With movies like Future Crimes dealing with elaborate scenes of viscera, body horror, and the subject of the human monster, horror movies seem to get more and more complicated with each passing movie. Granted, there’s undoubtedly an audience for the genre’s more complex entries, but there’s also an art to keeping things simple and straightforward.
Not all horror movies need a psychological dissertation, a drawn-out plot, or even the help of the supernatural or paranormal to be scary. Sometimes the most terrifying horror movies just need evil people doing evil things or a group of victims facing the threat of potential death and disaster.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Tobe Hooper’s slasher classic has cultivated a splashy reputation in some circles, often being considered one of the genre’s most unsettling horror films. That being said, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre really not as gruesome and gory as some viewers might suspect. However, that doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve his infamous status.
A movie about redneck cannibals turning people into barbecues is scary enough on paper, and to say that many of the movie’s famous scenes aren’t unsettling would be wrong. But it maintains that description by using a shoestring budget, creative set work and cinematography, and surprisingly little bloodshed.
If there’s one thing everyone remembers about Steven Spielberg Jaws, it is the massive shark lurking in the water. Based on the novel by Peter Benchley, the way a singular great white nearly ruined the town of Amity Island is certainly worthy of a movie.
The horror simply comes from the almost entirely invisible shark lurking in the waters. However, the real villains of the story are the mayor and his crew who don’t shut down the beaches as a hungry predator lurks in their waters. “You shout ‘shark’ and we panic on the 4th of July.” are words that condemn many swimmers to an aquatic grave.
Art imitates life, and this is a phrase that can be said exceptionally of Stephen King’s forced proximity thriller, Misery. As a reflection of the author’s struggle with a combative and critical audience, the book and film show that sometimes the biggest fans can be the harshest critics. And that’s not always a good thing.
Misery falls on the shoulders of two people, Paul Sheldon (James Caan) and Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). Annie is a deranged fan of her favorite author’s work, and she proceeds to have him write for her life after reading the manuscript for her latest novel. It’s such a simplistic storyline, but it conjures up some of the creepiest performances in the genre.
To Catch a Killer (1992)
Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, and the movie To catch a killer is a great example. This horror TV movie doesn’t rely on graphic depictions of violence and nudity, nor does it need a deranged Kathy Bates or a giant shark. All he has to do is reveal the true story of the John Wayne Gacy case to a captivated audience.
Although presented primarily as a biographical account of a true crime case, the film presents the case in a way that would be ideal for a dramatic horror production. Simply put, this is a film version of one of the most terrifying crimes in American history.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Similar to the previous entry, Thesilenceofthelambs is based on real FBI cases. Although this one is horror movie first and crime drama second, it feels more grounded in reality with its use of forensic agents, investigative techniques, and focus on the nature of crime. plot that solves the crime.
It’s the sense of reality that keeps this film from going too far. Thomas Harris pulled out of the Ed Gein case, after all. Even with Anthony Hopkins’ unforgettable portrayal of Hannibal Lecter, this is still a grounded production that’s just scary enough to maintain its horror status.
Would You Rather (2012)
would you rather takes the human drives of money, fear, and hunger, and combines them into an incredibly unsettling dinner party that will have many viewers squirming in their seats. It’s one thing to see a masked maniac inflict violence on a pitiful victim, but quite another to see them do it themselves.
The film is like a more restrained and tasteful film Seen, as a sadistic benefactor played by Jeffery Combs invites a set of cash-strapped victims to play his own game of death for his twisted amusement. Semi-realistic, but embellished enough to justify the need for incredibly stylish performance.
silence could be seen as what would happen if Mike Flanagan were directing John Carpenter Halloween. It takes the essential elements of a masked killer and a last girl alone at home, but places them in a film that plays with the audience’s senses of sight and sound in a way that only heightens the intensity of a home invasion.
The film’s protagonist, Maddie, is deaf, and the film’s audible surroundings use her to convey her surroundings and fears. It’s a sensory cat-and-mouse game that relies on atmosphere rather than spectacle to achieve its fear factor. Escape is the name of the game.
The Devil All the Time (2020)
As stated earlier, sometimes the scariest horror movies are about evil people doing evil things. the devil all the time is a Southern Gothic that deals with exactly that, and viewers basically have their pick of twisted stories about a variety of unsavory characters in the American South.
Serial killers and sinister ministers are the order of the day in this star-studded Netflix original, all tied to brilliant storytelling and little to no reliance on jumpscares, pimps, or special effects. At its core, it’s a character study of twisted individuals and the crimes they commit. All the audience can do is sit and watch.
Green Room (2015)
The idea of a punk-rock band talking to a bunch of neo-Nazis in a rotten old bar might sound like a gripping action movie on paper, but green room delivers truly compelling and biting terror as the group fights for survival.
The simple nature of the plot is a bad place bad time storyline with a bunch of people killing first and asking questions later. The reality of the threat is what really sells the story, even if it does feature a truly terrifying performance from Sir Patrick Stewart.
My Friend Dahmer (2017)
Based on the graphic novel of the same name, My friend Dahmer opens the curtain and serves as the comic book origin story for one of America’s most infamous serial killers. Both the novel and the film come from the real-life story of John “Derf” Backderf, who grew up and went to school with Dahmer as a young man.
The horror comes from both the psychological terror presented in the film and the knowledge of Dahmer’s fate. Watching the disturbing and unstable young man who would go on to commit his infamous murder spree is like watching a bomb fuse burn, knowing it’s only a matter of time.
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