In the last decade and a half, the horror genre has grown leaps and bounds from the low-tech schlock of the '60s and '70s, the bad hair and clothes of the '80s and the seemingly endless line of B-rate sequels in the early '90s, which dragged venerable classics like "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" into budget-bin hell. When Wes Craven decided to parody his own work with "Scream" in 1996, no one could have guessed that the approach would redefine horror as we know it.
The indie trend that began with "Blair Witch Project" also lent to the current wave of films like "Paranormal Activity" and "Cloverfield," which eschew the big-budget special effects of Universal's revamped reboots of "Wolfman" and "The Mummy" in favor of screams that rely on the mind, not the eyes.
With these things in mind, I give you the top-10 silver-screen screamers from 1995 to 2010.
10. "Stay Alive" (2006)
Malcolm from "Malcolm in the Middle" plus video games times a countess who bathes in blood equals a ridiculously fun ride through the World Wide Web. Get the unrated edition.
9. "Cloverfield" (2008)
An offscreen monster is always scarier than a ridiculously large spider with its strings exposed. Too bad the big show turns out to be less frightening than bewildering.
8. "Silent Hill" (2006)
This adaptation of Konami's bestselling game franchise attempted to mix many dark corners of a sprawling mythos to mixed effects. The story makes the film essential. A mother searching for her child in a land that simultaneously moves from purgatory to hell is at times terrifying and hilarious.
7. "Final Destination" (2000)
Though its many sequels tarnish this can't-beat-the-Devil thrill ride, the original and its incredibly creative kills still give chills a decade later.
6. "Paranormal Activity" (2009)
Another camcorder-shot, "what the heck was that" trip to Exorcistville that cost less than $15,000 to shoot. Lo-fi horror > top dollar special effects-driven drivel.
5. "Scream" (1996)
Wes Craven re-invented the wheel with this teen horror romp and turned David Arquette into a star. You win some, you cry about others later. Just like sex.
4. "Blair Witch Project" (1999)
Often cited as the best film with the worst sequel (runner-up: "Carrie"), this lost-in-the-wood-and-weird-s***-is-going-down indie captivated audiences and convinced viewers that somewhere in the hills of Maryland, something was hungry and waiting.
3. "Let the Right One In" (2008)
Sweden does it better. Look at detective fiction and vampires, and it's undeniable. Look for the remake, which defies expectation, but does not supplant the original.
2. "The Faculty" (1998)
Aliens are in teachers, and they want your brains; the only thing that will stop them is homemade speed and the rugged outlaw chemist in the souped-up GTO is ... Josh Hartnett? Once again, a few errors in casting do nothing to diminish the fun.
1. "House of 1000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects" (2003/2005)
Homicidal rednecks are the scariest thing a Southern person can imagine. Rob Zombie's hilarious and needlessly graphic double feature wins from the first bucket of fried chicken to the guns-blazing, "Freebird"-blaring finale. And Sid Haig is terrific.
— Jake Lane is a senior in English. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org