It’s almost Halloween Week which means it is time to get neck-deep in spooky shit! If you’re that way inclined, the best way to prime for the big day is by firing up the DVD player for a scary movie terror-binge. So where on the salubrious catalogue of horror cinema to start? Obviously we’re all familiar with genre classics like Halloween, Nightmare On Elm Street and Candy Man, but over the past decade a new generation of filmmakers has been scaring the bejesus out of cinema goers and slumber partiers, which is why we decided compile a list of frightening flicks released no earlier than the year 2000. Here are 13 modern scary movies to get your freak on this Halloween. No spoilers.
Name: THE RING
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
The Skinny: Based on the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, it stars Naomi Watts as a journalist investigating the story of a creepy video tape (how adorably analogue!) which allegedly causes the viewer to die within seven days of watching it.
Type of frights: Unlike the director’s name, this movie relies on psychological freak outs and a suspenseful jumpy atmosphere – not gore – for scares.
Name: 28 DAYS LATER
Directed by: Danny Boyle
The Skinny: Animal Rights activists break into a lab to free some chimpanzees being used for medical research. Unfortunately the chimpanzees have been infected with a virus called Rage, which turns out to be another word for virus-that-turns-people-into-crazed-human-eating-zombies. Animal rights activists, you IDIOTS! 28 days later we meet a guy called Jim (Cillian Murphy) who wakes up from a coma only to find the world has turned into a post-Apocalyptic nightmare zone. Cue zombie-flavoured awesomeness.
Type of frights: There are plenty of gruesome scares from the rotting and frenetic Rage-infected population, and gripping chase scenes that prolong the terror.
Directed by: James Wan (screenplay by Leigh Whannell)
The Skinny: This independent film conceived by Australian filmmaking duo Wan and Whanell was a massive surprise blockbuster of 2004 (it was made for around $1million it reaped $103 million at the box office). The premise begins with two men (Cary Elwes and Whannell) waking up in a locked bathroom where a dead man lies between them on the floor. They learn that they’ve been trapped there by a serial killer known as “Jigsaw” who sets them a series of rules they have to follow in order to survive. Let the messed up games begin…
Type of frights: Often referred to as “torture porn” Saw definitely has elements of torture and ultra-violence, however the real scares are all psychological. The tension between the trapped protagonists, the focus on time that is quickly running out, and characters’ varying motivations make this genuinely gripping. Ignore all the shitty sequels.
Directed by: Bill Paxton
The Skinny: This laregly unseen but very disturbing and super grim indie psychological thriller is about a serial killer who claims to be murdering people at the behest of God – there’s nothing like throwing in fucked up Christians to take a scary movie to the next level! It begins when a man named Fenton (Matthew McConaughey) approaches an FBI agent to confess that he has been complicit in the “God’s Hand Killer” crimes under the guidance of his fanatical father (Bill Paxton). Through flashbacks and returns to present day the audience slowly learns the horrible truth…
Type of frights: While there are no major jump-out-of-your-chair moments, Frailty starts with a compelling premise and slowly unwinds with some disturbing twists.
Name: DAWN OF THE DEAD
Directed by: Zack Snyder
The Skinny: A quality remake of the George Romero classic, this fantastically gross and often hilarious 2004 interpretation brings together the few survivors from a worldwide zombie apocalypse (including Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames and Ty Burrell) who take refuge in a shopping centre while desperately trying to avoid getting eaten by the walking dead.
Type of frights: This is your requisite zombie-themed horror carnage – gore by the bucketload, unexpected jumps, and terrifying chase scenes. Heaps of fun.
Name: HOUSE OF WAX
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
The Skinny: Pretty standard slasher premise has a group of good-looking teenagers go camping and end up in a creepy deserted town, the main tourist attraction of which is a wax museum, where they end up getting acquainted with a few unhinged locals.
Type of frights: This is classic get the f*ck out of there! movie viewing experience so you know what to expect, but it’s worth watching just to see Paris Hilton die a hilarious horror movie death.
Name: THE OTHERS
Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
The Skinny: Chilling and beautifully-shot period ghost story about a mother (Nicole Kidman) who suspects her home is haunted when she and her two young children experience strange sinister happenings in the house. Nicole Kidman gives an elegant performance as the haunted uptight mother.
Type of frights: A suspended ominous sense of mystery throughout, with some good ghostly frights and a really wack scene with a little girl under a sheet. It’s in the trailer so that’s not a spoiler.
Directed by: Mitchell Lichtenstein (he also wrote the film)
The Skinny: Ludicrous comedy-horror indie that flips the gender roles typical of most horror movies. Dawn is a virginal teenage girl who realises she has sharp teeth in her vagina after one of the local town boys tries to sexually assault her. Memorable quotes include: “VAGINA DENTATA!”
Type of frights: Any man who likes having his penis attached will be chilled to the bon(er) by this movie. The sexual violence made against Dawn provides moments of genuine terror too.
Name: WOLF CREEK
Directed by: Greg McLean
The Skinny: Inspired by a couple of the more horrific crimes in Australia’s sordid past, Wolf Creek is the story of three backpackers making their way across the Australian outback. When their car breaks down a bushman (John Jarratt) turns up and offers to help. He turns out to be a psychopath.
Type of frights: This movie made a big impact upon its release in 2005, largely because of its unconventional horror movie setup. The entire first act of the film is entirely threat-free, spent following the three backpackers as they bond and explore the outback together. The horrific turn of events is extra terrifying because the well-established cheerful mood is switched so abruptly into one of terror.
Name: DEAD SNOW
Directed by: Tommy Wirkola
The Skinny: In this Norwegian comedy-horror, things take a turn for the worse when a group of university students on a skiing vacation get confronted by a pack of NAZI ZOMBIES!?!!!
Type of frights: Zombies AND Nazis. At the same time. The end.
Name: THE ORPHANAGE (El Orfanato)
Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
The Skinny: In this chilling, beautifully shot Spanish film, a lady takes her husband and young son Simon to live in the orphanage where she grew up with plans to convert it into a home for disabled children. Not long after arriving Simon starts to communicate with a mysterious invisible friend before he seemingly disappears without a trace…
Type of frights: Superbly menacing and tragic psychological ghost story with supernatural elements and terrific scares that will make you jump from your seat.
Name: A TALE OF TWO SISTERS
Directed by: Kim Jee-woon
The Skinny: This suffocating South Korean suspense horror is about two girls who come home after a stint in hospital following their mother’s tragic death. Once home they have to contend with their cruel step-mother and the terrifying presence of a ghostly woman.
Type of frights: A slowly building sense of dread and tense family dynamic is combined with a genuinely eerie haunted house vibe and some good scares.
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
The Skinny: If you like your comedy-horror skewed more toward the comedy with a smaller emphasis on major scares you’ll find respite with this fantastically entertaining and stylish post-Zombie Apocalypse movie in which the unlikely pairing of a geekish virginal student (Jesse Eisenberg) and an outrageous zombie-hating red neck (Woody Harrelson in sublime form) embark on a road trip to find sanctuary from the undead.
Type of frights: Look… any movie can give you a good jolt, but how many can boast the single greatest celebrity cameo of all time? Only this one!
Give us your suggestions in the comment section.