2008 Horror was tense
Not that horror wasn't any other year, but 2008 gave us some of the tensest movies and really forced the audience to the edge of their seats in anticipation. Again I'm keeping the list to 10 movies, so here are some of the ones not included: Prom Night, House, Saw V, Eye, Mirrors, and Otis. Now let's look at the top 10 of 2008. One other note - the 2 list sites I've been using have missed some movies for some reason. If I come across it after the fact, I'll try and include them when necessary.
My #1 for 2008 is the strangers. So at this point in my movie-going life, 99% of the movies I saw in theaters were with my 6-year-old son and/or my non-horror-loving wife, but this one I did see with my brother. Maybe seeing it in the theater, where it couldn't be paused, helped ramp up the tension, but I still feel like this was one of the tensest I've ever felt watching a movie.
I remember watching most of this film balanced on the edge of a crappy folded-down movie theater seat - that's right kids, they didn't use to be recliners - with the occasional back and forth comment or mirrored glance of WTF. You'll have to rent/buy to stream it, and when you do make sure to ignore the urge to pause and let that sense of dread build.
Blurb - A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants.
So this is a weird one because the studios mishandled The Midnight Meat Train from the beginning. Instead of opening the film in regular theaters in the US, they decided to send them directly to the cheaper "Dollar" theaters which usually ran movies months after they came out. This led to poor box-office numbers in the States so distributors in other countries decided to skip theaters altogether and go straight to DVD.
This is a shame because it's a gory, fun movie to watch based on a Clive Barker short story. The cast is superb - Bradley Cooper, Vinnie Jones, Leslie Bibb, and Brooke Shields. Check it out on VUDUfree & Roku.
Blurb - A photographer's obsessive pursuit of dark subject matter leads him into the path of a serial killer who stalks late night commuters, ultimately butchering them in the most gruesome ways.
Kelly Reilly & Michael Fassbender shine in Eden Lake. This movie is tense, brutal, and difficult to watch at times. If you're ready to dive in check it out on tubi, VUDUfree, & redbox.
Blurb - Refusing to let anything spoil their romantic weekend break, a young couple confront a gang of loutish youths with terrifyingly brutal consequences.
Jennifer Carpenter returns to horror in the US remake of the Spanish film REC called Quarantine. This film was shot chronically and Carpenter made sure to not see certain sets until she was actually acting in them to give a natural response to her performance. If you can't handle subtitles, this is the movie for you. Check it out on tubi.
Blurb - A television reporter and her cameraman are trapped inside a building quarantined by the CDC, after the outbreak of a mysterious virus which turns humans into bloodthirsty killers.
But if you don't mind subtitles or know Spanish, I thought REC was a bit tenser. This would have made the 2007 list but of course, it didn't pop up on the lists I went through. These movies are almost identical, so you can just watch the English-language version, but I recommend you check them both out and decide for yourself. Stream it on AMC+.
Let the Right One In is a Danish film based on a Danish book, so be prepared for subtitles. That said this is one of those movies you should see. Fight through it. (That said, there is an English language version coming up in the next few posts that is really, really good). Check it out in HULU, VUDUfree, and Showtime.
Blurb - Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.
The Ruins is one of my all-time favorite novels and I think this movie is a good representation of the story. Of course, there are a ton of changes made because that's how movies work. Listen go and get the book, enjoy it, and then if you want watch the movie to see the differences. Stream it on HBOMax.
Blurb - A leisurely Mexican holiday takes a turn for the worse when a group of friends and a fellow tourist embark on a remote archaeological dig in the jungle, where something evil lives among the ruins.
Shutter is another Asian movie remake that I might have ignored except it has Joshua Jackson. Which was a good thing because I thought it was well done. The original was set in Thailand but the director felt more comfortable staying in his home country of Japan so there are some shifts. You have to rent/buy it to stream so maybe you wait to check it out when it pops up on a service, but I liked it.
Blurb - A newly married couple discovers disturbing, ghostly images in photographs they develop after a tragic accident. Fearing the manifestations may be connected, they investigate and learn that some mysteries are better left unsolved.
The rare Western Horror pops up with The Burrowers. I always enjoy it when the setting of horror movies shifts to an unexpected time or location and this one delivers. Plus Mr. Krabs is in it. Stream it on tubi.
Blurbs - In the Wild West a rescue party sets out to find a family of settlers that has vanished from their home under mysterious circumstances.
From the director of The Batman(Matt Reeves) and the creator behind the Netflix Daredevil series(Drew Goddard), there was once a creature feature called Cloverfield. Filmed as if with handheld personal cameras, the movie has a unique look and style that really helped sell the situation. Stream it on HBOMax to see TJ Miller's film debut.
Blurb - A group of friends venture deep into the streets of New York on a rescue mission during a rampaging monster attack.
Guillermo del Toro returns to the world of Hellboy with Hellboy II: The Golden Army. He was becoming a hot director by this time and passed on the chance to direct Halo(which never happened), I am Legend, One Missed Call, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. As always his movies contain amazing monsters and creatures, and the source material comes alive on the screen. This would be the last one of the del Toro movies as they fell into development hell. The character would get a reboot instead. Stream it on Starz.
Blurb - A prince of the mythical world starts a rebellion against humanity in order to rule the Earth. Hellboy and his team must fight to stop him from locating the all-powerful Golden Army.
Bonus Movie - Not horror but done by one of my favorite "horror" directors,
One of my favorite directors, Neil Marshal, gives us a futuristic Mad Max clone with Doomsday. I think it's a fun movie, nothing incredible like Dog Soldiers or the Descent, but worth a watch. Check it out on tubi.
Blurb - A futuristic action thriller where a team of people work to prevent a disaster threatening the future of the human race.