Paranormal Activity

31 Days of Halloween: 13 Horror Movies That Will Definitely Leave a Scar

October is finally upon us which means it’s officially horror movie season! What better way to kick off a month-long celebration of fear than to recount some of the most traumatizing horror films ever made? I can’t think of any! Enjoy!

13.) Don’t Breathe

Stephen Lang stars in Screen Gems' horror-thriller DON'T BREATHE.

Among other things (which I won’t delve into for fear of spoilers), this film plays with our fear of disabled folks. What begins as a tense reverse-home invasion thriller quickly devolves into something much more sinister. What is the Blind Man capable of? Initially you’ll find yourself thinking “Those kids broke into the guy’s home. They deserve this.” However, once the Blind Man’s secrets are uncovered and the now-infamous scene hits, you may find yourself shouting “Holy crap! Nobody deserves this!”

12.) The Hills Have Eyes


In these circumstances, I typically include the year of release to distinguish an original film from a potential remake. I’m not doing that here. Both Wes Craven’s 1977 original and Alexandre Aja’s 2006 remake push the envelope of unrelenting gore and uncomfortable social commentary. Shocking hyper-violence, mutant inbreeding and baby-napping highlight these savage and unpleasant pulp outings. There’s nothing worse than an interrupted vacation.

11.) Paranormal Activity


Paranormal Activity is a simple film about a newlywed couple moving into a haunted house. The husband happens to be a videophile so the whole film is shot like a homemade movie. As is usually the case with demons, it’s what the couple doesn’t see that frightens them (and us). The manipulation of sound to illicit disembodied footsteps or growling in the blinding dark is paralyzing and the supernatural bedlam only builds from there. Good luck getting some shuteye after this one.

10.) HellraiserHR

Is too much of a good thing a bad thing? That’s the question horror novelist Clive Barker explores in his evocative directorial debut. A man seeking unearthly pleasures solves a mysterious Chinese puzzle box only to discover he’s opened a portal to Hell. Appropriately, every frame is dominated by an unsavory sense of foreboding. Grotesquely detailed production design and sadistic torture sequences will have your stomach churning. This film has such sights to show you.

9.) Hostel


Horror fanatic Eli Roth has never been one to shy away from a little blood and guts. Or a lot of it. That’s exactly what he has in store for you with this terrifying tale of a band of American college students who’re lured to a human chop shop whilst backpacking across Eastern Europe. Believe it or not, the grisly dismemberment that ensues isn’t what will stick with you. It’s the idea that, for the right price, ordinary citizens can and will pay for the privilege (I guess?) of committing unspeakable acts on strangers. It’s a horror that, unfortunately, seems less and less ridiculous every day.

8.) Teeth


If more schools showed Teeth in sex ed class, I guarantee there’d be less teenage promiscuity. Based on the folk tale of the vagina dentata, this quirky horror film follows the sexual awakening of one very special teenage girl. It works a fascinating feminist spin on the typical genre motifs while serving as a grave and bloody reminder that one can never be too careful when it comes to intimacy.

7.) The Last House on the Left (1972)


Before he revitalized the horror genre with Scream or haunted our sleep in A Nightmare On Elm Street, Master of Horror Wes Craven shocked the world with The Last House On the Left. Unlike his more iconic work, the antagonists in this film are (for lack of a better word) ordinary people. Its infamous brutality against its teenage protagonists is raw and realistic. This film is the reason parents tell their kids not to talk to strangers.

6.) The Exorcist


The Exorcist speaks to our timeless fear of the unknown and our inability to protect ourselves from that which we do not fully understand. One’s heart can’t help but ache for Chris while she’s helplessly sidelined as her daughter’s body and spirit are ravaged by an otherworldly evil. Levitation, deformation, evacuation, and masturbation á la crucifix make for some strong imagery that you’ll need an exorcist to unsee. This film earns its reputation as one of the scariest movies ever made.

5.) The Descent


The Descent is actually two taut horror flicks in one centered around a gaggle of girlfriends who get lost while spelunking in an unmarked cave system. The first half works as a psychologically distressing exploitation of claustrophobia, which could have worked as its own film. Then, out of nowhere, things take a bloody turn for the worse as the girls collide with a vicious pack of devolved humanoids. The resulting splatterfest will surely satisfy those audience members looking for an edgier, more physical fright. This film’s got something for everybody!

4.) Raw


Raw isn’t a gory bloodbath. Like Teeth, this is a dark coming of age film about a vegan who develops a taste for her fellow classmates during her first year of veterinarian school. As sickening as cannibalism is on its own terms, what’s tragic about Raw is how it slowly it sneaks into this girl’s everyday life and devours (literally) her closest relationships. She can’t help herself. She has the need to feed and those urges manifest in raw and unsettling ways, including that revolting finger scene. For those fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. Yuckie!

3.) Goodnight Mommy


There is no closer a bond than that between a mother and her children. That’s where the horror of Goodnight Mommy lies. A luxurious house surrounded by cornfields is where nine-year-old twin brothers await their mother’s return from reconstructive surgery. Upon her return, the brothers notice mommy isn’t quite herself. That sets the stage for the mounting, unforgettable horror that ensues. Goodnight Mommy examines miscommunication as well as the dark underbelly of imagination and never lets up on its slow build. Looks like mommy won’t be getting any sleep tonight!

2.) The Mist


With television shows like 11/22/63 or feature films like It or Gerald’s Game, 2017 has been a strong year for Stephen King adaptations. However, they’re hardly the first successful translations of the famous author’s works to screen. Frank Darabont is the filmmaker behind some of the most praised examples, including The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and, of course, The Mist. The latter works as a frightening creature feature and a powerful commentary on desperation. Then, of course, there’s that ending, which will hover over you like a dark cloud for the rest of your moviegoing days.

1.) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)


The 1970’s gave us some of the most brutal horror films ever made; perhaps none more so than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Tobe Hooper’s low-budget exercise in unrestrained ferocity is as transgressive as it is nauseating. Furniture made from bones, masks made of human flesh, and a family of cannibalistic hillbillies are just a few  of the mortifying secrets hidden within the walls of the Hewitts house. ‘Texas Chainsaw’ inspired decades of uncompromising exploitation flicks and still stands as the golden standard to this day.

Those are my thirteen horror films that will definitely leave a scar. What do you think of my list? And which horror films have emotionally shattered through the years? Let me know in the comments below!


The Best Recent Horror Movie Prequels

Speaking in general terms, prequels get a bad rap and that seems to go double for horror prequels. This weekend sees the release of Annabelle: Creation, the prequel to Annabelle, which itself is a prequel to The Conjuring. If social media is any indication, it seems many have prematurely dismissed the forthcoming origin despite its official release still two days out.

It’s tough, though, to blame potential moviegoers for a lack of enthusiasm on their part regarding a second Annabelle movie. Sure the original scared up huge box office success, but the film was critically panned and nobody since has been clamoring for another go-around with the world’s creepiest doll.

Thankfully, recent history is on our side. No longer does a horror movie prequel automatically mean a horrible film. In fact, some have gone on to be better films than the original. Here are five recent examples of great prequels to horror films.

5. Insidious: Chapter 3


Horror Master James Wan is a household name. After establishing two mega-popular tent poles (Saw and The Conjuring) and refueling another (Furious 7), he should be. But not every swing is a hit, even for great filmmakers. Insidious: Chapter 2 is a critical stain on Wan’s otherwise beloved resume. It left such a sour taste in audiences’ mouths that the third chapter shares so few ties with the first two installments, with of course the exception of Lin Shaye, who is an absolute delight as the series’ psychic. By stepping away from recognizable names and faces of Insidious and focusing on a new family while keeping a tight leash on tension, this prequel has breathed new life into these movies. Bring on Chapter Four!

4. Final Destination 5


Where is a franchise to go following a fourth film called The Final Destination? Back to the beginning, of course! As it turns out, not such a bad call for the Final Destination franchise. While Final Destination 5 doesn’t do anything to win over new audiences, hardcore horror heads will no doubt revel in the prequel’s tongue-in-cheek sense of mischief and its effectively silly application of 3D technology. What’s more, ‘FD5′ features some of the series’ most ludicrous and memorable deaths (see: acupuncture Buddha and gymnastics splat-tastics).

3. Prometheus


Prometheus is undoubtedly one of the most polarizing films to come out of the last decade. Many moviegoers praised Director Ridley Scott for imaginatively exploring new possibilities within the Alien universe and an equal number of people criticize the filmmaker for unnecessarily squatting over his cherished property (hence Ridley “Squat”). By its inclusion on this list, I’m sure you’ve already surmised that I tend to hang my hat on the former. That wasn’t always the case, though. Prior to Alien: Covenant, I thought Prometheus was a pretentious cash grab that promised answers but ultimately left me with more questions. After seeing where Ridley Scott plans to take the series, I’ve since changed my tune and see this film as the first act of a larger story featuring Michael Fassbender’s David, who is slowly becoming one of modern cinema’s greatest villains.

2. Paranormal Activity 3


The original Paranormal Activity reinvigorated the found footage horror fad that lasted the better part of a decade. Paranormal Activity 2 was just more of the same. Instead of giving the same ol’ situation one more try, the third installment straight up jumps back to the eighties to explore the haunting of its lead heroines as young material girls living in a material world. The lack of contemporary tech forced Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost to roll with it and craft once in a lifetime scares. The result was a truly terrifying thriller.

1. Ouija: Origin of Evil


Prequels are the life support systems of the horror genre. They’re a studio’s attempt to keep a lucrative franchise alive. Typically, that involves upping the ante on whatever the gruesome gimmick of that particular series is at the expense of coherent, compelling storytelling. Director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) managed to achieve both with his prequel to the dumpster fire that is Ouija. Through the course of a deliberately paced slow burn, Flanagan simultaneously builds his characters and his scares. Consequently, ‘Origin of Evil’ is as tender as it is frightening and a decided improvement over the first film.

There you have it. Good horror movie prequels do exist and we’ve been fortunate to get as many as we’ve had the past few years. Speaking for Annabell: Creation, David F. Sandberg showed us he knows original horror when he put out last year’s Lights Out. Plus he recently landed the Shazam! gig, so James Wan isn’t the only visionary who thinks Sandberg’s capable of creatively spinning existing material.

Let us know what you all thought about our list in the comments section below and be sure to include your list of best horror movie prequels.

9 Films That Justified the Found Footage Craze

After Blair Witch‘s disappointing box office run last year, the found footage fad has seemingly died down. This might be music to the ears of the many film fans who had grown weary of the overused trope, but it wasn’t all just shaky noise. Before Phoenix Forgotten once again sours moviegoers’ tastes this weekend, let’s take a moment to honor those films that justified the bygone found footage craze.

9.) The Visit


To many, this film marks the beginning of the Shyamalanissance (you’re welcome): the reemergence of writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, whose reputation as “The Next Spielberg” infamously soured following the critical and financial flop that was The Last Airbender. It’s also Shyamalan’s foray into found footage and a solid thriller at that. Yes, you see Shyamalan’s signature twist coming from miles out, but what elevates this movie above the mass of forgettable found footage films is its charming self-awareness. It has fun with its premise and in turn the audience has fun.

8.) Unfriended


While The Visit feeds off our fears of growing old, Unfriended gets its kicks from the new. It puts a scary spin on relatively recent technology like laptops, webcams, and social media. Not only does this make for some pretty innovative aesthetics, but the filmmakers take advantage of the medium to effectively stack the tension as the film builds towards its bonkers conclusion. There is also a deeper layer of horror hiding just beneath the surface scares, particularly for millennials.

7.) V/H/S


Not only is V/H/S one of the most creative, creepy horror anthologies out there, but it’s also one of the best films to come out of the found footage craze. It benefits from being split into a handful of short stories, which means you don’t spend too much time on one thing. Each film introduces its horrifying hook and splits before you get bogged down in too much exposition. It also helps that these shorts are helmed by the rising stars in the genre, such as Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) and Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers).

6.) Paranormal Activity 2


The original Paranormal Activity may not have been the first found footage film, but it was the film that set off the craze in the late 2000’s. Arguably, Paranormal Activity 2 is a better film. It successfully lead the franchise in new directions. It expanded the single shaky cam premise from the first film and introduced security cams that were set up around the house. This allowed for the exploration of the family dynamic in new, exciting ways (let’s not forget about the poor baby!). It also paved the road for some of the most iconic scares, not just in the series, but in found footage as a whole.

5.) What We Do in the Shadows


Who said a found footage horror flick can’t be funny? This quirky comedy centers around a flat of vampire mates who are desperately trying to fit in with the contemporary social climate. It’s your typical fish-out-of-water story but with a supernatural twist. Their failures result in some hysterical hijinks but there’s something ultimately charming about their undying (pun intended) persistence. Indeed, these guys are fun to watch and easy to root for despite their complicated natures. Though they live in the shadows, they’re moral dilemmas are not so black, nor white.

4.) The Last Exorcism


This film puts an interesting religious spin on the seemingly played out “recording an exorcism” thing. Patrick Fabian gives a strong performance as Cotton Marcus, an evangelical minister who lost his faith long ago but continues to prey upon the religious beliefs of the families he exorcises by charging them to perform fake, theatrical exorcisms. Before retiring, he gets a letter in the mail from a family desperately seeking to exorcise their daughter. Marcus takes the job on the premise it will be his last exorcism. From there his faith is challenged by the increasingly insane Hell he and his camera crew endure. It’s one half intriguing character study, one half terrifying thrill ride.

3.) Creep


This film is, well, creepy. Like The Last Exorcism, Creep too functions as an eerie character study. Mark Duplas gives a chilling, charismatic performance as a socially awkward but seemingly solicitous individual who employs the services of an amateur videographer for the purpose of shooting a documentary about his “life.” As events unfold in their palatably plodding manner, it becomes clear that Duplas is harboring sinister intentions. Every time I was sure I knew where this movie was going, the narrative took a sharp, 90 degree turn. And the ultimate ending left me shockingly stupefied and wanting to know more.

2.) The Blair Witch Project


This movie gets a lot of love and deservedly so. Even after sixteen years, this bare-bones thriller still holds up. It features a simple setup and arguably three of the most deceptively plain performances ever. The kids look and act like kids. Even as the film takes its time building towards its now iconic finish, it’s difficult not to be hooked by the mythology. Every town has a haunted house (or forest) with a darkly fascinating history. Naturally, tales about these locations are handed down through the generations to the point where it’s difficult to separate what’s fact from fiction. In the end, though, the actual events, whatever may have truthfully transpired, are a moot point. It’s what we imagine those events to be that enamor us. The Blair Witch Project exploits this tradition to haunting effect.

1.) End of Watch


It’s strange to think of the found footage craze and not think horror. I mean, just look at this list. Alas, the best film to come out of the fad was End of Watch. It’s the crime thriller that put Director David Ayer (Fury, Suicide Squad) on the map. It features two career-highlighting performances from both Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as partner cops who have a gut-wrenching run-in with the cartel. Equally gruesome and gripping, End of Watch represents the pinnacle of the found footage craze and will stay with you long after the credits roll.

What do you think of our list? Which ones did we get right and which ones would you swap out? Let us know in the comments below!