On and around Halloween, most of us love to embrace the weird, disturbed, and downright terrifying as we get into the spooky season. I say, “most of us”. I’m sure I’m not alone in the world in being a big girl’s blouse when it comes to scary stuff and avoiding it like a vampire would avoid daylight. I have been known to get scared by walking around my house with the lights out, so opening the door to a teenager dressed as Freddy Krueger, demanding sweets or I shall receive a wicked trick, is not my cup of tea.
However, I am a fan of interesting, weird, slightly creepy imagery in film. For example, I really enjoyed the look of Pan’s Labyrinth, even if I wasn’t bothered much by the plot. With that in mind I have recently braved the fear to watch some horror films, and I have been pleasantly surprised by some of them.
So maybe you are nervous about horror, are a horror virgin or you’re just looking for some recommendations this Halloween. Here are five horror recommendations from a non-horror watcher, to other fellow scaredy cats.
The Invisible Man (2020)
This science fiction, psychological horror film is genuinely a great piece of cinema, all horror worries aside. The Invisible Man follows the abused and controlled Cecilia Kass (played by Elisabeth Moss) as she escapes her tormenting boyfriend. He commits suicide, but she then begins to have some creepy things happen to her that she believes is being caused by an invisible man.
There are some fantastic “jump scares” in this and really interesting camera work as well. For example, there are multiple instances of the camera panning to the corner of the room or a chair and you are left wondering, is there somebody there? Did that just move on its own? Is Cecilia going crazy? There are fantastic builds of tension, unexpected happenings, and excellent acting throughout the casting. A truly excellent film.
Ready Or Not (2019)
Ready Or Not follows Margot Robbie look alike, Grace (played by Samara Weaving) as she marries into the very wealthy board game tycoon family, the Le Domases. However, after the wedding, it is a tradition for the family to play a game drawn at random. If Hide and Seek is drawn, the family begins to show its dark, violent side.
I loved this film. I thought it was really funny but with the right amount of danger and peril. I found myself really rooting for the main character and there are some enormously satisfying scenes in the film. There is some gore and detail of injuries in this movie but I promise you, Ready Or Not is hilarious.
Alien is the story of a group of space travellers that get awoken from stasis on their way back to Earth by the ship’s computer to investigate a possible distress signal. What ensues is what I would describe as a futuristic space haunted house movie.
Many people might not necessarily call Alien a horror film, perhaps a thriller instead. It is listed though as a science fiction horror film, which I completely agree with. I’d say it wasn’t particularly scary anymore, especially as the main, iconic jump scare scene is one many people who have never seen the film would know was coming from pop culture references.
Despite it suffering from the slow beginnings of many older films and having pre-credits (pre-credits being the truly disgusting part of any film they are included in), the visuals stand up excellently and the film is very watchable, even 41 years after its release. There aren’t many science fiction or horror films of the time that have aged as well as this one. Truly a landmark of cinema and one everyone should try and watch at least once, even if it turns out not to be for you.
The Cabin In The Woods (2011)
The Cabin In The Woods is a horror-comedy which follows a group of college students as they stay in a cabin in the woods (if you hadn’t guessed by the title). Some scary goings-on happen, the students begin to act strangely and all the while, the strings are being pulled by a nefarious, disgustingly evil couple of lab workers.
This film is a truly original, clever piece of story writing. I had no idea what was going to happen throughout the film, and it had me in stitches multiple times. I didn’t have any clue what to expect when watching this movie, so every moment was a great surprise. To do a completely new, innovative take on an already bulging genre is quite some feat. It’s funny but also not too scary, so perfect for us horror wimps.
Stephen King is regarded by many to be the king of modern horror fiction, so this adaptation of his novel of the same name was a pretty much a guaranteed box office success. Derry, in Maine, has a problem with an evil being called Pennywise, the ever so slightly creepy, mystical clown. It is up to a group of young losers to face their fears and confront Pennywise.
Apart from Alien and other films that are almost, but not quite, horror films (such as Jaws), It is probably the first film that eased my reluctance to put myself through two hours of something designed to try and scare me. Visually it is outstanding, and I would say this was probably the “scariest” of the films on this list. There are some good jump scares, excellent acting from the young cast and Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgård, is a truly iconic performance. There are two scenes in particular that I like, which include a scene where the kids are watching a projector do some strange things and a shot of Pennywise uncurling himself out of a fridge.
Honestly, do not be worried too much about watching a horror film if you are nervous. I am the biggest coward you are likely to meet, so if I can take it, so can you. Many horror films are not that scary, just visually creepy, which I often find very interesting and artistic. Sure, there are some that I wished I hadn’t seen because they were just a bit too much for me, such as Midsommar. Many of the older “classic” horror films can also be a bit slow and tame for a modern audience, but on the whole, it is a genre that deserves a chance. Especially at this time of year.
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