2005: The Descent
2005 was not the best year for horror films, but The Descent is a pretty interesting movie.
Directed by Neil Marshall, who directed the ‘Game of Thrones’ episodes “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall”, The Descent tells the story of a group of friends that decides to explore some unchartered caves after one woman lost her husband in an accident. What could go wrong?
The film’s lighting is a standout element. How do you light up giant, black caverns? Red and green flares that portray figures in frightening chiaroscuro. Panic and confusion inevitably arise from the darkness and claustrophobia, turning this girl’s trip into a nightmare.
Marshall’s capability on a small scale leaves no question as to how he was able to effectively create dark, confusing, but still visible battle scenes that boosted ‘Thrones’ into a new stratosphere of television.
2006: The Host
Did you like Parasite? Then stop reading this and go watch Bong Joon-ho’s The Host. It’s a monster movie with a brilliant sense of humor and touching emotional core. It isn’t necessarily scary, but it does leave a feeling of emptiness and despair, in part due to the irresponsible neo-imperialist American military that causes as much harm to Seoul and its people as the river monster.
Most of the effects, particularly the moments where the creature grasps people, look pretty good. The CGI movement doesn’t hold up perfectly, but the creature’s slick, terrifying appearance feels organic to the world despite looking somewhat out of place. Outside of that and its occasionally slow pacing, The Host is a perfect movie, and probably the best on the list.
Recommended for you: Bong Joon-ho Films Ranked
2007: The Orphanage
It’s not a Guillermo del Toro movie, but he did produce it, which makes a lot of sense.
The Orphanage follows a couple that plans to open the wife’s old orphanage as a home for disabled children. However, their son goes missing, and the question of whether the house is haunted or not delays their well-laid plans.
The gothic horror and fairy tale elements help to create an effective nostalgic horror work in the modern age. There are similarities with modern ghost/demon movies, but they’re rather limited, with modern technology playing only a small role in detecting the unknown. The suspense and imagery are the real focus, and these are presented in a classic style that feels more in line with the older ghost movies than Hollywood’s latest haunted house features.