[Photos by: Magnolia Pictures, Universal Pictures, Fox Searchlight and Miramax]
From the high praise of Get Out to the insane box office numbers of It, scary movies are the new status quo for blockbusters. However, with their unconventional plots and ingenious commentaries, there’s nothing generic about many of these new horror flicks. Here are some of the top films that they have led to this praiseworthy style of horror.
Let’s start with the obvious forerunner of the year: the film adaptation of Stephen King’s It. While Tim Curry’s clown of the 1990 mini-series has gone down in history as a main source of coulrophobia, this 2017 masterpiece does an incredible job of showcasing a multitude of common fears every child encounters growing up. But the icing on the cake is the incredible cast—it’s such a breath of fresh air to watch middle-schoolers actually act like middle-schoolers.
Get Out (2017)
2017’s other horror superstar is Jordan Peele’s Get Out. While this thriller features the standard creepy neighbors, questionable suburban ongoings and a sinister plot, it is the seamless coupling of social commentary mixed in with Peele’s signature comedic elements that brings this film to the foreground.
The Witch (2015)
The film dives into stylized antiquity, taking viewers back to the folklore of the 1600s at the height of the witch scares in America. Similar to the cinematography of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), the scares of this film take place primarily in broad daylight. In place of pop outs and cheap gimmicks, The Witch derives fear from stark imagery and allusions to what could have happened, rather than just showing what occurred.
The Babadook (2014)
The Babadook debuted in Australia as an allegorical, dark fairy tale gone awry. Similar to many films on this list, The Babadook harps on haunted house clichés but serves more prominently as a symbol for dealing with grief. As an added bonus, due to a mis-categorization on Netflix, the Babadook monster has now become a beloved symbol of LGBTQ pride.
It Follows (2014)
This horror story, though visually terrifying and suspenseful, creeps up on the viewer as the scariest lecture about STDs, ever. Rather than a disease, the characters of this film are plagued by a monster every time they sleep with someone who has been previously haunted by the same ghoul. While the film is a little too aggressive in nailing the metaphor, the opening scene is a cinematic marvel that sets up the terrifying journey.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
There really is no horror film as meta as The Cabin in the Woods. Playing on every single trope that has made horror the genre it is today, The Cabin in the Woods creates a satirical world that can only be sustained through the audience’s approval of set clichés within gore, sex, violence and fear.
The Visit (2015)
Similar to It, The Visit features kids acting like real kids. The audience feels the initial dread of having to go to grandma’s house, packed on top of the fact that everyone watching knows something is wrong. While many films use the “found footage” motif that The Blair Witch Project made popular, this is one of the few films where this style of filming successfully amplifies the suspense within the film through the unraveling of the kids’ playback footage.