The 10 best ‘unseen’ horror films of the Noughties: Part 2
Welcome to part 2 of my top ten unseen horror films of the 21st century. So far we’ve seen fantastic films like Frozen, The Loved Ones and Bug, to name but three. Now, we move on to the top 5 contenders for the best unseen horror film, and later, I will be crowning my number one choice for the best unseen horror of the last decade. Let’s get started!
Canadian horror is mostly known for one man: David Cronenberg, the master of the weird and wonderful. You can’t help but feel watching Pontypool, directed by Bruce McDonald, that Cronenberg should be proud of the legacy he’s left behind, for this is an odd, intriguing little film about a viral infection being spread through certain English words, that is turning the residents of Pontypool into zombies. Taking place mostly in a small radio booth, this low budget chiller is terrific in its use of uncertainty and isolation from the outside world; the only way shock jock Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) finds out about the infection is through listener phone ins and a bizarre live interview with an outside reporter. While the film made little money on release, and numerous reviewers found the film too slow or too weird, I felt the use of the small location added to the fear, and the central performance is an excellent one. Pontypool is certainly a strange film, but one that is definitely worth tracking down, especially for the early Cronenberg fans.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Combining horror and comedy can occasionally lead to utter classics, like Shaun of the Dead and The Evil Dead II. However, more often than not, horror comedy fails due to either not being very scary, not being very funny, or both, such as Lesbian Vampire Killers, Jennifer’s Body and the Troma films. Thankfully, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is very much in the former category. The debut feature by Eli Craig, the film follows the titular duo (played lovingly by Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) as they drive up to their newly bought summer house (in need of repairing). When up at their cabin in the woods, they run into a group of suspicious teenagers, who believe the pair are murderous hillbillies. What follows is a riotous film in which a series of misunderstandings and accidental deaths lead to an all out war. While worth seeing for the infamous ‘woodchipper’ scene alone, the film is also magnificent in its affection for Tucker and Dale, who may be the best pairing in the history of horror films. Whilst the film was seen very little at the cinemas, I believe it is destined to be a cult favourite.
Session 9 (2001)
Coming in early in the decade was Brad Anderson’s Session 9, one of the most chilling, spine tingling, nerve shredding films of the decade. Taking place in that fine old horror staple, the abandoned mental asylum, Session 9 centres around five men taking on a job to remove asbestos from the aforementioned asylum. Lead by Peter Mullan, one of the finest screen actors of his generation, Session 9 takes it’s time to build to the scares. In the first half, the chills come from a series of taped interviews one of the workers comes across, featuring a girl called Mary and her split personalities. At the same time, away from work, Mullan tries to get back with his wife, who he recently hit in a surge of anger. While the film seems like it will veer into a traditional horror, it actually goes into much more interesting territory, with a horribly tense atmosphere, some chilling lines (“What are you doing here?”) and a brutal twist that hits you like a knife wound. Though the film was a flop at the cinema, possibly due to it being more about tension and atmosphere than big scares, it has become something of a cult favourite, and I recommend watch Session 9 if you want to be chilled to your core.
Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
After Shane Meadows, one of the UK’s most consistent and loveable directors, made his first critically reviled film, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, he decided to go back to his roots and make a film with a low budget based on real experiences. The resulting film was Dead Man’s Shoes, one of the best British horrors of the decade. The film follows Richard (Paddy Considine), a former soldier, returning to his home town to get revenge on the men who bullied his mentally disabled brother Anthony (a debuting Toby Kebbel). On paper, the film is a simple revenge flick, but on the screen, it unfolds as an intense, emotional psychological horror, featuring one of the greatest performances in any film of the decade in Paddy Considine’s Empire Award winning performance, a portrayal of rage and hatred, which is eerie when calm and utterly terrifying when unleashed. Kebbel also gives a stunningly sympathetic portrayal of a young adult with special needs, being the heart of the film. With flashes of brutal violence, genuine chills (the drug attack) and a heart wrenching twist, Dead Man’s Shoes is a strong contender for the greatest British horror of the 00’s.
So here it is , my number one choice! The reason this film made it above all others was for a few reasons. First of all, it’s simply a sublime film, that had me gripped the first time I watched. Also, it’s a modern J-Horror, something not seen enough on these shores. But most of all, the reason this film is at my number one slot is because nearly all the other films have at least a few solid rooted fans in the UK, but this film doesn’t really seem to have many supporters at all, so I felt it was my duty to share this majestic film with you, in hopes that you will go out, watch it, and love it like I do. Ladies and gentleman, here is my best unseen horror film of the noughties.
From Japan, this gripping and twisting tale of revenge, by Tetsuya Nakashima, starts off in a classroom, filled with loud, obnoxious and disinterested teenagers. A teacher (Takako Matsu) announces she has resigned, to the cheers of her students, but before she leaves, she has an important announcement: She knows which pupils were responsible for the death of her daughter, and she has infected the milk they are drinking. After this long and captivating opening sequence, the film drives off in all manner of directions, with excellent and disturbing performances from Matsu, Yukito Nishii and Ai Hashimoto. Though well received in Japan (where it was their selected entry for Best Foreign Language film at the Academy Awards), this seems to have been mostly lost in the shuffle in other countries. However, don’t be put off checking out Confessions, as it is utterly absorbing, stylish, surprisingly moving and unpredictable to the end, with different directions and an incredible directorial effort.
So there you have it, my top ten unseen films of the 00’s. Each of these films has merit, and each of these films deserves to be seen a lot more than they have. If you disagree with any of the choices, or wish to submit your own unseen horrors, please give me feedback!
By Harry J. Ford
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