Friday, 30 October 2015

The Top 5 Modern Horror Films

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to count down some of the best horror films. In this list, we’ll be looking at some of the best contemporary horror films of the last 20 years.


SAW



Before the tedious and repetitive sequels, there sits a decent and underrated modern horror film. Taking place almost entirely within one trap unlike the follow-ups, with a non linear narrative telling the story of two men chained in a dirty old bathroom, Saw did something different. Ordered to kill each other for the sake of their families by an unseen psychopath, the 2 men must learn to get along and work out an escape together before they descend into madness and murder. Shot on a small budget in just 18 days, Saw gained a cult following and performed very well at the box office – grossing over $100 million worldwide and becoming, at the time, one of the most profitable horror films since Scream. Naturally, 6 big-budget sequels followed along with video games, comic books and even theme park rides. But, before all of that money-grabbing, there was a unique and original little indie horror. 

Best momentit surely has to be the big reveal at the end of the film, that paved the way for many more smart twists that defined the Saw franchise more than anything else.

Fun factthe film was inspired by the closing scene of the original Mad Max, in which Max handcuffs a character’s ankle to a soon-to-explode car. Giving him a hacksaw and telling him how long he has, this sequence gave Saw the theme of time running out and, of course, sawing through one’s ankle.

THE DESCENT



A perfect example of pure tension and atmosphere, next up we have Neil Marshall’s The Descent. Telling the simple story of 6 women on a caving expedition who encounter a bunch of nocturnal monsters, the film is one of the scariest of modern horror. Long before the monsters appear, the film uses the cave setting to create an uncomfortable and foreboding feeling of isolation, claustrophobia and darkness. And then, when the monsters do appear, brace yourself for relentless carnage as the women are bumped off, one by one, climaxing in one of the most bleak and depressing endings in horror film history. So bleak and depressing in fact, that it was changed for the US release to a slightly more soft ending. Avoid this. Stick to the original cut and let it ruin your evening, in the best possible way!

Best momentthe first encounter with the terrifying ‘crawlers’ in the cave. Why? ...

Fun factthe appearance of the creatures was kept secret from the cast until this scene was filmed. The girls were genuinely terrified when they saw them, and ran off set screaming. Talk about a genuine reaction!

YOU’RE NEXT




You’re Next was lost on a lot of people, but it truly deserves a spot on this list. Clever, subversive and darkly funny; it harked back to a bygone era of fun horror and delighted horror buffs all over the world. On the surface, it is just another home invasion film like the overrated The Strangers; we watch as a well-off family’s mansion is slowly overrun by masked maniacs and murderous carnage ensues. But it’s so much more. Almost post-modern and feeling a little like Scream for the current generation, it played with the audience’s expectations and, although blackly humorous, is certainly not a comedy as some have labelled it. Dark, twisted and bloody good, You’re Next deserved a far bigger audience. It’s never too late to give it one.

Best momentthe opening sequence in which we see the killers invade another home and kill the inhabitants, set to Dwight Twilley’s ‘Looking for the Magic’. Immediately sets the tone for this new vision of home invasion horror.

Fun fact - the home invader behind the tiger mask is Simon Barrett, the film’s writer.


THE MIST



Before the legendary Frank Darabont helped breathe life into TV’s The Walking Dead, he adapted Stephen King’s The Mist – following his King adaptations The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile – something he has wished to do since the 1980s. Featuring an ensemble cast including Thomas Jane, Toby Jones and Marcia Gay Harden alongside several future Walking Dead stars including Laurie Holden, Melissa McBride and Jeffrey DeMunn, The Mist has one of the finest casts in modern horror. Released in colour, Darabont’s intention was always to release the film in black & white as an homage to iconic old horror such as Night of the Living Dead and the black & white print, available on Blu-Ray, is his preferred version. Although a monster horror film, The Mist’s biggest scares come from the survivors – and the harrowing results from the extreme tension among them. 

Best moment the brave, bleak and harrowing end that truly proves not everything has to have a happy ending.
Fun factStephen King stated he was genuinely frightened by this adaptation of his work, leading to Frank Darabont calling it the happiest moment of his career.

28 DAYS LATER



And finally, we’ll end on Danny Boyle’s gritty 28 Days Later, a film that has featured on one of my lists before. Shot wholly on handheld digital cameras, the film’s eerie cinematography has become iconic – particularly the sequence in a completely deserted London, which is still breath-taking today. Although telling a somewhat unoriginal story – a man wakes from a coma to a post-apocalyptic world and joins a group of survivors heading for a safe zone – 28 Days Later still takes some surprising turns and holds up as a fresh and original horror. The debate still rages on whether this is a zombie film or not, but whether the villainous creatures here are zombies or ‘just infected humans’, they’re still scary buggers and make for an exciting horror film. 

Best moment it has to be the iconic deserted London scenes. It’s one thing closing a small town for filming, but closing off Piccadilly Circus and other landmarks of London is remarkably impressive to this day. Chilling.

Fun fact for these empty London scenes, police closed the roads at 4am and filming would begin immediately. But after an hour, the police would reopen the roads. The producers of the film had several ‘extremely attractive young women’ employed to ask any drivers after this to please wait a bit longer or find another route, with the drivers responding amicably. 

Sam Love


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