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My 10 Favourite Horror Films.

My 10 Favourite Horror Films

Horror films are controversial when it comes to deciding whether you think they are good or not. There’s always someone utterly shocked when you say you found a film scary… or didn’t. I like that about horror though, and I think it’s pretty obvious, we are all scared by different things. Horror is a very broad genre, broader than people might think. Horror films that usually get the limelight are slasher films and gore due to their controversial and shocking nature. Stuff like Saw, A Siberian Film etc. That stuff doesn’t really float my boat. I actually only really got into horror about a year and a half ago, because before that I thought it was all The Hills Have Eyes stuff, riddled with gore, sexual assault and torture. I’ve actually come to find that there are all sorts of horror and it doesn’t have to come with the brutal stuff. I will be suggesting some more recent stuff, since most people have seen or heard of the classics like The Shining and Psycho. Here are some of my favourite horror films… I’ll try to avoid spoilers.

1. The Babadook (2014)

Psychological horrors are my absolute favourite and this is certainly one of them. Australian-Canadian and written by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook is actually based on Kent’s short film Monster which she refers to as “baby Babadook”. This film hits all the spots with tension, jump scares and psychological elements with as much layering and symbolism as you can get. I also love how the direction of the film causes our alliances to shift and change over the course of the action. It’s a great place to start with horror.

2. Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Paranormal Activity 3 is an underappreciated gem in my opinion. If you have seen the first two Paranormal Activity films then you will be familiar with the characters of Katie and Kristi, sisters. Well, Paranormal Activity 3 is actually a prequel to the first two films and takes us all the way back to their childhoods in the late 80s where the paranormal interferences all began. This isn’t usually cited as the best of the Paranormal Activity series but I can’t resist a prequel, and found this by far the most layered and interesting of all the films. The first two in the series were a bit over-simple for me.

3. It Follows (2014)

This is one of the weirdest films I have ever seen. The concept is bizarre and the narrative unfolds in some strange universe that is not quite the past but not quite the future. It’s basically about a type of chain mail in the form of an STD that passes on a curse through sex where you are stalked by something. We don’t really know what that something is. Something that takes the form of people: people you know, and people you don’t. We don’t know how and we don’t know why… but it is trying to kill you. I will say no more.

4. The Descent (2005)

With a largely female cast and a mixture of horror and both physical and psychological action, The Descent (2005) is one of my favourite films. Following a group of women as they explore an undiscovered cave, we very quickly learn that they are not alone. There is a bit of blood and gore in this one but it’s not lingered on for too long. I actually thought the sequel was pretty decent too, which is uncommon for me with sequels.

5. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The Cabin in the Woods is the directorial debut of Drew Goddard, after having written Cloverfield. This is an interesting one because the whole premise of the film is a parody of the archetypes of horror films, and makes reference to great horror films past and present throughout. Its comedy aspects don’t stop it from being scary though and this is probably the most “gory” film on this list. Stay with it, because one of the penultimate scenes in the elevators is epic. Also, Chris Hemsworth, so.

6. Hush (2016)

Hush is a “thriller” style horror, generally my favourite type within the genre. It takes us through the experience of Maddie, a young deaf author who finds herself trapped in her own home as a masked killer with a cross bow shuts off her power and steals her phone. It’s one of those situations that you can really imagine yourself in and so it makes it all the scarier, holding your breath and tensing up the whole way through as your brain tries to work out a way for her to escape – as she does exactly the same.

7. The Orphanage (2005)

This is a Spanish horror film from Juan Antonia Garcia and it has one that stuck with me for a long time. Laura (Belén Rueda), now a mother, returns to the orphanage she spent some time in as a child with plans to buy it and convert it into a home for sick children. However, her young son who is severely ill mysteriously goes missing and in her efforts to find her son, Laura digs up some very dark secrets about the history of the orphanage. Please don’t let the film being in a foreign language put you off – it really is worth the watch. If you liked Belén Rueda, check out another Spanish horror film Julia’s Eyes made three years after this about a woman who lost her blind sister in a mysterious suicide and as she investigates what happens, she too begins to lose her eyesight, and it gets worse with every shock…

8. Lights Out (2016)

This isn’t that great as far as good writing and satisfying endings go, but Lights Out really taps into your paranoia and fears. How many times have you turned off the downstairs light and then sprinted up your stairs to get into bed in case anything gets you? This film toys with exactly that fear and it is absolutely horrible. Watch it with the lights off, I promise you will love it.

9. Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

Controversial of me to put Insidious 3 above the first 2 films in the series but as I said before, I just love a prequel. Insidious 3 is set chronologically before the previous 2, and the “baddie” is one of the scariest I have ever come across. Set in a large apartment building, with the main character Quinn with full casts on both legs… the urgency for the characters to get away from what’s haunting them is one of the strongest I’ve ever experienced. It also revisits “the further” introduced as an astral plane where demons and ghosts reside, but in a less caricature-esque way which I appreciate because I found it slightly ridiculous in the first two films. Unfortunately, Patrick Wilson from the prior two Insidious films does not feature in this one which is a shame because he is a great horror actor, but we still have the fantastic Lin Shaye as parapsychologist Elise.

10. The Conjuring (2015)

Patrick Wilson is in The Conjuring starring with my favourite horror actress Vera Farmiga as the real-life couple, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s set in the 70s which I absolutely love because sometimes the modernisation of mobile phones and internet can take away some of the spook. I also can’t get enough of the fashion. Anyways, this huge family moves into a house and their dog refuses to come inside. So – quick spoiler warning for people that are like me – does the dog die? Yes. You don’t see it, but, you know. We didn’t want her to die. This, of course, is a sign of the dark and mysterious past of their new family home. There’s a sequel to this – The Conjuring 2 ­ – set in London in the late 70s which is also pretty good but not quite on par with the original. There’s also a spin off, Annabelle, based on a real life story of a doll from Ed and Lorraine Warren’s collection of confiscated demon-incident-related-items. I didn’t really like it.

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