The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The scariest movie ever made? Of course not but you'd never have known it through the hype that surrounded Blair Witch upon release. Not bad for a film shot for $35,000 on a camera bought at Wal-Mart (and subsequently returned for a refund). The film was almost entirely improvised by the three leads (who were often just as terrified as the audience) and initially passed off as a documentary, a ruse given credence by an entirely fictitious web-based backstory. It's far from the most frightening cinema experience imaginable but an ingenious piece of creative filmmaking it certainly is.
A wave of hype followed this thriller, almost swamping it under proclamations that the British were coming, that Scotland was sexy, that Ewan McGregor might do well for himself. Well, that's all true - but there's more to Shallow Grave than a (temporary) reinvigoration of British cinema. Danny Boyle's immensely stylish tale of dead bodies, a suitcase full of money and rampant paranoia is an inspired blend of pitch-black comedy and bloody violence, held together by career-making performances and scathing wit. Three central characters this flawed are a rare sight in American cinema - even in the independent sector - which, along with the sheer panache of this film, make it a must-see.