There are creepy horror movies, and then there are groundbreaking ones that altered the genre. The following is a list of innovative horror films that were not only great at scaring audiences, but were even better at raising viewer experience.
Directed by David Cronenberg and released in 1986, The Fly is classified as a sci-fi drama. That did not prevent it from producing some of the most terrifying scenes in the body-horror genre. A budding scientist played by Jeff Goldblum invents a transporter that can rebuild a person’s molecular makeup from point A to point B. But a stray fly gets in the teleportation chamber with him, mixing up their DNAs. Horror ensued as the fly grew inside the human’s body and took on human qualities as well. Despite the gore, efforts to make the cosmetic and practical effects realistic made The Fly a high quality and effective horror movie in its time.
The warm reception for the 2001 Philippine theater release of Hideo Nakata’s “The Ring” (1998) could be argued as having paved the way for other Asian horror movies in mainstream cinema. The Ring’s tense build up, sparse special effects, strategically placed jump scares, and mood lorded over competing technical effects that were the rage in movies at the time. The premise was simple. Anyone who watches a particular accursed video dies and the only way to avoid death is to make another person watch the video, hence passing on the curse. The plot must have resonated with a generation that grew up receiving chain letters, handwritten or digital, and struggled at deciding whether to honor or disregard them.
The Sixth Sense
Long before Filipino moviegoers embraced Japanese style horror, M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 blockbuster hit The Sixth Sense was already employing the less- gore and melancholic mood of such films. Narrative-driven, the films captivates the audience with mystery and storytelling–a young boy struggling with psychic abilities and a tortured soul desperately trying to revive an ailing relationship with his wife– only to knock everyone off their seats with thoughtfully placed jump scares and a killer twist ending. Stellar acting by Bruce Willis, Toni Colette, and Haley Joel Osment were at the core of this film, showing what multi-dimensional characters and a solid narrative can do for a genre that up until then was dominated by gore and lore.
One of M. Night’s more recent films, The Visit (2015) was the director’s stake to reclaim his place as king storyteller. The film is about a young brother and sister who went to vacation with their grandparents’ estate, a long way outside the children’s home in the city. Not long after arriving and feeling their isolation did they realize that something sinister was going on with their granparents. As the days went, their chance of getting back home alive appeared to become slimmer. It was an edge-of-your-seat horror, with nearly the entire movie a powerful build up toward the ending, which while not spectacular, was terrifying and lingering. Just what a horror movie is supposed to do but seemed to have forgotten as of late.
Contributed for InqPOP! by Arfie Koc. The author is a university employee and holds a master’s degree in history. In her spare time, she is a volunteer high school teacher who likes to lecture students about the perils of fake news. For feedback, email firstname.lastname@example.org