More Great Modern Horror Films
It’s that time of year again! Last year I wrote an article featuring five critically acclaimed horror films that were released within the past decade. Here are five more spooky flicks to consider watching this October. I will explain why critics were impressed with these films and briefly describe why an individual viewer might not appreciate them as much as the critics did.
A Quiet Place
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Plot: A rural family living in a postapocalyptic world is terrorized by hideous extraterrestrial monsters who have apparently slaughtered most of humanity. The creatures are blind but have extremely sharp hearing and virtually indestructible skin. The only way to evade them is to remain silent. The slightest noise could mean instant death. “A Quiet Place” is a rollercoaster of nonstop tension and dread.
Director John Krasinski teams up with his real-life wife Emily Blunt to portray Lee and Evelyn Abbott, a married couple with three children – deaf daughter Regan (played by Millicent Simmonds, who is deaf in real life), middle child Marcus (Noah Jupe), and his younger brother Beau (Cade Woodward). Evelyn is also pregnant with another child. The family communicates with sign language (there are subtitles for those of us who don’t know how to sign) as they desperately try to evade the creatures.
Skip it if you hate reading subtitles.
Happy Death Day
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%
Plot: A college girl with the bizarre name of Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) wakes up in the dorm room of a guy she doesn’t know named Carter (Israel Broussard) with no memory of how she ended up there. Later that evening, she is brutally murdered by a mysterious masked maniac and then wakes up to find herself back in Carter’s bed. Understandably confused, Tree eventually realizes that she is stuck in a time loop that is forcing her to endlessly relive the day of her death. Now she must find a way to release herself from the deadly cycle before it’s too late.
“Happy Death Day” is the horror equivalent of the famous Bill Murray comedy “Groundhog Day”. Like Murray’s character, Tree is a deeply flawed person. She subverts the tropes of a traditional horror genre leading lady, but the movie avoids trite moralization. The plot isn’t about Tree becoming a better person (although it seems headed in that direction for a while). Instead, it’s about Tree seeing her relationships with other people for what they really are.
Skip it if you don’t like the time loop gimmick.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Plot: Will (Logan Marshall Green), a man struggling to restore his life after a tragic incident that tore his family apart years earlier, receives an invitation to attend a dinner party at the home of his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman). Will decides to attend despite his fears that the dinner will be awkward and uncomfortable. Accompanied by his new girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), Will arrives at Eden’s home and discovers that several of their old friends have been invited as well. As the evening progresses, Will’s suspicions increase, and he becomes certain that Eden and David have sinister ulterior motives.
Skip it if you want to watch a fast-paced film. “The Invitation” progresses slowly because it wants to keep the audience uncertain if there is a genuine threat or if Will is just being paranoid. The film eventually pays off in a big (and bloody) way, but it takes some patience to make it that far.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Plot: Maddie Young (Katie Siegel) is a deaf novelist who has made the dubious decision to live alone in the middle of the woods. Her life is uneventful until a fateful night when a relentless psychopath in a creepy mask inexplicably appears outside her home. The killer eventually figures out that she is deaf and thinks she will be an easy target, but Maddie has a few tricks up her sleeve. An epic cat and mouse battle ensues.
Although its plot is vastly different, “Hush” has many similarities to a “A Quiet Place”. Both films feature a relatively sparse amount of dialogue, a simple plot, and a deaf major character. Viewers who enjoy “A Quiet Place” will probably also like “Hush”, and vice versa.
Skip it if you prefer horror movies that explain the killer’s motives. We never find out anything about the killer’s background or why he has decided to target Maddie. On the other hand, as Billy Loomis famously pointed out in “Scream”, it’s always scarier when there’s no motive.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
Plot: Based on the famous Stephen King novel of the same name, “It” features the iconic villain Pennywise, an ancient shapeshifting demon who often takes the form of a grotesquely demented circus clown. Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) terrorizes the residents of Derry, a small (and fictional) Maine town that appears in several Stephen King stories. He returns from hibernation every 27 years to slaughter and dismember the town’s children, literally feasting from their fear. Pennywise murders with impunity until he finally encounters a formidable foe - a group of teenage misfits known as the Losers’ Club. The film includes all the most memorable characters from the novel, including the stuttering and socially awkward Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), feisty ginger Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), psychopathic bully Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) and the wisecracking and foul-mouthed Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard).
Several horror films about evil clowns have been released in recent years, including “Stitches”, “Terrifier”, “Killjoy”, and the creatively named “Clown”. “It” separates itself from the pack with convincing performances, great casting and superior production values. A sequel, which will be based on the second half of the novel, is scheduled for release in 2019.
Skip it if you suffer from coulrophobia.