Just like Final Girls, which it promotes, horror is a genre that can’t be stopped. Not only are there countless subgenres for fans to delve into, but many horror franchises are as complex and deep as some fantasy novels in lore and timelines. The desire of audiences and horror filmmakers alike to see sequels, reboots, prequels, retcons, and remakes places horror uniquely within the world of film.
Trends are cyclical. This applies to film as much as to fashion, music or any other art form. While the filmmakers push the boundaries with technology, storytelling, and as many goofy little tricks as possible, there’s no denying that audiences and creatives return to the graveyard time and time again to bring the dead back to life; whether it’s a long-abandoned subgenre or a long-forgotten franchise, there’s always room for a revival in horror.
10 ‘Wrong Turn’ (2003)
When a group of friends on a road trip crash their car in the remote wilderness of West Virginia, they quickly learn they’re not alone, and they’re not safe. The friends are chased and hunted by a band of bloodthirsty hillbillies, who, according to the film’s opening credits, have deep descent and suffer physical differences as a result.
If The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is horror dining, Wrong turn is a burger drive-through. The film’s attempt to reinvent the idea of a family of devious, innate criminals lurking in remote parts of the United States, while not necessarily unsuccessful, is certainly not a home run. But, it does show how deeply horror properties like to borrow from one another.
9 ‘Saw’ (2004)
a photographer (Leigh Whannell) and oncologists (Find Elwes) woke up in dirty bathroom with chains on ankles and body in middle of room. These humble bathroom beginnings would eventually launch one of the most iconic horror franchises of the 21st century.
Saw is in many ways a ‘little movie that could’. It reignited audience interest in torture-ridden horror films and launched a career James Wan and Leigh Whannell. After its release in 2004, there was a Saw film every year until 2010, and two more since then. Exploitation movies and gory surprises are always there, but Saw definitely game changing. Than moderate torment and pain results from story, Saw creating a trend where torture Formerly story.
8 ‘Wolf Creek’ (2005)
A group of young backpackers are exploring the beautiful yet lonely outback of Australia. During their journey, they meet Mick (John Jarratt) a charismatic but gruff local who was a bit too helpful. Loosely based on the crimes of Australian serial killer Ivan Milat, Wolf River jump on the torture train then.
This film gave audiences an iconic 21st century villain with Mick and showed the world how Australian filmmakers make horror stories. Searing, serene, and embracing realism with its storytelling and set-pieces, Wolf River was emblematic of the gritty, down-to-earth and anti-Hollywood approach that was characteristic of Australian cinema at the time.
7 ‘Dormitory’ (2005)
By the mid-2000s, torture as a subgenre was stifling horror storytelling, and there seemed to be no more boundaries as to what directors could put on screen. Enter, Eli Roth with Hostel. This film follows a group of friends traveling around Slovakia who hear about a local hostel filled with beautiful women and an unforgettable experience. The hostel, while unforgettable, was not what they had hoped for. This is actually a front for a secret business where wealthy patrons can pay to torture and kill kidnapped tourists.
Saw walk like that Hostel can run. Unfortunately, that doesn’t lead to character development, thoughtful storytelling, or successful performances. It instead runs towards depravity, violence after violence, and obsession with excellence. The purpose of Hosteland with many films in the torture subgenre, it only gets grosser and edgier than anything that has gone before.
6 ‘The Hill Has Eyes’ (2006)
A family on a road trip across the Southwestern United States decides to take a shortcut through the desert. When their car breaks down in the remote desert they have been traveling through, they are attacked by a group of desert-dwelling cannibals.
The Hill Has Eyes is a remake of the 1977 film of the same name from the iconic horror director Wes Craven. This film shows that while trends change, and tastes darken, there will always be a thirst to go back to the well and pull decades-old classics up for re-examination and reinterpretation.
5 ‘The Martyrs’ (2008)
Two women meet and bond over their experiences of childhood abuse. They decide that in order to get rid of their trauma, they must seek revenge against the people who wronged them. While the setup sounds like a standard stock inciting incident for a film that aims to be dirty and edgy, Martyr represents a more sober approach to the torture subgenre.
This film explores whether one person’s suffering can be used to transcend the experience of suffering altogether. While there are more reflective and sophisticated veins flowing MartyrThe vein is bloody and bloody like many other torture films of the period. Martyr doesn’t pull punches with its gore, guts, or themes.
4 ‘Midnight Meat Train’ (2008)
Based on the short story of the horror legend and Hellraiser creator Clive Barker, The Midnight Meat Train following down-and-out photographer Leon (Bradley Cooper) who takes the subway at night hoping to find inspiration for his work. What he finds is a mysterious butcher (Vinnie Jones) which was part of a covert operation that used the nighttime subway as a means of obtaining human flesh.
No longer content with torture and suffering, many of the films focused on torture in the late 2000s also aimed to actually say something or tell a story that went beyond the style of filmmakers like Eli Roth. The Midnight Meat Train certainly not a cinematic masterpiece, but its exploration of urban decay and its artistic obsessions certainly deserve attention.
3 ‘The Collector’ (2009)
An ex-convict drowning in debt (Josh Stewart) breaks into his rich boss’s house to steal some valuables and solve his problems. As luck would have it, he wasn’t the only person barging in tonight. The house has been framed by a cunning and dangerous serial killer who starts a game of cat and mouse throughout the night.
collectors is a tightly bottled film that manages to build up the tension, despite its limited cast and budget. Part heist movie, part survival thriller and part torture festival, collectorsThe plot works much harder to engage an audience than many of the torture films that came before it which were content with gore, gore and gore.
2 ‘The Beloved’ (2009)
Brent (Xavier Samuel) is a troubled and depressed teenager who grapples with the consequences of a family tragedy. Lola (Robin McLeavy) is Brent’s bubbly and unconventional classmate who asks him to attend the school dance with her. When Brent said no, Lola and her father (John Brumpton) kidnap her and stage their own school dance in their house.
Beloved People profound, devastating and absurd all at once. The film manages to tap-dance gracefully between very different tones and explore how deeply one family’s toxicity can poison and traumatize an entire community.
1 ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ (2010)
After being viciously attacked and left for dead, Jennifer (Sarah Butler) manages to survive and embarks on a quest for revenge. I Spit On Your Grave is a remake of the highly controversial 1978 film of the same name (sometimes also known as Women’s Day). I Spit On Your Grave and its remake epitomizes how far the torture and exploitation subgenre has come, and how in some ways, they have traveled back to where they started.
When the 1978 version was released, it was widely criticized for its graphic and arguably unnecessary depiction of sexual violence. Additionally, the film’s marketing sexualizes the protagonists, depicting an uncomfortable correlation between women’s sexual attractiveness, and their victimization through sexual violence. What was “edgy”, bland and lacking in depth in the 70s, is also “tense” bland and lacking in depth in 2010. This remake shows similarly childish, derivative horror when it plays to its most basic and failed to grow beyond its roots.
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