If you were poking around RT a week and a half or so ago, you might have come across a little poll we were taking on the site to try and determine the Scariest Movie Ever. Based on other lists and suggestions from the RT staff, we pulled together 40 of the scariest movies ever made and asked you to vote for the one that terrified you the most. As it happens, a British broadband service comparison website decided to conduct a science experiment to determine the same thing, and their results were… surprising, to say the least. Did Rotten Tomatoes readers agree with the findings? Read on to find out what our fans determined were the 10 Scariest Horror Movies Ever.


1. The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist

(Photo by ©Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)

You may not agree that The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever, but it probably also isn’t much of a surprise to see it at the top of our list — with a whopping 19% of all the votes cast. William Friedkin’s adaptation of the eponymous novel about a demon-possessed child and the attempts to banish said demon became the highest-grossing R-rated horror film ever and the first to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (it earned nine other nominations and took home two trophies). But outside of its critical and commercial bona fides, the film is well-known for the mass hysteria it inspired across the country, from protests over its controversial subject matter to widespread reports of nausea and fainting in the audience. Its dramatic pacing and somewhat dated effects may seem quaint compared to some contemporary horror, but there’s no denying the power the film continues to have over those who see it for the first time.


2. Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary

(Photo by ©A24)

Writer-director Ari Aster made a huge splash with his feature directorial debut, a dark family drama about the nature of grief couched within a supernatural horror film. Toni Collette earned a spot in the pantheon of great Oscar snubs with her slowly-ratcheted-up-to-11 performance as bedeviled mother Annie, but the movie’s biggest shock came courtesy of… Well, we won’t spoil that here. Suffice it to say Hereditary struck such a nerve with moviegoers that it instantly turned Aster into a director to watch and shot up to second place on our list.


3. The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring

(Photo by Michael Tackett/©Warner Bros. Pictures)

James Wan has staked out a place among the modern masters of horror, directing films like SawDead SilenceInsidious, and this inspired-by-true-events chiller based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens, best known for their work on the strange case that inspired the Amityville Horror movies (which played a part in The Conjuring 2), were portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who grounded the effective jump scares and freak-out moments with a believable world-weariness. Together, Wan and his co-leads found fresh terror in familiar genre tropes, and the end result is a sprawling cinematic universe that only continues to grow.


4. The Shining (1980)

THE SHINING, Jack Nicholson, 1980.

(Photo by ©Warner Brothers)

Literally dozens of Stephen King’s novels and stories have been adapted for the big screen, and several of those films are considered classics today, like CarrieMisery, and Pet Sematary (and that doesn’t even account for non-horror stuff like The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me). But the mother of them all is easily Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining. A marvel of set and production design and a genuinely unnerving take on the traditional haunted house story, The Shining features a host of memorable images and an iconic Jack Nicholson performance. The film’s relatively few jumps scares are still absolutely chilling, but its true power lies in the way it crawls under your skin and makes you experience Jack Torrance’s slow descent into madness. It’s rightfully considered one of the greatest horror films ever made, and it ranked fourth in our poll.


5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

(Photo by Everett Collection)

While the top four movies on this list collectively garnered 42% of the total votes counted, they were followed by six films that all earned around 3% of the vote each. In other words, these last six films were separated by no more than 60 votes. The first of them is this low-budget slasher directed and co-written by Tobe Hooper, very loosely inspired by the crimes of Ed Gein. Texas Chainsaw’s grimy aesthetic helped lend it an air of authenticity, which made it all the more frightening (“This could actually happen, you guys!”), and the massive, menacing presence of Gunnar Hansen’s Leatherface paved the way for other brutes like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. Multiple attempts have been made to breathe new life into the franchise — and we have another one on the way — but none have equaled the original in sheer, over-the-top, power tool-inspired terror.


6. The Ring (2002)

The Ring

(Photo by ©DreamWorks courtesy Everett Collection)

It’s always a tricky proposition to take something that works well for one culture and try to translate that formula successfully for another, but Gore Verbinski managed that with The Ring. A remake of Japanese director Hideo Nakata’s acclaimed thriller about a cursed videotape, Verbinski’s take kept the original film’s striking visual imagery — the  ghost of a young girl in a white dress with long black hair covering her face — and found that it scared the hell out of audiences no matter where they were from. While the film wasn’t as well-regarded as its predecessor, it features a committed performance from a then up-and-coming Naomi Watts, and for many, it served as an introduction to East Asian horror cinema.


7. Halloween (1978)

Halloween

(Photo by ©Compass International Pictures)

Coming in at the seventh spot on our list is the film that introduced the world to all-time scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and put John Carpenter on the map. Halloween is frequently cited as one of the earliest examples of the slasher genre as we know it today, and while it may not feature the same kind of realistic gore we’ve come to expect of films in that category, it packs a lot of tension and some inventive thrills in a relatively small-scale package. The film’s legacy is also fairly untouchable: Michael Myers’ mask has become the stuff of legend, and the giant, unstoppable killer and the “final girl” have become ingrained in the horror lexicon. There’s a reason the franchise is still going after more than 40 years.


8. Sinister (2012)

Sinister

(Photo by ©Summit Entertainment)

For those who didn’t read the “scientific study” mentioned at the top, we’ve finally come to the film it crowned the scariest. Before he joined the MCU with 2016’s Doctor Strange, director Scott Derrickson had racked up a few horror films, a couple of which earned cult followings. One of them was this small-scale haunted house/possession story about a true-crime writer (Ethan Hawke) who moves his wife and kids into a house where a family was murdered, only to discover the new place might already have a rather evil tenant. Writer C. Robert Cargill was reportedly inspired to pen the script based on a nightmare he had after watching The Ring, and the story does share a minor similarity with that film, what with the creepy snuff film angle. But for many who saw it, the dramatic reveals and creepy set pieces far outweighed any recycled genre tropes that might have been present. Plus, there’s at least one report out there that says it’s the scariest movie ever made, so that must count for something.


9. Insidious (2010)

Insidious

(Photo by ©FilmDistrict courtesy Everett Collection)

James Wan has already shown up higher on the list, but before he and Patrick Wilson made The Conjuring, they worked together on this supernatural thriller about a young boy who falls into a coma and begins to channel a malevolent spirit. The bare bones of the story weren’t the most groundbreaking, but frequent Wan collaborator Leigh Whannell infused it with a compelling enough mythology that it spawned three more installments. Wan also stated that Insidious was meant to be something of a corrective to the outright violence of Saw, which compelled him to craft something on a more spiritual level, and the end result is an effective chiller featuring what is frequently regarded one of the best jump scares ever put on screen.


10. IT (2017)

Stephen King's IT

(Photo by Brooke Palmer/©Warner Bros.)

The fear of clowns is a very real thing, even if it’s become so commonplace to announce it that it feels disingenuous. If you needed any further evidence, we direct you to the box office haul of 2017’s IT, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, which went on to beat The Exorcist’s 44-year record as the highest-grossing horror film ever. Oh, and of course, its 10th-place finish on this list. Andy Muschietti’s big-budget adaptation drew on nostalgia to tell its story of children scarred by trauma, while Bill Skarsgard’s take on Pennywise the evil, shapeshifting clown was bizarre and unsettling in all the right ways. Add a healthy dose of jump scares, a handful of impressive set pieces, and some top-notch CGI, and you’ve got a recipe for a horror film that’s both fun and full of scares.


Thumbnail image by ©FilmDistrict courtesy Everett Collection

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In the 1970s and 1980s, a horror renaissance rocked the film industry, riding on the wave of George Romero’s 1969 low-budget zombie breakout Night of the Living Dead. There was a general feeling that something special was happening, where even directors as esteemed as Stanley Kubrick, Nicolas Roeg, and Peter Medak were flocking to the genre, while others more dedicated to horror, like Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, and Wes Craven were pushing the goal posts for scares. Even though the enthusiasm for innovative horror waned somewhat in the past couple of decades, with notable exceptions from the likes of Craven and newcomers like James Wan, the special feeling of a “movement” in horror seems to have finally returned, and with it a new class of the Masters of Horror who will lead us through the dark.

Whittling this list to 21 was a near-impossible task when you’ve got so many visionary filmmakers working in the genre, including queen Karyn Kusama (The Invitation), the Soska sisters (Rabid), Julia Ducournau (Raw), Coralie Fargeat (Revenge), Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani (Amer), Chelsea Stardust (Satanic Panic), Ana Asensio (Most Beautiful Island), Nia DaCosta (the upcoming Candyman), Na Hong-jin (The Wailing), Ti West (The Innkeepers), Jorge Michel Grau (We Are What We Are), Jennifer Wexler (The Ranger), Joko Anwar (Satan’s Slaves), Mattie Do (Dearest Sister), Gigi Guerrero (Culture Shock), Xander Robin (Are We Not Cats), and Demian Rugna (Terrified). (That’s not to mention producers like Jason Blum, dedicating their professional lives to scaring us stupid; but we’re limiting this roll call to directors, though some of those produce, as you’ll see. )

The list goes on and on, but here’s 21 that have made our blood pump and eyes pop recently, and are pushing the genre forward with every new work they make.


Ari Aster

Ari Aster

(Photo by James Minchin /© A24 /Courtesy Everett Collection)

Ari Aster, much like George Romero, did not see himself as a horror director before his breakout debut. Hereditary, starring Toni Collette in an awards-worthy performance, is a family drama that plays out like one long exhilarating gasp for breath. Aster’s follow-up, Midsommar digs around in the same psychological playground, though this time covering the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Both films recategorize the meaning of “scare,” as Aster mines the terror of simply being uncomfortable with other people to a nearly wacky psycho-comedy effect.


Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele

(Photo by Claudette Barius / © Universal)

What else is there to say about Jordan Peele? He single-handedly proved that black people want to see themselves in horror films and that other people all over the world would like to see it too. His films stray so far from what many would deem commercially acceptable — a lengthy monologue about inequality delivered amongst a bunch of rabbits in a kind of magical basement world? And yet his stories are compelling because they’re unlike anything else in theaters, their cinematic influences evident but not overbearing. Peele’s making horror weird again, and he’s making it matter.


Jennifer Kent

Jennifer KEnt

(Photo by ©IFC Midnight/Courtesy Everett Collection)

When Jennifer Kent’s debut horror The Babadook shocked audiences, the potential for horror to mine desperate grief came into 20/20 view. Not only that, but distinctly down-and-dirty, terrible, feminine grief. It’s not unusual for horror films to star women — this has been a defining characteristic of the genre — but it was unusual to see a heroine slowly morph into a highly relatable villain in such a visceral manner. In her newest film The Nightingale, Kent continues to push her heroines past a point of likeability with an eye on doing away with the “strong woman” trope that has rendered so many female characters into caricatures of femininity.


Mike Flanagan

Mike Flanagan

(Photo by Justin M. Lubin/© Universal Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection)

Mike Flanagan has toiled in the genre fields for almost two decades, writing, directing, and editing his own films, which included Ghosts of Hamilton Street, Absentia, Oculus, and Hush, before he got his name-making box office hit, Ouija: Origin of Evil. Flanagan has a rare ability to please mainstream audiences while still pushing boundaries of horror, as he did with the wildly popular Haunting of Hill House Netflix series, which, among other cool tricks, hid a number of ghosts in the frame. That kind of subtle innovation comes from a filmmaker who’s familiar with all tools at their disposal, and his adaptation of a sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, is much anticipated for that reason.


Issa Lopez

Mexican director Issa Lopez made a name for herself in her native country by directing a series of comic films, but her debut horror film Tigers Are Not Afraid (trailer above) couldn’t have been a bigger departure from her earlier career. Filled with wonder and grit and meaningful insights into childhood, trauma, and the human soul in the harshest environment imaginable, the film has been racking up fans and awards long before its U.S. release on Shudder. Guillermo del Toro luckily saw the film and immediately signed up to produce her next movies, so this Master in the making is already well on her way.


Guillermo del Toro

(Photo by Kerry Hayes/©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Speaking of Guillermo del Toro, it’s difficult to overstate how much of a boon for horror this visionary director has been, but del Toro was pioneering new directions for horror years before it came back in fashion. From Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone all the way up to Pan’s Labyrinth and the slept-on Crimson Peak, del Toro’s body of work feels so ingrained in the culture that it’s almost easy to take him for granted. Not to mention that he’s spent a great deal of time championing the newer generation of horror directors like Issa Lopez, Scott Cooper, and André Øvredal, producing double the number of films he directs himself. He is, for all intents and purposes, the godfather of the new Masters of Horror.


Isa Mazzei & Daniel Goldhaber

Cam

(Photo by © Netflix)

This pair of collaborators burst on the scene with last year’s Netflix horror hit, Cam (pictured above), about a cam girl sex worker whose identity is stolen and used against her. In a novel twist, the film was also respectful of women, Johns, and sex workers, never resorting to staid clichés, signaling that the pair could inclusively expand the frontiers of horror. Announcements for their next project with Blumhouse have been thin, but the film is certainly driven by women, and they’ll also be wading into TV horror with a segment for Quibi’s new 50 States of Fear.


Pascal Laugier

Martyrs

(Photo by ©Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Martyrs (pictured above) is not what many would call an easy film to watch. But Pascal Laugier’s most notorious feature is quite masterful. A story that opens like a revenge flick but closes with a hammer-to-the-nose of philosophical insights into perceived womanhood and spirituality, Martyrs follows in the New French Extremity footsteps of Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day. After Martyrs, Laugier tried his hand at American horror with Jessica Biel starrer The Tall Man, but returned to his roots in 2018’s Incident in a Ghostland. Laugier shows that gore with a brain is on the menu for horror fans.


Andy Muschietti

Andy Muschietti

(Photo by Brooke Palmer/© Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection)

In 2013, Argentine director Andy Muschietti had an international hit on his hands with Mamá, about a young couple who take in their two young nieces but find that a malicious supernatural entity has decided they’re her next victims of a haunting. The film starred Jessica Chastain, setting up Muschietti’s desire to make genre but with actors of high esteem attached, which led to his re-envisioning Stephen King’s It in a two-movie release, vaunted for its playful but serious take on the story. Next up, Muschietti’s going the monster route with an adaptation of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan, and is rumored to be directing DC’s The Flash.


Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Kiyoshi Kurosawa

(Photo by © Kimstim Films / courtesy Everett Collection)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is not a newcomer by any means. He’s been working steadily in genre and outside of it since the 1980s, as a critic, commercial artist, and a creative filmmaker. In 2001, he released his most well-known cult film Pulse, but his recent return to genre suggests he’s not quite finished being a Master. In 2016, he released Creepy, a thrilling hardboiled mystery, which he then followed up with Before We Vanish, which is an alien invasion story equal parts horror and humor that opens with a risky, bloody bang.


Nicolas Pesce

Eyes of My Mother

(Photo by © Magnet Releasing /Courtesy Everett Collection)

The Eyes of My Mother (pictured above), Nicolas Pesce’s debut feature, bucks so many contemporary trends of horror, shot in black and white like a high-art film but with the creeping childishness of Tobe Hooper. He followed that up with a Cronenberg Crash-style film called Piercing that turns a sex-torture story into a screwball comedy of errors and power dynamics. Pesce’s films explore loneliness and connection with wry humor, and yet somehow it’s his visual style, evocative of classic films filled with texture and tactile pleasantness like every object has meaning and purpose, that make him a new Master.


Anna Biller

The Love Witch

(Photo by © Oscilloscope / courtesy Everett Collection)

Anna Biller’s version of horror feels akin to classic fairy tales. They are rife with artifice yet also completely honest. Focused on sex and sexuality but coy and childlike. There is the sense that the director is telling the story of the world as it is while simultaneously wishing the world to be different. Viva is more an off-kilter soapy drama, while her film The Love Witch (pictured above) more fully embodies horror. Rumor has it she’s been shopping another horror story based on the Bluebeard tale, but be patient for her next one: Biller’s obsessive about costuming, locations, and production design, and makes most everything herself, which is a time-consuming act but is ultimately the key to her success as a modern Master.


Agnieszka Smoczynska

The Lure

(Photo by ©Janus Films)

Half the fun of Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s debut feature The Lure (pictured above) is describing it for those who don’t know: a gritty, glittery Polish mermaid horror disco musical. The film was a time capsule of Cold War-era dancing clubs, mixed with classic fairy tales and contemporary rage-filled feminism. Music that’s as catchy as it is dark and an almost surreal, theatrical production design set The Lure apart, earning it an almost instant Criterion release. Her follow-up, Fugue, looks inward for a more cerebral melodrama of psychological terror, with the kind of innovative camera work and sensitivity that display Smoczynska’s ability to play with mind as well as body in her horror.


Peter Strickland

In Fabric

(Photo by © A24)

Peter Strickland digested decades of Italian gore and giallo films, then washed it down the exploitation work of Jess Franco and spit out such atmospheric insta-classics as Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy. His newest film In Fabric (poster above) had so much hype and magic behind it that A24 quickly snapped it up out of the festivals. Both eerie and ethereal, In Fabric tells the story of a murderous red dress; like a chilling version of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, this thing will fit everyone but also kill them. And like his predecessors, Strickland squeezes every inch of terror out of sound design and trippy, mirrored effects, perfectly marrying the past with the present.


Ana Lily Amirpour

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

(Photo by ©Kino Lorber)

Ana Lily Amirpour’s low-budget indie hit A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (pictured above) thrilled for its simple but fully realized black-and-white graphic novel aesthetics. It’s not every filmmaker whose first film creates some of the most memorable iconography in recent horror film history, but Amirpour’s vision of a young woman gliding on a skateboard with her veil flowing behind her struck a chord for women, a seeming statement about feminine violence and traditional values butting up against Western ideals. Her follow-up The Bad Batch was a sunny apocalyptic trip through the desert, but in the meantime she directed a beloved episode of the new Twilight Zone and has been attached to the remake of Cliffhanger.


Babak Anvari

Under the Shadow

(Photo by Kit Fraser / © Vertical Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection)

Babak Anvari’s Under the Shadow (pictured above) broke new ground in folk horror and is a rare Certified Fresh at 99%. In it, he exploited the tale of jinn, those malevolent spirits of Islamic mythology, but grounded the story in the very real cultural conflict of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, as told through a belabored mother who’d much rather finish her medical degree than stay at home with the young daughter who acts almost like an anchor to a more traditional life. Vivid and tense, the film found an international audience, leading to his newest release, an American production called Wounds and a new television series titled North American Lake Monsters, where Anvari can further dig into local lore.


David F. Sandberg

David F. Sandberg

(Photo by Justin Lubin. ©Warner Bros.)

David F. Sandberg’s short “Lights Out” terrified audiences internationally with a simple light trick that harkened back to the early days of horror. That short, made for nothing and starring his charismatic wife Lotta Losten, was then developed into a feature starring Teresa Palmer. James Wan continued to help Sandberg develop his career, giving him a spot in The Conjuring franchise, directing Annabelle: Creation. Sandberg has temporarily waded into superheroes with the lighthearted Shazam!, but he’s stated he’s looking forward to coming back to horror real soon, hopefully utilizing the same creative low-budget ideas that gave him his big break.


James Wan

James Wan

(Photo by Michael Tackett/©Warner Bros. Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

Speaking of James Wan, no Masters of Horror list would be complete without the Aussie who harnessed the powers of surprise and low budgets to flip the entire industry on its head with the Saw and Insidious franchises, and then again with The Conjuring. He’s the pop filmmaker of our time, delivering the kind of popcorn fare that actually brings people to the theater, a rare feat. Like his Mexican counterpart Guillermo del Toro, Wan is also producing others’ work at a breakneck pace, passing the torch to his longtime collaborator Leigh Whannell, and Patrick Brice, Akela Cooper, and Michael Chaves.


Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer

Kolsch and Widmyer

(Photo by Kerry Hayes / © Paramount / courtesy Everett Collection)

Starry Eyes wasn’t Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s first feature, but it was the one that got them long applause at SXSW and a whole lot of horror cred with its black comic take on the entertainment industry, imagining the casting couch as a place to reap souls for Satan. Alex Essoe’s performance as a desperate starlet was one for the history books. At times gruesome and wacky, the film got them the gig remaking Pet Sematary and working on the Scream TV series.


Robert Eggers

The Lighthouse

(Photo by ©A24)

Robert Eggers may be known for The VVitch, but he might also be known for his obsessively detailed nature, which had him mastering settler’s English for the script and getting the period details correct down to the tiniest nib, likely from his time as a production and costume designer in theater and film. Like Kubrick before him, Eggers is intent on crafting worlds, and his newest film The Lighthouse (pictured above), though more horror-adjacent than his debut, is just as meticulous, digging again into hysteria and how isolation and harsh environments can unravel the mind.


Sophia Takal

Always Shine

(Photo by . © Oscilloscope / courtesy Everett Collection)

Sophia Takal’s trajectory into horror began with low-budget psychological romps through feminine hysteria, in both Green and then her more defined follow-up Always Shine (pictured above), which pitted two young actresses against one another in a remote Big Sur cabin. Her episode of Into the Dark marked an entry into the world of slashers, marrying the cerebral with the bloody physical, and her next film, a remake of the very first slasher, Black Christmas [disclosure: the author of this article is the co-writer of this film], will test that marriage and the viability of slashers in general in this day and age.


Don’t see our favorite horror filmmaker above? Let us know whose scares you’re loving right now in the comments. 


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Step aside Voorhees, we got another Jason killing it at the movies. After just a few years, starting with Paranormal Activity, producer Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions have changed the horror landscape with its brand of so-called ‘low budget, high concept’ releases, carving out a spectacular niche in a market that has seen the alleged demise of mid-budget movies and utter reliance on superhero flicks and blockbusters. Continuing this month’s focus on all things spooky, our gallery looks at 24 best and worst Blumhouse horror movies by Tomatometer (and don’t forget to read our Five Favorite Horror Films with the guy himself).

Why did they make God’s Not Dead 2? The divine hand of the free market christened the original God’s Not Dead with a $60 million box office tally, and against its $2 million budget, that makes it one of the most profitable movies ever in these United States. So, sweet Jesus, of course they would make a sequel! And that inspires this week’s gallery: the 24 most profitable low-budget (under $5 million) movies ever (in America)!

Since her acting debut in Signs (at age six) and Oscar nomination for Little Miss Sunshine (at age 10), Abigail Breslin has taken an unpredictable path in her film roles, appearing in everything from family movies to heartstring-heavy dramas to unabashed horror-comedy — as Zombieland‘s gun-toting scamp Little Rock, she got to indulge in what few of her young peers are allowed; namely, blowing away hordes of the undead. This year, Breslin’s already lent her voice to probably the best, and certainly the most original American animated feature, Rango, and she’ll soon appear (alongside practically everyone else in Hollywood) in the romantic comedy New Year’s Eve; while next year brings a transition to teenage roles — including a high school murderess in the very Heavenly Creatures-sounding Innocence. In this week’s Janie Jones, Breslin plays the title character, a 13-year-old girl set adrift from her single mother to reconnects with her boozy rock-n-roll dad, played by Alessandro Nivola. We sat down with the young actress to talk about the movie and her music, where she sees her career headed, and her Five Favorite Films (with a little assist from her mom).

Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944; 100% Tomatometer)


One would probably be Meet Me in St. Louis, which I love. Meet Me in St. Louis I love because I love Margaret O’Brien, and I actually got to meet her in person — she was so sweet and so cool. She was my favorite. So I love that movie.

Insidious (James Wan, 2011; 67% Tomatometer)



I guess I’ll have to do one horror movie because it’s my thing; I love horror movies. So my favorite horror movie would be… [pauses] I guess I’ll just go with a recent one that I really like right now, which was Insidious. I actually really liked that. It was kind of like, in some ways kind of campy, but it was so fun the way it was done. I loved the storyline of it all, and the ending was really cool.

The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011; 74% Tomatometer)



A recent movie that I really liked was The Help. I thought The Help was really, really good. And I love all the actors in it, who I thought were just amazing. I love Jessica Chastain, and Viola Davis and, you know, Emma Stone too, ’cause I worked with her. And Octavia Spencer. I thought they were all amazing.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Robert Aldrich, 1962; 89% Tomatometer)



Oh, the Bette Davis one — What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? I really like… I really love that movie. She’s kind of like really crazy and creepy. It’s one of the most — it’s not really a horror movie, but it’s so eerie and creepy.
.

Prancer (John D. Hancock, 1989; 69% Tomatometer)



And then finally I love… [long pause] Can I think about the last one? [Breslin’s mother intervenes: “For sentimental reasons the one you always loved was Prancer,” she suggests, laughing.] Oh yeah, I loved Prancer. Oh my god. [Laughs] I actually, really— okay, yeah, I’ll put that. So that movie, for sentimental reasons, and just because I still love it. It still has to be watched every Christmas. [Mom laughs in the background. ]

How many times have you seen it?

Oh, probably over a hundred. Especially when I was younger, I watched it like every day.

Do you know I’ve never seen it?

Oh my gosh, shame on you! Now you must.

Next, Breslin talks about Janie Jones, starting her music career, and her mini-obsession with Little Rock.

 

So, Janie Jones. I was impressed that you did all your own singing and playing in the movie. Was that something that attracted you to the part, or were you already performing music?

Abigail Breslin: Well I’d never really done music before, except for, you know, church Christmas parties and stuff like that. I’d never sung that much before, so it was definitely nerve-racking to come in — especially with Alessandro, who was such a good guitar player and singer. So that was definitely nerve-racking, but at the same time it was a lot of fun and it kind of inspired me to learn more. I taught myself guitar and took more vocal lessons, and now I actually have my own band; so that’s kind of cool.

How’s that going?

It’s going well. The band’s going good. It’s called CABB, with two “b”s, and actually our first song is coming out today and it’s called “Well Wishes.”

What kind of music do you play? “Who are your influences?”

[Laughs] Who are my influences! I kind of like… I love Adele, I love Foster the People, Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson, The Vaccines. And then my best friend, who’s also in the band, she kind of likes different stuff, like Lady Gaga; so it’s kind of like a merger of the two.

Is music something you might consider pursuing as well as acting?

Yeah, I mean definitely. We’re working on an album right now. It’s definitely something that I love doing and can hopefully, you know, do both.

You and Alessandro kind of have a bond on screen — did you become close off-screen to get that dynamic?

Well, I mean, the first time we met was on set — except, actually my brother Spencer did a movie with Alessandro’s wife, Emily, so we met when I was three. [Laughs] I don’t think we “met.” So when we first met on set, one of the first scenes we did was a very awkward and uncomfortable “first meeting” scene, and it kind of worked out well — as we got to know each other, as the characters got to know each other, we got to know each other in real life. So that was kind of cool.

You first meet him in Little Rock. Was that a coincidence, or did you have that written into the script?

[Laughs] No! Because of my character in Zombieland?

Yeah.

Well, what’s interesting is that while I was filming Zombieland I was reading this script, and my character was “Little Rock,” so… [laughs] I actually really like the city Little Rock in real life.

You need to find a way to work this into all of your films.

[Laughs] Exactly. I need to find a way. It’ll be like a thing. Every movie that you see of mine will have, like, “Little Rock Dry Cleaning” or something like that.

And then you’ll know it’s an “Abigail Breslin Film.”

Then you’ll know — you will know. [Laughs]

You can go back into your old films and have it digitally inserted.

Yeah, I know! [Laughs] I need to go back into all of them. You’ll see Little Miss Sunshine and instead of it being at, like, Redondo Beach, it’ll say “Welcome to Little Rock” in a really cheesy voiceover. It’ll sound really bad, but it’ll work!

Looking at your film choices since your Oscar nomination, you seem to be taking pretty varied roles — from Zombieland to character work in Rango and now this — is there a plan to it?

I don’t really have a set plan of what I feel like I should do, but I definitely like to play characters that I’ve never played before, and do different ones. I just feel like I’d get bored playing the same character over and over again. So I do try and do different roles, but there’s no set plan. I just go script-by-script, and if I like the character and the story, and if it’s a character that I’d want to know in real life, then that’s sort of why I do it.


Janie Jones is released in theaters and on VOD this week.

Last week in home video, we only had a handful of releases to talk about, but the good thing was that they were all pretty solid. This week, there’s far more to choose from, but thankfully, there also isn’t much of a drop in quality. To start things off, we’ve got the big ones, like the Gore Verbinski-Johnny Depp animated film, the haunted house thriller from the makers of Saw and Paranormal Activity, and a surprisingly solid turn from Matthew McConaughey in a courtroom drama. Then, we’ve got the only Rotten film on this week’s list, a Russell Brand-powered remake, and a Thai film that turned a lot of heads at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. We finish up the week’s selection with a classic Terry Gilliam film and a nice collection of films by the legendary Buster Keaton.



Insidious

66%

Good horror flicks have been hard to come by in recent years, but there are two low-budget flicks that managed to achieve phenomenal success: 2004’s Saw and 2007’s Paranormal Activity. Earlier this year, the makers of those films decided to work together to bring to the screen a different take on the traditional haunted house story. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne play Josh and Renai Lambert, a young couple who moves into a new home with their young son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins). As Dalton begins suspecting that the house is haunted, he suddenly falls into a coma for several months, and as Josh and Renai struggle to figure out what’s happening, dark secrets are revealed. Critics thought Insidious, at 67% on the Tomatometer, was better than your average fright flick, even if it did have some problems ending on a strong note, so if you’re looking for a decent scare, this could do the trick.



Rango

88%

At this point, it’s probably safe to say that, on a worldwide scale, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is the best known work of not only its star, Johnny Depp, but also its director, Gore Verbinski. Back in March, the duo teamed up once again on what would be the first fully CGI-animated film for both of them: Rango. Depp voices the title character, a domesticated chameleon who finds himself in the middle of a Nevada desert town populated by unfamiliar animals when his terrarium falls off a truck. Doing his best to fit in, Rango becomes embroiled in a nefarious plot to control the town’s water supply, which he attempts to foil with his new friends. The film performed well critically and reasonably well financially, with most saying that the animation is beautifully top notch, and Johnny Depp’s colorful vocal performance seals the deal. Some feel it appeals more to adults than kids, what with its somewhat obscure references to things like Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” and Depp’s own character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but that’s okay, because sometimes, you know, we adults like cartoons, too.



The Lincoln Lawyer

83%

RT had a chance to speak with Ryan Phillippe, co-star of The Lincoln Lawyer, before the film opened, and one thing he mentioned was that people were going to be surprised by Matthew McConaughey’s performance. Though it would have been easy to dismiss Phillippe’s words as PR fluff, the reviews for the film bore out his prediction, and The Lincoln Lawyer went Certified Fresh at 83%. Based on the novel of the same name by prolific crime story writer Michael Connelly, the film centers on a maverick attorney named Mickey Haller (McConaughey) who decides to defend a wealthy Beverly Hills playboy who’s been accused of rape and murder. As Mickey continues to investigate the evidence, things aren’t quite what they seem, and he must utilize all of his tricks to keep his head above water. Now, critics were quick to say that there are some plot implausibilities, and the courtroom drama feels familiar, but it’s all done so well that the film is ultimately a fun ride, and true to Phillippe’s words, McConaughey is perfectly solid.



Arthur (2011)

26%

Now, onto the second movie releasing this week about a privileged playboy. Those who are old enough will remember the original Arthur from 1981, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli, but otherwise, chances are you may not have even realized the 2011 film starring Russell Brand was a remake. Unfortunately, while some of us wondered why, of all movies, one might choose to redo Arthur, the critics basically came out and said, “They really shouldn’t have.” The story essentially remains the same: Arthur Bach (Brand) is an alcoholic heir to a billion-dollar fortune, which he can only inherit if he agrees to marry an obnoxious socialite (Jennifer Garner). When Arthur meets a tour guide named Naomi (Greta Gerwig), he falls in love and, with encouragement from his nanny (Helen Mirren), considers a common life with Naomi. Critics found this modern update to be grating, stating that the natural charm Brand exhibits in supporting roles turns against him when he’s the star of the show. But more so than that, most felt that, with so little new to offer, the 2011 Arthur was completely unnecessary. You may take your chances if you’re a fan of the stars, but at 27% on the Tomatometer, don’t say we didn’t warn you.



Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

89%

Though he isn’t a household name in much of the western world, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul is no stranger to the Cannes Film Festival, where his films have been received rather well. This is particularly true of his latest effort, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010. For those who haven’t seen (or heard of) the film, it’s a bit difficult to explain; the story revolves around the titular Uncle Boonmee who, on his deathbed, is visited by the apparition of his late wife and by his long lost son, who appears in “non-human” form. Together, the three of them travel through a jungle and arrive at a mysterious cave, where Boonmee’s first life began. It’s safe to say that, at a Certified Fresh 89% on the Tomatometer, critics found lots to like about Uncle Boonmee, particularly its thoughtful and meditative take on the ghost story, but with its languorous pace and surreal elements, this arthouse winner might not be for everyone.



Brazil – Blu-ray

98%

Terry Gilliam is an imaginative, if not entirely disciplined, director with a ton of ideas in his head and only so many ways to translate those ideas to the big screen. Sometimes, though, his wild imagery comes together in just such a way that they are in perfect service to the story being told, and by most accounts, 1985’s Brazil is the best example of this. Set in a dystopian, Orwellian future simultaneously reminiscent of eras past, Brazil follows paper-pusher Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) as he attempts to rectify a clerical error that resulted in an innocent man’s death, then is pursued by the government as a potential terrorist threat. Along the way, Sam meets Jill (Kim Greist), the girl of his dreams (literally), and the real terrorist (Robert De Niro) the government was looking for in the first place. Packed with remarkable visuals, dry humor, biting commentary on the nature of bureaucracy, and outstanding performances from an impressive cast (which includes Jim Broadbent, Michael Palin, Ian Holm, and Bob Hoskins), Brazil is a modern classic, as evidenced by its Certified Fresh 98% on the Tomatometer. It’s available on Blu-ray for the first time this week, but fans should note: this is the Universal Studios release, which is 10 minutes shorter than Gilliam’s approved cut that was available from the Criterion Collection, and it comes with no bonus features. For that, we’ll simply have to wait until Criterion obtains the license again.



Buster Keaton – Short Films Collection: 1920-1923 (3-Disc Ultimate Edition) Blu-ray

Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan, known for his wild, death-defying stunts, has said that his primary influence was Buster Keaton. For anyone who has yet to see any of Keaton’s work, that might be hard to conceptualize, but a new collection of 19 of Keaton’s short films should change all of that. The man was a master of physical comedy, and watching his work from the early 1920s can be a mindblowing experience ? and we’re not exaggerating here. Mastered in HD from 35mm prints, these shorts offer a comprehensive look at some of Keaton’s earliest screen work, when he was pretty much allowed to create as he saw fit — never a bad thing in the case of someone like him. The three-disc set also comes with a wealth of bonus features, including outtakes (yes, even back in the ’20s, they saved bloopers), a collection of other Keaton-esque short films from the era, digitally enhanced versions of some of the films, and visual essays to accompany 14 of the 19 total shorts. This is a great pickup for anyone who’s a fan, or anyone looking for an introduction to Buster Keaton’s work.

The microbudgeted horror film marks another win for “Paranormal Activity” team Jason Blum, Oren Peli and Steven Schneider. They say lightning doesn’t strike twice. Don’t tell that to the Paranormal Activity team of Jason Blum, Oren Peli and Steven Schneider, whose microbudgeted horror film Insidious is crossing the $50 million mark globally and is on to track to gross as much as $80 million or $90 million at the worldwide box office.

This week at the movies, we’ve got identity intrigue (Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan); a funny bunny (Hop, starring James Marsden and Russell Brand); and a juvenile ghoul (Insidious, starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne). What do the critics have to say?


Source Code

92%

Recipe for a sci-fi thriller: take a sprig of Memento, a dash of Groundhog Day, and a pinch of Inception. Mix them together and you’ve got Source Code, which critics say is a smart, suspenseful popcorn flick with excellent performances. Director Duncan Jones’s follow-up to the bleak, haunting Moon, Source Code stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier on a mission: to save a Chicago commuter train from a bomber. One issue: he’s part of a government experiment called the Source Code, in which he can transmogrify into the bodies of others for the last eight minutes of their lives, thereby finding clues as to the identity of the bomber. But can our hero save the day? And who is our hero, anyway? The pundits say the Certified Fresh Source Code is multiplex fare of a very high order: it’s challenging, emotionally engaging, and brutally exciting.


Hop

24%

Easter’s right around the corner, so it would seem like an ideal time for a family comedy about a bunny battling with an army of chicks for control of the holiday, right? Unfortunately, critics say the CGI/live action hybrid Hop isn’t all that tasty – it might provide some laughs for the little ones, but parents and older siblings won’t find much to enjoy beyond some admittedly impressive animation. The seemingly ubiquitous Russell Brand provides the voice for E.B., a giant hare who ditches his pre-ordained occupation to become a drummer in L.A. After moving in with Fred (James Marsden), our cottontailed hero discovers that a bunch of little chicks are looking to depose his kind from making the annual rounds. The pundits say Hop lacks bounce — it’s short on both quality gags and inspiration, a confection that lacks substance. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we present a list of memorable movie rabbits.)


Insidious

66%

Insidious‘s setup doesn’t get any points for originality — it’s got a spooky house, creepy children, and a portal to a demonic world. However, it’s not the elements but how you put them together, and critics say Insidious is often a devilishly good time, a film that steadily builds an atmosphere of dread while dishing out shocks with efficiency. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne star as a young couple who’ve just moved into the perfect house — or so they think until the oldest of their three children falls into a coma, and seems to be attracting evil spirits. The pundits say Insidious is a good old fashioned horror flick crafted with style and smarts — though the film’s ending is a bit of a letdown after a terrific buildup. (Check out our roundup of the creepiest movie children.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Elephant In The Living Room, a documentary about people who keep exotic and deadly animals as pets, is at 100 percent.
  • Circo, doc about a Mexican family’s hundred-year-old traveling circus, is at 100 percent.
  • The 2011 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner In A Better World, about the violent repercussions of school bullying, is at 83 percent.
  • The Four Times, a drama about the cycle of life in a small Italian village, is at 78 percent.
  • Trust, starring Clive Owen and Catherine Keener in a drama about the fallout from a teenager’s online encounter with a predator, is at 65 percent.
  • Super, starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page in a dramedy about a self-made superhero, is at 53 percent.
  • Rubber, a horror/comedy about an abandoned tire that comes to life, is at 50 percent.
  • Wrecked, starring Adrien Brody as a man who awakens to find himself trapped in a crashed car, is at 50 percent.
  • Queen to Play, starring Sandrine Bonnaire and Kevin Kline in the tale of a French chambermaid who becomes obsessed with chess, is at 50 percent.
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, a documentary about a man’s attempt to lose weight and get off his meds, is at 50 percent.
  • Cat Run, starring Paz Vega in an action/comedy about two average guys who start a detective agency and stumble upon a deadly plot, is at 13 percent.

Bad genes.

Abusive household.

Demonic possession.

Psychoplasmic therapy.


It’s a fact: Children sometimes go bad. Another fact: Hollywood loves making horror movies of kids going bad.

Presented for your macabre pleasure…

The 15 Creepiest Movie Children who would tie your shoelaces together and push you down the stairs. Click on the image below:


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