2009 had more good horror movies than I had realized. There were a bunch I came across in my research that were new to me and that I now have to go watch. (terrible right?) That said, with so many great flicks, I wanted to highlight the ones that really stood out for me personally. First among those was Drag Me to Hell from Sam Raimi. This movie hit so close to home for me because, as I’ve gotten older, doing the right thing has become incredibly important to me. Erring on the side of right is where I live and the example I try to set for my kids. So, when the main character in this film does the wrong thing for the wrong reason, extending an old lady’s mortgage payment so she can stay in her house, it made an impression. The naïveté of the main character, the choices made to impress people not worth impressing, those of us making our way through the working world for the first time can all identify. The movie does a damn fine job of showing us the potential of our choices and the repercussions of them. It is a Raimi movie though, so there is an over the top element to it, but not quite what you’d expect from a film bearing his name. It is very, very well done and worthy of watch.
Keeping with the house theme of 2009, The House of the Devil also released. (as did a remake of Last House on the Left, but i didn’t see it so…) House of the Devil is an homage to 80’s horror flicks, most notably of the slasher and haunted house genres. The film looks and feels of the era and is so well done you would be hard pressed to convince yourself it wasn’t made back then and you somehow missed it. What really makes this film work as well is the use of the “Satanic Panic” that was running rampant through 1980’s suburbia. You see, back then, parents were convinced that their children were listening to heavy metal and worshiping the devil when in actuality kids were listening to heavy metal and worshiping at the porcelain throne after one too many Budweiser’s. (we’ve all been there…) The plot is quite twisty and turny and ends up with some serious satanic ritual shit going on. It’s a great flick that doesn’t try to pad its run time and has a great ending typical of so many of the movies it seeks to honor. A great movie well worth your time.
My favorite flick from 2009, and I really waffled on this one as there were great choices like Zombieland/Orphan/Carriers and others, was The Haunting in Connecticut. Now, this movie wasn’t my favorite because of its technical prowess (it’s fine), or its story (there is one). The reason this movie stands out to me is the performance of Virginia Madsen in the lead role. She is so very good in this movie, so earnest. There is no way to watch this film and not feel for everything she and her family are going through. That said, there are some really good jump scares and some excellent set design/atmosphere. But the acting is the real star. The story of a mother just trying to do everything she can for her sick son (cancer), is heartbreaking and relatable. The house itself is haunted by the spirits of those who once lived and practiced necromancy there and is best taken as an, oh okay, and moved past. Madsen does incredible work with what she has and ultimately makes this movie far more compelling than it has any right to be. Check it out for her performance, stay for the jump scares. Also, ignore the true events stuff, utter hogwash.