Horror is one of the most overused and hard-to-do-well genres in film. Every year a slew of 'scary' films are pumped out into cinemas but very rarely are these films worth much, or even remotely scary. I know that everybody is scared by something different and peoples concepts of horror all vary, but I just wanted to celebrate Halloween by sharing some of the films that I find genuinely frightening.
I've been watching horror films since I was very young and they definitely make up a hefty chunk of the films I watch for fun. While this list is nowhere near extensive these are the five films that come to me every time I try to compile a list of decent horror films.
The film that made handheld cameras scary? I first watched this film when I was far too young (around 11) and thought it was boring as hell. I watched it a second time at 18 and it scared me senseless. I think this films main problem is that viewers get bored, and somewhat understandably so, as nothing truly frightening happens for great portions of the film. For me, the scariest things in films are those that aren't seen, the horrors that I come up with in my head, and The Blair Witch Project delivers these by the bucket load.
Essentially if you don't pay attention to the documentary portion of the film at the start, the interviews particularly, the real horror will never come across to you or have any effect. That final shot of the film is one of the most horrifying I've experienced, and it is all thanks to the incredible build up created in those early sequences.
I personally feel that some of the absolute best horror of recent years has come from Spain, and The Orphanage is top of the pile. This film is horrific, haunting and heart-wrenching all at once. The seemingly simple plot is actually quite complex and works on multiple levels that when fully comprehended create a wonderful story. There are scares a plenty and a great selection of creepy images to stay lodged in your head at night.
This film is on the list less for it's scariness, and more for the fact that it's a horror film that is heavily underrated. The Saw franchise has suffered a free-fall in quality ever since its first sequel, but the original is truly a masterpiece. It may be responsible for the mess that is the torture-porn sub-genre, but it is an incredibly clever film with genuinely some horrific imagery and one hell of a twist. I love this film, and I wish more people would appreciate it in spite of the slew of crappy sequels it's produced.
Another underrated gem is The Strangers. The plot is nothing groundbreaking and the acting is nothing to shout about, but first time director Bryan Bertino created some truly great horror moments in this film and some of the most effective jump scenes I've experienced. I would greatly urge people to get the extended version of the film if they can as it feels like a much more complete film, and it also features the intense silent shot of Liv Tyler being watched, which features in the trailer but oddly enough is not in the final film, and which will never stop creeping me out.
A true contender for the marmite of horror film awards is Insidious, which seems to completely polarise it's viewers opinions. Personally, it scared the crap out of me and I actually went to see it a second time at the cinema in a hopeless attempt to shake off its impact. The second half of the film may well seem like a completely different story to the first, but this film clearly tries to deliver every kind of scare you could want from a horror film and in my opinion it succeeds. Creepy children, gas masks, haunted houses, seances, monsters and cheerful-but-terrifying music. Everything is present and helps make this film a fantastic horror film worth multiple viewings.
So there you go, I don't expect anyone to agree with this list or even necessarily find these films scary but I think it's always good to see what other people think is good or worth watching, particularly within a genre as vast as horror.
What are your favourite horror films? Has anything you've watched really scared you recently?