This was a really tough year for me. There were a lot of horror films, commercial and indie, that impressed me on a noteworthy level. Determining my top 10 just wasn’t easy to do, and I went back and forth on this for quite some time. In the end, I think a lot of good movies aren’t included here and, well, that’s just how it goes. 2009 wasn’t a great year, but the level of talent and skills that emerged through a wide variety of productions seemed abundant and very equal in quality. That makes determining the ranking of virtually every film on this specific list difficult.
I guess this is one of those writing isn’t fun moments.
Antichrist, Splice, Doghouse, My Bloody Valentine – those are all solid fringe top 10 picks. And I don’t think the talent we see in these films is all too far behind the talent seen in the official list here. It’s unfortunate there aren’t many pics that greatly distance themselves from the others in the lineup, but the top three are excellent films, so even if we’re only heavy on the highest end of this list, that’s alright with me.
Before you take this plunge, be sure to catch up on our selections for top 10 films of 1990 up to ’08, right here.
Now, without further ado, I’m going to break down these films not by sharing their concepts and highlighting their plots (like usual), but by giving you brief but honestly subjective assessments. Love it or hate it, it’s what I’ve got.
10 Drag Me to Hell
Drag Me to Hell is a bit of an acquired taste. The humor either works for you, or it doesn’t. Lovers of Raimi’s work are definitely most inclined to enjoy Drag Me to Hell, while I think casual fans may make for a harder sell. It’s solid entertainment.
One of the most underrated killer kid flicks, Orphan has a few moments that disturb on an epic level, and that, coupled with good fundamental filmmaking ensure we’re not one of the countless sites who disregard this film. This was a rare commercial gem, all the way.
Carriers may be the bleakest film on this entire list, and when you watch it, you feel uncomfortable. There’s just no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow here. There’s nothing to hope for, and that, as well as a few of the more necessarily ruthless moments in the movie make for fine entertainment.
07 The Collector
I think The Collector has a lot of inconsistencies working against it, and I think there are a wealth of wrinkles in the screenplay that could have been ironed out. But, even considering those flaws and how noticeable they are (from the traps themselves to the timeline of the film’s events), The Collector is a lot of fun to watch, and it’s one of the movies on this list that has strong replay value. It’s almost like taking a trip back to the 1980s and stumbling across one of your favorite classics all over again.
06 The House of the Devil
If slow burn horror doesn’t work for you, you’re probably hating this pick. But these kinds of movies work for me, especially when they look as beautiful as Ti West’s nod to the ‘70s and ‘80s. The movie takes its time arriving at its destination, for sure, but the finale is insane and the tension buildup in the last 25 minutes of the movie are excellent.
05 Friday the 13th
You just angrier, didn’t you? I know this isn’t a popular opinion, but for me it’s very simple: fast, agile Jason is a hell of a lot more frightening than slow and lumbering. And Nispel’s reboot made for the most enjoyable trip to the theater that year. It was the one trip that stood out. In a franchise loaded with technical junkers, it’s a wonder that this is the movie people love to hate.
04 The Last House on the Left
Outside of one scene that screams of impossibility, and forces a pause in all viewers, Dennis Iliadis’ remake of The Last House on the Left is a pretty damn good movie, and a standout in regard to remakes. It’s not as discomforting as Craven’s original, but it’s a gritty film, all the same.
03 The Loved Ones
I can get into really sadistic films, as long as they’re intelligent. The Loved Ones is intelligent, and that helps distance it from most of its annual peers. It never feels particularly gratuitous, though it could rightfully be accused of it on occasion. Instead the movie works to leave your head constantly spinning, asking yourself W… T… F… over and over again. Only an awesome movie can do that.
02 Dead Snow
Nazi zombies in a graphic, comedic horror film? Yeah, count this guy in, all the way. This is a blast of a movie, and it’s all the gore a zombie fan could ask for. The blood never stops flowing. The jokes never let up. And the strong performances and stellar makeup just push everything over the edge and into a sea of brilliance.
It’s interesting that the zombie sub-genre is one of my least favorite, yet the top two films released in 2009 were zombie flicks. There’s nothing wrong with that, obviously, it’s just interesting… and distracting. Back on track and talking Zombieland, it must be said, this is the best zombie movie that doesn’t have the late, great George Romero’s name on it. It’s hilarious. It’s witty. It’s got legendary characters. It looks amazing. Bill Murray gets his guts blown out after smoking a bowl. I’m sorry, nothing trumps this one in 2009.