Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I’ve Seen in the Past Year
[5 of 13]


(January 2010)

There isn’t much more you need to know about Rodrigo Cortés’ Buried other than that it’s a cracklingly intense bit of film-making that, unlike other recent examples of “experiential horror” (like Devil, or Frozen, or Altitude), never once leaves the environs of the protagonist’s circumscribed agony; we spend the entire running time of approximately 95 minutes trapped in a coffin alongside Ryan Reynolds.
And here, as in John August’s The Nines, we really do realize that Reynolds can honest-to-goodness act, as opposed to playing Ryan Reynolds on camera, which, sadly, he seems to do most of the time.

From its great Saul Bass-inspired opening title credits (by Spain’s Royal Cow Studios), on through to that final, telling shot, this is tense, claustrophobic cinema executed with dollops of skill, talent, and bravura.

Parting shot: As I’ve mentioned ‘round these parts before, Buried won last year’s Méliès d'Or Award for Best European Fantastic Film.
Do yourself a favour and see why…

Experiential Horror Runner-up:
FROZEN (January 2010)

Imagine being stranded on a ski lift, without anyone knowing you were there. Trapped way above the snow, in the dark, and the cold…
That’s the wickedly taut scenario writer-director Adam Green invites us to, not so much view, as actually partake in, in Frozen.

I’ve seen the term “experiential horror” being used to describe Frozen, and a bunch of other recent titles (like Buried and Devil), and that’s about as good a term as any. These are the sort of films that attempt to place the viewer in the situation they’re watching from the normally safe remove of their seats, films that strive to break the fourth wall by putting us alongside the narrative’s protagonists, to share their panic and terror. (All this without tacking on a few extra bits to the ticket price with that new-fangled whatchallit, 3D. Is that right? “Three-dee”?)

Now, if the best horror is meant to unsettle and disturb, then experiential horror ups that ante considerably, making the cinematic experience more horribly intimate by confining us in a circumscribed space, forcing us to undergo the suffering.

In Frozen,
Green has a superbly crafted and distressingly disturbing film, whose young cast (Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore, and Emma Bell, who was subsequently seen on the first season of The Walking Dead) hits all the right beats, from the casual to the tension-filled.

(Buried & Frozen OS’ courtesy of; Buried UK quad courtesy of

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