(If you saw yesterday's blog post you can skip on down to the "Jeff says:" part) - 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.
Today's guest response is from the talented author of the Bad Games series, Jeff Menapace.
This wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be for a few reasons: there weren’t that many great horror films in the last ten years in my opinion, and the ones that were great were all equally enjoyable in their own way. It’s tough to choose when you have brilliant foreign films like Martyrs. Or surprisingly good remakes like The Hills Have Eyes. Or even recent spins on classic genres like the excellent The Conjuring.
But if I had to choose my favorite? It would have to be Wolf Creek.
Straightforward and brutal with my preferred method of a slow burn beginning, Wolf Creek is not an original story. Few things are these days. It is how Wolf Creek presents this already-done material that sets it apart. John Jarratt as the evil Mick Taylor might easily be one of the most sinister serial killers to ever appear on film, and the protagonists are likeable and anything but feeble as they attempt to escape their captor. “Head on a stick!” might be one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve seen in a long time, not just for its brutal content, but because of how unexpected—and thus, shocking—it was.
A final note on what I feel makes the movie work so well, is the slow-burn I mentioned earlier. This was not only to get us to like our protagonists and thus empathize with them when the bad stuff starts (something lacking in many chop-em-ups with their cardboard characters) but to also establish the ridiculously vast wasteland that is the Australian Outback. The sense of isolation and loneliness only heightens the terror when Mick Taylor sets his sights on the three protagonists (and anyone who gets in his way) because even if they do manage to escape their captor, where the hell are they going to go? You might as well be on Mars.
So there it is. Gun to my head; I’d have to say Wolf Creek is my favorite horror film of the last ten years. And for the record, I did see the sequel and thought it was silly, over-the-top fun, which is what I hope the director was going for. Would be a shame if he was trying for something as solid and as terrifying as the first film.
I want to thank Jeff for stopping by the blog, and to all the readers, I read Jeff's Bad Games in two days. It's that good.