(potential spoiler alert- be warned)
10. Welcome to the Jungle
This is shot like a documentary- which in itself I found intriguing right from the start. We start out with two old friends who haven't seen each other in awhile and two guys they are involved with. Right from the start, you realize the two couples are almost completely opposite from each other and this will present a problem. They journey to the New Guinea wilderness to try and find Michael D Rockefeller, who disappeared in 1961. As they get deeper and deeper into the jungle, partying commences, opinions clash, fights ensue and they split up- which turns out to be a fatal mistake. The movie is shown through the eyes of couple 1 (on camera 1) - then through the eyes of couple 2 (on camera 2)- it adds a kind of realism. I'd rate the gore and violence factor as a 7 on this one and towards the end, my heart was racing because I just KNEW it wasn't going to end well. This movie made you really think about how different cultures can be and that when you're in the jungle, it's every man or woman for themselves. I really really liked this one- and the end was great, even if somewhat anticipated by those horror aficionados like myself. The reviews I read for this one were pretty much all negative but I am so glad I gave it a shot. I've always been one to be open minded, check something out and form my own opinion regardless of what I have heard or read. This is definitely one I want to buy and add to my blu ray library- the scenery was fantastic.
9. Wrong Turn 4
Normally I'm not a big fan of sequels- they always seem to fall short of the original. Wrong Turn 4 is actually a prequel which tries to explain the beginning of the hillbilly mutants. In a way, you almost feel bad for them being locked up & shut away the way they were- maybe just a little. The usual Wrong Turn ingredients are present here- friends meet up, start partying, friends disappear, friends die, friends rescue each other- but not for long. The scene in the kitchen was probably one of the better scenes in all of the Wrong Turn movies- I admit, even I was a little sickened. But hey, it's just a movie- suck it up and watch it.
3 couples go to Ireland in search of the elusive magic mushroom and some quality time together in the forest. Right from the start, I was impressed with Lindsay Haun- she was very believable in her role and kept me glued to her plight the whole movie. It doesn't take long until a creepy story is being told at the campfire which might be more than just a story... people start disappearing, silhouettes move through the woods and the creepy story starts to melt into reality along with the effect of the mushrooms. No one could distinguish between what was real and what was a hallucination- so it kept me guessing as well. Not the typical horror movie- more of a freak-out that I liked more than I expected to- even the effects were pretty cool. But maybe that was because of the talking cow and the ending I should have seen coming but didn't.
7. Red State
Three middle american teens answer a craiglist adult ad- and they get more than they bargained for. The scariest thing about this movie is this really can happen in today's world- where more people meet online than ever before. You quickly realize the woman they go to meet is just not right somehow and that safety isn't always guaranteed even in numbers. I don't want to ruin this one for you but let's just say things go bad quickly and the people they meet have sinister intentions. It's also shows you that what the government releases as truths as not always what really happens. Watch it- and think hard about this one.
6. Hostel III
In the world of torture porn, Hostel has always stood head and shoulders above the rest. I didn't expect much from Hostel III but was curious as to where they would go with this one. Unlike the other two Hostel movies, this one was not set in a different country but in Las Vegas of all places. In my opinion, this is what made it even more disturbing- that this can happen right under our noses in America. Four friends embark on a secret trip to Vegas for a bachelor party and encounter two escorts who promise them a private party off the strip. Again, it's the old "the rich can buy anything" adage and of course it's Vegas- so it involves gambling. Well, gambling with a killer edge to it. Hostel III had the usual graphic violence but the first death scene really blew me away. I just didn't expect what I was about to see- despite my familiarity with the Hostel series. The nonchalant way the "doctor" went about his tasks in front of the audience was overwhelming. Movies like this make me wonder if organizations like The Elite Hunting Club really do exist. People disappear every day and you wonder if situations like this become their fate. I was truly shocked by the ending- I didn't expect it to develop the way it did and the last two characters to be so completely changed from the beginning. But I didn't blame them- I probably would have done the same thing at that point. Yea, it's different than the first 2 movies but that's what made this sequel more watchable in my eyes. Get it- let me know what you think.
5. The Perfect Host
Red or white wine?!
This movie actually made me a fan of David Hyde Pierce. I was never a huge fan of Frasier- to be honest, I thought it sucked. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he can play someone creepy and pull it off. A con on the run goes through a mailbox and decides to pretend he is a friend of the owner - to give himself somewhere to hide out and buy some time. What happens next is a perfect example of how the hunter can quickly have the tables turned on him and be the hunted. As the movie progresses, you realize that the con couldn't have picked a worse house to hole up at- and you wonder if he'll make it out alive. Of course, the wine he is offered is drugged (never accept a glass of liquid from a stranger- hello!!!) and the party scene is bizarre. David Hyde Pierce's character tests the con in certain situations, then their chess game shows him that he is a man to reckon with- a man who has balls. I never in a million years expected the movie to play out as it did. They say every psycho has two sides- one for the general public and their "real" life and one for their private persona only seen by their victims- and you see both sides of his here. And I won't ruin it for you- but when you gain an insight into his "real" life, it's not at all what you would have expected.
4. Black Water
This movie puts those ridiculous Lake Placid movies to shame. If you like movies with killer animals, this is a must-see. A couple and the woman's sister are on vacation in Australian and on a whim, rent a boat to go fishing. The part that really stuck with me for hours after the movie was the relationship between the 2 sisters and how it ended. All I kept thinking was "what would I do? How would i save my sister". The raw emotion that was shown in this movie actually brought tears to my eyes and I really was rooting for the sisters to escape unharmed from the mangrove swamp. The movie has little blood and gore, more psychological angst and for a low budget independent movie, it was incredibly realistic. The scenes in the dark with the lightning and the crocodile lurking below were the scariest- sometimes what you don't see scares you the most.
A man wakes up trapped in a car- with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. The only company he has is the dead guy beside him and he has no idea who the hell he is either. As he attempts to piece together the details of how this happened, he has flashbacks (or are they hallucinations?) which offer a glimmer into the truth behind the crash. I'm a big fan of Adrian Brody so maybe I'm a bit biased but I really liked him in this survival story. As it becomes apparent that no one is coming to rescue him, his new ordeal is now escaping the car which he is trapped in. As he escapes, you wonder if maybe he was better off inside the car- as the wilderness now surrounds him with all it's dangers. The story definitely dragged a bit and would have been better if it was a bit shorter but the makeup/injuries were extremely well done. As the pieces of the story fit together, it made a lot of sense and the whole thing with the dog really was what kept him going in my opinion. Another good one to check out on blu ray- very scenic.
2. The Reef
I have had an obsession with shark movies since I was a child. Maybe I shouldn't have watched "Jaws" so young but in any case, I find myself both fascinated and terrified of them at the same time. These days, shark movies have come a long way- they actually show the shark- or at least a damn good computerized version of one. I am someone who would fight to the end but after seeing this movie I thought "would it have been better just to die from drowning or go through the ordeal these poor people did- to no avail?" The characters couldn't avoid being hunted and in the open water, there is absolutely nowhere to hide. I can't imagine witnessing the violent death of a friend, temporarily burying your emotions in order to move on-while knowing that you are probably next. It was pretty easy to pick out who would survive- and that was really the one I was rooting for the whole time. If you have a blu ray player, this is another one that's a must on blu ray- you actually feel like you're right beside them in the ocean. I usually watch movies in the dark for maximum impact but at one point, I actually found myself turning the light on- it somehow made me feel safer.
1. The Grey
I recently saw this one in the theatre but felt it should still be on this list. An oil drilling team in Alaska is watched over by Liam Neeson's character who is a sniper hired to protect the drilling team from hungry wolves. Their plane crashes and quickly they realize they are out in the wilderness with no supplies and being hunted by the same wolves. After ten minutes of watching the extreme cold on the screen, I actually started shivering myself. Was it the movie or the chill in the theatre? Maybe a bit of both. Their fight to stay warm and survive while steadily losing members of their group to the wolves was enough to make normal people give up hope but not Liam Neeson. He banded them together and like the Irish tough guy image he is known for, he gave them the courage and know-how to survive. The ending when he strapped broken nip bottles to his hand and got ready for his final confrontation left you wondering- but in the end, it was all he could do. Anyone that knows Liam Neeson's characters knows if he's gonna go down, he's going down fighting. I liked it and felt it was worth the $7 discounted ticket I scored.