Horror movies are a funny bird. As you can tell from just looking at your Netflix account or by skimming through the selections of your local Redbox, there are so many of horror films that are produced on a steady basis, and you probably haven’t heard of many of them. I was shocked the other day when I discovered there was an actual horror movie entitled “Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan.” Was the world clamoring for a horror movie about Paul Bunyan? I haven’t seen this yet, and it may be enjoyable in a B-movie sort of way, but scary? When you really think about it, what’s the percentage of horror movies that are made nowadays that can be considered truly terrifying?
Well turn out the lights, throw some magic dust on the fire in honor of the Midnight Society, and hit the jump as I show you five movies guaranteed to scare you this Halloween.
Inside (A l’interieur)
I’ve seen a lot of horror movies in my time, and this is one of the only scary movies where I watched it once, and simply could not revisit it as I was too freaked out to watch it again. Produced in France, this foreign horror flick drops us into the world of a pregnant woman who has recently lost her husband, so she’s struggling to figure out how she wants to spend her life and whether or not she even wants to raise the baby. Cue an image of a woman dressed in black, watching intently from the outside window, brandishing a pair of scissors. What follows is one of the most terrifying “home invasion” stories that has ever been told on film with the woman in black trying to get at our protagonist’s unborn child for reasons that are not revealed until the end of the film.
The deaths in the movie are brutal and really hammer home the idea that death is not something that is quick and clean. There are some particularly horrifying scenes throughout, but the one that got me was close to the end of the film when…Well, you’ll have to just see it for yourself.
This one gets a lot of different reactions from people, and is much more of a psychological horror movie than Inside. The movie follows a team of cleaners contracted to get rid of the asbestos in an abandoned insane asylum. With not much time to complete their task, the team frantically works through the days while clashing personalities causes infighting. Things change when they come across tapes interviewing a particular patient who suffers from multiple personality disorder. What’s so terrifying about the movie is the slow build in the interviews toward the final, and most disturbing, personality named “Simon” who’s responsible for some grizzly actions. The movie is riff with twists and turns, and is probably most notable for David Caruso of CSI: Miami fame cussing out one of his coworkers. If you’re looking for something a little bit on the cerebral side of horror this Halloween, give Session 9 a shot.
Truth be told, it’s a little tough to take a movie seriously that goes by the pretense of “Based on a true story…Oh! And also, the ghost was a witch!” Luckily, this recent edition to my list was helmed by director James Wan, who had also directed both Insidious films, Dead Silence, and the original Saw, so he knows what he’s doing. The film revolves around a family in the 1970s moving to a new home that happens to be haunted by some less-than-friendly ghosts. The story is rife with horror imagery including scary dolls, hanging corpses, exorcisms, and other scenes that will make your hair stand on end. One of the main strengths of the movie is that the characters are well developed and generally likeable, so you’re able to feel scared for them.
My favorite scene of the movie is when one of the younger daughters in the family is describing someone who is apparently hiding behind the dark patch of a door. The actress manages to sell this scene so well that, even though you don’t see what she is describing at first, you feel the horror of it and your imagination takes over for what isn’t shown on screen. James Wan is currently directing Fast & Furious 7 and has stated that he’s taking a break from horror for the foreseeable future. He’ll be sorely missed.
Man, the French have really got this whole horror movie thing down pat, huh? Martyrs is a movie that is similar to Inside in its levels of extreme violence and uncomfortable situations. This film also holds the title of “Most Horrific Opening Scene of a Horror Film” as a family is brutally gunned down by the protagonist, Lucie, in a shocking twist. Lucie calls in her horrified friend, Anna, to help her solve her problems with the bodies and is haunted by a gruesome creature that stalks the house. Changes are fast and furious in this one, and the end is in a completely different place than the beginning. Let me give you all a warning though on this one: It is by no means a “fun” movie. Its ruthless, cold, and bleak in its delivery, but it will absolutely scare the crap out of you, and will really sit with you for days to come.
The monster who stalks Lucie throughout the film is particularly creepy, both in its appearance and its movements. Taking a page from the girl from The Ring, it moves almost as if it were a spider, darting around sporadically and letting out a ghastly screech. Then there’s the whole problem of what exactly is in the house’s basement.
It’s hardly a surprise with this one. The Exorcist has made countless “Scariest Movies of All Time” lists, and there’s a reason for that. The story of a girl who is possessed by a demon/the devil, and the priests who are trying to save her, has imagery and scenes so frightening, that some folks literally thought the movie itself was possessed and anyone who watched it was cursed. What’s so great and scary about the film is the otherworldly aspects of so much of it. From the possessed girl’s appearance and voice to the split second glimpse of the demon itself to the overall layout of the story, The Exorcist is a movie that did things that no other movie before it had even dreamed of doing. It created an entirely new brand of horror in “exorcism” movies and we’ve been getting a steady stream of them ever since.
If you want to get into the spirit of the season, watch these movies.