A good scary movie with a decent story is hard to find these days. It’s not common for the genre to offer more than just loud noises and gore for the sake of making the audience look away in… “horror.”
Sometimes you just need a good adrenaline rush, even when it’s not October. And yes – my list is a tad bias against the supernatural/ exorcism flicks. I prefer a good thriller/mystery with real-worldly threats like, I don’t know, serial killers. The realer, the scarier.
Also, I believe in the Lord and do not wish to invite the Devil into my home. Poor Emily Rose.
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh
“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”
Bates Motel: Where the disturbing relationship, or non-existent relationship, between Norman Bates and his Mother escalated a little too quickly. This was before A&E TV gave Norma Bates an official name in the television series. In Psycho, she is only known as “Mother,” who is Norman’s second identity. Basically, there are twists and turns, sharp knives and shower curtains (THIS is the iconic shower scene that everyone refers to), and the longing questions of – who is the innocent and who is the killer? OR, are they the same person? Psycho is a real mystery, until it suddenly all makes sense. It’s a sensual, sadistic story.
Starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie
“These are godless times.”
Pig’s blood isn’t the worst of Carrie’s problems. This story is all about a bullied young girl turned into a terrifying force with devilish powers (literally – she’s low-key possessed). It’s one of those films where the message is: “Be kind to everyone because you never know what they are going through, AND they might come back and kill you when they finally lose it.” You know the ones? Well, Carries starts using her newfound telekinesis talents to get revenge on those who treated her wrong. Carrie’s delusional mother is no help, as she attempts to brainwash Carrie with her own unrealistic beliefs and eventually labels Carrie a sinful creature.
The Shining (1980)
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
“Come and play with us.”
Another Stephen King (actual King of Horror) classic, this thriller is one of the most iconic horror movies. You don’t have to see the movie to be familiar with these infamous, creepy-as-hell twin girls. Also – Jack Nicholson actually looks a bit crazy on the regular, so I’m wondering how terrified the rest of the cast and crew were on set. Basically, Jack has gone mad, and his psychic son attempts to warn people about the dark events to come at the Overlook Hotel, which Jack has agreed to take over. It’s one of the first films where you actually fear the main character, as you go in assuming he will be the hero protagonist.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
** Best Picture Winner – 1992 **
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins
“Have the lambs stopped screaming?”
Hannibal Lecter alive and… not well. Nor the silence, or the lambs, are peaceful. An awesome (female) FBI cadet must communicate with an incarcerated, manipulative killer to catch the current serial killer, who is also skinning his innocent victims. This film won 5 Oscars, and is known as one of the most disturbing films to date. There are non-predictable twists and turns that caused audible gasps from theater audiences. And, of course, the real fascination comes from the screwed up minds of the psychopaths involved.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Starring: Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker
“Narrator: … an idyllic summer afternoon became a nightmare.”
AKA “Leatherface,” The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was not only based on real events in the South, but is one of the few epic thrillers where the murderer still sports humanistic qualities. Remember – the realer, the scarier. Thomas Hewitt is bullied and shunned, raised by a total mess of a family. His upbringing and own identity issues (and mental deterioration) urges him to kill his victims, with the chainsaw, in hopes of becoming them. That’s right – he wears their faces to cover his own. On a side note, the acting here was chillingly believable and one of Jessica Biel’s finest performances.
The Babadook (2014)
Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman
“Don’t let it in.”
Besides Paranormal Activity (2007), which was the first massive “documentary style” horror movie since The Blair Witch Project, Babadook is a worthy watch for a supernatural fix. As mentioned, I don’t typically go for the demon-centric films, but Babadook is too creative and intriguing to turn off. The sinister presence derives from a children’s book of all places. Amelia and her young son, Sam, are still dealing with his father’s death when Mr. Babadook comes into their lives. Besides terror, it’s also a character study of a struggling single mom trying to understand her son’s unnerving, ghostly-influenced behavioral issues.