By Lauren Harding
Halloween; that time of the year when the movie industry ramps up their horror film releases and chocolate is discounted in the supermarkets. It’s a winning combination for any movie goer. So why not grab the Maltesers and some friends and watch some of these terrifying films…. If you dare!
1. Hereditary (2018)
This film, which stars Toni Collette as a mother who has a family history of mental illnesses, frightened me. For Ari Aster’s directional debut, Hereditary had the tension building creep factor that is missing from so many horror films of late. Aster uses the scenery and lighting to his advantage by carefully keeping things in the shadows and out of range, alerting your senses and raising tension.
As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly terrifying until the final act, where the climax will keep you on the edge of your seat, and horrified. Hereditary, why I now need to have a security blanket.
2. The Babadook (2014)
This Australian supernatural horror film, and feature debut of writer and director Jennifer Kent, is deeply sinister. A simple plot follows a despondent widow (Amelia), whose insomniac son is terrified of the Babadook monster from a children’s book. The film questions if this a fabrication of the over imagination of a child or the decline of Amelia’s mental state and reality.
This movie, to simply put, is disturbing. Scenes from the film are chilling and the dysfunction of this little family is traumatising. It is an insidious film, cleverly acted and paced, and is the reason why I will never buy a pop-up book again!
3. The VVitch (2015)
A period picture with horror elements, the directional debut of Robert Eggers follows a Puritan family who settle near a forest where something sinister lurks in the woods. This is a slow building film with horrifying tension of biblical proportions. The setting is atmospheric and the building despair and isolation is tangible. It’s not suitable for those who prefer a fast-paced violent horror; the beauty of this film is the building dread as the tragedies unfold. I highly recommend The VVitch, it is an astounding, unique horror, and why I no longer play peek-a-boo.
4. The Visit (2015)
M. Night Shyamalan’s horror film follows a documentary of two teenagers meeting their estranged grandparents for the first time on their isolated farm. And then, things get weird and dark. Are the grandparents just elderly and addle-brained, or is there something more disturbing in their behaviour?
This film is surprisingly fun, the brother Tyler provides interjections of great humour, the actors are perfectly cast, especially the grandparents. The lack of music and sound effects enhances the film, making it feel realistic; that you are watching found footage. The Visit, why I never leave my bedroom after 9:30pm.
5. The Conjuring (2013) & The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Double trouble; I can’t watch one without following up with the other. The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 follow demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren as they travel and help families who are being plagued by the supernatural. Directed by the talented James Wan (Saw), these two films are both satisfyingly good horrors.
Wan creates a terrifying atmosphere and sense of foreboding with his carefully selected settings and antagonists. Both films are creepy and use different, yet simple, tricks to unnerve the audience. The Conjuring films, eerie and well plotted horrors and the reason why I won’t ever touch a musical box.
6. Insidious (2010)
From the evil duo who brought you Saw, this film is directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell. Insidious was one of the unexpected terrifying movies of 2010. A supernatural horror which centres on a family where the son mysteriously falls into a coma, whose body is slowly being possessed by ghosts in an astral realm. I would watch this for the creepy setting that is ‘The Further’, a horror maze-like purgatory.
The film is enhanced through using prosthetics, props and lighting to create the atmosphere, ghosts and great jump-scares; the lack of CGI is what makes the film feel authentic. Insidious; the film that makes me never want to hear the eerie notes of ‘Tiptoe Through The Tulips’ again.
7. Hush (2016)
Two words; Final girl. This slasher film is a unique take on the final girl cliché, where scream queen actress Kate Siegel (from Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, Occulus and Ouija: Origin of Evil) plays a deaf author, Maddie, who lives alone in isolated woods. One night she is terrorised by a masked man and so begins a cat and mouse game of survival. The genius part of this film is the location and setting, the open plan cabin and darkened woods are perfect for intensifying the tension.
Maddie’s thought process and lack of resources against the armed intruder provide suspense for the audience; how will Maddie make it out alive? I found Hush scary and it provides enough blood to sate this horror fan, without overdoing it. Hush, the reason why I will never live alone remotely!
8. Evil Dead (2013)
This remake by Fede Alvarez in his directorial debut is a supernatural horror that saturates the audience with brutal terror and gruesome scares. Evil Dead follows the same plotline as the original, a group of friends go to a cabin in a remote forest (to assist a recovering drug addict this time) and unintentionally awaken evil. While this remake lacks the campiness and humour of the low-budget originals, it makes up for it with suspense, graphic, bloody-horror, sound effects, make-up/prosthetics (minimal CGI), setting and atmosphere.
There is a surprise twist in the final act which is refreshing for a remake and the lead actress Jane Levy is superb as the devilish Mia. Evil Dead; a brilliant horror and why I have nightmares.
9. Don’t Breathe (2016)
Fede Alvarez frightened us with Evil Dead (2013) and his follow up film Don’t Breathe is as terrifying and suspenseful as his directional debut. When thieves break into a house of a blind man with a massive fortune, they encounter more than they bargained for. Alvarez and Jane Levy team up again and deliver what is a simple thriller plot, but with suspenseful high tension and great acting in scenes that are just sickening.
While there is minimal horror within this film, the parts that are intended to horrify chill you to the soul. This film does rely less on gore and bloody scares, but the thriller cat and mouse elements between the blind man and the thieves are terrifying. Don’t Breathe, why you will never want to touch a turkey baster again.
10. Lights Out (2016)
Lights Out is directed by David F. Sandberg, based on his short film, also named Lights Out (2013). It focuses on a dysfunctional family who are being haunted by an entity that can only be seen in the dark. It is an effective scary film, well shot with great suspense and shocking jump scares.
The writing behind this film is strong, where the characters are resourceful. The cinematography, setting and lighting to create this suspenseful supernatural horror are produced well. Lights Out, the reason I sleep with a night light on.
Already watched everything on the list? Then check out Mama (2013), IT (2017), Occulus (2013) and It Follows (2014), all four have major creep factor, supernatural thrills and chills with strong female leads.
Know any fantastic horror films from this decade that Lauren has left out? Let us know about it in the comments!
Lauren Harding is The Pioneer Australia’s resident Scream Queen. She loves nothing more than turning off the lights and flicking on a scary movie to watch with her husband and two dogs, developing new phobias from those movies, then repeating the process over and over again!