By Derek Delson
As the weather chills and Halloween nears, I thought it would be a great idea to talk about one of the most underappreciated film genres: horror. Many dismiss horror movies as mindless entertainment, but I think they have the potential to be remarkable. Horror’s many sub-genres allow for much diversity and creative freedom. Each of my entries highlights a favorite horror movie of mine from different sub-genres.
Psychological: The Shining
Most horror movies contain scares every few minutes, usually in the form of a jump scare. With The Shining, the sense of terror is lingering throughout: it gets in your head. The Shining’s slow-burn pacing forces the audience to wait for the payoff; I’d argue it is the most terrifying movie of all time, especially with the iconic final shot.
While many might argue Psycho is a psychological horror film, I would make a strong case for its inclusion in the slasher sub-genre. The film’s serial killer murders few, but the shower scene is more impactful than the gratuitous violence of other horror films. Perhaps the finest film made by the “master of suspense,” Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho still scares nearly sixty years after its premiere.
Fantasy: Pan’s Labyrinth
Within a world of magical fairies and fauns, only a master writer-director like Guillermo Del Toro could make humans the most terrifying beings. Pan’s Labyrinth is an excellent film that showcases the bridge between horror and fantasy. The scene with the pale man is one of the most terrifying of all time, even scaring the king of horror—Stephen King.
Science Fiction: The Thing
The Thing poses a frightening situation: a group of scientists are trapped in a remote research station in the Arctic and have to face a shape-shifting alien. The entire film plays out as a huge mystery with dazzling special effects and a hell of an ending.
Comedy: Shaun Of The Dead
Horror is not known to contain many laughs, but writer-director Edgar Wright defied genre restrictions with Shaun Of The Dead, the hilarious zombie horror flick. Playing with dramatic extremes and exciting film making techniques, Shaun Of The Dead remains an innovative entry
in the horror genre.
Social thriller: Get Out and Us
Genius comedian Jordan Peele did what seemed like the impossible: he flawlessly combined scares, comedy, and relevant social themes in his feature film debut (Get Out) and follow-up (Us) While Us leans more to traditional horror, both give audiences the scares they crave while addressing important social issues.