Five spooky flicks to watch as the lights flicker on and off
By John Linderman
Elm Staff Writer
While our spooky days dwindle down and the temperature gets a bit chillier, there’s no way to wrap up Halloween than with some classic, scary movies.
Scary movies get a bad reputation in public and critics’ spheres from their repetitive, cheap reliance off jump scares. While the jump scare has certainly been overplayed the last ten years, there are still some classic movies that utilize shock and horror to engage the viewer. Here are some that will keep you tantalized the whole time like an innocent pumpkin to a knife-wielding child.
“The Shining,” 1980
“The Shining,” starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Stanley Kubrick, is both a horror and cinematic masterpiece lauded in critical circles. Shining separates itself from the chaff by never clearly defining its horror, unlike multiple other horror movies. In this same vein, it is what we can’t understand that terrifies us most. This movie is interwoven with a multitude of clues and theories, with some believing in overtures of federal brutality towards Western Native Americans, to domestic abuse, and the whole movie occurring inside a dream-like simulation of the protagonist. The film is hypnotic, mesmerizing, and terrifying all at once.
“The Babadook,” 2014
Australia’s “The Babadook,” directed by Jennifer Kent, has been a cult hit since its release. The movie tells a story of a widow struggling to move on from the death of her husband and manage her less-than-content six-year-old son. The eponymic monster is a creation of the boy’s nightmare, and the mother is tasked with battling both her own demons and the Babadook. The ending leaves you looking for answers yet satisfied, and if you’re looking for further discussion, the internet is loaded with Babadook theories to keep you up all night.
“Green Room,” 2015
Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is a hybrid of rock music, disaffected 20 somethings, and survival against the odds. Starring Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart, the film plots a rock band on the verge of breaking up locked in a compound against vengeful bikers. Its fight scenes are gritty and intense, and you’ll end up rooting for the protagonist against what seems impossible ends. Its horror is loud and labyrinthine, and against the backdrop of the misty Northwest, scenically engaging.
“Cube” is one of the lesser known movies on this list, but the rest pale in comparison to this movie’s existential, mathematical terror. “Cube,” directed by Vincenzo Natali, is a science fiction horror where the protagonists are locked in a labyrinth of rooms with unique traps in all of them. The team comprising the protagonists have their own individual traits, and there will be plenty of riddles throughout the movie that’ll keep you guessing. Fair warning, there is an ample amount of gore and violence. It’s an uncomfortable, yet thought-provoking movie.
“It Follows,” 2014
In the same style as “The Babadook” and “Green Room,” It Follows” is another indie thriller that executes its job with precision and grace. Directed by David Robert Mitchell, the movie follows a young woman being stalked by a mysterious entity intent on destroying her. The mysterious entity acts like a virus to its host, and there are subliminal themes of the stigma behind sexually transmitted diseases in the film. The plot presents a peculiar predicament, and the story structure pays off in every chapter. “It Follows” is a quiet, terrifying twenty-first century masterpiece.
Some honorary mentions include “The VVitch,” “Insidious,” and “It Comes at Night.”
It’s sad that most horror movies today are labeled as humdrum and cheesy, because there are some do deserve credit where due. People shouldn’t consider horror with just what stings you in the moment, but what leaves you wondering and guessing too. As in the case of The Shining, there doesn’t even have to be a clear villain to convey true horror. Of course, if you’re looking for cheap scares and cursed faces, that’s valid too.