by David Christopher Bell
It’s almost Halloween, and so you’re contractually obligated with Satan to watch a horror movie. He takes those contracts seriously, folks. But as you go over all the countless sub-genres to watch, keep in mind that just because it’s a sub-genre of horror doesn’t mean it has to be a horror movie at all – or even fantasy.
After all, reality is way scarier. Here’s proof, listed conveniently with the horror movie tropes they echo.
8. Primal Fear – Possession
No one said that demonic possession had to be literal – in what falls closer to the courtroom thriller category, Edward Norton proved himself right out of the gate by playing a young timid man battling with an overbearing and downright evil second personality. At least that’s the premise.
And like any good possession, the change is downright startling to the point of terror – not to mention the gruesomeness of the acts committed under this infliction which are way more sinister by the end of the film.
7. Straw Dogs – Home Invasion
Even in the horror movie genre, home intruders are rarely supernatural in nature. But why they insist on wearing stupid ass masks is beyond me, especially in a film like The Purge where the whole premise is that they aren’t doing anything illegal.
Straw Dogs is one of the OGs of this horror scenario without being an actual horror film. It follows in the grounded footsteps of older movies like Night Of The Hunter with the added gang mentality and ramps up the creepy rapist factor all the way to eleven. It’s also pretty much the only chance you’ll ever get to see Dustin Hoffman take on a dude with a bear trap.
6. The Grey – Werewolves
I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that I used the word “plausible” in the premise and not “realistic.” This film being the reason for that. Still – fighting off a pack of wolves with broken bottle Wolverine claws doesn’t exactly clash with Liam Neeson’s persona – which is saying all sorts of weird things about Liam Neeson.
Anyway, it could totally happen – and my point is that it’s the closest you’re gonna get to fighting a werewolf until someone at MIT finally takes my bipedal mechano-wolf designs seriously.
5. The Edge – Monsters
Bears are fucking monsters. Like sharks, they are impossible to describe to a child without sounding like you’re just making terrible shit up. The worst part is that they are adorable while they kill you – like getting your limbs sawed off by a Muppet.
The Edge did bears pretty darn well. Then again, with its formidable posturing and fight for dominance against a group of men, it was pretty much your typical David Mamet character.
4. 127 Hours – Torture
Saw gave us a terrifying world of limb-sawing survival and perfectly good actors hamming harder than an elementary school play. 127 Hours politely pointed out that sawing your own leg off was for babies, because this other guy totally did that with a knife for real. Then it showed us exactly that.
So… yeah, fuck you, torture porn horror. For one, you’re boring. And second – girl fictionally getting her eye blowtorched < dude actually cutting his arm off. Not to mention the most horrifying moment of the film is gore free when we see Franco’s character reach for and fail to notice a perfectly sharp knife while packing at the beginning of the film.
3. The Machinist – Haunting
What is a haunting but the echo of a tormented soul trying to scare out some kind of justice? The Machinist follows a guy who is indeed haunted by just that – the death of a young boy by his hand resulting in a sinister series of hallucinations and the inability to rest at peace.
This film is a horror movie down to the tension, mysterious intrusions, and the presence of a terrifying walking skeleton.
2. The Road – Zombie Apocalypse
The Road is kind of like the movie Gravity in that it points out some common movie settings frankly don’t need any embellishment to be scary. Like the intangible terror of space, there’s no need to add to the desolate post-societal apocalypse beyond starvation and desperation. That’s as far as the Gravity comparison goes though, because Gravity is a film I’m willing to watch more than once.
It’s not that The Road is bad, just that it’s really good at being depressing.
1. No Country For Old Men – Unstoppable Slasher
Right? Chigurh is unstoppable, dead-eyed, runs on a black & white moral code, and manages to always catch up with you despite never rushing anywhere. He’s as close to Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger that a fictional character can get without crossing the realm into supernatural. Oh, and let’s not forget his ridiculously unique and horrifying weapons of choice.
How amazing would it be to see Freddy vs Jason vs Chigurh? I can’t even begin to imagine what that would be like, but I sure as shit know who would creep me out the most, friendo.