10 Best Horror Movies Of 2016

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2016 has been a stellar year for horror films. Every year people declare our beloved genre dead due to the tired tropes and cliches, but this year has proven that horror is very much alive and thriving. Below you’ll find my top 10 horror movies of 2016. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to catch Under the Shadow and The Handmaiden, so those titles have been regrettably omitted.

10. ‘Green Room’

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I wasn’t as impressed with Green Room as a lot of people were. The acting was a little strange, the lighting was a dark and there were quite a few slow patches. I did love the dark, grungy atmosphere though and there were some fantastic moments of shocking violence and intensity. It follows a group of young punk rockers who get trapped in a venue run by neo-Nazi skinheads. It’s a fun premise and it does boast some memorable scenes, but it doesn’t deserve the rave reviews it received, which is why I’ve placed it at the lower end of the list.

9. ‘Lights Out’

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Thanks to an effective short film, David F. Sandberg got the chance to debut a fun, feature-length chiller with an original premise. The premise features a family haunted by a crooked spirit called Diane who only appears when the lights go out. It boasts good performances and likable characters, which are all too rare in horror films of today. The scares aren’t entirely effective, but there are moments of genuine suspense, particularly in the thrilling third act, which adds an innovative #supernatural spin on the home invasion sub genre. Despite suffering from some clichés and a sudden ending, #LightsOut stands out as one of the most memorable horror films of the year.

8. ‘Ouija: Origin Of Evil’

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This could possibly be the most surprising film of the year. A prequel to one of 2013’s worst horror films, #Ouija2 was surely guaranteed to be a disastrous abomination. However, talented writer-director Mike Flanagan (#Oculus, #Hush) raised everyone’s expectations and crafted a supernatural horror film that is better than it has any right to be. Yes, it has the usual jump-scares, possessed little girls and #Insidious-inspired demons. It also disappoints in its last act with odd pacing and an all too familiar finale, but Ouija also does so many things right. It focuses on a family that you genuinely end up caring about and has a fantastic eye for detail in its period setting. It also cleverly deconstructs the genre and plays with our extensive horror knowledge while also delivering some scenes of surrealism, which makes for unsettling viewing. Most of all though, it’s just a fun time from start to finish and you can really see that it’s been crafted by an intelligent team who have genuine affection for horror films.

7. ’10 Cloverfield Lane’

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Dan Trachenberg’s film had a strange release. No one had heard about the film until a trailer surfaced just months before the film was set to hit the big screens. People were also confused as to whether the film was a sequel to 2008’s #Cloverfield, even though the trailer looked as though it had nothing at all in common with Matt Reeves’ found footage monster movie. Lots of people (including me) are still confused by the mysterious title, but nevertheless, #10CloverfieldLane is an impressive exercise in suspense and mystery. It features a menacing performance from John Goodman as the enigmatic conspiracist, locking up two innocents with him in his bomb shelter. It’s a film that always manages to engage thanks to the constant, intense atmosphere and intrigue. It also doesn’t opt for a predictable finale, rather, going for something delightfully crazy and different altogether. It never takes itself too seriously and I look forward to seeing where exactly the Cloverfield universe is heading

6. ‘The Conjuring 2’

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Here’s another sequel that managed to surpass expectations. #JamesWan managed to outdo himself with this beautifully crafted supernatural horror film. It follows the (supposedly) true story of a family in England experiencing some spooky activity of the paranormal kind. #Conjuring2 places most of its focus on the family instead of scares, so that we’re totally invested in their story. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have scares though. James Wan’s directing is as effective as ever at building up an atmosphere of almost unbearable suspense. He has also created one of the most iconic horror villains in recent memory with Valek, the terrifying demon nun. It’s a masterful film that manages to unsettle, entertain and emotionally involve its audience in equal measure.

5. ‘The Neon Demon’

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Nicolas Winding Refn’s polarizing look into the fashion industry feels like a natural progression from the criminally underrated Only God Forgives. He’s swapped stunt driving and gun-slinging for gals and make-up. The story itself isn’t anything original — it’s the tale of a wide-eyed girl with big dreams who ends up getting consumed by them; however, the way it’s told is nothing short of masterful. Every shot in #NeonDemon is a work of art that oozes absolute style and beauty, which is exactly what the film is about. It’s full of hypnotic, Lynchian imagery, which makes you feel as if you’re watching a dream unfold. There are several stunning moments of pure visual cinema which is something of a rarity nowadays. The film also ends on a memorably whacky and disturbing note which will have you pondering over for weeks. It’s not a film which everyone will appreciate, but those who are attracted to strange and immersive films will find a lot to love.

4. ‘Don’t Breathe’

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It hasn’t been a good year for the homes of the disabled. We already had a deaf woman getting her home invaded this year in Mike Flanagan’s #Hush, and now Fede Alvarez’s #DontBreathe shows us a blind man getting his house burgled by a gang of youths. Surely the most intense movie of the year, Alvarez makes every shot and sound count in his home invasion horror. Don’t Breathe is masterfully directed and dripping with suspense. It delivers non-stop thrills at every corner as well as featuring a memorable villain in Stephen Lang’s deadly Rambo-esque veteran and a badass heroine in Jane Levy’s Rocky. It’s a terrific experience on the big screen and is pretty much guaranteed to have you holding your breath on several occasions.

3. ‘Train To Busan’

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This Korean undead tale is arguably more of an action thriller than a straight-up #horror movie, but it does have #zombies in it. It’s also great and easily the best zombie flick since Shaun of the Dead. It follows a neglectful father taking his young daughter on a train to a nearby city to see her mother. Unfortunately for them, hordes of the living dead begin to overtake most of Korea just as the train is about to depart, leaving the passengers in a desperate fight for survival. #TraintoBusan is pretty much a non-stop, two-hour thrill ride — no easy task considering that it’s almost entirely set in the confines of a train. It hurtles from set-piece to set-piece in waves of brilliant intensity that leave you gasping for air. The film also packs a surprising emotional wallop thanks to its terrifically drawn-out characters who you end up genuinely caring about. I found myself holding back the tears on more than one occasion.

2. ‘The Wailing’

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The Koreans have been ruling horror this year with Train to Busan, The Handmaiden and now this, #TheWailing. It’s an enigmatic mix of crime, thriller, supernatural horror and dark comedy. It could’ve easily turned into a mess, but thanks to Na Hong-jin directing an unpredictable screenplay we’re left with an unforgettable near-masterpiece. It follows a bumbling yet lovable policeman as he investigates a series of mystifying murders plaguing his tiny village. Does it have something to do with the strange Japanese man who recently moved to the nearby forest? The Wailing keeps you guessing to the very end and always enthralls with its surprising twists and often hilarious comedy. Some may find the film silly, but it has such ambition and engaging characters you can’t help but appreciate what it’s trying to succeed. It’s a fantastic horror film that plays on your mind long after the credits roll.

1. ‘The Witch’

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I can hear the cries of abuse now. For some reason, The Witch didn’t sit well with a lot of audiences after generating a lot of early critical acclaim. There’s no denying though that #TheWitch is the best horror film of the year so far and is destined to become a classic. Someone described it as “a Brothers Grimm fairytale directed by Stanley Kubrick” and that is the most accurate description I could think of. Robert Eggers’s debut film is a phenomenal piece of filmmaking and one if the scariest horror films to hit our screens in quite some time. Everything about The Witch is masterful, from the intense foreboding atmosphere to the bold unsettling score.

The film is set in 1630 and follows a God-obsessed family who suffer a series of tragic events after being banished to an isolated house next to a terrifying forest that is possibly home to a witch. It’s a film laced with horrifying imagery and suspense that explodes into an entirely satisfying finale that left my mouth agape. The Witch isn’t just the best horror movie of 2016 so far, but the best film period. Oh, and let’s not forget that it contains the best performance of the year in the shape of Black Phillip the goat.

So there we have it. Told you it’s been a knockout year for horror! What films have you enjoyed the most?

Grotesque (2009)

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Director: Kôji Shiraishi

Stars: Kotoha Hiroyama, Hiroaki Kawatsure, Shave igeo Ôsako

Worst. First date. Ever

It’s funny because if Grotesque wasn’t banned in the UK then I don’t think I would have bothered watching it. No one would probably have even heard of Grotesque if the BBFC slapped an 18 certificate on it, but because they refused it has turned into something of a cult hit. It’s a curiosity piece for connoisseurs of carnage but those looking to get truly disturbed are likely to be disappointed. I don’t quite understand the reasons for the ban as Grotesque shows us nothing that we haven’t seen before. In fact, it’s so over-the-top in its ideas and execution that it’s more likely to illicit laughs from viewers more than anything.

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If you look at Kôji Shiraishi’s earlier found footage horror, Noroi: The Curse then you’ll find an expertly executed chiller that relies on atmosphere and imagery to produce genuine scares. Grotesque is pretty much the opposite to Noroi. I can’t believe it’s made by the same director as Noroi which is quite possibly the scariest film I have ever experienced. The only thing scary about Grotesque is how bad it is. To sum it up, it’s two people in a room getting tortured by a psychopathic doctor. They were just walking back from their first date and a crazy man bops them on the head and they have to sexually excite him with their will to survive.

It’s a terribly thin plot which only the thick and the psychotic would appreciate. Somehow though it isn’t as boring as it sounds. It’s only 70 minutes long but even still, a film set in one room with only three characters could easily drag, but Grotesque zips along quite merrily. This is the only redeeming quality of the film, it’s never boring. But maybe that’s because I was just waiting to see how far my cringe threshold could take. I won’t spoil anything, but I was thrashing about like a sheep about to get sheared in a scene which involved an eye. I hate eyes and this scene is almost up there with Zombie Flesh Eaters.

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It’s just a series of gore scenes really and I have to say that the special effects are very good. The acting was also better than I was expecting, with the doctor being particularly menacing and convincing. It’s also pretty well-made for the most part, although parts did look very amateur. In the end though Grotesque is just a pointless exercise in shock. It ends up being so melodramatic and ridiculous though that it just becomes funny.

Grotesque is worth one watch if you’re curious and a hardened horror nut. Most people will know what their getting themselves into and at least there’s more entertainment value in this than seriously sick stuff like the Guinea Pig and Slaughtered Vomit Dolls films. This one does have a dark sense of humour but the plot is non-existent and the characters are un-investable. The amount of gore and depravity is quite shocking at times but even still it’s almost instantly forgettable as soon as the credits roll.

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Green Room (2016)

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Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Stars: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat

Didn’t leave me green with envy

Don’t you hate it when you get yourself hyped up for a film and it lets you down? Green Room has everything I love in a film: A fight for survival, an intense situation and  murderous psychopaths. Horror fans and critics were building it up with stories about people walking out the cinema vomiting and calling it one of the most intense films ever, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Don’t get me wrong Green Room is a good film but it’s no where near as amazing as people are making it out to be. As an avid fan of home invasion and survive the night kind of horror, I think there are much better examples of this kind of film out there and whilst Green Room is a solid thriller it really doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

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My biggest gripe is how forgettable the characters are. Likable characters and character development are essential for slasher films like this. If you like the characters then chances are that you’ll be invested in the film. However, I didn’t really care about any of these characters and they all felt pretty lifeless and flat. Even the potentially fascinating neo-Nazi villains were wasted, with no characters really being explored fully. Green Room set itself up for a Eden Lake standard character-driven ride, but failed to deliver its full potential.

Another thing that irritated me was the acting. Everyone seemed to be acting very odd with lines being mumbled to a barely audible level and no one really being that bothered about murderous Nazis being outside the door. I don’t think this is the fault of the actors though, I get the feeling that this is the style of acting the director was going for but for me it didn’t work. Even Patrick Stewart sleep-walked his way through the film failing to be the menacing kingpin he could’ve been. I don’t think anyone’s going to be winning any awards here.

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This all makes it sound like I hated the film, but I did actually like a lot of it. I liked the slow build-up of the group ending up in the scary fascist bar and how situations slowly and realistically built up to a life or death situation. When the crazy violence does begin, the film never becomes boring despite being set in one location, although it’s still never as intense as it could’ve been. It is very thought-provoking though and leaves you wondering about what you’d do in their situation. I also loved the dark grungy atmosphere which really added to the hellish situation the group are in.

There are some brilliantly tense scenes, especially towards the end with a couple of nail-biting showdowns which are really well done but I was expecting more. The way it was hyped, I thought it was going to be the same level of intensity as Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s French horror, Inside! However, some of the film is poorly directed with low lighting, frantic camerawork and fast editing so it’s often difficult to make out what’s going on which takes you out of the film and makes it uninvolving. At some points I found it hard to tell which characters’ had died. I also don’t quite understand why people are vomiting from the violence. Whilst there are some nasty moments I never found it overly gory, but then again I am very desensitized now.

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I know it sounds like I hated every minute but if you take away the hype it is a good little thriller and I just want to warn over-excited people (like I was) that it isn’t the ground-breaking horror film they think it’s going to be. Films like You’re Next and the recent 10 Cloverfield Lane are more intense and better made than this one.

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The Loved Ones (2009)

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Director: Sean Byrne

Stars: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine

And you thought your prom night was bad

Australia certainly seems a scary place. Wolf Creek and Snowtown show that it’s a place teeming with murderous male psychopaths and now The Loved Ones has reared its pretty little head, giving birth to the most terrifying Sheila ever put on film. Who on Earth would want to do a gap year over there? In all fairness though, the Aussie’s really do knock it out of the park when it comes to horror films and The Loved Ones is no exception. Think Carrie meets Misery with a bit of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre thrown in and you have The Loved Ones.

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It’s a beautifully made film with its loud, throbbing soundtrack and solid direction. It opens in a similar way to another superior Aussie horror, The Babadook with a horrific car crash resulting in the death of a father. The film takes a suitably melancholic mood with our hero Brent being understandably depressed by his father’s passing. In a fleeting moment he makes the worst decision of his life by politely declining mousy Lola’s offer of going to the prom with her. When I was at school, the prom was called an Immac because it was a silly Catholic school who liked to name everything after religious events. I’m sure there were some immaculate conceptions on those days though!

If you’re one of these types who get bored easily by long build-ups (think Wolf Creek) the you’ll love The Loved Ones. It runs at an economical 80 minutes and doesn’t waste much time delving into the action. Within 15 minutes, Brent is kidnapped and tied to a chair with an eerie disco ball floating above. This is when the horror really gets going.

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A lot of the film relies on the sensation performance by Robin McLeavy as Lola. The film is basically a one woman show and rests on her shoulders. Unfortunately for Twilight fans, Xavier isn’t given a lot to do apart from scream, but I can’t imagine Twilight fans liking this one very much. The only time you get to see Xavier with his boobs out is when Lola’s carving her initials into it with a knife. Sorry girls, but there really isn’t a lot to titillate you here, unless you’re into that sort of thing… In which case, get help.

The Loved Ones isn’t one of those pansy horror films which shy away from violence and taboos. In fact the film goes down some terribly dark avenues involving incest and cannibalism, but it’s not done in a cheap or exploitative way. All of the shocking stuff is done to help the story along or add character development rather than just turn the audience’s stomach. There’s a particularly nasty scene involving a drill which will stay with you!

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Alongside Brent’s torture we get the Misery-esque policeman on the hunt for the missing Brent and an odd subplot which involves Brent’s friend going to the dance with an awkward goth girl. Whilst it’s a humorous little side story, it does little to serve the main plot. Perhaps the filmmakers wanted to add a little light to the film, but the sublimely disturbed character of Lola is darkly comic enough to stop the film from getting too heavy.

Whilst it’s definitely a solid little horror film, I can’t help but feel like it doesn’t quite reach its full potential. I think the finale feels a little rushed and could’ve easily been extended to be more thrilling like something from Frontiers. It also didn’t feel tragic enough. I would’ve liked to have had a final punch to the gut, but instead it ends rather prematurely and a little too neatly for me. However, wishing a film was longer is never a bad thing. If you’re into your gory psycho horror with added female bite then you can’t go wrong with The Loved Ones. Just remember that if a loopy Aussie lass asks you to the prom, go with her. Not that I’d turn anyone with a pulse down.

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Cheap Thrills (2013)

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Director: E.L. Katz

Stars: Pat Healy, Sara Paxton, Ethan Ebry

Blummin’ expensive thrills!

Cheap Thrills has the type of concept which could easily live up to its title. Two rich sickos torturing a couple of poor strangers by daring them to do progressively twisted tasks could result in an exploitative B-movie designed to shock the audience for the sake of it. Thankfully, Cheap Thrills manages to offer much more than a few cheap thrills. It’s actually an intelligent, engaging and darkly humorous little film with a few hints of postmodernism not too dissimilar to Funny Games.

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Pat Healy and Sara Paxton made a terrifically witty duo in Ti West’s limp, The Innkeepers and deserved to appear in a much better film. Cheap Thrills is that better film, and whilst Sara doesn’t have particularly much to do, Pat puts on a similarly likable performance as the down on his luck protagonist, who we can all relate to. In fact, all of the characters manage to be engaging and interesting. I love how realistically the film progressed from a friendly encounter on a night out to a sick set of dares.

For a film largely set in one location with just four characters, it’s never boring. Quite the opposite, in fact I was left wanting more and I think it could’ve pushed the boundaries more, but that’s probably just my twisted horror nut coming out! Where the film actually succeeds is that it doesn’t make the dares the focus of the entire film. Instead it’s much more concerned with the characters and how they develop, thus making for a much better quality and more involving piece of filmmaking.

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The comment it makes on society is quite heavy-handed but nevertheless an intelligent and relevant one. It’s best to view the two rich psychos as symbols, rather than characters. They’re obviously representative of the bourgeoisie and how they exploit the poor minority. However, the film also makes a subtle comment on the psychotic nature of audiences too. I thought that the ending kind of made out like the psychos were doing it all for us, the viewing public, thus adding another intelligent and postmodern layer to the film.

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Overall the film is a striking debut and this E.L Katz bloke looks like he has a promising future in the horror movie industry. His directing was consistently intense and he managed to build some massive amounts of tension. Cheap Thrills may falter on repeated viewings (due to the lack of a surprise factor) but for a first time viewing there’s very little to complain about. Perhaps it could’ve been a little more twisted, but really I was surprised by how intelligent the screenplay actually was. Cheap Thrills offers a lot more than its title suggests. It’s probably one of the best horror-comedies we’ve had in a while.

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Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

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Director: Ruggero Deodato

Stars: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen

Abhorrent

I first became a fan of the horror genre when I was around 14 years old and so I became fascinated to discover all the classics of the genre. I started viewing films such as Halloween and The Exorcist and became obsessed with all the old classics. I then started moving my way in on more violent and disturbing stuff (for me, at the time) such as the Saw series and eventually seeing and loving hardcore horror from other countries, particularly France with Inside and Martyrs. However, one film was popped up on disturbing movie lists and that was Cannibal Holocaust. Reading how horrifying it was, I decided to wait until I was over 18. I finally summed up the courage to watch it yesterday (I’ve just turned 20) and was pretty bloody appalled.

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Cannibal Holocaust is an uneasy mix of campy 70’s naffness and utterly repugnant violence. I fail to see why it is considered a classic of the genre, let alone a masterpiece of film. Reviewers lead you under the impression that the entire film is done in a found footage manner, when actually it’s only the final forty minutes which dips in and out of lost footage being watched by other characters. The first fifty minutes is the more tedious, although less repulsive half, which follows a team going into investigate what happened to a bunch of naïve students who went onto an island overrun by cannibals.

It’s difficult to believe that Cannibal Holocaust was released in 1980 because it comes across as so dated. As with most Italian horror movies at the time the acting is absolutely atrocious. It doesn’t help that the dubbing doesn’t quite match with their mouths and every line is delivered in a wooden manner. I read somewhere that one of the actors was actually a porn star, so that gives you an idea of the calibre of acting you can expect.

The direction is almost as bad. At times it came across as a parody, especially when the natives started blowing poison darts at the group. It comes across as extremely rough and amateurish, which I suppose prepares us for the final third where we’re shown footage from actual amateurs. The music was also pretty awful with an ill-fitting romantic main theme and another piece of strange electronic music which sounds like someone pressing random keys on a cheap keyboard.

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What absolutely turns my stomach is the actual real footage of animals being killed. Cannibal Holocaust is obviously renowned for this, however I still wasn’t prepared. It is completely vile and totally unnecessary. The image of two men pulling a giant sea turtle out of the water and slicing its head off whilst its legs are still kicking will never leave me. The image of a man cutting its shell off with its organs and tissue spilling out will also never leave me. The descriptions you read of the scenes will never prepare you for the actual graphic content which is shown on screen.

The worst thing about it is that the film has absolutely zero artistic merit. The only reason why animals are killed on screen is to shock. It has nothing to do with the story, which is barely there. I would recommend that you think really carefully before watching the film because I’ve never actually felt so upset or sick whilst watching a film.

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This film is obviously the work of a sadist and I find the film’s message of sensationalism in the media and the psychotic nature of human beings absolutely laughable. The entire film is the perfect example of hypocrisy at its worst. How dare a sadistic director lecture us about human nature! A man who is quite happy to torture and kill animals for shock value should not be making a film about how civilised people can be more barbaric than cannibals. Apparently the director was also vile towards all the native extras and was particularly nasty towards the ones who couldn’t speak Italian or English.

I rarely get angry about films but this one makes my blood boil. I can’t stand films which are only there to shock people and Cannibal Holocaust is just a string of shocking scenes. Some of them look laughable (the rape scenes) however, some of them are just repugnant (the forced abortion scene) and totally cross the line (real animal torture). I didn’t even realise I had limits until I watched Cannibal Holocaust, and that is not a recommendation. The sheer level of hypocrisy in the films heavy-handed themes is beyond laughable and it is just not made well in the slightest. People who hail this film as a masterpiece are either delusional or sadistic. Maybe both.

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10 Modern Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die

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Hopefully it’ll be a long time before you pop your clogs, unless you’re of course a very old person, who’s looking for those little modern gems you might have missed. Well old timer, you’ve come to the right place! A lot of people moan about modern horror. “Oh, wah, wah, wah!” They cry! “Why can’t there be movies like, The Shining or The Exorcist anymore? Instead we get crap remakes like, Shutter and The Grudge.” Well, first of all I actually think The Grudge remake is better than the original and secondly, I’m here to tell you that the quality of horror is not declining with age. Quite the contrary in fact. If you care to look overseas, in particular, you will discover a delightful array of little modern masterpieces just waiting to be discovered by your fair hands. So without further ado, let’s delve into the enchanting world of modern horror, as I proudly present my wonderful list of the top 10 modern horror films to see before you die (so those of you on life support better get seeking these out now!).

10. [REC]

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Those complaining of tiresome remakes had better steer clear of a heavily flawed film called, Quarantine and turn to its almost flawless original, [REC]. This Spanish found footage horror follows a chirpy TV reporter who follows a bunch of fire-fighters into a mysterious apartment complex only to find that it’s inhabited by zombies. [REC] is found footage horror done absolutely right! It blows the likes of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity out of the water. It’s a genuinely scary and viscerally thrilling film that will have you digging your nails into your polished leather, slapper red, sofa. It also features a heart-stopping climax which you’ll find hard to watch, and not because it’s outrageously gory or anything, but because the level of tension and sheer scariness is through the roof! [REC] is a seriously scary film. P.S. I don’t scare too easily.

9. The Cabin in the Woods

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A lot of people seem to miss the point of Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods (maybe I’ll do a post on it soon) and I don’t judge you, because it took me an hour or two to actually “get” why The Cabin in the Woods is so mind-numbingly clever. For those of you lucky enough to not have seen it yet, all you need to now plot-wise is that it follows a group of friends who stay in a cabin where terrible things happen. What follows is a madly entertaining and humorously satirical journey which is sure to leave you confused, bewildered and slightly flustered. It’s an incredible tale of the unexpected that seems to get more entertaining with each watch. I also think that it has possibly the greatest ending to a film of all time, just because it’s the last ending you’d ever expect. Heck, even the opening titles are shockingly unexpected! The Cabin in the Woods is a wonderfully crafted slasher film which is both a satirical criticism of, and love letter to our beloved genre.

8.Oldboy

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Laugh and the world laughs with you… Weep and you weep alone. Well if that infamous line is true, then the world won’t be laughing too much after you’re done with Oldboy! There’s little more to say about Oldboy than what’s already been said. Just be sure you seek out this original before Spike Lee’s remake rears its ugly head. For those of you who don’t know, Park Chan-Wook’s masterpiece follows a man who has been imprisoned for 15 years in a strange room that’s like a cross between a prison and hotel, who is then released and has 5 days to track down his vengeful captor. What unfolds is a gripping, stylish and dazzling journey that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until its shocking and absorbing finale which contains possibly the sickest twist ending ever. Oldboy fires on all cylinders, delivering one hell of a memorable film. The directing is also sensational and features the greatest single shot fight scene that I’ve ever seen.

7. I Saw the Devil

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What Korean horror film could possibly be better than Oldboy? Most will probably disagree with me, but I think I Saw the Devil is even greater. Whilst some might not regard Oldboy as a horror film, most would surely see I Saw the Devil as one. It follows a seriously psychotic serial killer who makes the mistake of brutally murdering a policeman’s girlfriend. Suffice to say that the policeman goes on a dazzling quest for revenge you’re not likely to forget in a hurry. I Saw the Devil features some of the greatest directional sequences I’ve ever seen. There’s a jaw-dropping 360 degree taxi kill, an electrifying first encounter and a tension-filled battle at a psycho’s farm house. Oh, and did I forget to mention a hugely emotional and intense finale? Kim-jee Woon’s masterpiece features dizzying action and a gripping plot. This is cinema at its most exciting.

6. Let the Right One In

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Let The Right One In (or LTROI to save finger energy) is the only Swedish film on my list, but if there’s one Swedish film you see, make it this one. LTROI is a beautifully crafted and haunting love story, the twist being that it’s a love story between children and one of them is a vampire. What? I hear you cry. Isn’t that just a Swedish version of Twilight? Well how dare you, I cry back! LTROI spits on Twilight, stamps on it, throws it onto a bed of nails and flushes it down the dirtiest toilet imaginable. Whilst Twilight glamorises the idea of being a vampire, by making everyone young and sexy (or at least they try to be) LTROI shows the true hardship of being a vampire. There are lots of long static shots to evoke a sense of realism which hits the viewer quite hard emotionally. The central love story is also so sweet that you can’t help but find yourself involved. The film also features some very grisly scenes, the peak being an incredibly directed swimming pool shocker! I’m not the biggest vampire fan, but this is something very special indeed.

5. Eden Lake

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Eden Lake is a savage British horror film directed by James Watkins. It follows Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender on a romantic weekend at a picturesque lake called (you guessed it!) “Eden Lake”. However, as is the case with all romantic weekends, they get attacked by a psychopathic bunch of young hoodies (or as we call them in England, “Chavs”) who are hell-bent on killing the couple, after Steve (Fassbender) accidently kills the head chav’s dog. Eden Lake is a breath-taking thrill ride which is really about survival. It’s an incredibly tough film to watch as it deals with the disturbing idea of kids killing kids; however it’s most definitely worth the watch. It’s also nice to see the ‘villains’ have some decent character development so that they’re not the usual two-dimensional killing machines. The explicit violence also feels unnervingly raw and real, which adds to the sense of realistic doom. Jenny’s (Reilly) descent into hell is an emotionally draining one which will stay with you for a long time, as will the powerful and disturbing ending.

4. Frontier(s)

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For some reason Frontier(s) seems to get quite a bit of hate. People say that it’s a boring and predictable knock-off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, however I disagree. Whilst Frontier(s) does contain a deranged cannibal family picking off young adults, it also features a whole host of other delicious elements to create one of the best slashers ever made. Frontier(s) isn’t a rip-off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes and Hostel, it’s better than all three. Frontier(s) is a French gem by underrated director Xavier Gens who also more recently crafted the brilliant and criminally underrated, The Divide. To me Frontier(s) is an intense horror rollercoaster which every horror fan should cherish. It’s not afraid to break past the boundaries of horror like most American horror films. By the end of the film I feel emotionally drained and could almost burst into tears. It’s such an exhausting journey of survival and also features a kick-ass final girl who goes on an exhilarating quest for revenge. The film is also much more intelligent than your average slasher due to the use of complex characters, a political undercurrent and an unforgettable Nazi villain. Just like Eden Lake, the heroine’s descent into hell is incredibly draining and powerful to watch. The film also contains my favourite movie death scene (you’ll know when you see it). I think Frontier(s) is a masterpiece, but you may disagree.

3. Calvaire (The Ordeal)

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We head over to Belgium now with another controversial pick. The Ordeal, like Frontiers, is often wrongly described as a rip-off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Straw Dogs due to its creepy backwoods setting. However, The Ordeal is really a different kind of beast altogether. I’m confident that I could write a 10 page essay on this atmospheric film, describing why it’s one of the greatest films ever made and enjoy writing it. I don’t want to go too much into plot because experiencing it without knowing anything about it for the first time is a truly memorable experience. All you need to know plot-wise is that it’s about a singer’s car that breaks down in the woods. It’s safe to say that what follows is a genuinely scary (not many films can scare me, but this one did), unsettling and disturbing ride which you’re not likely to forget in a hurry. It’s so jam-packed with memorable scenes and moments that I don’t know why it’s not considered a horror classic. Fabrice Du Welz has crafted something truly brilliant here with a fantastic central performance by Laurent Lucas. What’s truly scary is how it leaves you with so many disturbing questions with no answers. The film is not dissimilar to something David Lynch would create due to its nightmarish atmosphere and dizzying directing. So if you’re in the mood for something different, why not give The Ordeal a try? It’s chillingly ambiguous ending and final line of dialogue will stay with me forever.

2. Martyrs

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My 2 and 1 options are really quite interchangeable as they’re both of such a high quality, yet are so different. Martyrs is either an absolutely love it kind of film, or an absolutely despise it kind of film, it all depends on whether you allow it to affect you or not. Just like The Ordeal and Satan, the less you know about Pascal Laugier’s masterpiece the better. I see it as a sort of serious version of The Cabin in the Woods, in the way that it plays with your expectations of horror films. The film completely changes directions at least four times and two of these times are in the opening 20 minutes. Martyrs is an absolutely gripping and shocking film that is not for the faint-hearted. It’s quite possibly the most disturbing film I’ve seen, and I’ve seen quite a lot of disturbing films in my short and unfulfilled life. It hits you on an extremely deep and emotional level, whilst also delivering some of the most gruesome and disturbing shocks ever committed to film. The final 30 minutes are notoriously difficult to watch, but you’ll be glad that you did. Martyrs is one of those rare torture-porn films which uses violence for a reason and shows it realistically, for what it really is. I could go on about Martyrs all day, but I won’t because I’m sure that you’re all busy people. It also has one of the most heart-breaking scores I’ve heard.

1. Inside

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And we stay in France for my number one pick which is horror’s next big duo’s Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s, Inside. The only people who should not see this film are those of a nervous disposition and those who are pregnant. Inside tells the terrifying story of a madly psychotic woman (played with chilling insanity by Beatrice Dalle) who decides to cut open a woman’s pregnant stomach on Christmas Eve. So Inside is obviously the perfect Christmas movie that even your granny can enjoy. So why is it my number one? Because it’s probably the most nail-bitingly intense 80 minutes I’ve ever experience, that’s why! The film builds a hellish atmosphere for the first 30 minutes, or so before the head-spinning carnage ensues with chilling images such as, Beatrice Dalle stealthily standing behind a heavily pregnant Alysson Paradis whilst holding a large pair of scissors, which is sure to chill you to the bone. The film largely takes place within the claustrophobic confines of a house and it’s full of eye watering suspense and an unholy amount of blood to create quite simply one of the greatest horror films of all time. It also has masterfully unsettling electronic music. The haunting final image and score has stayed with me to this day. It’s a masterpiece of terror which you’re likely not to forget in a hurry.

Honourable mentions: Kill List, High Tension, Noroi: The Curse, The Descent, Inland Empire

Be sure to check out these beautiful films immediately! Please tell me your favourite horror films of the modern variety below.