As you may have noticed from my list for 2002, some of my lists are shorter than others, and this mostly has to do with the fact that even if there were 200 horror films in any given year, I may have only seen a few of them (just wait till we get to 2010) and I’ve tried to choose the films that I liked the best from each year. With that in mind, let’s move on to 2003.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre(Remake)
I love the classic Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and when I first heard they were remaking it, I had my doubts, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake managed to do what few remakes have, put a new spin on a classic story without turning it into a steaming pile of shit. TCM2003 added more characters to the family and made Leatherface a force to be reckoned with again. It doesn’t quite capture the grit and grime of the original, but it adds its own dark twist on the tale of a family of cannibals in Texas, and R. Lee Ermey’s Sherriff character is such a wonderful psychopath to watch that he almost steals the film from Leatherface.
High Tension(Haute Tension)
One of the first of the “New Wave of French Horror”, High Tension has divided horror fans into two camps of those who loved the film and those that hated it. An orgy of cruel violence and gore, Tension moves with perfect pacing, and is a truly tense film the first time you see it, and while it loses its tension on repeat viewings, the story opens up much more with multiple viewings. Yes, there is a twist ending that many fans hated, and have claimed ruined the film but the twist ending makes much more sense after you’ve seen the film a few times, as the more you watch the film, the more the subtle hints dropped throughout it become clear.
Yet another Asian film hitting my list, this time from Korea, Old Boy is a film that grabs you by the neck and drags you through its twisted world whether you like it or not. The tale of a man imprisoned in a room for 15 years with seemingly no reason, Dae-Su Oh is released one day and for the next five days exacts his revenge on his captors at any cost. Based on a Manga of the same name, Old Boy the film differs in its twist ending from that of its original source material, though the explanation of why Dae-Su Oh is imprisoned in the film is much more twisted than the explanation given in the Manga. This is not a film for the faint of heart, as the violence is visceral and the story is sick and twisted, but never feels over the top. The hammer fight scene in the hallway is one of the greatest pieces of cinematic violence I’ve ever seen, and is beautiful in its brutality. If you haven’t seen this film, you owe it to yourself to take the time to watch it.
A Tale of Two Sisters(Janghwa, Hongryeon)
South Korea is quickly becoming the new home of amazing Asian horror cinema, and A Tale of Two Sisters is yet another fantastic film that flows with disquieting beauty and horror. Remade in 2009 as The Uninvited, this film is another classic that has been overlooked by those who won’t watch a film because it has subtitles. Relying more on mood than jump scares, Tale is a creepy film that has a twist ending that left me in stunned silence.
Final Destination 2
How do you top the crazy deaths of Final Destination? Open the sequel with a massive freeway massacre that to this day is one of my favorite scenes of the entire series. Following a few of the survivors from the original, as well as a new batch of unlucky souls, Final Destination 2 does everything a good sequel should, expand on the mythos of the original, up the body count and, in the case of this series at least, push the limits of how creative you can get with death scenes where Death himself is the killer.
The Last Horror Movie
Comparisons to Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer and Man Bites Dog(C’est arrivé près de chez vous)are easy to make, as The Last Horror Film is a glimpse into the mind of a serial killer through the medium of his video diary. With some genuinely disturbing scenes and graphic deaths, Last Horror Film may not be for everyone, but as one of the few genuinely good “Reality Horror” films, it stands on its own with the two films previously mentioned. It borrows heavily from Man Bites in theme, but brings the horror to a more personal level because instead of having the film crew to relate to (in Man Bites Dog) we have only the killer himself to follow.