A horror film on Halloween is a must, but when was the last time you were actually scared by one? Not made to jump, spooked or given the creeps but shaken – haunted.
We’ve compiled a list of 6 of the scariest films we could think of, those that disturb us whilst watching and then stick with us long after. A fair warning: some of the best films of all time roam this list.
There Will Be Blood – Paul Thomas Anderson
There Will Be Blood is a dream of dark and troubling things, portraying the worst of ourselves; the savagery inherent in all individuals. Daniel Day Lewis’ Plainview makes you uncomfortable, makes you squirm, perhaps the greatest monster ever put on screen. Lost in the desert, lost in himself. This is a rural fantasy, soaked in blood, seeped in oil, Plainview presenting the darkness that lives in all men, the one that drives the devil and devours reason… the hunger… the ambition. This descent into the deepest depths of man’s own self, a reflection and shattering of his soul in his quest for power and wealth, staring his enemy down the lane of a private bowling alley, he transforms right in front of your very eyes. Filled with pure loathing and rage, his fate immediately sealed with just one look.
Blue Velvet – David Lynch
Introducing Lynch’s most horrifying creation, Frank.
Bottom of the scum barrel, Frank. Fucked-up Freudian freak, Frank. Tunnel deep into your subconscious, scrape up the scabby residue you find there and let it speak, Frank. How far away from Frank are we, Frank? Am I Frank, Frank?
Blue Velvet scares me more than any other film. It’s shrouded spiral into the seedy, drug-fuelled, sex-crazed underbelly of Lumberton has its toes dipped in genre and gumshoe whilst coming up hard on that Lynchian “not quite right”. The result is mystic – a descent into the shadow we hide from ourselves. When it surfaces, a poison of carnal energy spreads into our innocent perceptions of the world, terrifyingly: irreversible.
American Psycho – Mary Harron
American Psycho is like pressing rewind on a night out, that coke-addled paranoia you get even in your own bedroom, the sweat you feel on your face even on an autumn night, when every action feels like an underreaction, not sure if the lightning outside is real or not, you peek out through blinds but you close them again, not sure who’s looking in, you know that somebody is probably watching, you turn off the light, put on some music, begging yourself to go to sleep, forget this all happened, wake up in the morning, refreshed and ready to take on tomorrow, but, instead, in the darkness you imagine all your worst fears, worse than not getting the dinner reservations you wanted, worse than your colleague having watermarked business cards, worse than getting arrested for killing a prostitute with a chainsaw just because you felt like it.
No, the thought, that despite all of this, nobody even knows who you are.
Under the Skin – Jonathan Glazer
Jonathan Glazer’s cold, gooey masterpiece haunts us with the word, chops it up and pokes around its soft insides with a cold scalpel. Ties it up, gives it a mirror to stare naked into and lets loneliness cast its shadow. It no longer resembles from whence it emerged, that dark nothing. Birthed from cosmic darkness; her womb a tomb of light and shadow that we cannot comprehend. Placeless and timeless: she is born to eat. Under the Skin‘s expansive imagery is unnerving in the most lovecraftian way, and matched with hidden camera footage the form of the film itself seduces your fears to the precipice of a bottomless, existential otherness. Scarlett Johansson pulls off a career-best role – as the hungry astral form funnelled into the predating white van. She crawls the streets of Scotland, she lures and she learns.
We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lynne Ramsay
We Need To Talk About Kevin asks questions about mothers and depression and addiction and unemployment and domestication and where will we go when we die, why are we even alive? A fragmented fucking nightmare; less of a movie more than a visual poem or song. There aren’t any scenes, just moments. Fleeting by, trying hard to be forgotten, impossible not to remember. Every look and gaze are amplified by Ramsay’s excruciating and unrelenting use of slow-motion or disenfranchised by her use of editing. Cuts. Seems to match with the rate of your heart, beating loud, trying to free itself from your chest. She doesn’t give you a break, each haunting moment forged on Swinton’s skeletal face, only hinting at what’s to come. She isn’t going to hell, she’s already there. What if our children are just born bad, what if we can’t raise them to be good because what if we were raised bad? A masterclass in tension and terror, Ramsay filters these ideas through the film’s inherent existential dread, ringing these fears out, every last drop, spraying them on the screen, building and building the “what would you do” moments until the very last one, where she does what any good mother could only do.
Antichrist – Lars Von Trier
“The ground is burning.”
Evil blooms, stretching in webbed woods and sticky thorns. Its roots worm through the mud beneath us, seducing to join the rampant harmony or else be pushed into the void like a dead hair. Evil grows through us in grief of the bodily kind, wretched and toiling within then exorcised – stillborn and filthy. It manifests in guilt and poisons our mind: sex and sadness flung together with groping necessity and perverse results. Von Trier is never one to stray from the provocative and Antichrist’s baggage is some of the darkest; its finale one of the most shocking in cinematic history. These images stain, their meaning never fades. Chaos always reigns.
10 alternate Big Ship Certified spooky films from the last 10 years:
1,3,5 written by Bryson Edward Howe 2,4,6 written by Caleb Carter