Happy Halloween! ‘Tis the season for nightmares, but if you’re struggling to find a scary movie that is guaranteed to keep you up at night, here are 5 movies that gave me the creeps, the willies and the heebie jeebies. OoOoOoOo!
5) The Others
A woman lives in a large house with her two children, who are both so sensitive to sunlight that even brief exposure to it can kill them. One day new servants turn up to work, just in time to witness eery things happening in the house…
I watched this movie at the cinema when it came out and it effected me profoundly. It was the first horror I had seen with interesting, nuanced characters and an intriguing story that I was truly invested in – but it also scared the heck out of me. It still scares the heck out of me. I discovered that the scariest stories don’t have to involve knife-wielding killers or possessed girls crab walking backwards down the stairs (although that is petrifying), but can simply be about the fear of the unknown. Great acting, creepy kids, supremely effective jump scares and a plot twist that slaps you hard in the face. What more could you want?
4) A Tale of Two Sisters
A young woman comes home to her beloved younger sister, apathetic father and cold stepmother after spending time in a mental hospital. She despises her stepmother and is grieving the death of her mother, but there’s another issue: something sinister is lurking inside the house.
Similarly to the Others, this movie features flawed, interesting people trying to navigate their complex feelings towards one another, all while living in a spooky, hostile house. Ultimately the focus of this movie is on the two sisters and how they lean on one another to cope with the difficulties they face in life, which gives context and colour to the scary bits, thus making them ever scarier. This movie features one of the tensest, most skin-crawlingly awful dream sequences I have ever seen and a jaw-dropping ending. If your heart doesn’t beat a thousand times a minute while you watch this, you’re either made of tougher stuff than me or you’re dead inside.
3) The Thing (1982)
In Antarctica at a US base, a group of researchers find an alien life form. They quickly discover that this being can take over, kill and then imitate its victims. Paranoia grows as the researchers try to work out who is human, and who has become the Thing.
There are two horror subgenres that truly scare me: space horror and body horror (which the dictionary defines as ‘the graphically depicted destruction or degeneration of a human body or bodies’). Alongside Alien and The Blob, watching The Thing evokes a physical reaction in me. I feel so repulsed I can barely look at the screen. The effects in this movie are just beyond comprehension, and the subtle teases and hints peppered throughout are genius. I can only describe this as a joyously awful experience.
A woman is mourning the death of her mother, whom she had a strange, distant and tense relationship with. As she discovers more about her mother and who she really was, a series of horrifying events plague her family.
I think there’s a bit of a pattern here; I have picked yet another movie about a complicated family dynamic. The misunderstandings, miscommunications and emotional intensities of familial difficulties just lend so well to horror stories. I have seen this movie a few times and have cried every time because it’s also such an intense, deeply emotional movie. Toni Collette is astounding. The way this movie depicts the pain and unexpected (and unavoidable) feelings of grief is flawless. It is so raw and unmatched. As I write this I feel another rewatch is due.
1) The Borderlands
A found footage movie where a cynical priest and a technology expert (who is, quite frankly, a complete buffoon) investigate a small church that is rumoured to have been the site of a miracle. While the two roll their eyes initially, the pair soon start to experience some weird goings-on.
This movie is not talked about nearly enough. For a good quarter of the movie it’s easy to forget you’re even watching a horror – it’s just so much fun witnessing the two characters begrudgingly form an odd friendship fuelled by banter and alcohol. But when things start to get scary, my god do they get scary, and because you’re having a good time with the quips and the silliness you are completely thrown when it starts to go downhill. And the ending? I felt hollowed by it. There’s no other word to describe it. Ugh.