A few weeks ago I watched a handful of horror films, two old (Halloween and The Blair Witch Project) and two new (The Houses October Built and It Follows) and while I enjoyed all of them in their own right, I realized that when you ask folks about their favorite scary movies, or what movies they always try and watch around Halloween season, the majority of the answers are always the long-ago classics, ie Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Exorcist, etc. So I started thinking about recent horror films, and which of them might be worthy of becoming a classic in ten or twenty years' time. I reached out to some fellow authors and asked a simple question: What is your favorite horror film in the past decade.
My first response is from the talented writer and horror connoisseur, Belinda Frisch.
Before I get to my absolute favorite horror movie of the past decade, I’d like to thank the talented and hardworking Michael Robertson Jr. for inviting me to his blog and for posing what might be one of the hardest questions a horror fan can face.
What does one base their answer on? Should I pick the scariest movie? The most unique? How about the one I’ve seen the most times? Horror is one a diverse genre encompassing everything from gore/slasher films, to the paranormal, to creature features and everything in between. I wouldn’t be a superfan if I didn’t love them all. To list a top ten all time favorites: Poltergeist, Sinister, The Conjuring, House of 1000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects, Rose Red, Storm of the Century, The Descent, As Above So Below, and Cabin in the Woods…
But my absolute favorite (the movie I’ve watched more than any of the others in the last ten years), is Stay Alive (2006).
While certainly not the most terrifying movie I’ve ever seen, Stay Alive has a unique premise: A group of friends incite the wrath of the famed Blood Countess Bathory through an interactive video game created by a virtual madman. Die in the game, you die in real life. Being an avid horror survivalist gamer, I was disappointed this game wasn’t actually developed.
The diverse cast—Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle), Milo Ventmiglia (Gilmore Girls), Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill), Adam Goldberg (Dazed and Confused), and Jimmi Simpson (House of Cards)—face certain death as they cooperate to beat the virtual Bathory, a demon-like entity determined to bathe in their blood.
The game-like atmosphere is as chilling as it is realistic. The characters are well-developed (for horror), and each has their own tragic backstory. These are troubled young adults who have found their common ground in gaming. When the first victim dies, the group has no way of knowing who or what killed him. They pay homage to their lost friend by playing the beta version of the game he had played the night of his death and quickly realize this isn’t your usual video game. Next generation technology starts the game with a dangerous conjuration. Once the incantation is read, the players are bound to their game selves, forced to beat Bathory on her home turf or die (and quitting isn’t an option). By the time the group connect their friend’s real life death to his game one, it’s too late. They’re well on their way to their own demise. Who will survive?
Witty, dark, and suspenseful, Stay Alive is one of the more underrated recent horror films, and in my opinion is well worth the viewing. Two thumbs way up from a horror afficianado.
About the author
*Runner-up Halloween Book Festival 2012 and optioned for film, Cure
*Honorable Mention New York Book Festival 2014, Better Left Buried
*Acquired for summer 2015 re-release by Thomas & Mercer, Fatal Reaction
After the author's fifteen years of working in health care, Belinda Frisch's stories can't help being medicine influenced. A writer of dark tales in the horror, mystery, and thriller genres, Belinda tells the stories she'd like to read. Her fiction has appeared in Shroud magazine, Dabblestone Horror, and Tales of the Zombie War. She is the author of Cure, Afterbirth, Fatal Reaction, Better Left Buried, and The Missing Year. She resides in upstate New York with her husband and a small menagerie of beloved animals.
Visit her blog at: BelindaF.blogspot.com
I want to thank Belinda for taking the time to come visit the blog, and if you've never read any of her books, I highly recommend doing so.
Be sure and come back tomorrow to see what author Jeff Menapace has to say about his favorite horror film this decade.