It’s that time of the year again (no, not christmas) but Halloween! Time to get dressed up in the sluttiest outfit you can find and go out looking for candy (or alcohol, whatever floats your boat).
But, if you’re like us, you might want to stay in in your PJs and scare yourself silly with a horror film. We’ve reviewed our favourite horror films (or least favourite whichever way you look at it) so that you don’t have to waste Halloween deliberating which film to watch…
Ok, so it’s not exactly the scariest film ever, you won’t have to sleep with the light on or beg your roommate to let you sleep in their room for the night, but Rosemary’s Baby is seriously creepy.
When Rosemary, played by Mia Farrow, becomes mysteriously pregnant her husband and neighbours are overjoyed, but she cannot help feel that there is something more sinister at play…
Although the special effects of the film may take away from fear factor and even appear somewhat humorous for a modern viewer, Rosemary’s psychological battle is truly terrifying for me.
In most horror films, I usually want the main character to die within the first 20 minutes, not because I find their death scenes entertaining, but because the characters’ sheer stupidity drives me crazy (like seriously, when has exploring an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere been a good idea?). In Rosemary’s Baby, however, I have a great deal of sympathy for Rosemary.
Whilst she is at points naïve, the supernatural forces in the film are beyond her control and quickly wade way for her descent into madness. Farrow’s innocent portrayal of Rosemary creates a connection with the audience, which makes her paranoia more disturbing as the audience feel as though they are slowly losing their loveable heroine.
Roman Polanski, the director, also makes the world in which Rosemary inhabits equally frightening, as the Gothic buildings of the city provide a dark and unsettling backdrop for the events that follow.
When this is then combined with the eerie lullaby sung by Farrow herself and the subtly of the acting, it creates the perfect atmosphere for a great horror film.
The tinkling of champagne flutes, as long-forgotten revellers drink and dance the night away. Bursts of noise, as a plastic tricycle rolls between the hardwood floor and one of the most famous carpets in cinema. The muffled silence of a drawn-out, isolated winter as a father’s sanity slowly unravels.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining doesn’t just make you jump. The slow-burning first half allows the dread to really marinate, so that when the denouement picks up the pace, the fear has already been instilled into the crevices of your mind.
That might sound rather hyperbolic, but there are several instances where The Shining gets your heart racing.
One such instance, maybe the most well known of the film, is when Jack Torrance, played brilliantly by Jack Nicholson and his terrifying eyebrows, hacks down a door using an axe. Shelley Duvall’s reaction, while somewhat excessive, is still appropriate.
Personally, however, my favourite scene is slightly more underrated, but equally as chilling, if not more so: two men (one a psychopathic murderer, the other his protégé, Torrance) discuss how to “correct” their families.
The nostalgic music in the background coupled with some intentionally confusing editing makes for a truly unsettling moment in Torrance’s descent into madness.
Perhaps the reason why The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King, resonates so strongly with audiences is because of its origins as an exploration of King’s own deepest fears, namely becoming a father and accidentally harming his child.
Although this backstory, which is heavily emphasised in the book, is lost in the translation to the big screen, the point still remains.
The most disturbing kind of horror is one that comes from within the human subconscious, and that is why The Shining stays with you long after the credits roll.
Horror has, through the years, garnered widespread acclaim for being one of cinema’s most multifaceted and eclectic genres. The amount of sub-genres that spawned from classic horror flicks are immeasurable, from psychological horror all the way to science fiction horror.
The one category of horror that has by far sold more tickets around the world than any other is the slasher film. We all know the names, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween; even the most illiterate of horror fans knows about these slasher franchises.
That is the reason why there will likely never come a day when some half-assed, low budget remake to these movies is not being produced, though probably for some straight to DVD distributor.
From here stems the problem. Although the 80s were filled with slasher films that gave the genre an immense amount of power in Hollywood (the remnants of which we still feel today), by the time the 90s came around, people had discovered the one crucial flaw in this type of movie: the lack of originality.
Unoriginal premises have been known to kill franchises for decades, and the clearest exhibit of this is the slasher film. Audiences never thought they were going to be surprised by a slasher film ever again… and then 1996 came around and Scream premiered. Audiences were proven wrong.
If you’ve ever seen the original Scream you understand what I’m talking about. For all two of you that haven’t: imagine a slasher film that is equal parts as bloody as it is satirical, that tries to fit within the slasher formula while at the same time has characters that openly mock it, and with a killer (Ghostface) that is as absurd as he is terrifying.
It sound paradoxical and an impossible feat, yet Scream manages to balance all these elements simultaneously.
Of course comedy in horror is not something Scream invented, the prime example being Evil Dead 2, but no one was prepared for the scene where Randy Meeks stands in front of a handful of drunk, horny teenagers and details the rules to surviving a horror film.
Rule number 1: don’t have sex, rule number 2: you can never drink or do drugs (the sin factor, it’s an extension of number 1), and most importantly, rule number 3: under no circumstances say “I’ll be right back” because you won’t.
Audiences at the time were not entirely sure how to react to a film so blatantly trying to fit a certain genre that it also blatantly calls out. It was part meta, part satirical, there really was no clear way to describe it. It was simply Scream. “You push the laws, and you end up dead”.
And the crazy thing is, Scream could be argued to be in part responsible of the subsequent revival of many slasher franchises. It educated people on the right mindset to have when watching a slasher, not as a film taking itself too seriously, but as a cult classic that people love for its strengths as much as for its clear flaws.
There are scarier films for sure, but in my opinion no other horror film has ever been as unexpected and genre shaping as the original Scream.
Media Sourced from AmazonAdvisor, PopHorror, Intermountain Healthcare and Forbes