. Although the violence is very visceral and ruthless, it never veers into Saw territory where the violence is, at times, unwatchable, which was great. The acting was very good with a stand out performance from Patrick Stewart, he gives a very haunting performance as the skinhead leader. This movie was like a shot of adrenaline, I was constantly on edge, and it’s also a very tense and unpredictable movie and well worth a watch.
6: V/H/S/2 (2013)
VHS 2 is an anthology movie focusing on two PI’s who are investigating the disappearance of a student, they come across a house with a collection of VHS tapes, as they view each cassette, they discover a darker reason for the disappearance.
The first tape is about a man who has replaced his eye with a robotic one, the company that designed the eye wants to record what it sees for “quality check” purposes, and things go very wrong. The man begins to see ghost around his house, this tape has a lot of good jump scares and some creepy imagery. Great start!
The second tape follows a man riding his bike through the forest with a GoPro strapped to his helmet, oh and then a zombie outbreak occurs and he is bitten, reanimates and we then get to watch the rest of the tape through the eyes of a zombie as he stumbles upon a children’s birthday party feeling pretty hungry. This one was great, very creative with some awesome zombie kills and gore.
The third tape is the longest and probably the best of the bunch. It follows an Indonesian film crew as they investigate a mysterious cult. After a few tense scenes, it all kicks off! This tape had me on the edge of my seat for its entirety, it was disturbing, but brilliant at the same time. Lots of gore with some hideous creatures and frightening imagery that will stick with you as you move onto the next tape.
The final tape is Slumber Party Alien Abduction, that’s a pretty good title if you ask me. A group of kids are left alone at their lodge while their parents are away, and boom, alien attack! The tape is shot with a camera strapped to the family dog, very innovative. This tape has some cool moments and the aliens themselves are pretty menacing and creepy.
Overall, VHS has the perfect mix of fun, gore and disturbing imagery and is well worth a watch.
5: EVIL DEAD (2013)
A dark, disturbing and gorier version of the cult classic that ditches the campy humour of the original. A group of friends head to a cabin in the woods where they accidentally summon horrifying demons after reading a book covered in human skin, just your average Saturday night then. It was refreshing to see the CGI bypassed in favour of more practical effects, the gore was relentless, it will do things to your stomach and make you want to look away, but you can’t because it’s that good. In a world of trash remakes and reboots, it is good to see that filmmakers can put their own stamp on a beloved classic whilst still honouring the original. I will say one thing, it’s not for the faint of heart that’s for sure.
4: IT FOLLOWS (2014)
One of the most original ideas in years. It Follows is about a young woman who, after a sexual encounter, is constantly followed by an unseen, supernatural presence. This creative idea was expertly fleshed out in an unrelenting, unsettling way. You never know where this thing is, as it could look like anyone, it moves slowly and it is persistent. The cinematography was fantastic, add in a brilliant score and solid acting and It Follows has breathed new life into the horror genre. An outstanding psychological horror that has set the bar extremely high for future
3: THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)
They flipped the genre on its head when they made this one. A group of stereotypes, including the Jock, Slut, Stoner, Smart Guy and Virgin all make their way to a secluded cabin in the woods, and something goes wrong, sound familiar? They use all the clichéd aspects of horror movies and implement them in a way that is very refreshing, all of the stupid decisions we see in horror movies are explained in an interesting and funny way. I don’t want to spoil anything, but all I’ll say is that the acting is very good, there are a lot of horror references that any fan of the genre should keep an eye out for. Overall, it is a very fun, entertaining and clever movie and shouldn’t be missed.
2: SINISTER (2012)
Ethan Hawke plays a true crime writer, who has just moved into a house where the previous owners were murdered, this is so he can research the murder and write his next book. He soon discovers a box of old film reels that depict gruesome murders which suggest the murder he is researching is the work of serial killer. This movie scared the crap out of me in the cinema, the cinematography and sound design were the stand outs, long stretches of quiet moments did a great job in building tension. They don’t rely on fake jump scares, and when I say “fake” I’m talking about animals jumping out of bushes, friends touching each other on the shoulder, things that aren’t scary but add in a loud noise and the director thinks that’s terrifying, it’s not. The film reels were incredibly unsettling and increasingly more horrific, and the acting was excellent. The opening shot lets you know straight away what kind of movie you’re in for, it’s haunting.
I want to include some honourable mentions, movies that I thoroughly enjoyed but didn’t quite make the cut, but I definitely recommend getting your hands on these ones;
THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE (2016)
GET OUT (2017)
THE BABADOOK (2014)
THE CONJURING 2 (2016)
THE DESCENT (2005) (I know it’s not in the last 10 years but this movie is awesome)
1: THE CONJURING (2013)
The Conjuring tells the story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren who try to help a family who are being tormented by a demonic presence in their Rhode Island home. This is the most terrifying movie I have ever seen, I lost count of how many times I felt a horrible feeling coursing through my body. The two most important aspects of any good horror movie are sound design and cinematography. James Wan has created a masterpiece in horror film-making, long extended shots of rooms make you want to scan every corner of the screen, we fear what we can’t see and Wan did a tremendous job of conveying that. No loud jump scares, just scalp-tingling imagery that stuck with me way after the credits had rolled. The movie did not have any sex scenes, an ounce of gore or a single swear word but still got a 15 rating, it got a 15 for being scary, and my god it delivers on scares. Based on a real life case file of Ed and Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring is an expertly shot, brilliantly sounding, blood-curdling horror masterpiece, and it comes in at my number one spot.