The Decade's Ten Scariest Moments On Film

By Will LeBlanc 2009-12-10 16:15:55discussion comments
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It's been a great great decade for the world of the macabre. We saw the invention of the J-Horror import, remake mania, and even some really excellent original films armed to the teeth with scenes that would fill even a grown man's diaper. We've been deluged with horror franchises and remakes, bad guys and bad girls. Sometimes they're subtle, sometimes they're so insane and over the top that we lost all sense of control. These are the scenes from the past decade that made us scream more than any other. Prepare to be scared all over again.


Naked Bateman drops the chainsaw in American Psycho.
Serial killers have been done until they're commonplace and because of that maybe they're not as scary as they once were, but slick business man and merciless killer Patrick Bateman does the trick. No scene in American Psycho is as scary as watching a naked Christian Bale chase down his latest female victim, only to dead drop a chainsaw 5 stories in a Michael Jordan buzzer beater shot to win the game. It's not so much the act that's scary, it's what he does after. Covered head to toe in blood Bateman screams down at her lifeless body. The look on his face as he bellows into the empty halls shows no Christian Bale, no Patrick Bateman, just rage: cold-blooded, murderous rage. He's completely unhinged and there's nothing scarier.


The children appear during red light green light in The Orphanage.
Kids are creepy, plain and simple. You could film a kid in broad daylight just being a kid and it'd be creepy, so having a bunch of ghost kids haunting the crap out of you while kidnapping your son would be heart-stopping. The scariest moment in The Orphange comes towards the end of the film when Laura starts playing games with her son's supernatural captors. A classic round of red light/green light turns scary when the children you're convinced won't appear, slowly creep their way into frame. It's amazingly simple, but kids are creepy, and in The Orphanage they are creepy to the max.


The first zombie appearance in 28 Days Later.
Sparked by one resounding, “Hello,” the scariest moment in 28 Days Later has our hero staring down at a church full of death while hungry eyes stare back at him. The looks on their faces say, “We're effing crazy bro, gtfo,” but it freezes him on the spot until a crazed priest attacks on the balcony. Finding out soon after that the zombies can sprint is haunting, but that jumping off point is the sort of thing nightmares are made of.


Something's after Hank in Session 9.
Taking place in an abandoned and vandalized asylum, Session 9 succeeds as a horror movie on every level. It's scary, there's a great story, and even David Caruso is good in it. It keeps you guessing as we wonder what the real problem may be: is it ghosts, a killer, psychosis? In one scene, Hank, played by Josh Lucas, has finished pillaging a night's worth of gold and trinkets from the basement of the facility and is on his way out through the darkened underbelly of the asylum... alone. When he hears a noise behind him and looks back, your heart leaps into your throat with his as he sees a figure emerge at the end of the hallway. Totally lost in the overwhelming darkness, we're there with Hank as he tries to escape, but its a dead end. It's the first time there's any physical manifestation of fear in the film and it's infinitely effective.


Hair blow in Paranormal Activity.
Paranormal Activity has a few big scares but is generally packed with subtle tension and little unnerving moments. About halfway through the low-budget suspense marathon, Micah and Katie investigate the small sound of breaking glass in their second floor hallway. A framed photo of the two is cracked, broken on Micah's face. Before that can sink in, Katie freezes on the spot, and stares silent at Micah until she chillingly whispers, “It's here.” After endless seconds of deafening silence, it finally happens. The slightest bit of hair is blown in her face by what you're absolutely positive is a God damn demon, and the pair of them get the hell out of there faster than they've ever run in their lives. It's a brilliant bit of subtlety that delivers maximum chills with minimum effort.


Lamia in the house during the day in Drag Me To Hell.
Most horror directors have this preconceived notion that anything scary has to happen at night. Not Sam Raimi. In his latest horror masterpiece Drag Me To Hell, Christine is tormented by a relentless Lamia, who has no qualms about messing people's shit up in broad daylight. In the middle of a normal summer day, sun shining, breeze blowing through the windows, the demon's shadow follows her upstairs and into her room underneath a closed door. You see the cloven feet, you hear its breathing, and you feel your heart beating faster and faster as fear overtakes you. Here, Raimi proves that he can forego the oddball comedy which has become his horror trademark to create one of the most genuinely scary and effective scenes this decade.


There's something behind you in The Descent.
The Descent might as well write prescriptions for claustrophobia with the amount of new cases this movie surely caused. But when director Neil Marshal removes the film's one element of safety, light, terror is taken to an entirely new level. Filmed in a fully desaturated night vision, The Descent's scariest moment plays on every fear you could possibly have: monsters, killers, darkness, tight spots, caves, and more. As our heroine's last source of light fades, the team is frantic to find some way to monitor their surroundings. They fire up the nightvision on a Handycam, the screen shaking with the fear of its wielder. It does nothing to survey the area; all we see are faces in darkness and then BOOM! The creature is there, with hunger in his eyes, hovering behind an unsuspecting victim. It happens so suddenly that there's no way to be prepared.


Samara emerges from the TV in The Ring.
Most of The Ring is spent wondering what happens after seven days. In the final minutes of the film, our ever-so-cocky hero finds an answer and stares into the face of true horror. The TV turns on by itself, displaying static, until the images snaps into place and shows us a well. But not just any well. We start to see the hands and hair of Samara emerge and you can feel your skin start to crawl as if covered in millions of tiny bugs, as you're paralyzed by fear, anticipation, and curiosity all at once. What happens next will had us all repositioning our TV set faster than you can say, “OH HELL NO!” The film's sopping wet antagonist starts to phase through the screen and into the real world, just in time to inch her way towards our surely lost leading man. In true, cheaply shot horror fashion, she teleports 10 feet in the blink of an eye releasing every shiver your body had kept locked up for the last hour and a half, and then the pay off. She sends her look of death his way and we watch as his face distorts into one of the most haunting images in the history of horror.


Emily Rose's barn scene.
When Emily's family finally agrees to allow a priest to perform an exorcism on her, no one could have expected what happened next. Tied to the bed like any good exorcisee should be, Emily begins writhing with hatred towards Father Moore and eventually breaks free of her restraints. She wastes no time diving through the window and runs full speed into her family's barn. When they give chase, Emily is discovered consumed by her demons, resistant and violent against any attempt the priest makes to calm them. The film's most spine-chilling moment occurs when Father Moore begs to know who is possessing Emily. It's here that the six demons inside her announce their presence, without subtlety, screaming their names into the night with Emily as their helpless vessel.


The last 10 minutes of [REC].
2006's [REC] boasts what may be the scariest scene ever put to film. The final 10 minutes had seasoned horror veteran quite literally curled in a fetal position and screaming like a little girl. Our heroes, who have struggled so bravely to survive the film's well below average run-time, find themselves alone in the top floor apartment abode of what might as well be a mad scientist. Lit by nothing more than a mounted camera light, Angela and Pablo do everything in their power to not shit their pants while they rifle through endless disorganization in search of not only an exit, but answers. In a horrifying turn the attic door swings open, seemingly of its own accord, presenting either a possible way out or the more obvious death trap. Pablo in his infinite wisdom decides to stick the camera through the door to investigate, and as he spins, he slowly showing us the contents of the attic, every ounce of dread your body is capable of feeling will flood through all at once. Finally, out of nowhere, something hits the camera, breaking the light and sending the rest of the film into a greenish night vision, amplifying everything you're already felt tenfold. But it's not over. Down the hallway towards what they think is their only escape, is the most indescribable being ever filmed. Emaciated beyond the point of human recognition, this creature fumbles in the dark and while wielding a ball peen hammer, bashes in the faces of whoever happens to be in its space. It's a scene that's so scary, it's defies any real description. See it and freak out.

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