As most of you know I grew up in the 1980s and consider that decade to be the golden age of horror. I also really enjoy a lot of horror films from the 90s as well, and in the past I put together a couple of lists that looked at the underrated horror films that came out of both decades that were overlooked and just never got the attention and love that they deserved. But what about the 2000s, you ask? While the quality of horror movies has gone down a bit since the new millennium (in my humble opinion anyway) there have still been some pretty awesome horror flicks to hit the scene in the last seventeen years. Adam Green’s Hatchet is without a doubt one of the best horror films to come out of the decade as is Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (which I almost put on this list as I am surprised by how many horror fans haven’t seen it- or even heard of it-for some strange reason).
At the same time there were a lot of really bad horror movies released during the 2000s as well and sometimes people shied away from watching horror as a result because they didn’t know what was really good and what was really bad and didn’t want to take a chance on something they weren’t familiar with. This is unfortunate because it stopped people from seeing certain horror films that were actually pretty good and said films became vastly underrated as a result. I personally think that there are a lot of underrated horror movies from 2000-2010, so I thought that I’d put together a top ten list that showcased these films so that they can be introduced to the horror fans out there that skipped them during their initial runs or never took a chance on renting them from the video store (remember those?) back in the day. Who knows, maybe after reading this list a ton of people will run out and checks these films out so that they can finally get the love and respect that they deserve.
Without further ado here is my list of the 10 Most Underrated Horror Movies from 2000 to 2010…
Yeah, I know. A lot of people reading this right now are probably shaking their heads and thinking that I don’t know what I’m talking about. That’s OK though because to be honest I didn’t really think that I would like it very much either before I decided to check it out one night because I was bored and didn’t have anything else better to do. Yes, it’s cheesy, the acting isn’t exactly Oscar-worthy for the most part and some of the humor just doesn’t work, but there was just something about it that I really dug and I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it after everything was said and done. Part of the reason it is so good is due to the fact that Phoebe Dollar is in it and she does an awesome job of playing the film’s antagonist. I love Phoebe and think that she is a super talented actress that always delivers, and she definitely does this time around as it is obvious that she had a blast playing the part of Lucindia. I also thought that the movie actually had an interesting premise and a very cool twist toward the end that I never saw coming that just really worked on several levels. It also has some nice special effects (which were done by the always cool Joe Castro who also has a small part in the film) and I thought that they looked quite awesome considering that the filmmakers were working with a low budget. I love this movie and think that a lot of other viewers out there would too if they gave it a chance.
09 – Neighbor (2009)
I was lucky enough to see this film when it first came out and I loved every minute of it. It’s just a fun, strange, and disturbing film about a woman that likes to kill people (and she does so in some pretty cool and creative ways). We know nothing about her, never find out her name (she is just called “The Girl”), and we have no idea why she enjoys torturing and killing complete strangers so much. A lot of people didn’t like this movie and whined and complained that she needed to have some sort of backstory but I think that it works better not knowing a single thing about her. I don’t think that the film would have been nearly as good if the people behind it had decided to give her some sort of origin story with a tacked-on reason for why she went around killing people. I love the fact that she is a total and complete mystery to us and I think that she works better that way. She’s just a psychotic chick that gets a kick out of butchering people and that’s pretty much it. Not everything should be explained in my opinion and I think that this is a perfect example of that. America Olivia (where has she been? I haven’t seen her in a while which is a shame because she rocks!) does an excellent job as The Girl and you can’t help but like her despite the fact that she’s a demented, cold-blooded killer. If you haven’t seen this movie do yourself a favor and do so as soon as you can because you’re really missing out.
08- Cut (2000)
When Cut first came out I dismissed it as just another lame Scream clone and had no real desire to see it. I saw it months later at a friend’s house and was pleasantly surprised by how good it actually was. I thought that it had a very cool premise (a masked killer stalks a movie set and takes out anyone unlucky enough to cross his path) and thought that it was just a fun little movie in general that had a nice 80s slasher flick vibe to it without trying too hard or being arrogant and self-aware like Scream (for those of you out there that don’t know it, I detest the Scream series). It was nice seeing Molly Ringwald in the mix as this was quite a different role for her but she does a great job and is one of the reasons that the movie is so good. It has a pretty impressive body count, some creative death scenes, and I dug the whole thing with the killer’s identity and why he/she wanted to kill everyone. Unfortunately, this movie has basically been forgotten over the years which is a shame because it’s a lot better than that and deserves better.
07- Salvage (2006)
I had never even heard of this movie until I got one of those horror film packs with four movies in it from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment from someone for my birthday several years ago. I had no clue what it was about and the vague synopsis on the back of the DVD case didn’t really tell me anything so I went into it totally blind and hoped for the best. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I had a hidden gem on my hands and I dug this movie from beginning to end to the point that I really didn’t want it to be over. It’s sort of like a horror version of Groundhog Day where the main character is killed over and over again as she tries to figure out just what is going on. It is well-written, a little disturbing (and depressing), and has one hell of a twist that I never saw coming that just blew me away. It helps that it has some great acting in it as well (I thought that Lauren Currie Lewis was absolutely amazing as the main character Claire) and a nice little mystery that keeps you guessing the entire time. It’s a pretty obscure little flick that may be hard to track down but it is well worth looking for because it really is a winner. It’s one of those movies that stays with you long after you have seen it and I highly recommend it to anyone that is looking for something a little different.
06- Satan’s Little Helper (2004)
For years I avoided watching Satan’s Little Helper because I thought that the cover art looked extremely goofy and I just assumed that the movie itself was just as bad. I caught it one night on cable years ago and realized that this was a perfect example of how you can’t judge a book (or in this case, a DVD) by its cover. I thought that this movie was all sorts of awesome and that it had a nice early 90s horror film feel to it. The premise is simple enough (a little boy hangs out with a masked guy on Halloween unaware of the fact that he is actually a serial killer that is claiming victims left and right) but it is entertaining and it works. It’s just a fun little slasher flick that has a little something for everyone and it is nowhere near as goofy as I thought that it would be. It has likable characters, a great cast (which includes the always awesome Katheryn Winnick) and I had a great time watching it. It helps that it was written and directed by the great Jeff Lieberman that was also responsible for the classic 80s slasher Just Before Dawn and the weird-but fun-MST3K favorite Squirm. I really dug this movie and hate that I waited six years after it came out to see it because it really is pretty damn good.
05- Series 7: The Contenders (2001)
I’ve never been a fan of reality shows so I am surprised that I liked this movie as much as I did (but maybe I would like them if they were more like this film). The premise-which revolves around people being selected for a reality show where they have to kill each other-is quite brilliant and I dig the way that the entire movie is shot like an actual episode of a fake television show (I know someone who turned on their television one night when it was on and they thought that it was for real and they were watching an actual show where people were really killing each other). There is an interesting cast of characters that make up the contestants for the show including the reigning champion (who happens to also be pregnant), her ex-lover (who has terminal cancer), a super religious nurse, an old man, a high school girl, and a middle-aged dad and at times some of them do some surprising things in order to survive. The lines are blurry as to who the good guys and bad guys are as the movie progresses and I enjoyed the sweet half ass love story between two of the main characters. I know a lot of people that really got into this movie upon its initial release but over the years it has sadly been forgotten about for the most part for some reason which isn’t fair because it’s much better than that and should have a bigger following.
04- Dead End (2003)
If you ask me Dead End is right up there with Silent Night, Deadly Night and the original Black Christmas as one of the best Christmas-themed horror films out there today but unfortunately, I don’t know a lot of people who have seen it which is a shame because it is an awesome movie. The premise is simple enough (a family takes a short cut on the way to visit relatives on Christmas Eve and strange things start to happen) but it is entertaining as hell and keeps you guessing. I had a blast trying to figure out what was going on as the film progressed and even though it isn’t that hard to deduce if you pay attention it’s still a very fun ride. One of the strongest things about the film is the writing as the characters are realistic (as well as relatable and likable) the plot is intriguing, and there is some subtle humor thrown into the mix that is actually funny. Ray Wise and Lin Shaye really shine (as usual) and they have great chemistry together which just makes things even better. If you’ve ever been on a car trip with your family (and they bicker constantly) on the holidays and got lost in the middle of nowhere you will really get this movie and appreciate it for what it is.
Do you miss the good old school slashers from the 80s? Looking for a more current movie that successfully captures the vibe and feel of these films? Then look no further than 2008’s Midnight Movie. It’s a fun little slasher flick that centers around a group of people trapped in a movie theater that is terrorized by a masked killer that escapes from the movie that they are watching. Part Demons, Part Popcorn, and all awesome, Midnight Movie is just an all-around kickass movie that is loaded with some great death scenes, likable characters, and just a cool premise in general. If you are a fan of the slasher films from the golden age of horror (the 1980s) like I am then you are sure to dig this movie as it rocks. Do yourself a favor and check it out as soon as you can, I promise you will not be let down.
02- Session 9 (2001)
Man, I love this movie and think that it is one of the most underrated horror films of all time. It’s about a crew of guys that is sent to an old abandoned mental hospital to clean it up and before you know it spooky things start to happen and people start dying. It’s a well-written movie with a great cast that is genuinely creepy (the bit with the stuff they find on the old tape recorder never fails to given me the wiggins) and unsettling. I have suggested this movie to a ton of people and they have all really dug it as much as I did. If you’re looking for an interesting, character-driven horror film that will actually scare the hell out of you then Session 9 is definitely for you.
01- Frailty (2001)
Directed by the late, great Bill Paxton (RIP) who also stars in it, Frailty is just an all-around wonderful movie and I am surprised that it isn’t a lot more popular than it actually is. It focuses on a widowed man (Paxton) who is just a nice guy and a good dad to his two sons that one day out of the blue gets a message from God telling him to kill certain people. The story is told in flashbacks by one of the sons years later and the results are nothing short of awesome. Throw in a couple of neat twists that you won’t see coming and you have one hell of a great movie. It’s one of those movies that makes you think as well as entertains you and I love how the movie allows people to have their own interpretations of it (is the dad crazy or did God really speak to him? It’s basically left up to you to decide as it never really gives a clear answer). Paxton knocks it out of the park as usual as his performance is phenomenal. This is definitely a film that you need to see if you are into horror as it is just something special. It stays with you for a while after you see it and is one of those movies that you just never forget. Check it out and be prepared to be amazed.
-One Hour Photo (would have made the list but the crappy, tacked-on ending that explained why Robin Williams’ character is the way he is hurts the movie more than it helps it in my opinion)
-Killer Movie (2008)
There you have it, folks, my list of the Top Ten Most Underrated Horror Films from 2000 to 2010. Check it out and let me know what you think!