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The Top Ten Horror Movies of 2010 that You Probably Didn’t See

January 10, 2011 By: Category: Best of 2010, Movies

It’s that time of year again, folks. What would our end-of-the-year wrap-up be without a lil’ Top Ten Horror Movies of 2010 That You Probably Didn’t See?

Truth be told –- this year, it was pretty slim pickings for the genre. Rib-bone thin. The multiplexes presented a dearth of horror flicks worth leaving the house for. Venturing beyond the genre offered a few deadly diamonds-in-the-rough for those brave enough to go hunting for them – but they’re out there, believe you me, lurking within some of the furthermost sections of the video store. I can feel myself already catching heat from the die-hards for a few selections on this list, but let’s be completely honest with ourselves here: Some of the most unnerving, truly frightening, utterly engrossing horror films of the year wouldn’t even be considered quote-unquote horror by traditional genre standards. I dare you to defy my selections for the best horror films 2010 had to offer…

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Buried, Splice, The Crazies, The Last Exorcism, The Children, Altitude, Survival of the Dead, Rec 2, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, The Eclipse, and The Horseman.

10. FROZEN
Written and directed by Adam Green.
Watch the trailer here.

Full confession: I am not a fan of Adam Green’s Hatchet films. At all. Reductive rather than resourceful, his lauded slasher re-hashes smack of microwaved leftovers from a Vorhees family Thanksgiving dinner circa Friday the 13th Pt. V. So – imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to encounter FROZEN. Coming in with the lowest of expectations, I was happy to discover a film that prefers patience over genre-pandering. Taking a very simple concept, a trio of friends stranded on a ski lift, Green goes for broke and milks every conceivable polar-moment for their blistering potential. Frostbite has never felt more palpable onscreen… or this much fun. The camera lingers on skin-in-distress to such an intense (zero) degree(s), it’s impossible not to feel one’s own flesh crackle while viewing it. Kudos to Green for favoring the simplicity of a humble story and telling it well, taking the physical limitations of his conceit and turning them into narrative strengths – which only makes the fact that FROZEN was book-ended between Hatchets, parts one and two, all the more disheartening. Back to the slasher re-treads, I guess…

9. TRIANGLE
Written and directed by Christopher Smith.
Watch the trailer here.

Christopher Smith has been responsible for several British fright flicks – such as Creep and Severance – that, while commendable in their execution, ultimately fall short from hitting their bull’s eye. Which is a bummer, for sure, given Smith’s immensely self-evident dedication to the genre. It’s impossible not to root for this director, film after film, because you can tell he’s learning – and luckily, the learning curve has been kind to the man with TRIANGLE. Third time’s the charm. All it took was setting sail into the Bermuda Triangle, twisting along this Mobius strip of a film that’s equal parts time-travel mind-funk and slasher-flick. Imagine The Shining meets Donnie Darko. Or Back to the Future meets The Burning. Or A Sound of Thunder meets… No. Nevermind. Don’t imagine A Sound of Thunder. At all. Most reminiscent of all, however – is Nacho Vigalondo’s Spanish (and moderately more tongue-and-cheeky) Timecrimes. A double feature of these two films might cancel each other out in some odd cinematic space/time continuum. Mirrors upon mirrors upon mirrors…. The less you think about the goofball complexities of this puzzle and just go for the ride, following Melissa George as she cruises through an endless loop of axe-murderers on the open seas, the more fun you’ll probably have. I’m betting Smith’s next film, The Black Death, is even better…

8. PEACOCK
Written by Michael Lander and Ryan O Roy. Directed by Michael Lander.
Watch the trailer here.

Where in the hell did this movie come from? One of the biggest mysteries of this Cillian Murphy starrer is that virtually nobody has ever even heard of it. How could a movie featuring Susan Sarandon, Ellen Page, and Bill Pullman, among other Hollywood heavies, go this unnoticed? Its storyline – that’s how. Dumped onto DVD earlier this year, PEACOCK presents itself as a Psycho-inspired thriller, where the mystery of whodunit is entirely internalized into the mind of one wildly fractured individual. The less you know about PEACOCK, the better – but rest assured, this one’s worth the cinematic rubbernecking purely for the perverse pleasure of watching a film that challenges itself to tell such an offbeat story. Most of the time, it succeeds, thanks to Murphy’s delicate performance – his second time in drag, following his turn in Breakfast On Pluto. Norman Bates has got nothing on this mother-humper. As soon as he’s pitted against, well, himself, this occasionally-plodding film shifts into some devious fun well worth the rental. Find it.

7. MONSTERS
Written and directed by Gareth Edwards.
Watch the trailer here.

It was inevitable: A mumblecore monster movie. Bound to happen sooner or later, right? Don’t let the slackened performance style fool you, though. This flick has a lot to offer sci-fi fans, particularly its crisp creature design by visual effects artist Gareth Edwards. A little lo-fi FX goes on awfully long way here. MONSTERS milks the all-too familiar metaphor of aliens-as-other xenophobia a la Alien Nation and Enemy Mine, this time taking that ol’ extraterrestrial chestnut and heading south of the border. After a NASA deep space probe crashes back on earth, the majority of Mexico gradually metamorphoses into an “infected zone.” Migrating packs of tentacled humpbacks now call the country their stomping ground – and America promptly responds by erecting an immense barrier that would make the Great Wall of China blush. Quicker than Jan Brewer can say SB 1070, immigration gets its own interstellar spin. At its hipstered-heart, however, MONSTERS is something of a love story, as our two slacker-protagonists Andrew and Samantha mutter their way through Mexico in hopes of hopping the border back into the states. Lessons in intergalactic tolerance are learned and… well, I’m being a hair-too cynical here. Criticizing MONSTERS for its earnestness would be like chastising the sci-fi flicks of the 50’s for their sense of social consciousness, which this film is clearly kin to. Beautiful moments abound, especially when Edwards focuses on the environmental minutiae of the aftermath of his alien “invasion.” And it looks so real. I’d recommend a double feature of MONSTERS along with last year’s District 9 purely for their vérité effects – but if you pushed me to pick a favorite, I’d be bold and say I prefer Edwards’ micro-budgeted walkabout over Neill Blomkamp’s action-yarn, strictly for its simple story and quiet moments. Even the mumbling.

6. COLIN
Written and directed by Marc Price.
Watch the trailer here.

Released in the UK in 2008 but just now making its way to DVD in the states, COLIN has every right to be re-titled The Lil’ Zombie Romp That Could. Dragging the term low budget down to profoundly infinitesimal depths, the total price tag for this by-the-bootstraps production tallied somewhere around £45. As in – seventy bucks. As in – my monthly Metro card cost me more than the entirety of this heartfelt film. And it was a hit at Cannes! Shot on a clunky Panasonic mini-DV camcorder, Marc Price jumps in headfirst with his spin on the well-tread zombie apocalypse – introducing us to Colin, bitten before the opening credits, well on his way to zombification within the first few minutes of the movie. Freshly dead, we follow zombie-Colin through his reanimated day-to-day, noshing on survivors and ducking lynch mobs in the streets of Manchester. We’ve officially entered Bub territory here, people. Fans of George Romero’s Day of the Dead will find a kindred spirit in Colin, as leading man Alastair Kirton humanizes the inhuman much the same way that Sherman Howard provided a tragic depth to his zombified private back in 1985. While the first half of COLIN suffers the most from its budgetary constraints, viewers will be rewarded for sticking around for the final forty-five minutes – shifting into a series of intense set pieces that run through the gamut of complex emotions, equally frightening and heartbreaking in their execution. Most rewarding by far is the familial: Scenes of Colin’s surviving kin and the choices they are compelled to make in the name of family resonate well past the closing credits. Send a Hallmark card to your sisters, boys. She may just end up saving your undead ass one day…

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5 Comments to “The Top Ten Horror Movies of 2010 that You Probably Didn’t See”


  1. Well done, Clay! And I’m so glad Afterschool and Winter’s Bone are both on this list. I saw both of these films very recently, and they are absolutely superb.

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  2. What, no “Make Out With Violence”? Well it looks like I’ve got some catching up to do.

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  3. Thanks! And screw you! I totally watched Cropsey!

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  4. And I saw Frozen! Do i win?!?

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  5. I just finished Winter’s Bone. Stunning. Valhalla Rising was pretty awesome too. I have Peacock, Colin and Monsters in my queue.

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