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?

The Wailing (2016)

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Director: Hong-Jin Na

Stars: Do Won Kwak, Jung-min Hwang, Hwan-hee Kim

A wailing delight

Anyone who follows South Korea’s horror film output will be unsurprised to hear that Hong-Jin Na’s (of The Chaser fame) latest film is yet another K-horror classic. If there’s one country you can count on for producing innovative, gripping and unpredictable horror films then it’s South Korea. We’ve had countless high quality horror from them including: Oldboy, I Saw the Devil, Bedevilled and even the recent Train to Busan. The Wailing can now be added to that lovely long list.

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It’s labelled as a ‘horror’ movie but really The Wailing is an exciting mix of comedy, thriller, mystery and supernatural horror. For the first time in quite some while, I had no idea where this 150 minute journey was going to take me. It begins as a Memories of Murder style crime drama. We’re introduced to our lovable bumbling hero, played by an enthralling Do-wan Kwak, who is a policeman investigating a string of strange incidents in his small town. Mass murder seems to being some local folk’s mind and they’re also turning into red-eyed, mindless zombies for no apparent reason. Does it have anything to do with a mysterious Japanese recluse who has recently resided in the nearby forest? Or perhaps the talk of ghosts and goat-eating loons play a part in this mystery?

From the get go, The Wailing effortlessly draws you into its enigmatic story. What surprised me was how funny the film was, particularly the first half. Honestly, The Wailing has to be one of the funniest films of 2016, I was howling with laughter every five minutes. It never takes itself too seriously and always finds the comic side to its bizarre situations so nothing ever seems overly silly. A lot of what makes the dry humour so effective is down to Do-wan Kwak’s comic timing. His performance is so endearing and he makes his character so likeable that you can’t help but get sucked into the story. The film also cleverly takes its time to explore his home life as well as work, so we’re fully involved in every aspect of our protagonist.

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Once the film hits around the halfway point though, it ceases all comedic aspects and segues into much darker territory. The change is seamless within the story though and only adds to the edge-of-your-seat unpredictability. It’s difficult to talk about the film without giving away any plot twists (of which there are many) and I don’t want to do that. Just be assured that you’ll be surprised and thoroughly absorbed by our main character’s journey. In the hands of a less skilful director and screenwriter then the twists would come across as implausibly silly and tonally distracting, but Hong-Jin Na makes every turn seem fresh and exciting.

The Wailing only gets more gripping as the film progresses. When the horror gets close to home, the film becomes a dizzying tale of a desperate father rather than a police drama. A big shout-out has to be said for Hwan-hee Kim who plays Kwak’s young daughter. Her performance is nothing short of mesmerising. A lot of the time I forgot that I was watching a film with actors and started to really believe about what was happening on screen, which is no easy task when you’re dealing with themes involving the supernatural. Perhaps the film is a little longer than it needed to be, but not once did I find myself feeling bored or uninvolved.

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The Wailing is a real showcase for Korean cinema. It has such an ambition and originality which is sadly lacking in most Hollywood productions. No doubt they’ll get their hands on remake rights, but it’ll never be as authentic as this one. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film and had absolutely no idea how it was going to end. The Wailing builds itself up to such an unpredictable and intense finale that it’s bound to become a deserved cult classic. I also liked how the film is so ambiguous and unforgiving in its lack of exposition that you can’t help but think about it long after the credits have rolled. Don’t read any reviews, don’t watch the trailer, just watch it and then watch it again. The Wailing is a brilliant highlight in a year that has been full of them.

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Train to Busan (2016)

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Director: Sang-ho Yeon

Stars: Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jeong

Zombies on a train

Zombie films have been hitting our screens since the dawn of time. Well, it certainly feels like they have anyway. Popularised by George A Romero’s terrific Dead trilogy, zombie films have since been rearing their heads like hordes of the undead themselves. Whilst they can be a lot of fun, more often than not, they can also be cliché ridden and trashy. We have had some quite enjoyable zombie films recently such as, Cockneys Vs Zombies and The Horde but we haven’t really had a properly great zombie movie since 2004’s Shaun of the Dead. Train to Busan changes that.

I saw Train to Busan on a whim. I’m travelling in Singapore and had a few free days so I thought that I’d check what’s on the cinemas here. Train to Busan caught my eye but I had never heard of it, however I saw that it was Korean and that it had zombies in it, so I was sold! To my surprise, I came out of the cinema having just viewed easily the best zombie film in a decade. Korean films have hardly ever let me down and Busan is no exception.

As there’s very little coverage of this film on the Internet, I’d better give a rough plot outline. It basically follows a selfish father who is cold and neglectful towards his cute young daughter. For her birthday, she wants to travel to Busan to see her mother so he reluctantly takes her on the train to Busan (creative title) however, a rather inconvenient zombie outbreak occurs as they board the train. The rest of the film is a claustrophobic and thrilling fight for survival as the survivors desperately try everything in their measure to get to Busan on a undead-infested train.

What makes this film so great is the characters. Most horror films (particularly ones with zombies in) sprinkle a load of disposable characters in who all die in a predictable order. We don’t often particularly care when they die, in fact we’re more likely to relish the gory death shown in all its bloody gory. In contrast, Train to Busan focuses in on a line of memorable characters who we actually care about and want to see survive. They’re developed in such a way that when someone cruelly perishes, we feel a great sense of loss and emotion. This is where the film’s strength lies. What’s also interesting is that they’re not all stereotypes either. The protagonist isn’t your typical hero, he’s a character who is grossly selfish and unlikable at the start, but he subtlety develops into someone you begin to care about and admire.


The film starts off as a good little zombie thriller. There’s a sense of realism to the whole situation as we’re made to watch the panic unfold on the train in an effective way. There’s also a nice comic touch to the whole thing with some witty dialogue so it never takes itself too seriously. It also somehow never gets boring even though the film is essentially two hours set on a train, which is no easy task. There’s always tension and a sense of peril. You get the feeling that anything could happen to these characters at any given moment. Once the film reaches the mid-way point though it stops being good and starts becoming great.

Things get going fairly quickly so the characters develop through the action, making the film all the more gripping as it goes on. It’s an unpredictable ride with lots of thrilling set-pieces to keep you on edge. The final half hour is essentially non-stop action and it becomes exhausting to watch without ever feeling too ridiculous. What really impressed me though was the emotional charge in the second half. There are a few scenes which had me welling up with tears, which I wasn’t expecting. I just got so absorbed in the characters and their intense situation. The use of music and editing is also hugely effective in pulling at your heartstrings.


There’s really very little which Train to Busan does wrong. If I were to nitpick, I’d say that I would’ve liked more gore. Zombie films always give a good excuse to give us an array of fun, gory effects but this film is surprisingly restrained. There’s a lot of hand-to-hand combat and nothing else creative. However, this does sort of add to the realism of the situation as you’re not going to find many axes or chainsaws on a train. It’s still not as bloodless as World War Z.

I can’t urge you enough to watch Train to Busan, especially if you’re a fan of Korean cinema. It doesn’t just offer plenty of nail-biting thrills and impressive special effects, It offers emotion and splendid characters whom you can properly invest in. It’s a powerful film which wears its heart on its sleeve and contains more character development in two hours than The Walking Dead has in six seasons. Once the film was over I became overcome with emotion. I felt like I could just break down and cry at what I had just watched. This is so much more than a zombie flick, at its heart it’s a devastating drama about family and the importance of human kindness. I loved it.

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Brotherhood (2004)

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brotherhood poster Director: Je-kyu Kang Stars: Dong-gun Jang, Bin Won, Eun-ju Lee

Kicks Private Ryan’s arse!

When I slipped in the disc for Brotherhood I expected a really good war film. I didn’t expect to be sitting on the sofa with my eyes filled with tears by the end of it, and convinced that I’d just seen one of the very best war films ever. My love for Korean films is unabashed. Whilst Korean horror is what I go for most, I have also tried and loved some of their explosive thrillers like, The Man from Nowhere and A Bittersweet Life. War films aren’t really my thing though. My favourite war film is probably Inglorious Basterds, but even that isn’t really interested in showing us battle sequences. brotherhoods What’s fantastic about Brotherhood is that it puts its characters first. In fact, this is what the majority of Korean films tend to do and I think that’s the secret to their brilliance. With Brotherhood, I was gripped by every battle sequence because I cared about the people who were in them. It’s a real epic which spans across the entire length of the Korean War, as well as briefly showing us before and after events take place. If someone said to me ‘oh, this is a movie about the Korean War…’ I’d immediately switch off because war movies just don’t interest me. Brotherhood makes you interested right from the very start. The first half an hour is dedicated to events before the war. We see two fantastically likeable brothers who are devoted to their family. Some may find it overly sentimental, however for me it worked. I immediately cared about these characters and was totally gripped from when they’re whisked away to fight in the war. brotherhood The battle sequences are brilliantly intense to watch. The camera does shake a little too much for my liking, but it’s really not that much of a distraction. They’re intense because you care about what’s going to happen to the characters. When a comrade dies you almost feels as much pain as the other characters do. The special effects are also very convincing (apart from the shoddy CGI planes towards the end) and manage to put you right there in the firing line. What’s most interesting though is watching the two brothers slowly grow apart from each other. At its heart, Brotherhood is a tragedy. One brother turns into a cold-hearted and ruthless leader, whilst the other remains compassionate. This arc is done gradually and realistically throughout the film and it’s what keeps the film so emotional and absorbing. The ruthless brother could’ve easily come across as a caricature, but thanks to the fantastic writing and acting we’re left with convincing character development and remain involved with the character. Various shocking events unfold which have the power to move, however it’s the relentlessly melodramatic final twenty minutes which really hit hard. Again, many will find this finale too melodramatic and sentimental, but for me it totally worked.

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I’m not one to cry in films (the only ones I’ve shed tears for are Dancer in the Dark and Amour) however, there are several moments towards the end where I had tears REALLY filling up in my eyes. It’s incredibly emotional and ultimately powerful. Brotherhood isn’t a perfect film, but it’s a damn near one. I was never bored for a minute of its hefty 140 minute runtime. I cannot urge people enough to check this out, even if (like me) you aren’t into war films. At its core it’s a character-driven tragedy with the Korean War used as a mere backdrop. It’s ten times better than Saving Private Ryan and if you aren’t moved by the time it’s over then you truly do have a heart of stone. Brotherhood is a spectacular triumph which needs to be watched for its sheer emotional power. nine-out-of-ten

The Man From Nowhere (2010)

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Director: Jeong-beom Lee

Stars: Bin Won, Sae-ron Kim, Tae-hoon Kim

Seek this out somewhere!

I don’t want to bore you with a long list of Korean films I love, but it’s important for you to know that I love Korean films. My favourite is probably I Saw the Devil, so you can imagine my excitement when I sat down to watch The Man From Nowhere (I’ll call it The Man for short). With Korea’s incredible reputation in films The Man had a lot to live up to and it didn’t disappoint. The Man demonstrates why Korean film’s are so good in its opening half hour or so as it zooms in on a very touching (but not fake) relationship between a pawnshop man and a little girl who’s mother is a heroin addict and altogether bad mother! This relationship is so cockles-warming and cute you can’t help but be sucked into these characters.

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I would guess that the American remake (which will inevitably arrive) will feature a Mum with shelves full of ‘Mom of the Year’ awards and the man (I’ll call him the man as I’m quite bad at Korean names) will probably be a taintless guy who saves orphanages and adores kids. However it’s the character’s flaws that make them interesting, realistic and altogether more likable for it. The man isn’t the nicest person in the world, however he has great qualities and its enough to make the audience like him. It turns out that he becomes even more bad-ass than Liam Neeson and Bruce Willis put together!

I’ve heard this film being compared to Taken and Oldboy, but really this film is much, much better than Taken (and I loved Taken!) but not Oldboy, however it’s not that far off Oldboy’s greatness! But this just goes to show that foreign cinema is so much better than American (in the majority of cases) as Taken was even directed and written by a Frenchman! The Man however is superior in every way. Its narrative is more complex, and its characters are much stronger, and although it may not be as action-packed as Taken it certainly carries more of an emotional punch.

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I do really want to give The Man a 10/10 but I don’t think it’s right to. The plot did become overly complicated in some parts (especially with all the similar-looking faces) and there were some parts where I was just waiting for some more action to happen, but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy The Man because I did! At 2 hrs there’s rarely a moment where the film dies down. It’s a fantastic thrill ride which explores some typically dark avenues (it’s Korean!) and you can’t help but appreciate it for having the balls to do so.

There are also some incredible action sequences that are shot almost to perfection. The camera is extremely quick but never does it make you feel disorientated as to what is going on. These action scenes are more up to Ip Man standards, which if you haven’t seen Ip Man is very high! There’s a hugely entertaining and tense fight scene in the men’s toilets and it just leaves me wishing that there were more. However, The Man is so much more than just an action film. Its got a huge heart and brain to match! The directing is terrific and quite mesmerising at times. One stand out moment features a smash through a two-storey window all in one shot!

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All of this thrilling narrative culminates into a stupendously entertaining climax that almost feels as cool as Kill Bill! It’s an action extraveganzer (hard word to spell) full of incredible directing and superbly choreographed fight sequences with quite a bit of blood too! It’s a rip-roaring revenge rampage which is quite incredible to watch! The ending, however, is even more impressive. It’s quite simply one of the most touching endings I’ve ever seen with a great use of music that really pulls at the heart strings. I had chills, and those chills took a while to leave after the credits had rolled, as it just created such an emotional impact that is quite hard to top.

The Man is quite simply another Korean masterpiece. Its storyline might not be all that original but its characters and intricate plot points shoot it up into matching the greatness of The Chaser. The Man excels in its wonderful characters and huge heart. Yes some parts could’ve been simpler, but its a film I can’t wait to see again, which certainly can’t be a bad thing, can it? It rivals most American films and you’ll need the hardest heart in the world, not to be touched by the knock-out ending. A truly mesmerising film!

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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.

Bedevilled (2010)

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Bedevilled Poster

Director: Chul-Soo Jang

Stars: Yeong-hie Seo, Seong-won Jie, Min-ho Hwang

Hits you like a bucket full of bean paste!

Korea is such a stand-out country for delivering consistently sensational horror films, often in the revenge department. Oldboy is nothing short of a masterpiece and I Saw the Devil is one favourite films ever. The Koreans aren’t afraid to push the barrier and also never fail to deliver a few large helpings of emotional wallops. They put a lot of effort into writing their characters, in order for the audience to invest in the film. Bedevilled is no different.

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Bedevilled is yet another example of Korean superiority. Thank goodness the loopy Kim Jong-Un has left South Korea alone because otherwise we wouldn’t be getting these incredible pieces of art (or Psy!) which are important to our society. Bedevilled is a slow burner, but it’s anything but boring. It takes it time in setting up its two female characters so the audience can care about them (even if one of them is a little more than unlikable) and thus not care about the slow pace of the film. However, I would say that if you’re only into some slashing and dashings with thrills and spills, then stay clear, because Bedevilled delivers something much more than that.

I think that Bedevilled is more complex than just a ‘revenge movie’ and I think too many people dismiss it as just that. To me Bedevilled was about a lonely woman who had been subjected to years of abuse from her husband and lack of support from the few islanders, yet always pushed it aside and treated it as nothing, until she cracks. I found Bedevilled very psychological and it brilliantly portrays the tragic mental breakdown of an isolated woman who just can’t take any more abuse.

The build up in Bedevilled is nothing short of brilliant. I loved the way it slowly switched main characters about a quarter of a way through. We initially follow a hard-nosed woman working in mainland Seoul who then goes over to a small island where her grandfather used to live to see her friend. Initially we don’t really think much of her friend, because we’ve been following Hae-Wan who is also very self-centred. However, the film slowly allows Kim Bok-Nam (the friend) to surface and we begin to feel an unbelievable amount of sympathy for her as she’s so badly treated by her husband.

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As I said before the build up is slow but extremely effective. I didn’t find it boring in the slightest because it allowed the characters to develop, which in turn made the film more and more gripping as it went along. Eventually Bedevilled does explode after some truly shocking and devastating moments, but should we really be rooting for Kim Bok-Nam all the way? Bedevilled ends up being incredibly thought-provoking as well as exciting and visceral. The final moments pack quite an emotional punch and will have you glued to the screen. I especially liked the match cut which compared Hae-Wan to the island, suggesting a deep inner conflict with herself.

Bedevilled is yet another masterful Korean film which manages to tick all the boxes. The actresses also end up being quite exceptional in their respective roles. The film also looks gorgeous in blu-ray, I’d highly recommend it. The cinematography is often breath-taking which adds an usual quality later on as the beautiful back-drop is also used for the scenery of such vile and hideous acts. Bedevilled is well worth your time and money. It reminds you just how amazing foreign films are.

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