Editor’s Note: As part of our Year in Review feature, we’ve tapped our resident horror expert Robert Fure for a list of the Ten Best Horror Movies of 2008. To read more of Robert’s horror reviews, check out The Coroner’s Report every Thursday.
Being a horror fan is tough business and some years are worse than ever. 2008 saw its share of lame PG-13 movies (Prom Night) and an influx of crappy remade Japanese films (Shutter), in addition to having some of the more anticipated films (Trick ‘r Treat) delayed from wide release once again. That said, we worked long and hard to scrounge up 10 Horror films worthy of recognition in 2008 and believe me, it wasn’t easy.
10. Jack Brooks Monster Slayer
The horror-comedy is quickly getting to be old-hat in most books, but Jack Brooks manages to kick some serious ass in the vein of Army of Darkness. Angry plumber Jack Brooks has a lot going wrong in his life ever since demons killed his family, but now he’s found his calling – whooping ass. Bonus points for great practical effects!
9. The Orphanage
An imported feature that was made in 2007, but didn’t come to the States until 2008. This Spanish ghost flick had some of our staff members clinging to their seat edges.
We’re big fans of blood and guts in our horror and if there is one thing Inside delivered, it was the red stuff. Best described as “incredibly violent,” this movie helped solidify France as one of the quality exporters of horror in the past few years.
7. The Strangers
A simple film that reminds us that the world is a scary places, ghosts or not. Regardless of the fact that a normal person could have escaped no fewer than six times, The Strangers was spooky and realistic enough to merit your attention.
A remake of the popular [REC], Quarantine substitutes in American actors and fleshes out the story a bit. Fans of the original generally look down on what was probably a needless remake, but the story is fast, frightening, and fun.
Uwe Boll is many things, though “good storyteller” is generally not among them. That said, in 2008 Boll had two films on my radar that I enjoyed, Postal and Seed. The latter is by no means a perfect film, but it does manage to keep your interest and provide what may have been 2008’s single most uncomfortable kill to watch, via slow, methodical hammer.
4. Let the Right One In
This Swedish film is on everyone’s radar (even making it into the IMDb top 250) though seeing it can prove a challenge because of it’s limited release. The story follows a young boy who overcomes his bullies with the help of the young girl next door, who just might be a bloodthirsty vampire.
One of the few films that managed to live up to the hype, this monster mash-up was fun and had cool monsters, though I’m very hopeful that the whole character-hand-held camera genre is ready to call it quits. One great violent moment and some unexpected kills coupled with a cool, giant monster make it worth a view if you’ve got the stomach.
2. Midnight Meat Train
Perhaps the only author with a rougher cinematic track record than Stephen King, Clive Barker’s short story was done justice in 2008, though the film was unjustly kept out of a wide release. Featuring the awesome Vinnie Jones and some awe-inspiring, jaw crushing violence and tons of blood, I was down with this flick from start to finish.
Splinter was easily my best reviewed film covered by The Coroner’s Report, and with good reason. The script was tight and fast, the run time and pace was excellent, and the blood and scares were great. A novel concept that channeled all of my favorites, from Alien to The Thing to Evil Dead II. This flick had what I thought was the coolest monster of the year, strong acting and generally kicked ass. Splinter will be available on DVD in early 2009.
Honorable Mentions: Dance of the Dead, Doomsday, Mirrors
Read More: 2008 Year in Review
Catching all the horror films released in a year, from festival-only screenings to direct-to-DVD films can be hard, please comment below on your thoughts on these films and any films left off the list. Some festival-only releases may be included in the 2009 list, if they receive wider distribution or DVD releases.