The last ten years in horror have been defined by two names: Jigsaw and Toby. The former is the central antagonist in the insanely lucrative Saw movie franchise, the series marked by elaborate torture sequences that dominated Halloween film seasons from 2004 through 2010, when the final installment, Saw 3D, opened. The latter: the mysterious ghost/demon/who-the-hell-the-knows that's the driving force behind the Paranormal Activity movies, those inexpensive, found-footage haunted house flicks that, up until this month, had owned October's since the first one became a box office juggernaut in 2009.
Years, even decades, from now, cinema historians will cite both Saw and Paranormal Activity as two of the horror genre's most important and influential properties. They've certainly been horror's biggest releases since 2003.
And yet not a single film from either franchise ranks among the 10 Best Horror Movies of the Last 10 Years. Which speaks volumes about the genre's serious level of quality since 2003, a ten-year span that has seen the rise and fall of what critics dubbed "torture porn," the emergence of festival-owning international filmmakers (with bonus points going to France for killing the game), and the first-person POV trend that's given us more shameful lows (Apollo 18, anyone? No? Good.) than exceptional highs ([REC]).
Settling on the final ten movies here wasn't easy. If we were to compile a separate feature comprised of the "Honorable Mentions," we'd give special love to High Tension (2003), The Orphanage (2007), Let the Right One In (2008), The Descent (2005), The Devil's Rejects (2005), and Martyrs (2008). Again, the fact that none of those excellent films made earned a spot here tells you something about where horror's been over the last ten years. Yes, many of you will want to get all Victor Crowley on us and ram hatchets into our skulls for what we've had to cut here. And that's fine—Jigsaw and Toby are no doubt plotting their own revenge against Complex.