From 'Get Out' to 'Lights Out', tonight's the night for a spook party.
It's Friday the 13th and that means it's the perfect night (after Halloween) to indulge in a horror fest of epic proportions. The film genre has made quite some progress in the last five years, so it's time to put your classic Jason Voorhees movies away and explore what the current horror universe has to offer.
1. Get Out (2017) - By far one of the greatest psychological horrors ever released. It's a flawless balance of serious racial themes and a parodical look at 'positive' discrimination as an African-American played by Daniel Kaluuya gets caught up in a cult of white body-snatchers. Well deserving of Jordan Peele's Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
2. The Babadook (2014) - Taking the very basic theme of that monster in the closet, Jennifer Kent's directorial debut is a masterstroke in classic horror. Many children have an irrational fear of a would-be benign character, but this turns that fear on its head when the book character comes to life and wreaks havoc on the lives of a woman and her son. Doing away with jump scares and concluding with an introspective message relating to mental health, few recent horror releases have been as layered as 'The Babadook'.
3. It Follows (2014) - Another interpretive project that manages not to rely on jump scares, but instead manipulates genre tropes in such a way that you end up with a unique teen horror with nail-biting suspense. Rather than focusing on the origins of this monster that follows sexually active teens around, killing them before they can 'pass it on', this low-budget indie thriller directed by David Robert Mitchell is more of a tale of caution.
4. Housebound (2014) - Few films can twist into a completely different direction with such dex more of a stand-alone project. It's one that makes you wonder where the true villainy lies within the story; is the protagonist being held hostage by a highly suspicious doomsday cult leader? Or is there real danger lurking above the surface of their bunker? The horror never seems to end.
5. A Quiet Place (2018) - The latest horror masterpiece to reach theatres and a surprise hit for director John Krasinski, who stars alongside his real life wife Emily Blunt. A family live life from day-to-day in complete silence, trying to avoid creatures that hunt by sound alone. Interestingly, for a film that relies on an effective score, composer Marco Beltrami couldn't afford a full orchestra with the budget. But in a movie about the importance of silence, that was probably an advantage.
6. The Witch (2015) - Slow-burning and eerie, this Robert Eggers flick is everything the New World was afraid of in the 1600s. Disturbing imagery laced with dissonant tones from composer Mark Korven, it's certainly a minimalist picture. But the beauty in it is being unable to shake the intense suspicion and discomfort that rubs off on the viewers throughout the story.
7. Green Room (2015) - Patrick Stewart as a skinhead. Enough said, really. He certainly proves that his acting prowess can extend far beyond that of Shakespeare and 'Star Trek'. The premise is more crime-thriller; a group of liberal punk rockers getting trapped in a neo-Nazi bar after witnessing a murder; but it develops into a claustrophobic panic-fest that gets increasingly more violent, though never gratuitous.
8. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) - Intended as the second installment in the 'Cloverfield' franchise, it is more of a stand-alone project. It's one that makes you wonder where the true villainy lies within the story; is the protagonist being held hostage by a highly suspicious doomsday cult leader? Or is there real danger lurking above the surface of their bunker? The horror never seems to end.
9. Don't Breathe (2016) - A lot of people might say it would serve anyone right to be mercilessly hunted down by the disabled owner of the house of which they were burgling. But this is a lesson in underestimating people. Blind does not mean weaker. And sometimes the burglar isn't the one committing the worst crime.
10. The Conjuring (2013) - The first of this Ed and Lorraine Warren franchise which turned out to be surprisingly brilliant, considering it had the likes of 'Insidious', 'Sinister' and the 'Paranormal Activity' franchise to fare against. It's everything you want out of a ghost story; a murderous ghost, possession and a small dose of true events. So even if the concept isn't entirely original, it's still pretty damn terrifying.
11. It (2017) - Bill Skarsgård did a remarkable job of going from Swedish heartthrob to child-eating clown in the new adaptation of Stephen King's 'It'. Stepping into Tim Curry's shoes was always going to be nerve-racking, but that creepy grin was all we needed to be sold. Plus, it stars Finn Wolfhard from 'Stranger Things'. What could be better?
12. Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) - Unlike the rather terrible previous film, this prequel turned out to be rather gripping. Indeed, you really have to watch 'Ouija' to get the full experience, but director Mike Flanagan managed to raise this film to something a lot less gratuitously spooky and more slow-building dread.
13. Lights Out (2016) - Based on a short movie less than three minutes long (which was scary enough), this movie takes that unsettling imagery and runs with it; transforming it into a tale of depression, compassion and nyctophobia. What's real and what isn't? Leave your light on tonight so you don't have to find out.
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