I get asked a lot what I think the scariest movie is, or what horror film I enjoy most. Is it about Vampires, Zombies, Leprechauns? For me, it is always the ones based in reality I enjoy. The movies that don’t rely upon a belief in supernatural or religious forces. It’s the horror films that could actually happen.
This is the original slasher film. Michael Myers is a disturbed child who gets locked away in a mental hospital after killing his sister. He then escapes to go on a killing rampage throughout his hometown. Setting aside the fact that he is unstoppable, unkillable, and possibly demonic; he’s just a guy with a knife. How terrifying is that? You could just be babysitting when all of the sudden there is a man in your living room with a cheap mask and a giant ass butcher knife.
You know why I won’t stay at small locally owned hotels? This movie. The premise is super plausible, he’s just a deranged young man who misses his mother and wants some company. When someone is unfortunate enough to spend the night at his motel, they don’t have the best chances of checking out in the morning. Again, he’s just a regular guy and he uses his ability to get in and out of his motel rooms as an easy way to kill people. And the people who stay there are totally unsuspecting and totally defenseless.
Ghosts? Fake. Demons? Fake. Sharks? REAL. In fact, there are over 500 species of shark with literally millions of them occupying our oceans. Jaws made it real, Jaws showed that a summer vacation isn’t always safe. What is even more frightening is that you typically can’t see the shark prior to the attack, or you’re so oblivious you don’t realize until it bites you. This film was so frightening that it was attributed to reduced beach attendance in 1975 and an increase in the number of shark sightings. This film set the benchmark for a summer blockbuster and more than 3 decades later still makes audiences uneasy with the thought of going for a swim.
The Saw Franchise
I love the Saw movies more than anyone, I own all of them on Blu-Ray and I’ve seen them all at least a dozen times, it’s kind of my thing. But if you ever step back for a second and think about it, this could totally happen. Someone could grab you and drug you and put you into a machine/game/trap that requires you to hurt yourself or someone you love in order to survive. How frightening is that? In most of the games, I’d almost rather be shot and have it over with quickly than be torn apart or have to dig my own eye out. This shear violence and brutality is only superseded by the notion that it is your choice and a result of your actions. On the surface it’s just gore but when the reality sinks in, it’s terrifying.
The Hills Have Eyes
Imagine you and your family are traveling across the country and you reach a backwoods town. What’s the worst that could happen? A few mosquito bites, maybe a snake or gator. Nope, murderous hillbillies who have been mutated through years of inbreeding. This film has rape, people being caught on fire, and cannibalism and it certainly seems to be all too real. After all we don’t know what happens out in the woods and who (or what) lives there. Just like Deliverance, this film preys on our fear of the unknown and the widespread belief that people who live out in the woods, cut off from society are somehow different, almost inhuman, monsters. And it’s terrifying.
Low budget films almost always seem to be scarier than their big budget counterparts especially when the plot is simple, believable, and grounded in reality. Cue this film, based very loosely on some elements of the Manson killings. The idea is simple, a couple is alone in a house in the middle of nowhere when suddenly there is a knock on the door followed by multiple sightings of people in masks. The film received a lot of negative reviews for being under-developed and not giving the characters enough backbone, among other things. For me, that’s irrelevant because this film does something very very well, it creates a feeling of dread, a feeling of “did I lock the back door?” because it forces you to consider what you would do in this situation where the characters are left with frustratingly few options. This is a so-so movie but it gets to you in a way few horror films do.
What horror movies scare you? What movies do you think could actually take place in real life? Leave your comments below!!