Horror is a genre that will never die — or at least, it doesn’t stay dead for long (zombie reference anyone?). This is because its appeal lies in a very basic human reaction. Just as watching a romance might tap into a physical hormonal response, a good stomach-dropping scary movie stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. We get a rush of amphetamines, empathetic fear, and the living room becomes a blood spattered roller coaster instead of just a collection of furniture. Of course, there are a diverse series of sub genres within horror that make it more than just a simple monster jumping from behind a corner. Some of the best horror movies are deeply cerebral, more about the writing than any actual gore, while others are artistic visually and in the crafting of the plot.
Netflix has a good collection of both classic and contemporary horror films, making it a convenient place to catch up on some of the old classics and see what’s new in the movie world of fear.
1. The Babadook
The Babadook is a relatively new film, released in 2014 by Australian director, Jennifer Kent. It only recently made its way onto Netflix. The film follows the story of a single mother and her young son as he becomes obsessively fearful of a monster he reads about in a book: the Babadook. While her son’s behavior continues to deteriorate, Amelia, played by Essie Davis, becomes more and more disturbed by what she’s confronted with, and more concerned for her son, and what he may actually be seeing.
What makes The Babadook particularly scary is the plot — a disturbed child and concerned parent are hardly novel horror themes. The Omen and many films before have utilized the creep factor children can invoke when they behave out of character. However, what makes The Babadook unique, and what earned it a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, is the depth it offers.
It can be taken as a commentary on parenthood or a unique look at the horrors of mental illness — arguably depression in particular, and while The Babadook may be fake, some of the problems depicted in the film are very real.
Hush holds an impressive 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though admittedly has few reviews. The film stars Kate Siegel as Maddie, a deaf woman who is living isolated in a cottage in the woods when her friend is stabbed by a murderer on her porch. Because she is deaf, Maddie is unable to hear and save her friend. She then has to figure out how to evade the killer who traps and taunts her in the house.
Though not well known, the film has been praised as a modern slasher movie — even Stephen King gave it props.
3. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
The horror-comedy genre is prospering, with the best evidence for that found in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Turning the “evil hillbillies” motif on its head, we see that story told from the other side of the aisle, as a group of teens peg a couple of innocent hicks living in a cabin as homicidal maniacs.
It’s both hilarious and horrifying, and resides in the pantheon of amazing meta-horror like The Cabin in the Woods.
4. Children of the Corn
The film begins when Burt and Vicky drive through a town that seems deserted but for small groups of children. They’re unprepared for the terrifying cult taking up residence there, and the creature in the corn behind it all.
This 1980’s classic comes from the mind of Stephen King, and it’s about as bizarre as many of his other plots, but that doesn’t make it any less spooky.
5. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
Though the 1994 slasher metafilm is the seventh installment in the Nightmare franchise, it’s not part of the series continuity. The film portrays Freddy Krueger as a fictional movie villain who invades the real world and haunts the cast and crew responsible for his films (including Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, and Wes Craven himself).
The result is a witty and tongue-in-cheek take on the horror genre that’s full of awesomely meta scenes. Craven breaks new ground here, by creating a film about his own work and paying homage to the popular franchise.
6. Would You Rather
This psychological thriller stars Brittany Snow as Iris, who attends a dinner to secure her sick brother a donor. The dinner party requires her to partake in a life-threatening game of “Would you rather …?” where she and the other contestants are pushed to make tough choices in a series of high-stakes situations.
The 2012 film premiered at Screamfest.
Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook!