by Pam Ryan
Lists like these are usually made up of actors who have showcased amazing performances that have really made their movie a success. This is a list with a difference however. Focusing on the characters more than the actors I will explain why these characters are real heroes who have fought to the death for their loved ones, literally.
- Aaron Stanford as Doug Bukowski in The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Doug is a young married man and the happy father of a new born baby. While taking a trip across country complete with caravan, family and in-laws in tow, he runs into a bit of trouble with some unsavoury characters. Deep in the desert an old mining system is inhabited by its previous workers, mutated beyond recognition by radioactivity and bomb testing carried out by the US army. Doug shows so much bravery even after losing his wife and in-laws. He risks his life to protect his wife’s brother and sister and retrieve his child. Fighting through the pain and grief he takes on his hunters to protect the remains of his family with no thought for his personal safety.
- Cillian Murphy as Jim in 28 Days Later (2002)
Jim wakes up in a ghostly and empty hospital after an accident at work. To his great confusion he finds that not only is everyone he knew and loved gone, but everyone in the city of London seems to have disappeared. Jim finds company in the survivors of the infection that has raged across Britain during his slumber. He proves to be a hero when protecting his newfound love and a young girl from both the walking dead and the sexually frustrated soldiers in whom they sought refuge. Having the chance to get away and save his own life he returns to save his new family thinking of only them and the life they could build together.
- Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller in The Ring (2002)
Rachel is a single working mother who stumbles across a mysterious video tape after the passing of her cousin. The legend behind the tape says that anyone who watches it will die in seven days unless they get someone else to watch it. Rachel’s curious son watches the tape and suddenly she is in a race against time to save her son’s life. She goes to great lengths to solve the mystery including witnessing the tape herself, taking a trip to the origin of the tape, risking her life in the company of a man with murder in his eyes, sacrificing the life of the man she loved and father of her son, and releasing the spirit of the girl who seeks to take her son’s life. Rachel’s primal maternal instincts and her bravery in acting on them are what make her a great horror heroine.
- Jonathon Tucker as Jeff McIntire from The Ruins (2008)
Jeff is on holiday with his girlfriend and their friends in Mexico. With the aid of a tour guide they locate an archaeological site and ancient Aztec pyramid where more of their friends should be working, but appear to be missing. Suddenly they find themselves surrounded and trapped by superstitious locals, willing to commit murder to prevent the Aztec curse from leaving the site and inflicting itself upon their town. Trapped on the pyramid the group begin to starve before the cursed ruins begin to pick them off one by one. Jeff deserves to be on this list because of his sacrifice on the steps of the pyramid. He carries his girlfriend to the foot of the ruins while she feigns dead, and distracts the locals while she makes a run for it, handing over his own life in the process.
- Melissa George as Jess in Triangle (2009)
Jess is the mother of autistic boy Tommy. While on a date on a yacht the group run into a raging storm, afterwards finding refuge in an abandoned floating ship. The entire film is a vicious circle and we find that her son died much earlier in the film. Jess must repeatedly perform brutal acts of murder on her new friends and her date in order to save the life of her son. As many mothers do, she even puts Tommy before herself, throwing herself overboard and hitting her double in the back of the head in order to start the cycle again. The courageous mother belongs on the list because of her determination, love for her son and ability to put his needs before the lives of strangers.