Whilst classic horror movies date all the way back to the 1920s, with the likes of Frankenstein, Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Phanton of the Opera, the modern formula for horror films became well established by the 1970s. Slashers like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, as well as ghoulish flicks like George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead series became cultural icons and established strict guidelines on how to make a mainstream horror film.
Among these tropes, such as a slow build, a creepy house, and other things that have spent decades making us turn the lights on in every room, is the trope of the final girl or the hero. Ellen Ripley, Laurie Strode and Sidney Prescott are some of the most badass final girls. Meanwhile, Tommy Jarvis, Ash Williams and Bill Denbrough more than hold their own against their freakish foes.
However, not every film can have a Ripley or an Ash. Every now and then, horror movies show the proverbial middle finger to those that have come before and decide that no-one lives this time. These are ten of the best.
Major spoilers ahead, so beware...
10. Eden Lake
To international audiences and even some of you in the UK, Eden Lake may be one of unfamiliarity. Despite boasting such cast members as Jack O’Connell and Thomas Turgoose (stars of Skins and This is England), as well as Michael freakin’ Fassbender, the film only made around a measly four million (might as well throw it down the drain, right?).
The film was well-received and was awarded an Empire Award for Best British Film, with many lauding its portrayal of the danger of “hoodies” (that’s youth gangs to those not from the UK), which was a real hot-button topic at the time. Largely, O’Connell’s Brett and his gang spend the film terrorizing Fassbender and his wife, portrayed by Kelly Reilly, varying from innocent hijinks, to mindless vandalism, to sociopathic torture.
As you might expect from the title of the list, it doesn’t end well for our protagonists. Whilst midway through the film, Fassbender’s Steve dies valiantly of his wounds, Reilly’s Jenny fares much better. Channeling her inner final girl, Jenny not only escapes from the barbaric torture of the yobs, she’s also able to take a few of them out. However, her luck runs out when she runs into a house for help; Brett’s family home. Soon, she’s swarmed by the house and dragged away screaming to her certain death.