Deadly Movies Top 10 Films of the Decade

It’s unfortunate that this decade is likely to be remembered in decades to come as the 10 year remake. What started in the late 90s with J and K horror remakes spilled over into the 2000’s and not only shows no sign of abating but continues to pick up speed. Now remakes are not (as some would have you believe) the source of all evil, good ones have their place and always will, but I will say that its sad that, commercially, remakes are the dominant force for studios and producers at this time. Horror does indeed move in cycles and we eagerly anticipate the next one, offering us something engaging and exciting. So in an era dominated by the remake lets have a look at what Deadly Movies rated as the best, most influential, most entertaining, most game-changing, and most memorable films of the past decade:

Audition (2000)

10: Audition (aka Odishon, 2000): Director Takashi Miike’s incredibly clever, beautiful, and visual Japanese film is, for my money, his best work. Here’s an example of how to hold your load in horror. You can be subtle with the placement and quantity of violence and yet successfully depict it in a way that’s more shocking and unsettling than most gore-fests. With the actors, costume, pacing, music, editing, and dialogue Miike plays the waiting game with the audience, disguising his wolf horror film in almost melodrama sheep’s clothing. And when the horror arrives boy does it arrive. So deliberate is the setup that the violence hits you right between the eyes and becomes toe-curlingly unbearable at times. This film is not only a lesson in effective clever torture cinema (far better realised than it’s US suitors) but also how to successfully deliver a chilling female horror protagonist who’s every bit as unnerving as the genre’s dominant male protagonists, if not more so.

Them (2006)

9: Them (aka ils, 2006): This may be touted by many as a high-art European thriller, but at it’s heart this is a simple but incredibly effective French genre piece, using many traits of American horror. Them may be reliant on a one gag ending, but the ‘based on true events’ reveal is worth the wait and will have you talking for months after. The French couple who are subjected to a night of terror on their secluded Romanian country estate pay lip service to that most cautionary of tales, the foreigner abroad. Which just goes to show that it’s not only American horror exploiting the dangers of foreign fields, but even within the open borders of Europe there exists cultural tensions and fears ripe for horror producers, and this is a great example.

Session 9 (2001)

8: Session 9 (2001): Session 9 is an incredibly successful throwback to the haunting haunted house movies of the 60s and 70s. Making a building and its off screen space frightening is an art-form sadly lost to most in contemporary cinema. Director Brad Anderson opts for a slow burn, providing ever increasing tension that gets heavier with its sense of impending dread. The on-location former mental-health hospital drips with a hostile atmosphere that slowly plays on both the minds of the characters and audience alike. The visual horror comes in the form of the titular session tapes that the workmen find in the basement. It’s these old reels that dig deep into the psychological horrors of the deceased patients, horrors that seem to transcend time, the building, and even the bodies of the poor men working in this retched place.

SAW (2004)

7: SAW (2004): It’s difficult to look back on SAW with virgin eyes, such is the cultural impact the film has had. SAW, rather unwittingly, has succeeded where many others attempted to succeed but failed dismally; It started a new multiple episodic horror franchise and created a new horror icon in ‘Jigsaw’. That achievement cannot be overlooked or underplayed, whether you like the subsequent entries is irrelevant. SAW has spawned a sequel every year since 2004 and there are few signs of the series stopping, with SAW VII is on its way. One more entry will see an equalling of Friday 13th’s original annual film run of 8 sequential parts. Not bad considering the appetite of sequential horror is not what it was in the 80s. Genre impact aside the first instalment is easily the best of the series, surprising viewers with it’s audacious torture games and ingenious interplay between villain, authorities, and victims.

Drag me to Hell (2009)

6: Drag me to Hell (2009): Horror geeks around the world got wet with excitement that Sam Raimi would return to the genre. For years fans had been slightly mislead and duped with ‘Sam Raimi Presents’ efforts from his Dark Castle production companies. Where some of the releases had promise, none delivered anything resembling Raimi’s seminal film The Evil Dead (1981). Drag me to Hell however did deliver the Raimi horror sensibilities with aplomb, but don’t believe some who will have you believe that this is horror slapstick. Yes there is black comedy, but on the whole it’s visceral and dark in tone; bodily secretions, staples to the eye, a demonic goat, and kitten murder are the order of the day. Like The Evil Dead the humour here is often regaled above the horror, which is an imbalance. Drag me to Hell retains a definite horror core with plenty of scares, gruesomeness, and a very dark ending. There’s also a standout kick-ass performance from Alison Lohman.

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

5: The Hills Have Eyes (2006): For me this was a brilliant roaring violent popcorn horror movie that really delivered. French director Alexandre Aja bought a real sense of European pacing to the early proceedings, making the audience wait, giving us the doomed family and letting us get to know them. When time came for the cannibalistic horror to start Aja lets loose and kicks in the US horror mentality of showing everything in beautifully bloody detail. It’s a difficult balancing act which he nails. The real proliferator of this approach is Doug (played brilliantly by Aaron Stanford) who goes from certain victim to all-in-balls-out-kick-ass hero complete with his own self knowing heroic score. In a brilliant final 25 minutes the poor family has been through so much that when Doug’s primal survival caveman emerges you’re right there with him landing every skull smashing blow on the distorted craniums of the hill dwelling mutants. A real beer and pizza movie that delivers screams and cheers.

American Psycho (2000)

4: American Psycho (2000): What a film. Brutally funny and violent, matched only by its wonderful ambiguity. Don’t try to explain the ending I think it’s better left slightly open. Christian Bale emerges as a leading man depicting the homicidal 80s yuppie obsessed with cleanliness, fitness, material possessions, and Phil Collins! The threesome scene where Bale’s Patrick Bateman poses, winks, and points at his home video camera is a fantastically satirical scene that sums up the movie’s sensibility. So much of the movie could have slipped into male scopophilia, but rather becomes a parody of the male image obsession. It’s a rare thing to find a film that’s so clever, witty, and funny that also happens to be extremely violent. Bateman’s clean, vain lifestyle is lovingly countered with his other obsession; blood lust. A brilliant movie on all levels.

The Mist (2007)

3: The Mist (2007): Whilst am awesome monster movie in any format, be sure to watch this in it’s originally intended digital Black and White. The Mist is clearly a divisive film with mixed critical reception and a poor US box office which lead to limited worldwide release and even the indignity of straight-to-DVD in some countries. For me the film is a fantastic updating of the glory days of 1950s creature features, and it’s perhaps this element that was lost on some. Like The Fog (1980) the film uses the effective meteorological plot device which renders its characters essentially blind to their surrounding and the horrors within. And it achieves this with great vigour. Monsters aside the film also offers the horrors of humanity (religion gets an especially hard ride) and opts for an incredibly brave ending that must be one of the bleakest and ballsy of the decade.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

2: Dawn of the Dead (2004): A remake of a horror classic that can stand side-by-side with its ancestor and update the content enough to distinguish itself without losing touch with the source material. Anyone who detracts from the film because of the ‘fast zombies’ is clutching at OCD straws. This is a frenetic, breathless film with a wit and sharpness that distinguishes itself from virtually every other contemporary zombie movie. The brilliant opening scene dumps you straight into the horror and the film rarely slows down along the way. Yes the consumer society jabs are lost but they are replaced with action horror that has seldomly been matched this decade. This is what a horror romp should be, with entertainment value through the roof.

Rec (2007)

1: [Rec] (2007): Seldomly does a film scare the shit out of me, it’s safe to say the last 10 minutes of Rec were terrifying, utilising the night vision device to spectacularly effective means. Personally I’m not a fan of the first person camera narrative put to use in the likes of Colverfield and Diary of the Dead, I find it contrived and forced. What average Joe could keep a camera rolling in such circumstances? However Rec marginalises this problem from the outset by having the footage shot by a TV news crew. In a modern cutthroat, corporate, media world it makes sence to keep the news camera rolling. With the lingering annoyance of the first person reasoning put to one side the film successfully uses the technique to plunge the viewer headfirst into a claustrophobic Spanish apartment block overrun by zombie-esque creatures. The dark corridors and shadowy rooms feel like a good old fashioned haunted house. The quiet moments are horribly eerie and the attacks offer no relief but rather an ever increasing sense of inevitable doom for our first person protagonists. There’s also a very neatly woven back story which explains the creatures origins without dwelling on it (a plot point ignored by the remake Quarantine). And then there’s that ending in the pitch blackness of the penthouse and loft that leaves you just gasping. Rec, Deadly Movies horror movie of the decade.

I was pained to leave some of these close-run gems out:Final Destination (2000), Frailty (2001), Trick R Treat (2007), Let The Right One In (2008), The Strangers (2008), and Paranormal Activity (2009).

What do you think? Let me know your Top 10…,

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16 thoughts on “Deadly Movies Top 10 Films of the Decade

  1. Frugal Dougal says:

    I'd like to look for Session 9 and The Mist…

  2. Melanie's Randomness says:

    I loved the original Saw, American Psycho, & the Mist! I've never seen Session 9. It sounds good & like something I'd like. Oooo.

  3. the jaded viewer says:

    The Mist is appearing on a lot of Best Decade lists…Glad Them is on here as well but Audition should be ranked higher in my opinion.

  4. r4i software says:

    Hi,I really like the Dawn of the Dead it was awesome…

  5. BJ-C says:

    My list is on DotW but that's not why I'm commenting.I've finally gotten off my lazy butt and started reading horror blogs I had never seen before and yours was one of them. You're fantastic. If you don't mind, I'm putting your banner on my sidebar when I get back from vacation 😀 Keep up the fab work.

  6. DeadlyMovies says:

    Hi BJ-C, yep feel free to put my banner on your sidebar.., let me know if you need any artwork

  7. I just discovered your blog, and I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised by the high-quality of your choices. I’d probably put “Rec” near the bottom of the Top Ten myself, but at least you’re not one of the “Quarantine”-viewing dingleberries.

    I definitely would have put “The Mist” in the #1 spot, but kudos to you for at least making it #3. Most people seem to dislike it, or at least not to understand it (no movie theater dumbasses, its not supposed to be funny when the bagger kid gets pulled under the door by the tentacles, or when Mrs. Carmody gets shot). “The Mist” is literally in my top ten movies of all time, or damn close to it.

    I also agree with your high rating for the remake of “Dawn of the Dead.” Man, is that opening scene ever “brilliant!” Damn! If anything, the movie, while great, is a little bit of a letdown, simply because it starts off with arguably the best opening scene of any horror-action flick of all time. I also love the sort of pre-opening credits scene with the Black scientist, who’s only answers consist of “Its both,” when asked if the crisis is a medical emergency or a military one, and then answers “We don’t know,” to a series like 7-8 follow-up questions. The guy looks stressed, scared, and like he hasn’t slept in three days. Great movie.

    “Audition” is a wonderful film that more people should see. I was actually fortunate enough to see it on the big screen (all movies are better in the cinema, especially if you see them in a nearly empty theater). I’d have moved that one up a few slots, from #10.

    I’m not certain “American Psycho” really belong on this list, but its a good movie, and I won’t criticize you for including it. It follows the book very, very closely. If you’ve seen the movie, you almost don’t need to read the book, which is quite a rarity.

    The “Saw” franchise has become a sort of cliche of crappiness, ergo its often very difficult to get people to listen when you try to explain to them that the first one was actually pretty good. Not top ten material, but whatever. Still a good movie.

    I did not like “Session 9” at all. It seemed like it was going to be good at first, and then it just fizzled out, and truly bored me. I also wasn’t a big fan of “The Hills Have Eyes” remake. I think the original is much better.

    I never saw “Drag Me to Hell” or “Them,” but your comments have peaked my interest.

    • deadlymovies says:

      Thanks for the constructive comment Kevin. I always welcome any feedback, positive or negative, just as long as it’s constructive. Try to get hold of Them and Drag Me To Hell, both good watches.

      Glad you came accross the blog, hopefully you’ll enjoy future posts too

  8. Lady Lazarus says:

    Miike’s “Audition” probably is his best effort to date, although “Ichi the Killer” is still my personal favourite. Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell” was heaps of icky fun. The only major omissions to your list (IMHO) were “The Descent” and “À l’intérieur.” Also, “Let the Right One In” would likely have been in my top 3 films of the decade. The Norwegian zombie flick “Dead Snow” was a good one, too.

    • Yeah, “The Descent” would have been a real candidate for a replacement for “Session 9,” IMHO.

      “Dead Snow” is worth seeing, but I don’t really think it would belong on a list like this. I think its reputation is a little inflated (not necessarily on your part, but by some people) because of its relative obscurity, being Norwegian, etc. There’s still a really magnificent horror movie to be made about weird Nazi occult technology (ideally with a Lovecraftian twist, perhaps ala the “Delta Green” milieu), but “Dead Snow” isn’t it.

      • Lady Lazarus says:

        Granted, “Dead Snow” would probably make #17-20 on my list of 20 horror films from the past decade. Although it didn’t take the Nazi story too far, it still offered up some fun, gory moments and some geek-out moments for horror fans (the “Braindead” t-shirt the fat guy was wearing, for instance). Bruce Macdonald’s “Pontypool” also offered up a unique (and Canadian) view of zombies. Not stellar, but worth a look.

  9. I have since downloaded and viewed “Them” and “Drag Me to Hell.”

    “Them” was pretty good, but I wasn’t enormously impressed by it (although it was made more entertaining by the presence of the phenomenally lovely Olivia Bonamy – why can’t American films have beautiful women like that in the lead once in a while?). It was clearly superior to “The Strangers” from 2008, which appears to have been a substantially inferior rip-off of this film.

    I liked “Drag Me to Hell” a bit more. It was a silly movie, with perhaps the most unappealing protagonist I can recall, but its a lot of fun, and the ending is great. Some people at IMDB don’t seem to think its a true horror movie, because its not serious enough, or something, but anyone who isn’t disturbed by the shadows of the lamia is just plain jaded. To reiterate, I LOVED the ending!

    As an irrelevant aside, I’m really finding Justin Long’s acting career to be an annoying aspect of contemporary culture. He should be required to appear in credits as “Keyanu Reeves.”

  10. bmj2k says:

    When a friend of mine gave me a copy of her favorite film- Audition- I knew she was the girl for me!

  11. Fantastic list! Session 9 is one of my favorites
    Dreaded Dreams
    Petunia Scareum

  12. Mosich says:

    I just watched Odishon (1999), it was great, in some parts very uncomfortable, from your list I like American Psycho, Rec, Ils, and of course Saw, what I´ll need to check out is Session 9, looks good

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