Great Modern Horror Films
Now that the spooky season has commenced, many people are searching for high-quality scary movies to watch. The old classics like “Night of the Living Dead”, “The Exorcist”, and “Halloween” are always popular at this time of year, but there are also some relatively recent horror flicks that are worthy of attention. Here are five critically acclaimed horror movies released within the past decade. I will explain why reviewers were impressed with these films and briefly describe why an individual viewer might not appreciate them as much as the critics did. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed all five of these movies.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Plot: A trio of criminals decides to break into the home of a blind war veteran in order to steal his fortune. Unfortunately for them, the blind guy turns out to be a crazed psychopath. An epic villain vs. villain battle ensues.
Director Fede Alvarez is able to take a storyline with no likeable characters and mold it into an effective suspense thriller. “Don’t Breathe” doesn’t really give the audience anyone to root for (even the “final girl” character isn’t particularly sympathetic), but that didn’t stop this movie from being a surprise box office smash in the summer of 2016. It’s always nice when a movie is able to succeed despite defying conventional Hollywood wisdom. The film features Stephan Lang as the blind psychopath. The thieves are played by Jane Levy (Rocky), Dylan Minette (Alex), and Daniel Zovatto
Skip It If: You want to see a movie that features at least one noble and heroic character.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
Plot: Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a black college student, embarks on a road trip with his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her family for the first time. Chris is nervous despite Rose’s assurances that her family will accept their relationship. Unfortunately, Chris feelings of trepidation turn out to be prophetic as Rose’s family’s secrets are gradually unveiled and the weekend getaway turns into a horrifying nightmare.
A colossal box office hit, “Get Out” is a thought-provoking and surprisingly funny film featuring a great performance by Kaluuya. It’s not easy to combine a hard-hitting political film, a horror movie, and a twisted comedy, but director Jordan Peele manages to accomplish this feat. This is one of the most innovative horror movies of recent years.
Skip It If: You don’t like to mix politics and horror movies.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Plot: After a late-night tryst in the back of her boyfriend’s car, a pretty college girl is stalked by a relentless shape-shifting entity with superhuman strength. Fearing for her life, Jay (Maika Monroe) teams up with her sister and friends to find a way to stop her mysterious adversary before it’s too late. “It Follows” stars Lili Sepe as Jay’s sister Kelly and Kier Gilchrist as Paul, a close friend of Jay’s who is trapped in the most terrifying place of all – the friend zone.
David Robert Mitchell directs “It Follows” with verve and panache. His film is designed to resemble a surreal fever dream. It tries to emulate the style of classic horror movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s and often succeeds. Instead of the usual masked killer or ghost or demon, “It Follows” features a genuinely original (and incredibly weird) villain.
Skip It If: You want to watch a logical, straightforward movie. As previously mentioned, this movie resembles a dream, and – like real dreams – parts of it don’t make sense.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%
Plot: Sarah (Alexandra Essoe), a wannabe actress working at a Hooters-style restaurant in Hollywood, finally lands the movie role of her dreams. The only catch is that she’ll literally have to sell her soul for the part. After succumbing to the evil desires of a satanic movie producer, Sarah uses her newfound abilities to take an extremely violent and gruesome revenge on anyone who ever doubted or wronged her.
“Starry Eyes” takes a familiar Hollywood plotline (young starlet finds fame and fortune) and adds a darkly satirical twist. This is a very strange film that seems to be heavily influenced by the works of David Lynch (although Lynch had nothing to do with making it) and is not for anyone who is looking for a mainstream horror flick. It bears a passing resemblance to Lynch’s film “Mulholland Drive”, although “Starry Eyes” is much less confusing than that movie. If you like Lynch, and have a strong stomach, I recommend checking this out. Everyone else should stay as far away from this movie as possible. This is the most bleak, disturbing, and downright sickening movie on this list, and that’s saying something!
Skip It If: You aren’t a fan of David Lynch.
Trick ‘r Treat
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Plot: Four tales of terror are featured in this anthology flick set in a small town on Halloween night: a couple’s argument about when to take down their Halloween decorations turns deadly, a nerdy school principal teaches a child an unforgettable lesson, a quartet of college girls plan for a party, and a group of kids investigate a local legend about a Halloween school bus massacre that supposedly occurred thirty years earlier. All of the stories are connected by “Sam”, a diminutive demon who wears a burlap sack as a mask, brandishes a razor sharp jack-o-lantern lollipop, and brutally punishes anyone who defies Halloween traditions. The film stars Dylan Baker as a seemingly mild-mannered man who moonlights as a deranged homicidal maniac, Anna Paquin as a college girl with a dark secret, and Brian Cox as a kid who learns the hard way that you should always check your Halloween candy before you eat it.
“Trick ‘r Treat” features spooky stories (especially the school bus massacre), a sharp sense of humor, and convincing performances by the cast. The stories are cleverly intertwined in several different ways. This fast-paced and stylish film is a great choice for Halloween parties.
Skip It If: You don’t like anthology movies.