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10 Simmering Slow-burn Horror Movies to Boil Your Blood

Something’s burning on the stove, and it smells good.
Slow Burn Horror
By  · Published on October 25th, 2019

5. Audition (1999)

Audition Miike

Takashi Miike is a demented genius, and Audition is one of the most disturbing films in an oeuvre that contains over 80 feature films. The first half of the film is essentially a drama about a male TV producer and an ex-ballerina who become romantically involved with each other. He hosts fake auditions for shows, but really he’s looking for a wife. However, when he starts digging into his bride-to-be’s past, he discovers that she’s not the sweetheart he originally thought she was, and his desperation comes back to bite him in a gruesome way. (Kieran Fisher)

4. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary's Baby

There is no slower burn than a bun in the oven. Waiting for the creature growing within to burst forth into life is an agonizing pressure game. Do you have enough courage, morality, and smarts to steer this organism to a bright future? During the nine months of waiting, terror and paranoia builds while your confidence weakens. You can’t do this. You’re breeding a monster. You’re about to unleash a hell upon the earth. For Rosemary (Mia Farrow), this is all literal truth. Her seed sprung from Satan. The world around her conspired to plant it. All she can ultimately offer to the child is her love. Is that enough? In this world? Hell, no. (Brad Gullickson)

3. The Witch (2015)

The Witch

If you want to fly, you gotta grind a baby into an ointment. That takes time. The delicious life only arrives to those with the patience to wait. Robert Eggers exposes the torment of the soul as the measured bastard that it is. You don’t commit to Satan in a flash. You need to simmer on the thought. You need to consider the boil before it eventually arrives. The Witch willfully drags to its climactic decision. It asks the audience to wait so that you too have made the choice alongside Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy). Misery is a long punishing, nightmare ride. By the time the sweet words of ol’ scratch are whispered the other option isn’t an option at all. Sign me up. Let’s fly. (Brad Gullickson)

2. The Invitation (2015)

The Invitation

We’ve all been to those dinner parties from hell, but Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation takes the concept to horrifying new heights. The film starts off as a drama about Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) as they prepare for a social gathering with his ex-wife (Tammy Blanchard) and her new squeeze (Michiel Huisman). After that, things gradually escalate and the less you know about what happens the better. The Invitation is a movie that squeezes maximum tension from the simplest of moments, and it does an expert job at preying on the anxieties and pressures we face as humans. (Kieran Fisher)

1. Kill List (2011)

Kill List Screenshot

Ben Wheatley’s folk horror masterwork is a film that knows how to take its time. The film follows Jay (Neil Maskell) as he goes about his job as a hitman, becoming increasingly suspicious of a number of coincidences. Or maybe they’re not coincidences? Wheatley expertly toys with his narrative, teasing us with the potential of where this story could go. He throws out just enough ideas to keep us on the edge of our seats but never pulls back the curtain enough to confirm any single interpretation. Kill List brilliantly builds paranoia and anxiety before climaxing with a scene that must be watched to be believed. (Anna Swanson)

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)