Halloween is fast approaching, and for many people there is no better time than October to watch horror films. To help out choosing what to watch, Vagary’s own Movie Dudes, Jeff and Chris, have compiled a list of 31 modern horror films to watch in October. Why modern horror? Well, everyone already knows the classics, and the guys wanted to do something different. So here are 31 of the most gruesome, gory, mind-bending, scary films from the last 13 years.
28 Days Later
Director Danny Boyle’s modern classic is one of the best films, period, of the 2000s. Along with the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, it is responsible for revitalizing the zombie genre and making it insanely popular. An outbreak of a virus brings the world to an end by infecting people with rage. The afflicted are not your typical zombies but rabid maniacs who run after their prey. Boyle brings a touch of art and humanity to the genre with amazing visuals, perfect music, characters we care about, and the realization that humans are just as frightening as the infected. The film is a stunning achievement bursting with hope and style. Its audience shouldn’t be limited to fans of horror.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
What if Freddy, Jason and Michael all existed and were treated as heroes? That is the question Leslie Vernon poses to the audiences of his documentary chronicling his training to join their ranks. Behind the Mask deconstructs the slasher genre masterfully, answering all the questions fans have ever had about the how’s and why’s of their favorite slasher. The film does fall apart a bit during the last act but for the most part slasher film fans have no reason to miss out on this one.
The Blair Witch Project
Minimalism at its finest, The Blair Witch Project popularized the found footage horror genre with a micro budget and no violence. Three college kids head into the woods to investigate a local legend for a school project, and they document themselves getting lost and tormented by an unseen presence. What makes the film so scary and effective isn’t the supernatural presence in the woods but the main characters themselves. They feel like real people, and we sympathize with them as they start to get lost, run out of supplies, and slowly lose their minds. The second half of The Blair Witch Project has some of the most chilling moments ever committed to film, even if they are as simple as children’s handprints on an old wall or a confession from Heather, the group’s leader. A landmark horror film and one of the best ever made.
The Exorcist’s director William Friedkin adapts a Tracy Letts play about a very disturbing romance. Ashley Judd plays a lonely, divorced alcoholic with a tragic past who hooks up with a drifter played by Michael Shannon. She is so desperate for companionship that she overlooks the signs that he might suffer from severe mental illness. When he starts to see bugs crawling all over her place, she believes she can see them, too. And then it gets very weird and creepy. Wise direction by Friedkin coupled with amazing performances from Judd and Shannon make this film work and get under your skin. Shannon is his usual crazy self, but he is matched step for step by Judd, who really shines.
There is a cabin in the woods, and there are kids in it, but there is no supernatural killer stalking them. Instead, in this gory and unique debut from director Eli Roth, the kids get infected with a flesh eating disease and begin to fall apart, both figuratively and literally. The gore effects are spectacular and stomach-turning, especially a shaving scene, but it’s the way the friends turn on each other that make this truly potent horror. James DeBello provides some much needed comic relief as the joker among the bunch. There are a few goofy moments that stick out like a sore thumb, but this is still Roth’s best film.
The Cabin in the Woods
There are few things in horror more clichéd than a cabin in the woods but that is kind of the point of the Joss Whedon penned film The Cabin in the Woods. The film smartly plays with trusted genre conventions while at the same time throwing everything into a tizzy with its true storyline. While the entire film is entertaining, the last 20 minutes of the film are especially magical. Let’s just say there are unicorns and leave it at that.