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Top 10 Horror Movies of 21st Century, A Guest post from Preston Norton + Giveaway (INT)!

In my new novel, BLÜD AND MAGICK, my protagonist, Darla Summer, was born from the ashes of a dead dark lord. In writing Darla’s character, I wanted a means of conveying her dark nature in a way that transcended into modern teenage behavior. The answer came almost immediately, probably because it is a trait I share.

 Darla Summer loves horror movies. She is obsessed with them. This is, of course, only one quirk among many that separates Darla from her peers, but since I like to think of BLÜD AND MAGICK as a YA horror fantasy, I thought it might be appropriate to list off what I deem to be the top ten horror films of the 21st century. Yes, it is biased, and I bend the definition of horror a bit, but I’m sure Darla would approve of my list.

10. Insidious

From the director of Saw, this creepy little treasure was quite the surprise. It’s practically three horror films in one, shifting gears faster than you can pee your pants. Never taking itself too seriously, we are introduced to a psychic who communes with spirits while wearing a gas mask, a demon who bears a remarkable resemblance to Darth Maul, and Tiny Tim’s rendition of “Tiptoe through the Tulips” which you will never listen to the same way again. Oh. And there’s astral projection. And now you want to watch it.

9. Paranormal Activity 1-4

Say what you will about the biggest horror series since Saw, I think each of these films is terrific. Is this low-budget found footage franchise out there to make money? Maybe… Okay, absolutely without question. But that certainly doesn’t stop them from cranking out a smart script each time, ensnaring us with a new set of engaging characters, only to torment them (and us) with escalating scares. Each film ratchets up the horror with flawless pacing, and a simple plot that beautifully connects with the previous films.

8. The House of the Devil

Although this is a list of modern horror films, The House of the Devil is the best homage to 80s horror out there from indie horror director, Ti West. If you’ve ever loved a horror film from the 80s, you owe it to yourself to watch this. It is low on gore and cheap jumps, but it delivers atmosphere like none other. It stands as yet another reason from Hollywood why being a babysitter is about just as hazardous as being a camp counselor.

7. The Others

“Are you mad? I am your daughter!” If you are familiar with this scene, your skin is probably crawling just at the thought. Nicole Kidman delivers a stellar performance as the mother of two children who have a skin allergy to the sun, so they stay locked up in their big, dark house while they wait for their husband/father to return from WWII. And there you have it—a simple premise to a genius and horrifying story.

6. Coraline

I’m sure there are a few of you who are cheering right now. The rest of you are probably groaning and rolling your eyes. It is debatable if there can possibly be such thing as a children’s horror film. But if there is, this is it. Another dimension where everyone has buttons sewn over their eye-sockets? Three dead children giving clues so their souls can be released? A tentacled candy monster hibernating in a candy wrapper cocoon? (Yes, you heard right.) If this isn’t the scariest kid’s movie of all time, I don’t know what is.

5. The Innkeepers

Another masterpiece from Ti West. I’m calling it right now. Ti West will be the next horror director to make it big in mainstream Hollywood, following in the footsteps of Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi. There is something ridiculously heartwarming about Ti West’s characters and their humorous interactions with each other, especially Sara Paxton in the lead role. Of course the ending results in a horrifying tragic death or two, but I still might go so far as to call this a “feel-good” horror movie. Go on. Try me. I dare you.

4. The Ring

The Grudge. Dark Water. Pulse. The Eye. One Missed Call. Mirrors. Shutter. Uninvited. We have The Ring to thank for the avalanche of Hollywood remakes of Asian horror films. The Ring is also the only one to do it right, easily as good as the film it was based on. Maybe even better. Gore Verbinski is quite the versatile director, responsible for such films as Pirates of the Caribbean and Rango, and each of his shots is gorgeous, even when it’s at its most terrifying. Watch it. Then hide your television somewhere out of sight. Just looking at that thing will give you nightmares. Trust me.

3. The Cabin in the Woods

Joss Whedon has done it again. (When doesn’t he do it?) There is absolutely nothing to prepare you for this outrageous horror-comedy. It starts off typical enough. Five college students leave town for a fun night at a cabin in the woods. Naturally, everything goes wrong when a “zombie redneck torture family” rises from the dead starts picking them off one by one. That is only the tip of a very big iceberg. This film turns the slasher genre on its head with enough kinetic energy and mayhem to make your head explode. Just let it happen. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Let the Right One In | Let Me In

I’m grouping the original Swedish film and the Hollywood remake together because both of these films are masterful. The remake is even clever enough to add a twist that almost seems too good to not be a part of the original story. It’s less a horror and more a vampire love story. It also has infinitely more heart than Twilight has in four books and five movies combined. Remember what I said before about heartwarming horror? This is as heartwarming as horror gets. But don’t let that fool you. These films bring a welcome darkness to the vampire genre that is reminiscent of Anne Rice and Stephen King. Aka: it’s good.

1. Donnie Darko

Yes. This technically isn’t a horror film. But it features a demonic rabbit named Frank, and it is eerier than the eeriest of horror films. So I’m counting it. Jake Gyllenhaal is phenomenal in the title role, and he even stars alongside his sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, who ironically plays his sister in the film. The rest of the cast, including Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze, are fantastic. The film philosophizes about time travel and revolves around a doomsday countdown until the end of the world. It is one of the most mind-bending films you’ll ever see, and it only gets better with every viewing. Did I mention there’s a demonic rabbit named Frank? What are you waiting for? Go watch this movie right now.

 PRESTON NORTON is the co-author of The Lost Son to be released in October 2012, and Blüd and Magick, to be released in January 2013. He was born in California, raised in Texas, and is currently a student at Brigham Young University – Idaho, seeking a degree in English Education. He enjoys sushi, rock concerts, and scary movies.
Find Preston:

   Born from the ashes of the most fierce and powerful entity in all of Trivaesia, Darla was sent to grow up in the outside world with no knowledge of where she came from. When she finds herself wielding new power, she must decide which part of her will rule her heart—the evil from which she was born or the good by which she was raised.

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Ends 22nd of Feb 2013.
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