Film Review: The Snowman (dir by Tomas Alfredson)

So, I finally watched the 2018 thriller, The Snowman, and my main reaction to the film is that it featured a lot of snow.

That’s understandable, of course.  The film takes place in Norway and it’s called The Snowman so, naturally, I wasn’t expecting a lot of sunshine.  Still, after a while, the constant shots of the snow-covered landscape start to feel like almost some sort of an inside joke.  It’s almost as if the film is daring you to try to find one blade of grass in Norway.  Of course, the snow is important because the film’s about a serial killer who builds snowmen at the sites of his crimes.  They’re usually pretty big snowmen as well.  It’s hard not to be a little impressed by the fact that he could apparently make such impressive snowmen without anyone noticing.

Along with the snow, the other thing that I noticed about this movie is that apparently no one knows how to flip a light switch in Norway.  This is one of those films where every scene seems to take place in a dark room.  I found myself worrying about everyone’s eyesight and I was surprised the everyone in the film wasn’t wearing glasses.  I can only imagine how much strain that puts on the eyes when you’re constantly trying to read and look for clues in the dark.

Michael Fassbender plays Harry Hole, a Norwegian police inspector who may be troubled but still gets results!  He’s upset because his ex-girlfriend (Charlotte Gainsbourg) has a new boyfriend (Jonas Karlsson).  He’s also upset because his son (Michael Yates) doesn’t know that Harry is actually his father.  Or, at least, I think that Harry’s upset.  It’s hard to tell because Fassbender gives a performance that’s almost as cold as the snow covering the Norwegian ground.  Of course, he’s always watchable because he’s Fassbender.  But, overall, he doesn’t seem to be particularly invested in either the role or the film.

Harry and his new partner (Rebecca Ferguson) are investigating a missing person’s case, which quickly turns into a multiple murder mystery.  It turns out that the crimes are linked to a bunch of old murders, all of which were investigated by a detective named Gert Rafto (Val Kilmer).  Gert was troubled but he still got results!  Or, at least, Harry thinks that he may have gotten results.  Nine years ago, Rafto died under mysterious circumstances…

Now, I have to admit that when, 30 minutes into the film, the words “9 years earlier” flashed on the screen, I groaned a bit.  I mean, it seemed to me that the movie was already slow enough without tossing in a bunch of flashbacks.  However, I quickly came to look forward to those brief flashbacks, mostly because they featured Val Kilmer in total IDGAF mode.  Kilmer stumbles through the flashbacks, complete with messy hair and a look of genuine snarky bemusement on his face.  Kilmer gives such a weird and self-amused performance that his brief scenes are the highlight of the film.

Before it was released, The Snowman was hyped as a potential Oscar contender.  After the movie came out and got roasted by the critics, director Tomas Alfredson replied that the studio forced him to rush through the production and that 10 to 15% of the script went unfilmed.  Considering Alfredson’s superior work on Let The Right One In and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.  The film’s disjointed style would certainly seem to back up Alfredson’s claim that there was originally meant to be more to the film than actually ended up on the screen.

The Snowman is one of those films that doesn’t seem to be sure what it wants to be.  At times, it aspires to David Lynch-style surrealism while, at other times, it seems to be borrowing from the morally ambiguous crime films of Taylor Sheridan.  Ultimately, it’s a confused film that doesn’t seem to have much reason for existing.  At the same time, I’ve also been told that the Jo Nesbø novel upon which the movie is based is excellent.  The same author also wrote the novel that served as the basis for 2011’s Headhunters, which was pretty damn good.  So, read the book and ignore the film.

Belatedly, Here’s The First Trailer For The Snowman!

I have to admit that I kind of forgot about The Snowman.  Based on a best-selling novel and directed by Tomas Alfredson, The Snowman was one of those films that I was excited about in January but then, somehow, it continually slipped my mind that it would be coming out later this year.

Luckily, on July 19th, this trailer was released and it reminded me of The Snowman‘s existence!  Thank you, trailer!

A serial killer drama, The Snowman stars an appropriately haunted-looking Michael Fassbender.  It is scheduled to be released on October 20th, just in time to freak everyone out for Halloween!

Arleigh’s 13 Favorite Films of 2011

2011 was a year that wasn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination. From January right up to December there were not many films which I would consider event films. This is surprising considering all the superhero blockbusters which arrived during the summer and the final film in the Harry Potter film franchise. Even the prestige films which came out during the holidays never truly captured everyone’s imagination (though one film was very close to achieving it due to one Michael Fassbender).

What 2011 did have was a solid slate of titles which ranged from the pulpy to the cerebral. We even got films which were able to combine the two to come up with something very special. Not every film resonated with everyone and some even split audiences down the extreme middle with half hating it and the other half loving it.

The list below catalogs the films which I consider my favorites of 2011. Some titles on this list I consider some of the best of 2011 while some didn’t make that particular list but were entertaining enough for me to make this favorite list. Once again, the list is not ranked from top to bottom, but only numbered to keep things organized….

  1. Shame (dir. by Steve McQueen) – This character-driven film starring Michael Fassbender and Cary Mulligan was one of those film which got close to becoming the one film everyone ended up talking about as the year wound down. It’s an exercise in minimalist filmmaking as Steve McQueen doesn’t allow too much dialogue to get in the way of telling the visual story of sex-addict Brandon and his downward spiral from addiction to self-hate. Much have been said of how much Fassbender’s penis in full display was a reason why people flocked to see this little existential film, but I rather thought that was probably just a bonus for some and instead it was Fassbender’s uncompromising performance in the role of Brandon which made Shame one of my favorites for 2011.
  2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (dir. by Rupert Wyatt) – this film was one which didn’t garner too much high-anticipation from genre fans leading up to it’s release. People had been burned by Tim Burton’s reboot of the franchise and saw this second attempt to reboot the series as a failure in the making. So, it was to o everyone’s surprise that Rupert Wyatt’s film managed to not just bring new life to a stagnating franchise but do so in such a way that it became one of the best films of 2011. Sure, there was some flaws in how the human character were written, but in the end it was the performance-capture work by Andy Serkis and the digital wizardry of WETA Digital which made Rise of the Planet of the Apes not just a wonderful and fun film this past summer, but also one which laid the groundwork for more stories in what is a franchise reborn with fresh blood and life.
  3. I Saw the Devil (dir. by Kim Ji-woon) – this little revenge thriller from South Korea was one which I happened to catch just before it left the theaters this part spring. It had played in one of the few arthouse theaters in the Bay Area that hadn’t closed down. I was glad to have seen this film on the big screen instead of on Netflix Instant the way most have seen it. It’s a brutal cat-and-mouse story of a South Korean secret agent who stalks and hunts the serial killer (played by Oldboy‘s Choi Min-sik) who kidnapped and brutally murdered his fiancee. The film is not for the timid and weak of stomach as we see through the eyes of not just Agent Soo-hyun (played by Lee Byung-hun) but that of serial killer Kyung-chul the dark corners of South Korea where hunter has become prey and vice versa.  South Korea has always been good for one great film that I feel personally attached to and for 2011 it was this film.
  4. Cave of the Forgotten Dreams (dir. by Werner Herzog) – I don’t think I could ever make a year’s favorite list of any year that had a Herzog release and not have it as a favorite of mine for the year. It happens that Herzog had two films come out in 2011 and both of them excellent documentaries. It would be his earlier documentary for 2011 that became a favorite of mine. It also happened to be his first (and according to him the only time) foray into 3D-filmmaking. Herzog makes great use of 3D filmmaking’s added epth of field to make the cave paintings in the Chauvet Cave come to life. If this was going to be Herzog’s only film shot in 3D then he made one for the ages and it’s a travesty that those who vote for documentaries to be nominated for the Academy Awards failed to even list this film.
  5. Attack the Block (dir. by Joe Cornish) – this scifi-action film from the UK became the darling for genre fans everywhere. It had everything which bigger-budgeted films of the same stripe failed to accomplish. It was fun, thrilling and, most important of all, had characters which the audience would get to know and care for. John Boyega as the gang leader and, ultimately, the reluctant savior of the block which has become under siege by an alien force is just one of the highlights of the film which boasts one of the best screenplays of 2011. Joe Cornish joins the likes of Neill Blomkamp as a filmmaker whose first feature-length film hits on all cylinders.
  6. Captain America: The First Avenger (dir. by Joe Johnston) – this film was to be the last leg of the Marvel Films before 2012’s highly-anticipated The Avengers film. It introduced the film’s title character and his origins for those not familiar with the name Captain America. This film could easily have been a throwaway one. A film to set-up this year’s The Avengers. Instead what we got was one of the most fun blockbusters in the summer of 2011. Joe Johnston goes back to his Rocketeer days and creates an action film that’s full of genuine nostalgia but not burdened by it. Any doubts fans might have had of Chris Evans in the role as Captain America had them wiped clean with his pitch-perfect performance as the title character. The film also had one of the most romantic relationships on-screen in quite awhile with Evan’s Steve Rogers and Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter.
  7. Drive (dir. by Nicolas Winding Refn) – In my opinion, Refn’s existential take on the pulp genre with Drive is also one of the best films of 2011, if not the best of them all. Refn, with Ryan Gosling in the role of  the Driver, has created a film that mashes up so many different genres and does it so well that it’s hard to be sympathetic to those who felt they were misled by the fim’s trailer that it would be a nonstop action film similar to Fast Five. The film is not an action film, but a film which just happens to have some action in it. Action that comes sudden and brutal and none of the whiz-bangs other action films rely heavily on. It’s another film where Refn explores duality of the male persona. It helps Refn’s film that Gosling is so great as the Driver that the film never slows down too much before things revs up once more. The rest of the ensemble cast also does stand-out work with Albert Brooks as an aging, cynical Hollywood gangster leading the pack.
  8. Fast Five (dir. by Justin Lin) – Speaking of Fast Five…this was a film that surprised me in so many ways. It’s the fifth installment in a series that seemed to have evolved from being an action series whose main goal was to highlight the street-racing community and the ridiculous lengths people in it would go to in order to trick out their cars. This latest installment in the franchise has put the street-racing aspect of the series on the back burner and instead has remade the franchise into an action-heist series that just happens to have fast cars in it. This film was loud, fast and fun and despite some major leaps in logic in the storyline it never stopped being entertaining. It also brought back Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in an action film role that he had stopped doing these past five or so years.
  9. Hanna (dir. by Tom Hooper) – If someone had come to me and said that little Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Atonement) would turn out to be kickass action-hero directed by a British filmmaker not known for action films then I would dismiss such a thing as crazy talk. But crazy talk it wasn’t and all that came to pass with Tom Hopper’s excellent modern fairy tale in Hanna. Ronan as the title character was asuch a find in a role that didn’t just need for her to act like the little lost babe in the woods, but to also turn on a dime and kick ass with the best of action heroes past. It helped that everyone else around her were up to the task of supporting her performance whether it was Eric Bana in the role father (huntsman in fable lore) to Cate Blanchett as the cold-hearted CIA chief (evil queen) whose connection to Hanna drives the film’s narrative from beginning to end.
  10. Kung Fu Panda 2 (dir. by Jennifer Yuh Nelson) – in a year where Pixar had one of it’s rare misses (Cars 2 really was awful and such a blatant cash grab for the studio) it was there for the taking for top animated film of the year for everyone else to fight over. There was Rango and there was The Adventures of TinTin, but my favorite animated film of 2011 has to be Kung Fu Panda 2. It continues to adventures of the Dragon Warrior and panda kung master Po and his compatriots, the Furious Five. With the first film having done with him becoming the Dragon Warrior, this sequel was free to explore more aspects of Po’s life and personality such as his true origins and the tragic circumstances which led him to be adopted by his noddle-making goose of a father. The film is much darker than the previous one with it’s storyline exploring such themes as genocide and the destructive march of technology over nature’s harmony. It also had one of the best villains to come out in 2011 with Gary Oldman as the evil peacock, Lord Shen. Plus, it had scenes of Po as a baby Panda…A BABY PANDA.
  11. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (dir. by Tomas Alfredson) – a feature-length film remake of the BBC miniseries of the same name (adapted from a John LeCarre novel), this spy thriller/procedural was Tomas Alfredson’s follow-up to his coming-of-age vampire film, Let the Right One In. Once again he has taken a well-worn genre and infused it with his own unique style of storytelling which valued characters and how they all interacted with each other over action and thrilling sequences. With a cast that’s a who’s who of British cinema the film was able to condense many hours of the miniseries into just a couple and still not lose the complex and layered plot involving political intrigue and betrayal. This film also had one of the best performances by any male actor for 2011 with Gary Oldman in the role of George Smiley. With Fassbender being passed over and not nominated for Best Actor for the upcoming Academy Awards I would be very perturbed if anyone else other than Oldman took home the statue.
  12. Kill List (dir. by Ben Wheatley) – I’m not well-versed on the work by Ben Wheatley so I saw this film on the recommendation of many whose opinions I trust when it comes to genre films. To say that I was thoroughly surprised by just how well this filmed turned out would be an understatement. Kill List is one of those films which turns so many horror and thriller conventions right on its head, but do so to serve the film’s narrative instead of a filmmaker trying to show his/her audience just how clever they can be. The film moves at a gradual pace that leads to a surprising ending that has split audiences down the middle. Some have loved the ending and other have hated it. I, for one, thought the ending was the only way the film could end. This was a film that was able to balance the different aspects of what makes a thriller and what makes a horror film. The moment when the film transitions from the former to the latter was so seamless that it takes several viewings to find just where it occurred. The best horror film of 2011, bar none.
  13. 13 Assassins (dir. by Miike Takashi) – many will be saying that I’m cheating with this final entry since the film was released in 2010. I would agree with them, but then again this film wasn’t released in the US until early 2011 so in my own honest opinion it qualifies as a 2011 film. This latest from Japan’s eclectic and prolific filmmaker, Miike Takashi, is his own take on the Japanese jidaigeki and a remake of the 1963 film of the same name. If there was ever a best action film of 2011 then this film would be it. Miike would pull back from his more over-the-top visuals (though he still manages to insert some very disturbing imagery early on in the film) for a much more linear and traditional action filmmaking. It’s a men-on-a-mission film that pits the 13 assassins of the title against 200 or more bodyguards of a sadistic lord who must be killed for the sake of the country. The first 45 minutes or so of the film shows the film gathering the assassins and planning their ambush. It’s that final hour or so of the film with it’s nonstop action which qualified this film not just one of my favorite for 2011, but that year’s best action film. No other film could even get to it’s level.

Honorable Mentions: Warrior, Super 8, Batman: Year One, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Sucker Punch, A Dangerous Method, The Adventures of TinTin, The Skin I Live In, Bunraku, The Guard, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Hugo, Tyrannosaur, Thor, The Interrupters, X-Men: First Class, Contagion, Battle: Los Angeles, Project Nim

Review: Let Me In (dir. by Matt Reeves)

In 2008 a little film from Sweden swept through the film festivals and earned a rightful and well-deserved place in many film critics and film circles “best of 2008” and “top ten” lists. This was Swedish filmmaker’s film adaptation of the John Ajvide Lindqvist vampire novel, Let The Right One In. It was a vampire film that appealed not just to horror genre fans hungry for a vampire film that was the polar opposite of the current “Twilight” vampire craze. Horror fans wanted something that wasn’t watered down and emasculated to better appeal to the tween girl set. So, Alfredson’s vampire film was embraced by these horror fans and when news came that the rights to the novel was licensed by British-studio Hammer Film and an American-remake was set for production the reaction was decisively negative.

Fans of the original Swedish film were quite protective of the film and saw any plans to remake it for the North American audience as a cynical cash-grab. Their argument was that the original film was such a great one that there should be no need to remake it. Why fix something that wasn’t broken was another point made. It didn’t help the side of those supporting the remake that Matt Reeves was chosen to direct the remake. Reeves was better known as J. J. Abrams friend (some would say Reeves owes his success to Abrams and that he was coattailing the successful producer-director) and the director of the POV monster film, Cloverfield.

As strident fans of the original continued to vent and complain about the remake already failing (despite not an inch of film being shot) the producers were gradually filling the roles in the remake with some very interesting names. Fresh off her break-out performance in Kick-Ass was Chloe Grace Moretz taking on the role of Abby (the vampire child in the original was named Eli) with Kodi-Smit McPhee (The Road) taking on the role of the young boy Owen who befriends her. One name after the other filled out the cast with some very good veteran actors from Elias Koteas to Richard Jenkins (taking on the role of Abby’s Renfield).

Matt Reeeves’ version of Lindqvist novel from Alfredson comes from using the novel itself as the base for the screenplay Reeves himself wrote for the remake. While Let Me In shares many similarities in characters and situations from the original Swedish film, Reeves film does use more of the themes and details from the novel than Alfredson did for his adaptation. Let Me In definitely has enough about it which will distinguish itself from its Swedish counterpart and stand on its own.

The film switches locales from a suburb of in Sweden to a snowy Los Alamos, New Mexico (yes, it does snow in New Mexico). We learn quickly that Owen has become quite the loner due to the constant bullying by classmates. He spends time alone in the plaza area of the apartment complex he lives in with his mother (played by Carla Buono who we never fully see). He fantasizes of getting back at those who have and still bullying him even to the point that he buys a small pocketknife and practices his retribution on one of the trees in the plaza. It’s during one of his nighttime practices with the pocketknife that he first encounters Abby. There’s a certain wariness during their encounter with Abby proclaiming that Owen will not become a friend. But in time the two do become friends with Abby becoming quite protective of Owen once learning about the bullying he has to endure on a daily basis.

The change in Abby’s relationship with Owen doesn’t sit well with Abby’s Renfield. He asks Abby never to see Owen again as he goes out to procure Abby more fresh blood (a previous attempt goes awry forcing Abby to go out into the night to hunt). It’s in the scenes between Abby and Jenkins character that we see more of the duo’s relationship mirroring the novel’s. The novel explores the theme of pedophilia and while Reeves adaptation wasn’t quite obvious about it there are clues and small character interactions which hint at this pedophilic relationship which the Swedish original never really touched upon.

It’s in these small character interactions that Reeves’ film begins to differentiate itself from Alfredson’s version. The narrative between the two films still remain the same, but Reeves’ version explores the darker themes in the novel source while Alfredson concentrates more on the growing relationship between the two primary characters. These differences could be seen in how Reeves films Abby’s attacks while hunting her prey to be more animalistic (though at times the CGI seems too apparent when Abby attacks) and Abby’s subtle manipulation of Owen. I say manipulation because Abby seems very intent on trying to befriend and put Owen at ease despite the earlier comment that they will never be friends. Not to mention her Renfield admitting to Abby that he has gotten tired of what he has done to keep Abby safe and that maybe he wants to get caught to just end it all.

The film moves along quite leisurely but with a sense of growing dread not just between Owen and his bullies, but between Abby, her Renfield and those suspecting the duo. Owen gets caught in the lives of these two newcomers and soon gets confronted by Abby’s true nature and his own reaction to this. It’s a reaction that at first shows Owen fearing Abby and wanting to escape the growing bond between the two of them, but seeing how Abby’s been nothing but helpful to Owen he chooses to remain at her side. Abby rewards Owen’s protective nature by saving Owen from a near-deadly encounter with the school bullies at the school swimming pool.

This is the one sequence in Reeves’ film which many fans scrutinized to no end. The original film shot the scene with an almost arthouse eye despite the obvious violence involved. It was a scene where Alfredson filmed it as “less is more” and let the audience’s imagination run wild. Reeves’ does the same but adds his own stylistic touches to the sequence. not too much to make it so different from Alfredson’s version, but enough that it’s not a shot-for-shot copy. Again Reeves’ chose to show Abby’s violent predator aspect in this scene, but still keeps the focus of the scene on Owen as he struggles underwater. It’s only once he is out that we see — just as he does — the aftermath of Abby’s promise to protect Owen.

The question remains whether this American-remake stands up to the original. In terms of storytelling it more than holds it own from the original film and at times actually surpasses Alfredson’s version. This Reeves version journeys through the darkside more than the original film. It definitely strips away much of the arthouse sensibilities of Alfredson’s film which made it such a beauty to watch even if at times the narrative became more than too slow to keep one’s attention. Reeves’ adaptation doesn’t ramp up the pacing of the film, but keeps it moving forward even if at a gradual pace. When violence does occur in the remake it happens quickly and with a sense of brutality that the original film fails to deliver. The remake doesn’t linger on the gore and violence, but does show enough of it to remind everyone in the audience that this is a horror film first and foremost.

If there was one quibble to be made about this remake its that Reeves relies too much on CGI to show Abby at her most dangerous. Each attack made by Abby was shot at a wide-angle and we see every move but with each move done using CGI which gives it too much of an artificial look to it. It’s a testament to Moretz’ performance as she switches from a friendly Abby when interacting with Owen during their time together at night to one of a predator older than anyone in the film doing what was necessary to attain the blood needed to survive. Reeves could definitely have used less CGI and went for a more natural approach using sudden edits to show the ferocious nature of Abby’s attacks.

The film’s cast does a great job with the roles given to them. While it was Moretz’s and McPhee’s performances as Abby and Owen that keeps the audience’s attention and keeps it from wavering it’s the supporting cast around them which provides the glue. Koteas as the detective who begins to suspect Abby as having to do more with the attacks than previously mentioned was very good, but in the end it was Richard Jenkins in the Renfield role who would steal every scene he’s in. His character’s fatalistic acceptance of his role when it came to Abby was palpable. We watch him do horrible things to people and to himself, but we also get a sense that he couldn’t stop on his own if he wanted to. He has been doing the role of blood procurer for Abby for so long that he doesn’t know what else to do. I will say that Jenkin’s with the garbage bag mask when out hunting for victims will be the images that will stick to people’s minds long after they’ve left the theater. Some will even unconsciously check the back seat of their cars at night before getting in.

In the end, this remake of Let The Right One In doesn’t feel, look and sound like the cash-grab that cynical fans of the original have proclaimed it to be. Matt Reeves does a great job in adapting more of the novel in his version and using some of the darker themes in that source to allow his film to stand on its own when compared next to Alfredson’s version. The performances by everyone involved was wonderful and keeps the story’s slow pacing from losing the audience. While this remake doesn’t have the arthouse quality of the original film it does have a certain grittiness to its look which lends quite well in pointing out how brutal the narrative really was not just in physical violence but in how one of the two leads manipulates the situation to benefit it’s survival even if there was some genuine affection between Abby and Owen. In the end, Abby gets everything and continues to exist for another boy’s lifetime.

Fans so vocal of their negative attitudes towards this film will not have their minds changed, but those keeping an open-mind will be rewarded with one of the better horror films of the year. If the original Swedish adaptation never existed I’m quite sure that all the accolades heaped on Tomas Alfredson’s film would be given to Matt Reeves instead. A remake should never be discounted because its one of an original that’s already lauded for its quality. There’s been bad remakes but thankfully Let Me In is not one of them.

Let Me In Red Band Trailer and SDCC Exclusive Posters

In 2008 a Swedish film called Let the Right One In stormed through the film festival circuit and became one of the most critically-acclaimed film of that year. The film was an adaptation the a novel by the same name by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist. It took the vampire genre which has started to gain a sort of resurgence in the past 5 years due to the teen-pop vampire-romance franchise Twilight.

Tomas Alfredson’s film was definitely the anti-Twilight of this resurgence. It was a beautifully-shot and framed film with a dark, poignant story to match the visuals. While arthouse film fans and horror fans with discerning taste praised the film the rest of the general public either ignored it or never even heard about it. This is always the case when it comes to foreign films which tries to make a bridgehead onto the U.S. film market.

The film has since been discovered by the general public through home video sales and through Netflix, but not before an American film studio has bought the rights to produce an American remake for the American market. It fell onto the shoulders of Cloverfield director Matt Reeves to film this remake and try to dampen any advance outrage by the original film’s fans. While there will remain a very vocal group denouncing this “Americanized” remake of Let the Right One In (renamed Let Me In for the remake) I think casting decisions and certain stylistic choices by Reeves has me hoping that this remake will not fail but actually stand on it’s own while still letting the original keep it’s status as one of the best horror films of the past decade.

Above is the newly released Red Band Trailer for the film and below are two posters for the remake which were unveiled over at San Diego Comic-Con 2010. Both posters definitely take on a very stylized look. The second one looks too similar to Park Chan-wook’s poster for Thirst. The first one I like better as it combines the film’s innocence with the darker underlying story really well.

20 Best Horror Films of the Past Decade

The Aught’s, as some people have come to call this decade about to end, was actually a pretty good decade in terms of the amount of quality horror that showed up on the big-screen. We had some channeling the nastiness of the 70’s exploitation era while a couple ushered in this decade’s era of the so-called “torture porn.” There were more than just a few remakes of past horror films. Most of these remakes were quite awful compared to the original, but more than a few managed to end being good and held their own against the original.

Some of the titles I will list will eschew gore and the shock scares for a more subtle and atmospheric approach. More than a few straddled not just horror but other genres like comedy, drama and sci-fi. If there was one major observation I was able to make, when collating what I thought was the 20 best horror films of the decade, it was that the Foreign studios really came into the decade with a vengeance.

While I consider these horror films on this list as “the best of…” it is still my opinion and I am sure there will be people who will disagree, but even if people do not agree with all my choices it would be hard to dispute any of them as not being good to great in their own way. Like my similar Sci-Fi list this one will be numbered but only for organizational sake and doesn’t determine which film is better than rest. They’re all equal in my eyes.

  1. The Mist (dir. Frank Darabont)
  2. Splinter (dir. Toby Wilkins)
  3. Let the Right One In (dir. Tomas Alfredson)
  4. Hostel (dir. Eli Roth)
  5. A Tale of Two Sisters (Kim Ji-woon)
  6. The Descent (dir. Neil Marshall)
  7. Martyrs (dir. Pascal Laugier)
  8. 28 Days Later… (dir. Danny Boyle)
  9. Bubba Ho-Tep (dir. Don Coscarelli)
  10. Dawn of the Dead (dir. Zack Snyder)
  11. The Devil’s Backbone (Guillermo del Toro)
  12. Frailty (dir. Bill Paxton)
  13. Kairo (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
  14. Shaun of the Dead (dir. Edgar Wright)
  15. American Psycho (dir. Mary Harron)
  16. Inside (dir. Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Mary)
  17. The Orphanage (dir. Juan Antonio Bayona)
  18. The Devil’s Rejects (dir. Rob Zombie)
  19. Slither (dir. James gunn)
  20. Audition (dir. Takashi Miike)

Honorable Mentions: Saw, Haute Tension, Drag Me To Hell, Trick ‘r Treat, Dog Soldiers, Ju-On, May, Midnight Meat Train, The Ruins, Jeepers Creepers, Ginger Snaps, Funny Games (remake), Shutter, Frontier(s), Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon…just to name a few.