It’s that time of the year again where friends have an excuse to come together and watch horror films at sleepovers. If you’re anything like me, this is the worst part of the Halloween season. I don’t want to let my friends down but at the same time, I’m not the biggest fan of horror. So, I decided to try and come up with a compromise: what are conventions of the horror genre that I don’t like and which films lack these qualities? Surely there must be horror films without the cheap, overused jump scares. Surely not all horror movies treat women unfairly? I sat down and created a list, a collection if you will, of horror films for people who don’t like horror films.
“I don’t like jump scares”:
The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991) is based on a novel under the same name by Thomas Harris. It follows the story of Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) who is pulled from her training as an FBI agent by Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn). He assigns her to help try and track down a serial killer nicknamed “Buffalo Bill” (Ted Levine) who skins his female victims’ corpses.
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) is based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Stephen King. The story follows a family who visits a hotel that is isolated from the world for winter. Here, a spiritual force influences the father, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) into acts of violence. Jack’s son, Danny (Danny Lloyd) is psychic and has terrifying visions of the past and the future of the events in the hotel.
The Orphanage (J. A. Bayona, 2007) is a slightly more modern Spanish horror film and is the debut feature for this director. The main protagonist, Laura (Belén Rueda) returns to the orphanage she grew up in with her husband, Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and her son, Simón (Roger Príncep). The orphanage has been closed for years, but Laura plans to re-open it as an orphanage for disabled children. Before long, Simón starts to communicate with a boy named Tomás and draws pictures of him wearing a sack mask.
“I don’t like the way horror treats women”:
All Cheerleaders Die (Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson, 2013) is a remake of the 2001 film of the same name. The film follows Maddy Killian (Caitlin Stasey) who joins the cheerleading squad to get revenge on Terry (Tom Williamson), a star football player who was dating her best friend before she died. A supernatural twist sees the battle between the cheerleaders and the football players escalate.
American Mary (Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska, 2012). Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is a medical student training to become a surgeon. She is struggling to pay her bills and after applying for a job at a strip club begins performing body modification surgery on people who are willing to pay her thousands of dollars.
Girls against Boys (Austin Chick, 2012). After a series of bad experiences with men Shae (Danielle Panabaker) teams up with her co-worker Lu (Nicole LaLiberte) to take revenge on the men who hurt her.
“I can’t deal with gore”:
The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013) shows the story of paranormal investigators Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) who take on a case that involves a family that has just moved into a farm-house and are being terrorised by supernatural happenings. The duo attempt to figure out why these events are happening and what can be done to protect the family from the horrors in their new home.
The Others (Alejandro Amenábar, 2001) is a Spanish American film that sees a single mother, Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her two children discover that their house might be haunted. The children are both photosensitive, meaning they cannot be exposed to sunlight. One of the children claims that she has seen other people in the house – a man, a woman, and a child – and Grace begins to question her faith and her attitude towards not believing in ghosts.
Ringu (Alternative title: Ring, Hideo Nakata, 1998) is a Japanese horror film based on the novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki. Reporter Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) is investigating the truth behind the popularity of a cursed video with her ex-husband, Ryūji Takayama (Hiroyuki Sanada). The rumour is that if you watch the videotape you will die 7 days later.
“I’d rather watch a comedy”:
Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004) is the first in a series of films knows as ‘The Cornetto Trilogy’. It sees, Shaun (Simon Pegg), his childhood best friend, Ed (Nick Frost), his mother, stepdad, ex-girlfriend and her two friends try to survive a zombie apocalypse that has taken over London.
Zombieland (Ruben Fleischer, 2009). Zombie apocalypse survivors, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) join forces to travel across America without being killed by zombies.
Jennifer’s body (Karyn Kusama, 2009). Anita “Needy” Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) has been best friends with Jennifer (Megan Fox) since they were children. After a local concert which kills several people, Jennifer begins acting strange and Needy begins to think that something may have happened to her old friend.