Part of the ritual of growing up is watching horror movies together as a group of teenagers. The shared experience mitigates the fright somewhat, and makes it more tolerable. Some of those films you can even watch when you’re alone. And then there are some films that you really shouldn’t watch when you’re alone. Especially if you’re of a nervous bent. In which case, why are you watching scary movies alone, again? Get the popcorn, and I’ll run down some creepy films you have to rope others into watching with you (in no particular order–randomness can be just as creepy as the expected scares). Obviously, fright is a subjective term; some might find this list a little tame, others a “keep away” notice. If you’ve seen these, or have other recommendations, let us know in the comments below! The list after the jump-scare.
[REC] is a Spanish film about Angela and Pablo, a reporter and her cameraman, who follow the events of a local fire station in Spain. While things start out normal, events soon take a dark turn as the evening progresses. The film is in the found-footage style of horror, and in this case, is cleverly effective and very, very creepy indeed.
1408, starring John Cusack and Morgan Freeman, is based on the short story by Stephen King. It’s about a novelist who becomes obsessed with the afterlife, and after visiting haunted location after haunted location, comes to the conclusion that ghosts don’t exist. Until he’s invited to visit room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. And that’s about where things go from mundane to insanely terrifying. It’s a King story, so you know it’s going to be a good one.
Yes, I know it’s an old one (1987!), but it’s still one of the utter classics of the horror genre, and a must for any horror fan. The story, by another horror literary master Clive Barker, is about a peculiar puzzle box that opens a portal onto a realm of horror. I chose this film over the more popular Nightmare on Elm Street because, let’s face it, who HASN’T seen Nightmare on Elm Street?
The Shining, another oldie, is probably one of the most written-about classic horror films. Again by Stephen King, it tells the tale of Jack Torrence and his family, entrusted to take care of the Overlook Hotel during the winter season. It’s as much a tale of the Hotel as the family, but the film is famous for the disorienting direction by Stanley Kubrik, and for the stellar performances of Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall.
The original trailer here is a terrible show of just how unnerving and disturbing this movie is, but it’s honestly one of the most fantastic examples of how to pull off horror without resorting to gore. Another famous director, Roman Polanski, pulls this film together to make one of the best horror films to come from the late 60s. For its age, it’s still one damned good film.
You knew we were getting to this one, didn’t you? Recent indie film Paranormal Activity tells the story of a family haunted by…well…that would be telling, wouldn’t it? If you haven’t seen it, though, you’re in for a really good scare.
Sinister is fairly recent, and is about a man who discovers a box of video tapes in the attic of his new house. The videos look like normal home movies initially, but he soon discovers that things are far more sinister than he ever imagined. It’s such a frightfully chilling movie that you’ll be unable to sleep for nights afterwards.
This is the only film on this list that’s yet to receive worldwide release, but it’s been shown at Sundance to amazing critical acclaim. This movie features perhaps the first new innovative and creepy movie monster in a long time, and works on the most primal levels of fear. It’s the story of a boy who’s afraid of the monster in the house, and his mother who discovers the evil forces gathering around them. When it hits your area, get your friends together and go watch, because it’s one hell of a scary movie.
House of the Devil
This film, while relatively recent (2009), is filmed as a homage to 70s and 80s horror, and is about a girl who takes on the job of babysitter because she’s in desperate need of the money. When she gets to the house, she discovers that the situation is not quite as advertised, and things go swiftly in a downhill direction from there. You’ll appreciate this movie most if you’d been through the riot of satanic panic films from the era, because the film plays very well with those tropes.
I’ve saved perhaps the most disturbing for last. Japanese extreme cinemaphiles will already know about director Takashi Miike’s famous WTF masterwork, Odishon (the Japanisation of the English word “Audition”). It starts off as a regular love story, but about halfway through becomes something else completely, and honestly, I’ve already said too much. Just don’t watch it alone, ok?
And that’s our list. Have you seen any of these films? What did you think? What are your thoughts?