This October, London Film Fest revealed a new 4K restoration of Tobe Hooper’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” the one that started it all in 1974. Buzz about the beefed-up version prompted BFI to pick 10 great new horror films that, while probably not as impactful as “Texas Chainsaw” with its shock of the new, will last. Here are their picks. (Also worth a look is The Dissolve’s list of 30 Best American Independent Horror Films.)
2001: “Session 9” (Dir. Brad Anderson
2002: “May” (Dir. Lucky McKee)
2005: “The Descent” (Dir. Neil Marshall)
2006: “Bug” (Dir. William Friedkin)
2007: “Inside” (Dirs. Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo)
2009: “Amer” (Dirs. Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani)
2009: “House of the Devil” (Dir. Ti West)
2009: “The Loved Ones” (Dir. Sean Byrne)
2010: “We Are What We Are” (Dir. Jorge Michel Grau)
2012: “Berberian Sound Studio” (Dir. Peter Strickland)
These are all terrific films. And scary. 2009, it seems, was a great year for horror—also the year of Lars von Trier’s punishingly gruesome “Antichrist” and Sam Raimi’s trashy-good “Drag Me to Hell.” Like good horror savants, BFI’s picks contain little humor, save Ti West’s winking throwback “House of the Devil.” Why does current horror so often chase irony instead of scares? These films do not. Neil Marshall’s terrifying “The Descent” is a movie you can’t unsee.
But what could be added to the list? I’d argue for “Sinister,” which is crap-your-pants scary until the ending cops out, and especially dread-saturated 2002 remake “The Ring” starring Naomi Watts. Also branded on the brain is Bryan Bertino’s nasty home invasion horror “The Strangers” from 2008, or the Spanish-language original “REC,” one of the great found footage horrors ever. What about Ben Wheatley’s bracing “Kill List” from 2012?
Then there’s Sion Sono’s “Suicide Club,” which has horror’s most shocking opening tableau. The 2001 Japanese film “Pulse” is also gorgeous and spooky. Miike’s “Audition” played fests in 1999 before opening in the US in 2000, but it’s perfect horror.
You could make the case for Lynch’s brain-fuck “Inland Empire,” though it has more arty aspirations than mere scares. Come this Fall, Aussie director Jennifer Kent’s Sundance film “The Babadook” is going to blow 2014’s horror movies out of the water.
What am I forgetting?