13 greatest horror movies of the last 13 years: '28 Days Later,' 'The Descent' and more
7. 'Wolf Creek'
Release date: 2005
Scare factor (1-10): 9
Why it's great: Three backpackers stranded in the most remote reaches of the Outback desert are picked up by a jolly Crocodile Dundee type who offers them refuge and a car fix. The rest is history -- and so, for the most part, are the backpackers. Perversely released by The Weinstein Company on Christmas Day (hey, perhaps they thought it was Oscar bait), this exceedingly simple but effective Aussie shocker attracted a lot of kneejerk critical outrage over the ugly extremities of its violence, lumping it in with any number of cheap torture-porn cash-ins. That's a mistake: its "based on a true story" credentials may be hooey, but there's an honest, visceral quality to the bodily punishment of Greg Mclean's film (not to mention a sly political undertow to its study of, er, tourist-native tensions) that sets it apart from almost everything else on Exploitation Row. As does the sheer, painful precision of its craft: working with minimal resources, Mclean brilliantly uses his the expanses of his location to set up the foreboding, and its limitations to extend it when the terror goes full-throttle. Few modern horror films are quite this relentless, jangling the nerves even when the jig is up.
- Guy Lodge