Friday, September 2

Monte's Best Horror Films of 2009

Monte’s Best Horror Films of 2009

(2009) - In a year where I was fortunate enough to see some of the best horror films of the last five years, I was also trapped in theaters with some of the worst. Remake mania seemed to be at its height this year, with a rehashed movie released almost every month of 2009. While some of them were decent enough, most where cringe worthy. However, in a year that seemed littered in mediocrity, there were ten that earned special recommendation. Enjoy.

(2011) – My friend D. Reede suggested 2009, thanks for reading sir. Although it was a lacking year, time has solidified some of the films into a class of their own. While some might get lost in the mix with time, some the films will forever be remembered and re-watched. So, without further words, since there are lots of words in this look back, hopefully you’ll find or re-discovery some great horror films.

* (WARNING: Many of the films listed deal with subject matter of a disturbing nature. Films are not suitable for all demographics. You have been warned)

1.   Drag Me To Hell
(2009) - Sam Raimi is a master of theatrics, storytelling, and horror, and in his first horror film in nearly ten years, Raimi solidifies his title as a Master of Horror. DMTH was the best horror film I’ve seen in the last five years, it was fun and frightening, sometimes at the same time. With hints of the majority of Raimi horror films in nearly every scene, DMTH succeeded in adding a much-needed revitalization for big screen horror films. At times DMTH walks the thin line of slapstick and horror, but just when it seems like DMTH will cross the line and pick a path, it wanders back to the line and continues to toy with the audience. Like a magician luring the audience with every new trick, Raimi outdoes himself with each scene, all the way to the final act, when Raimi gives us the Coup De Grace. We watch film to be entertained and escape, and for 90 minutes, I had the pleasure of re-living the first time I fell in love with the movies.

(2011) – Not much has changed; this movie is still impressive after numerous views. Although, I have heard people talk sequel with this film, which would be extremely difficult and possible pointless. Let’s leave it with the “downer” ending that still makes me smile.

     2.   Martyrs
(2009) - Technically released in 2008, but not released in America until 2009, Martyrs was an ultraviolent, frightening, and disturbing film. This French horror film delves deeper than most, exploring the macabre and the dark sides of the human effect. It searches for reason in situations that warrant mystery, and discovers a bleak satire in reflection to the afterlife. Part revenge thriller and torture horror, this film changes paces numerous times. At one point it exists as a fast action thriller, and then slows relentlessly into an unflinching look at brutality. Martyrs disturbed me more than any other film this year. 

(2011) – I know a few people that loathe this film, and some swear by it. Regardless, it’s still a brutal and shocking film. I have only watched this film twice, yet I have more unanswered questions the second time around. It’s a good thing when a film does that, and this film might continue to pile the philosophical and religious questions on every time I watch it.

                                       3.   Trick R Treat
(2009) - In the vein of the horror anthologies, Trick R Treat could be considered one of the best. It is an original look at the origins and legends of Halloween, and introduces us Sam, the silent narrator and mischievous miscreant of mayhem. Sam is one of the best horror figures to come along in awhile. Told with interlocking storylines and incorporating numerous horror genre’s, Trick R Treat was a welcome belated Halloween treat, it has been finished for nearly two years and just finally received DVD release in October. Enjoy Trick R Treat at Halloween for years to come, because it is sure to be a cult classic.  

(2011) – It took so long for this film to come out initially, but it was well worth the wait. It’s one of those films that have become a tradition for me to watch at Halloween time now. The execution of the film is probably the most impressive element for me still. The combination of stories and characters is so good. Let your kids watch it at Halloween this year, start em’ young.

4.   The Children
(2009) - Children always seem to evoke a sense of fear when they are portrayed in horror films. However, very few of these films can portray a sense of dread like The Children does. The kids in the movie are cute, smiling and laughing with authentic glee and cheer, so when the tone switches from family fair to unnerving fear, the kids in the film seem much more terrifying because of the genuine innocence they portray initially. The film is deliberately paced, slow moving at first then frantically disorienting in the last half. The Children was a great example of throwback horror.

(2011) – This film might ultimately get lost in the mix of “evil children” movies, but I wish it wouldn’t. It’s a great independent film with great atmosphere and genuine scares that still hold up. Take a closer look at the final scene with the bellowing music and frantic close-ups…chills.

     5.   Zombieland
(2009) - Easily one of the funniest films of the year, Zombieland was cleverly written and well acted. It had many memorable moments and one of the best cameo performances in recent years. Zombieland is a film that must be experienced, laugh out loud and enjoy a delight of horror filmmaking.

(2011) – This film has been played almost to death on cable, for nearly a year, every time I turned on the television, this film was on. Zombies are everywhere it seems currently, time will tell how this film will hold up with all the other zombies roaming around.

 6.   Pontypool
(2009) - Horror is so much scarier when realized by ones’ own mind. Pontypool is a great example of this, because we are forced to paint a picture of horror on our own. In Pontypool, a small city is overtaken by acts of extreme violence, but we are only told these acts through caller description and whatever the local radio disc jockey finds out. Left in the dark and waiting for whatever is outside to find it’s way in; the radio station tries to find an answer and an escape. One of the best horror stories written this year, Pontypool is a great independent horror film.

(2011) – This film will move up the list in years to come. Guranteed.

                                       7.   House Of The Devil
(2009) - Ti West is on the verge of becoming a major player in the horror community, his entry last year was an impressive horror film for horror fans. Harking back to the 80’s slasher films, House of the Devil is homage to slow moving, tension building, old-fashioned horror films. This film works for mainly one reason; West understands what suspense is supposed to be. It’s not about what is happening on the screen, it’s the building anticipation that creates the suspense and that’s all the fun of it.  

(2011) – West is a featured director on The ABC’s of Death, which I am still undecided about. House of the Devil is still a film some people haven’t watched; horror fans need to watch this flick.

     8.   Grace
(2009) - Scary kid flicks have made more appearances on this list than any other year…because most years there are none on the list. Grace is a low budget horror film that has no awareness of the limits it might need to adhere to. At times it feels bigger than it is, but the practical effects and use of atmosphere do a great job of creating an overall dread to the film. The mother/child relationship in Grace is part of the reason this film is so good, you can understand the relationship and the reasons for the difficult choices that must be made by mom. The power of love makes for an interesting topic in horror films, primarily because of the dark places love can take people, Grace plays on that emotion and the results are fantastic.

(2011) – I have heard less and less about this film as time passes, which probably means that it will get lost in the mix. The elements still resonate in this film, but the lack of polish sometimes turns viewers away, which is unfortunate.

     9.   Dead Snow
(2009) - Nazi zombies everyone, need I say more. In the continuation of the Nazi zombie films of past (Shock Waves, Oasis of the Zombies, Zombie Lake), Dead Snow is another wonderful zombie entry. Dead Snow is a simple film, some wise cracking college kids go on a ski trip, zombie’s get awoken, chainsaws are found, and carnage ensues. This film has laughs and gore, a great setting for a zombie film, and a nice grasp on what the audience wants from a zombie flick.  

(2011) – Tommy Wirkola directed Dead Snow, and I’m excited to say that his next feature is Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Film is still in production, but it has lots of promise. Also, Nazi Zombie’s never gets old see Call Of Duty.

10.                Thirst
(2009) - Park Chan-wook is a wonderful director, and if this film was in the hands of someone less experienced, it would not play out as effective as it did under the expertise of Chan-wook. Part horror film and part dark comedy, Thirst takes an interesting look at vampirism, and adds a new twist of story telling by incorporating themes of obsessed love, crime and punishment, and religious faith. Again, one of the best vampire films comes from overseas, like last years Let The Right One In, Thirst is a great a creative vision that evokes our senses.

(2011) – Thirst is a complex film that I really admire. I haven’t had a chance to revisit this film completely, but I still remember it like completely. It’s hard for a film to make that kind of impact.

Honorable Mentions:

-       Halloween II
(I promise you, this film will have more admirers in years to come)

-       Cold Prey
(Cold Prey 2 could be one of the best “continued-from-the-previous-film” sequels I’ve seen in a long time.)

-       End Of The Line
(Good special creature effects for a low budget film.)

-       Orphan
(I still think it has a fun surprise ending.)

-       The Burrowers
(This old west film meets underground monsters was severely under-rated. Give it a try, it’s bit on the long side, but it’s worth the time.)

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