Today I want to brainstorm a list of the best horror movies. Any era is fine. Any subject is fine. I do, however, want to make a distinction based on my own experience with horror films:
I just want them to scare me. I’ve been bored by plenty of horror movies that are mainly just gory, and I’ve been frightened by films that show no blood at all but are unbearably suspenseful or that let events unfold in just the right way so that that delicious creeping dread sets in. And there have been wonderful combinations of the two.
I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying I don’t preemptively dismiss a movie because it’s billed as violent/gory/gross.
That said, I really don’t watch that many horror movies.
Feel free to list according to whatever your own definitions and preferences are.
Here are a few of my own favorites:
The Descent (2005)
Being lost in a cave is scary. Being lost in a cave full of monsters that don’t actually show up for the first half of the movie turns out to be way scarier.
Don’t Look Now (1973)
Grief in Venice! Psychics! A little figure in a red coat that is always just out of reach! Knives! Jack Bauer’s dad!
One of two movies in which Matthew McConaughey didn’t annoy me in any way. Bill Paxton plays a father whose mission from God involves meting out justice to “demons.” But the demons look like people…because he’s crazy and they are really are just people. The most unnerving part of Frailty is that he wants his kids to participate.
Paranormal Activity (2009)
I’m a sucker for found footage movies. I saw Blair Witch opening weekend, I absolutely loved Cloverfield, I found Rec to be a wonderfully scary movie, and its sequel even managed to please, but I like Paranormal Activity better than all of these others. The premise is very simple: a couple films themselves at night while they sleep. Bad things happen in their house while they’re asleep, escalating into a memorable ending that made me laugh even though my heart was beating pretty fast.
I could go on all day–guess I watch a fair amount of horror after all…but I want to see what you guys are into as well.
I’d love to hear about your favorites.
PS: I forgot John Carpenter’s The Thing, based on the story Who Goes There? I had to mention it. A truly scary film.