iGeekOut's Top 15 Horror Movies - 2016
Whether you are looking for a good scare, or are wanting to get into the mood for Halloween, you really can’t beat the attraction of a good horror movie. However, that can often present a unique challenge since it can often feel like a good horror movie is difficult (if not impossible) to find since most of the horror movies that are made lately are nothing more than utter dreck, with a few sprinklings of decent offerings. So, if you are looking for a way to creep yourself out for the next few hours, or are wanting to put on a film fest that would make even the Mummy quake in fear, here is a list of 15 “go-to” horror flicks that won’t disappoint. Keep in mind that while some of these are a bit funny, they do tend to get scarier (and often times more disturbing) as the list nears the top spot.
15. The Cabin in the Woods
Have you ever wondered why most horror movies tend to follow the same old clichés over and over? Well, we get a rather interesting answer from the minds of Joss Whedon (The Avengers) and Drew Goddard (World War Z). In the simplest of terms, five college friends go for a weekend trip up to The Cabin in the Woods, only to find (in the words of the movie itself) that “bad things happen.” This delightful horror movie has all the old tropes from pretty much all horror movies, but they are presented in a delightfully new way that makes you wonder who is really the bad guy and what is actually going on. This is definitely one of the few movies on this list that when you think you know what is going on, you find yourself both right and wrong at the same time. Confusing? Maybe, but a fun time none the less.
14. Night of the Living Dead
George Romero is, without a doubt one of the Grand Masters of the horror genre, and the undisputed Godfather of the zombie survival movie. In fact, it can easily be stated that with the release of Night of the Living Dead in 1968, George Romero created the modern interpretation of the zombie. This movie may come in rather low in the special effects department when compared to other horror movies that are released today, but it is still consistently ranked on “Best of” lists the world over nearly 50 years after it’s first release. There are a number of reasons why, not the least of which is the superb storytelling and pacing that is seen in the film, but also in the practical effects used to add a gritty realism that isn’t seen much in movies today. Additionally, since the movie can be viewed as a metaphor of american society at the time in a number of ways (race relations, non-conformists vs. conformity, and so on) it is so easy to see why it has stood the test of time.
13. The Exorcist
Both herladed and lambasted as one of the scariest movies of all time, William Friedken’s interpretation of the William Peter Blatty novel of the same name, is almost as controversial today as it was when it was first released in 1973. The Exorcist is much more than a simple possession flick, and can (in many people) create an almost visceral reaction to what is being portrayed. There have been relatively few movies that have portrayed so accurately the fight between faith and science, and the maddening confusion that some find themselves confronted with in the face of inexplicable events. Some of the best scenes throughout the movie is the gut-wrenching fear that mother Chris MacNeil (played by Ellen Burstyn) and Reagan MacNeil (portrayed by Linda Blair) exhibit as they are faced with a series of events that science has no rational answer to. The Exorcist is held up as the gold bar standard of possession movies, even 43 years after it first came out. There is just something about this movie that speaks the to viewer on an almost primal level.
One of the more recent, and successful, offerings by writer M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) and director John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine), Devil is an intriguing study of a group of people who are trapped in an elevator. Seems rarther simple enough, but the kicker is that unbeknownst to these individuals, the Devil (yes, that DEVIL) is also trapped with them. By taking advantage of things such as racism, sexism, manipulation, pride, vanity, and a few others, the Devil is able to pit these supposedly everyday people against one another. At almost every turn, Devil will make you question what is going on, what you believe you know, and what you think you have already learned. In true Shyamalan fashion, there is a twist, but it is one that isn’t really all that obvious at first glance. Best of all, when you think that the twist has happened, you find out that it really hasn’t. While, as with many Shayamalan movies, you may want to pay close attention, you don’t need to worry about the minutia in order to enjoy it. The suspense slowly builds up over time, and there are a couple of jump scares, but all in all Devil is a very enjoyable movie that you will find yourself watching again and again.
Directed by science fiction master, Ridley Scott, Alien is the initial offering in one of the most successful horror (and movie) franchises of all time. The crew of the space mining ship, Nostromo, finds themselves answering what they think is a distress beacon (when in fact it is a warning) and find themselves slowly being killed by an alien organism that is beyond their understanding. To make matters worse, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the corporation that the crew works for actually set them up, knowing that they might likely die in the attempt to capture this organsm. One of the best things about this movie is that not only does it build slowly over time until there is an explosive finale, the story is portrayed by an all star cast led by Tom Skerrit (Top Gun), Sigourney Weaver (Avatar), John Hurt (V for Vendetta), and Sir Ian Holm (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies). Alien is also one of the few horror movies to have avoided the remake craze in recent years. This is probably due to the fact that it can still scare just as much today, as when it was originally released.
The second of the M. Night Shaymalan offerings on this list, Signs is at first glance an oddity for this list. It is not your traditional “horror” movie in that the protaganist Hess family is not faced with the resurrected, ghostly, or supernatural monsters or threats that are portrayed in other movies here. Rather, what the family is faced with is a mysterious series of events that slowly (and inexplicably) take on global significance with no recourse be to hold on for the ride. Signs is arguably one of the top two or three movies ever made by M. Night Shaymalan, and he is truly at the top of his game here. This is especially evident in the portrayal of Nel Gibson (as Reverend Graham Hess), Joaqin Phoenix (as Merrill Hess), Rory Culkin (as Morgan Hess) and a young Abigail Breslin (as Bo Hess). These actors portray a truly loving family that is faced with horrific events that they have no control over. The slow build of tension is done so masterfully, that the audience isn’t even aware that it’s happening until they find themseleves literally on the edge of their seat, breathless in anticipation with what is going to happen. When Signs was first released to packed theaters, it was not unheard of to see the entire floor covered with the spilled popcorn of those who had been watching, since it was common for the buckets to get dropped in fright.
9. The Ring
The whole premise of The Ring can be boiled down to three simple words – demonic chain letter. Directed by Gor Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean:The Curse of the Black Pearl), The Ring tells the story of a video tape that causes all who watch it to die within a week of watching it. The main character Rachel (Naomi Watts) is a reporter that is tasked with tracking down the veracity of this supposed urban myth, and ends up falling on the wrong side of the curse. While the pace and buildup of the tension in the movie is done fairly well, nothing can quite beat the ominously slow and deliberate advance of the horrific Samara, even if it is only on the video tape. You just know that there is something wrong with what is about to happen. This fact is driven home even more when she takes her first, horrific, steps outside of the television.
8. The Blair Witch Project
Whether you love it, or hate it, The Blair Witch Project is a movie that will draw elicit a strong reaction from those who watch it. This low budget movie is the one that started the whole “found footage” sub-genre of horror movies that is so popular today. The “footage” that is portrayed in the film tells of the last days of a trio of film students who are investigating the supposed story of the Blair Witch located around the area of Burkittsville, Maryland who went missing…never to be seen again. What makes this movie so truly enjoyable is that so much of it was shot without a script. For example, the entire scene where Heather is recording herself as she apologizes was completely unscripted and the fear shown is as real as could be since she really did not know what had happened to her co-stars previous to this scene.
7. Jeepers Creepers
Victor Salva (Powder) wrote and directed Jeepers Creepers, which tells the unfortunately tragic story of a brother and sister team who are on their way back from college and stumble upon a mysterious monster who is finishing the last few days of it’s 27 year ritualistic killing and eating spree. The brother and sister team are portrayed by Justin Long (Tusk) and Gina Philips (Chained) who see what looks like a mysterious figure potentially dumping a body down a well and investigate. What they don’t know is that that this is infact a supernatural creature who, every 27 years, starts to hunt those it finds “interesting” in some way to gather new body parts to keep it going. Throughout the course of the movie it appears as if there is literally nothing that that the two can do to stop the relentless pursuit of this monster…other than out last the cycle. What makes this story truly horrific is that you don’t really get the meaning behind the movie’s title until the last few minutes.
6. The Changeling (1980)
Are you looking for a good old fashioned haunted house story? If you are, then you can’t go wrong with the masterful performance delivered by George C. Scott (Patton) in the Peter Medak (Species II) directed The Changeling. George C. Scott plays John Russell who is the sole survivor of an accident which killed his wife and daughter, who rents a beautiful old home that has a tormented past. John slowly comes to realize that there is another occupant to the home, a child who was murdered decades before who supposedly wants justice and answers to why. Unlike many other horror movies, The Changelingis entirely psychological with no blood or gore throughout the movie. In many ways this can make the terror much more intense than in some other contemporary horror movies since there is no “outlet” for the fear that slowly grows throughout the movie. One thing for sure, you would never expect that a wheelchair can be quite as terrifying as it is in this show.
5. The Conjuring
Some of the scariest stories around are those that are said to have been based off of real life. Whether you actually believe in real life supernatural events or not, the events portrayed in 2013’s The Conjuring are truly terrifying. The Conjuring, directed by James Wan (the Saw franchise) documents one of the most horrific events that paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson, Insidioius) and Lorrain Warren (Vera Farmiga, The Judge) supposedly took part in. BAck in 1971, the Perron family move onto an old farm located in Rhode Island, and soon start to experience some truly demonic events. To make matters worse, it really doesn’t matter where the Perron’s move, or what they do, it doesn’t seem to help. As things escalate, the Perron’s reach out to the Warrens (noted for investigating the events at Amityville) for help. What sort of demonic force is awaiting the Warrens, and why is this considered one of their most terrifying investigations? Watch the movie to find out.
4. Evil Dead (2013)
The original iteration of The Evil Dead (1981) is perhaps one of the most famous, and well known, B-movie horror flicks of all time. In fact, it is so well known that it is the one movie that could arguably be given credit for giving Sam Raimi (30 Days of Night) his first big break and is also what helped Bruce Campbell (Burn Notice) become the king of the B-movie. This remake has all the elements of the original, though it is presented in a much darker way. It has been said that this remake is what Sam Raimi, who also had a major hand in the production, would have made originally if only he had the budget.
As with the original, five friends head to a remote cabin and accidentally unleash a demonic entity that could potentially destroy the world. The official tagline of the movie is “The most terrifying film you will ever experience,” and while that may be stretching it just a bit, it’s not that much of a stretch. Not only is the descent into madness that the five friends experience absolutely horrific, this is arguably one of the most disturbing movies that you will ever see. A brief example of this can be described in four words: tounge and razor blades. If you want to see a movie that will leave you feeling like you have gone through the wringer, then this one should be on your list (as it is on ours).
Sinister tells the story of Ellison Oswalt (played by Ethan Hawke) who was a one hit wonder in the true-crime book genre, and is desperately trying to regain the fame that he once obtained by researching the unexplainable deaths of most of the family, and the apparent abduction of the younest child. Shortly after moving in, Ellison finds a box of old 8 MM movies that strongly imply that these deaths were actually the result of actions conducted by a serial killer. Unfortunately, as the movie progresses, it turns out that he has stumbled upon the worst possible form of a chain letter. Worst of all, his family may now be at risk if action isn’t taken.
Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) does a superb job of directing the cast in this movie, and slowly building the tension until the terror felt by Ellison (and the rest of the family) is almost physically felt. While there are a few bits of blood, they are certainly limited when compared to other movies. Unlike many of the other movies on this list, and that have been produced recently, Sinister doesn’t fall into the trap of relying on “blood and guts” to scare or titillate. Most everything is done relying on camera angles, pacing, and story to produce the overall tension that is expereinced by the viewer. In many ways, this tale of a demonic “chain letter from hell” has a very Alfred Hitchcock feel and pace to it.
Perhaps what sets Insidious apart from any of the other movies on this list, is that it plays on the horror that parents feel when their children are at risk. Director James Wan (Lights Out) perfectly captures the story of two young parents who are desperately trying to figure out what is happening to their child as he falls into a coma following a mysterious incident in the attic of their new home. As the story progresses, it turns out that there may actually be a mysterious link between the events that are currently plaguing the Lambert family, and some events that took place to the father, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson The Conjuring), when he was younger. Evenn when the final, chilling, confrontation takes place you find yourself terrified and wondering what is going to happen next.
1. The Grudge (2004)
The Grudge tells the story of a young American nurse who is in Tokyo with her boyfriend, and who is drawn into a powerful curse that is slowly killing all who encounter it. Follow Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Geller, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as she is trying to track down the cause of the curse, and stop it’s spread before it’s too late. The slow, and dramatic, pacing of the story is often told from the points of view of each victim, and shows how everyone is interconnected. Best of all, this movie helps show that a movie really doesn’t need to have tons of blood, guts, gore, and violence to truly scare the pants off you.
Despite The Grudge is actually an American remake of a Japanese horror movie, there is very little that is lost in translation. What this movie does, is beautifully show the difference in teh “rules” between Western horror movies, and those of the East. Frankly, if you found yoruself in a Western horror movie, once you figured out the rules you have a fairly good chance of surviving. Being in an Eastern horror movie basically means you are hosed…you will die (or go insane). You just don’t know when.
Well these are 15 of the best horror movies to watch. How close did we come to your list? Did we miss something that should have been listed? Do you disagree with something that we have on this list? Tell us your point of view in the comments below, and who knows it may just be added into next year’s list.