With the celebration of everything spooky on the horizon, you might be looking for some horror classics this weekend to help set the eerie atmosphere. We’ve rounded up 5 of our favourites that
5. The Exorcist (1973)
Horror movies are usually at their most effective when the subject matter is just barely within the realm of possibility, and religious and supernatural topics are always favorites for horror directors to explore. The Exorcist popularised the trend of adapting exorcism tales onto film, and with a disturbing performance from Linda Blair (Regan MacNeill) exhibiting the textbook symptoms of possession; grotesque physical deformities, unexplained movements of nearby objects, and displaying abnormal strength. It’s a movie that may be old hat to some since it created what is now a well-worn template, but it is still stomach churning for those that consider the possibility of possession.
Others like it: The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Poltergeist, Devil.
The original entry in what has transformed into a steadfast franchise was also an unprecedented hit due to its realistic and thought-provoking subject matter. Rather than using supernatural or religious topics, Saw had a novel “what if?” scenario as its plot – which boiled down to an interesting and disturbing observation of what people would do if they had to choose between their own lives and the life of someone else. It puts characters in unenviable and murderous positions where their own survival usually depends on the death of someone else, and the entire plot is just a game masterminded by mysterious figure that forces average people into these lethal predicaments.
Others like it: Saw I-VII, Hostel.
3. The Conjuring
The Conjuring started off the franchise dealing with a doll named Annabelle, which already consists of four feature movies and has more in the pipeline. It follows the exploits of a pair of supernatural investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were real-life occult specialists who documented different supernatural incidents throughout their life. The Conjuring chronicles their findings in a Rhode Island home where they go to assist a family experiencing increasingly bizarre and unexplainable events in their household, which end up being caused by a curse placed on the grounds by a witch over a century prior. While the subject matter isn’t anything new, The Conjuring is brilliantly executed by director James Wan and doesn’t come off as hokey, but actually immerses the viewer in the narrative and creates an atmosphere of authenticity. Anyone who’s a fan of supernatural horror will likely enjoy it immensely.
Others like it: The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, The Amityville Horror.
2. 28 Days Later
Zombies are another horror trope that generates a spate of movies like World War Z, but the movie that brought truly terrifying zombies to pop culture again was Danny Boyle’s 2002 survival horror. The plot is extremely bleak, as the world has effectively ended after an infection has eradicated most of the population, and a lone bike courier awakes from a coma to find himself alone and needing to flee from the remnants of humanity: murderous zombies. Up until this movie, zombies were generally slow moving dolts that weren’t particularly scary, but here they’re blood thirsty and rapid. It’s horrifying not just because of the thoughtlessly aggressive zombies that the protagonist has to navigate, but also the desolate and unforgiving environment he has to learn to survive in.
Others like it: 28 weeks later, Resident Evil, World War Z.
James Wan is responsible for this supernatural horror too, but this time he trades witches and dolls for something a little more abstract and ethereal. A boy falls into a mysterious coma and becomes trapped in a surreal dream world where his father must follow to rescue him. They share a gift of being able to project themselves into an astral realm, but it’s a potentially deadly place where all manner of evil lurks. Wan creates another scarily realistic world here, filled with unsettling imagery and inhabited by a swift and terrifying demon that threatens to hold onto the boy forever.
Others like it: Insidious 2 and 3, Sinister.