Halloween is upon us. The nights are drawing in. Our cinemas are haunted by modern horrors such as The Babadook and Annabelle. Fear not, however, for you needn’t venture out into the dark to get your scare on. Here are just five of our recommendations to get you cowering behind the sofa.
Suspiria is a rare breed of horror; a film laced with such relentless dread that once it crawls beneath your skin in the opening act it remains there, clawing away at the back of your mind, long after the final credits roll.
The first act is one of the great moments of horror; Dario Argento’s bold and disarmingly colourful mise-en-scene practically drips with blood behind the murderous opening set-piece, thus preparing the viewer for a merciless and decidedly Kafkaesque descent into a true cinematic nightmare that incessantly pricks away at the viewer’s sanity. A certified horror classic.
A 34 year old horror that has lost none of its bite; Argento’s giallo masterpiece is a unnerving phantasmagoria that conjures genuine fear in its first act, and carefully sustains it across the entirety of its run-time. Backed by a disquieting yet iconic score courtesy of ’70s prog-rockers Goblin, Suspiria remains a blood-splattered staple of the genre that is not for the faint of heart.
Profound, violent, emotional and frightening; a list of adjectives that many films wish for but few achieve. Aliens’ all-encompassing magnificence stems from a reluctance to settle for adequacy as it aims and succeeds in reaching for the highest echelons of filmmaking.
Sublime effects, paralysing terror and an emotional poignancy that ensures the relentless panic and fear never cause indifference. Led by the formidable Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, the film marries non-stop action with adventure, sci-fi, and horror with unnerving ease and deftness.
An iconic and horrifying master class of filmmaking for all to admire and aspire to.
THE THING (1982)
“I don’t know who to trust…” – Wilford Brimley
John Carpenter’s pulp-horror adaptation, The Thing feeds on paranoia, enclosure, and the “squishy” reds of a Lovecraftian vision.
Make-up artist Rob Bottin’s paste and latex fuelled xeno-grotesques find brilliant contrast with Carpenter’s coldly achromatic industrial isolation, effectively marking order and chaos with universally “trusted” visual signifiers.
However, much to The Thing’s underlying themes, this casually accepted exclusivity continually, and with great purpose, begins to merge the alien and familiar, effectively destroying the symbolically established elements of trust built into the film’s overall structure.
Pascal Laugier’s 2008 shocker Martyrs is laced with a darker breed of demon than most horror films, both literal and the sort that linger at the edge of your unconscious; if the finale fails to send shivers up your spine, then nothing will.
As it opens, Laugier’s film reveals itself as a particularly vicious hybrid of the torture/revenge sub-genre of horror; by its grisly end, Laugier’s film has (quite literally) transcended all genre conventions to provide the genre’s answer to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, while simultaneously positioning itself as one of the finest horror films in recent memory.
Martyrs is a haunting film that provides answers that many viewers will not be prepared for, or might not have the stomach for. It is also a great film that ingeniously builds a real sense of dread throughout, culminating with a shimmering, symphonic crescendo of true horror; a must-watch.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)
How do you make an intelligent horror movie for the torture porn generation? Answer: Joss Whedon.
Co-written with Drew Goddard, Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods simultaneously subverts and pays homage to the horror genre to brilliant effect. A group of college students head to a creepy cabin for their break – so far, so standard. But as horror is unleashed upon the unsuspecting occupants, it slowly dawns that there’s a far larger game in play.
Hilariously ridiculous, The Cabin in the Woods uses every cliché and trope possible to somehow make it the most original horror movie in years.