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Rating Popular Horror Movies

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Spoiler warning for the movies “Annabelle,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “American Psycho.”

The Halloween season has ended and the winter holidays are rapidly approaching. As a final goodbye to the spooky season, I binge-watched horror movies while recovering from Halloweekend. After my movie spree, I noticed a few similarities among horror as a genre.

Aside from the genre being horror, some if not most of these movies have overlapping themes. I noticed that most weren’t only focused on evoking the emotion of fear, but rather an entire spectrum of unpleasant emotions. Some of the more important scenes will obviously evoke feelings that are more associated with horror. There are more gruesome scenes that jump from feelings of fear to feelings of disgust. It can be more obvious, such as scenes that evoke feelings of discomfort and uneasiness. It can also be a bit more complex. Specifically with plot lines that are built up throughout the movie, mainly using a romance-based plot line that evokes feelings of sadness and empathy from the audience for the character(s).

“Annabelle” (2014)

Annabelle is a cursed doll. Not only does she move all on her own, but she terrorizes her owners beyond the realm of their imagination. What she is hoping to be offered in exchange for peace is… I can’t tell you, but it is a shocker! From her exterior, she looks like any typical doll. She looks innocent, especially because she initially comes in contact with her owners by being gifted to them. What the owners don’t know is that she is about to invoke inescapable terror.

Going into the movie, I fully expected to be so scared that I would have to sleep with the lights on. The movie started off calmly following a newlywed couple. With such a boring intro, I was holding onto hope that this would slowly build up to the most nerve-racking horror movie I have ever witnessed. While I can appreciate the use of overlapping storylines to build into a full story, this movie was not all that scary for a horror movie. It was overall mildly entertaining. Some scenes had my eyes glued to the screen. Other scenes were slow and dull enough to have me mindlessly scrolling on my phone.

I appreciate the way that the director was able to toss me onto an emotional rollercoaster toward the end. The finale was very dramatic compared to the majority of the movie. While there were jumpscares and the occasional gore, nothing really left me in shock. However, the ending left me feeling sad, grieving, angry and shocked. It made me feel empathy toward the victims of the movie. This movie did leave out a key element of horror: suspense. While this movie was not that scary for a horror movie, it did make me react as a viewer.

Rating: 6.5/10

“nightmare on elm street” (1984)

This classic horror movie follows a group of teenagers in a small town (it can’t get more cliche than that). An entity named Freddy follows this group of teens around at all times (another cliche). The twist in this story is that he can only interact with them in their dreams. This means that anytime they fall asleep is a chance for him to get them.

I was so excited about this one! It did not disappoint. Overall it was entertaining. There were several storylines that were easy to follow while adding layers to the plot. Again, I appreciate that this movie tied all of the characters together. It had a very straightforward plot without being too obvious. There was an element of suspense throughout the movie. The end of the movie had me so focused on the screen that I’m not sure if I blinked. The characters were written to make the audience feel empathy for them. The director utilized evoking feelings of sadness and pity in the audience in a simple but effective manner.

There was gore, but it wasn’t overdone to the point that the movie relied on it to scare the audience. While it was overall a good movie, it was nothing memorable to me. I can understand why this is a cult classic. It was simple, full of cliches, easy to follow, entertaining and still scary without overdoing anything. At the same time, my only complaint was that it was simple and cliche. It’s nothing that I would have any deeper thoughts about, but it was an overall solid movie.

Rating: 8/10

“AMERICAN PSYCHO” (2000)

Patrick Bateman is just another New York City businessman. At least that’s who he appears to be to everyone around him. The thing is, he is constantly suppressing the urge to kill. This urge was easier to keep under control at one point. But not for long. No one knows what is real and what is a hallucination. Not even Bateman knows.

Not only is this movie amazing in the horror department, but it is amazing overall. There is an appropriate amount of gore, not so much that it’s obnoxious, but enough to get the point across. It was just enough to evoke subtle feelings of disgust and not-so-subtle feelings of discomfort. There was not a single dull moment in this movie. There are several plot lines that build on each other. I lost count of all the subtle but still shocking plot twists.

There are several layers to this movie. The movie doesn’t just evoke the typical feelings of fear, disgust and sadness. It goes deeper than that. The subplot critiques society and uses Bateman as the personification of typical toxic masculinity. Besides the movie being both entertaining and complex, it also did well specifically with horror. There was suspense during the whole movie. It didn’t rely on jumpscares, but rather on the complex plot being built throughout the movie.

Rating: 100/10.

After my horror movie binge, I came to a few realizations. Horror is more than just fear. It is a specific type of storytelling. Fear isn’t the only emotion that needs to be evoked. Sadness, anger, pity, disgust and suspense all play a role in building up to the fear without relying on shock. A good horror movie requires layers. It requires several plot lines. It’s easy to follow while being full of unexpected turns. Horror is more complex than fear.

Salma is a freshman at VCU. She is currently undecided, but considering majoring in journalism. She loves iced coffee and a comforting gilmore girls marathon.