It’s Halloween at the weekend, whoop! I love watching scary films most weekends so Halloween is the perfect excuse for me to indulge in horror, carve a pumpkin and eat some sweets!
I love all sorts of horror films but tend to now go for psychological thrillers whereas perhaps ten years ago I may have chosen more slasher flicks. It’s by no means extensive but the below are some of my favourite scary films of all time:
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
This is probably the oldest film in my list, it’s a real classic.
Weirdly one of the bits that scares me the most is a scene that’s probably not even meant to be scary. It’s when you see people dressed up in animal suits bent over a bed in one of the hotel rooms. I hate when people are dressed in a weird costume or mask and they just stare relentlessly at you. There’s a scene in Halloween where Michael Myers does it too (actually he does that a lot), I find it really uncomfortable and creepy.
The Orphan (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2009)
I checked this out after seeing a tweet from Reece Shearsmith (writer of The League of Gentleman) saying it’s a brilliant modern day horror (I can’t remember his exact words but they were to that effect). I really respect his taste and he often tweets genuinely creepy photos or stories so thought The Orphan must be worthwhile. I’ve only seen it once – although I’m planning to watch it again this Halloween – but I remember it being very scary and had a creepy twist that I really didn’t see coming.
The Orphan; photo by Sarah_Ackerman via flickr
Insidious (James Wan, 2010)
I know many people don’t rate this film that much but I saw it at the cinema and it seriously freaked me out. There are some really jumpy bits in there and just loads of other scenes that tap into the type of things that scare me. Everyone has something that scares them and makes them think a horror film is a good one – whether it be gore, jumps or a scary soundtrack. This one just did it for me.
The Blair Witch Project (Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick, 1999)
It’s another (relatively oldie) but a goody. I remember when it came out at the cinema and no-one knew whether it was real or not. It was my first experience of the ‘found footage’ genre where it’s filmed as the point of view of a character: which makes it shaky, raw and real. The marketing campaign that accompanied the film’s release was just fantastic. It featured ‘missing’ posters for the three characters – it really brought the whole story alive. Following in the steps of Hitchcock films, you never actually see anything that scary. It’s kind of in your head and runs off the built up tension. And I think it’s that that makes it so scary. One of the scariest scenes is the final one – the very last shot where you see the man (I actually can’t remember the character’s name) with his body pressed up against the wall. It’s not even clear whether he’s dead or not. That in itself doesn’t sound scary does it?! But it’s the reaction of the woman, I can still hear her piercing screams – and that makes it so effective!
The Blair Witch; photo by Global Panorama via flickr
The Borderlands (Elliot Goldner, 2013)
To put it one way, this completely shit me up. I don’t think any other film has scared me more than this one! But I don’t know why! I watched it maybe last year with my parents and their friends (that sounds odd, doesn’t it, but I was staying with my parents and they were having a drinks and curry night round their friends’ house so I joined them). Most that I mention it to haven’t heard it – it’s a British horror (also ‘found footage’) and follows a team of filmmakers who investigate paranormal reportings in churches. It was the way this film ended that scared me. Without giving anything away, it was really weird and made little sense but that’s part of the reason it scared me – I just can’t explain it though. It was horrendous. I’m embarrassed to say that when we returned to my parents’ house I was too scared to sleep on my own afterwards (my mind plays tricks on me after I’ve got scared and I start to think about what the most scary thing that could happen would be right now and I freak myself out) and my mum had to set up a camp bed for me in my poor 15-year-old brother’s room!
You must be wondering why I still love horror films so much when I have this reaction to them. It’s not just these actual scary horror films I like though, I could also happily watch the trashy, cheap, ridiculous ones. They’re either a laugh, or they get your adrenaline going and either of those makes them fun to watch!