6 Horror Movies Everyone Should Watch, Even if They’re Easily Spooked

It’s September, which means that the spookiest time of the year is officially upon us (I’m impatient, alright. It’s basically October). Go grab your pumpkin spice lattes and your coziest blankets, turn off the lights, and spend the night watching one or two of these must-see movies. No classic slashers included—Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre-Esque films get repetitive after a while. Rather, these gems are some of the most interesting, analytical, and even philosophical fright fests out there. Hold someone’s hand if you’re really spooked, but these are films that everyone should watch at least once, even if horror isn’t your thing.

  1. 1. The VVitch (2015, dir. Robert Eggers)

    Love a good period piece? The VVitch: A New England Folktale is definitely for you. This story combines a lot of classic colonial tropes concerning witchcraft, largely stemming from the Salem Witch Trials, but then ends with a surprising twist that you almost have to—well, maybe that’s just me—cheer for. I remember audibly gasping when the twist started to become clear. This is a story about a young girl and the discrimination and distrust that women faced during the time period. The VVitch is a really interesting take on Puritan religion that concludes in an exhilarating development for the protagonist.

  2. 2. Carrie (1976, dir. Brian de Palma)

    Carrie is a classic Stephen King adaptation. This was the first novel of his that was ever published, which is awesome considering that it’s the story of a girl in high school. This girl, Carrie White, also happens to have telekinetic abilities. Bullied in school and abused by her extremely religious mother, she snaps. This movie is tragic but also makes you thirsty for revenge alongside young Carrie who is treated so unfairly. However, it’s hard to decide whether or not that excuses her actions at the end of the movie.

  3. 3. The Blair Witch Project (1999, dir. Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick)

    Behold The Blair Witch Project, the pioneer of found-footage horror! This one may take a little bit to get into, but once the spooky stuff starts happening, oh boy. The film draws its power from what the camera doesn’t even see, which is what makes it so notable in its genre. We never see any monster or witch—we only see our three film student protagonists getting lost in the woods of a small Maryland town where they were filming a documentary. The marketing for this film was also incredible; many of the official posters advertised it as real footage! 

  4. 4. American Psycho (2000, dir. Mary Harron)

    The only film on this list that’s directed by a woman is one of the most philosophical horror movies out there. Fair warning, it definitely deserves its R-rating, but it is still an essential film. A lot of people might write off this movie as misogynistic garbage since it is a satirical commentary on the American dream and the sociopathic tendencies of a Wall Street businessman. However, the story goes much deeper than that—director Mary Harron made sure of it. Its satire is so ingrained and committed that the film at first glance often may appear to take itself seriously, but in reality, Harron is utilizing extremely dark humor to expose the ridiculousness of its protagonist’s situation. Amazing essays could be and have been written about the true genre of this movie. I won’t spoil it for you, but the ending is tragically hilarious. It’s on Netflix; get on it!

  5. 5. The Cabin in the Woods (2011, dir. Drew Goddard)

    This film is a study in many genres, and it does all of them beautifully. Embodying everything from a comedy to a slasher flick, The Cabin in the Woods works as a questioning of the horror genre itself at times. I can’t say too much as to how it does this without giving the whole thing away, but take my word for it, it’ll mess with you. It makes fun of traditional horror tropes all the while using them to their fullest extent and breaking new unexplored ground in the realm of horror. It’s really, really good.

  6. 6. The Shining (1980, dir. Stanley Kubrick)

    I had to save my favorite for last! You know we had to get at least one more Stephen King adaptation here. This is arguably one of the most iconic ones, too. Directed by the infamous Stanley Kubrick, The Shining film does differ in a lot of ways from King’s 1977 novel, but both are legendary in their own rights. You could spend hours analyzing every little conspiratorial detail and directorial decision made in this movie—and many people have. Some sick documentaries on the movie are out there, I highly recommend checking them out. The story depicts a man, his wife, and their young son spending the winter in a haunted hotel in Colorado, and needless to say, madness ensues. An added bonus is Danny, the son, and his telepathic ability known as the shining. Stephen King wrote a sequel to this story called Doctor Sleep in 2013, 36 years after its predecessor. It’s now being adapted into a film sequel to Kubrick’s adaptation and will be released in November 2019. Get familiar with the first installment of the story, so you can be the knowledgeable hipster who liked it before anyone else when the new one comes out.

Even if you don’t usually enjoy horror movies, you should be able to find something to like in any of these films. They’re exciting, fun, and even philosophical at times.

 

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