Scary movies are the best. I’ve been watching them and reading things like Stephen King and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark from as far back as I can remember. It seems like there is a pretty wide range of movies that can be classified as “horror” or “thrillers” but I’ve always been partial to the paranormal and creepy factors. Major gore just isn’t my thing, though I can definitely appreciate a good slasher film every now and then.
I Have Horrible Taste in Movies
One thing you should probably know before delving into this list is that I rarely agree with critics. I’m pretty easily entertained so when the critics hate something, I’m pretty much guaranteed to love it and visa versa. Don’t get me started on La La Land. I liked it a lot, but I do not think it was award worthy. I’m open to hearing people’s explanations for why they think it was though. Maybe I’m just missing something.
Anyway, sometimes a movie has been promoted well and you can just tell from the trailers that it’s going to be awesome, and sometimes, it actually is awesome. 😉 Other times though, you go to movies or select one to watch at home that you’re not expecting much from and you’re pleasantly surprised by how good it is. More times than not, scary movies are either just plain bad, or even if they’re OK, they’re nothing noteworthy. These are movies that I went into expecting one thing and came out the other end with something so much better.
Set Your Standards Low 😉
One of the reasons these movies might be on my list is because I wasn’t expecting much before seeing them. If possible, I suggest you do the same. Assume that your tastes are completely different from mine and you’ll likely hate everything I love (because it might be true) and watch these movies expecting them to be “meh”. I’ll post just the list with their link to IMDB (though I recommend not reading anything about them beforehand) and then I’ll list them a second time with explanations as to why I liked them. There will be spoilers in the second list so again, just take the first list, find the movie and watch it. Don’t read the second list unless you’ve already seen the movie or don’t care about spoilers.
In no particular order:
3. The Cabin in the Woods
4. It Follows
5. The Babadook
6. Get Out
Still in theaters
7. The Fourth Kind
8. American Mary
10. 10 Cloverfield Lane
11. Under the Skin
12. Let Me In / Let the Right One In
13. The Thing (1982)
These maybe aren’t technically “scary” movies, but they at least dip a toe in the category. I had to mention them for reasons I’ll talk about in the second list.
14. High Spirits
15. The ‘Burbs
Ok, now go out and watch the ones you haven’t already seen, then scroll down to compare notes on what you thought vs. why I like these movies so much.
SPOILERS BELOW! SPOILERS BELOW! SPOILERS BELOW!
OK, this is the last time I’ll mention it. I highly recommend you watch the movies above “blind” without reading summaries of them or my comments below about them. Not really knowing what to expect, I think, was one of the things that made these movies so enjoyable. Now for the commentary…
This was one of those movies we went to the theater to see because there was nothing else playing that we were interested in so we were like “Meh, might as well go see the crappy scary movie.” We didn’t know anything about it other than it was in the horror genre and had something to do with rock climbing. The suspense of figuring out what exactly was living in the caves, along with watching the heroine transform into her own version of a beast, was amazing. We weren’t sure until the bitter end if she was going to make it out or not and after watching this hard core group of women climb through this cave system, my friend Shannan and I went on a road trip and started getting into rock climbing ourselves. THAT’S how much I loved this movie. It literally caused me to pick up another hobby. When you go in thinking you’re just seeing something that’ll give you an excuse to sit in a theater and nosh on massive amounts of popcorn but you come out exhilarated and wanting to conquer the rock climbing world, that’s a good movie.
This one I watched on Amazon Prime because a friend recommended it. I probably would have never given it a second look otherwise. I’m not sure if it’s changed since then, but at the time, even the description of the movie was super vague and the cover photo and title don’t tell you much either. Is it about zombies? A plague? Posession? It’s probably the least amount of information I’ve had going into a movie. So glad I watched it though. With all of the sparkly and OP vampire movies out there, this was an interesting take on unknowingly being turned. I really enjoyed guessing what the plot was heading towards.
THE ELEVATOR SCENE. Need I say more? I don’t think so, but I will anyway. ;P The second Thor slammed into the invisible barrier, my jaw dropped and it was sheer chaos from there guessing where the heck the movie was going, and I loved every second of it. I was NOT expecting it to turn into a Sci-Fi movie. Throw a bunch of comic relief in there and top it off with some Sigourney Weaver and I was sold. Plus, I loved that the ancient gods won, yet somehow, as the viewer, you’re totally OK with it and still feel good about the ending.
It Follows stuck with me for several days after watching it. I found myself imagining what it would be like to deal with such a situation. Constantly looking over your shoulder wondering if that stranger, or close friend, was something else. CREEPED ME OUT, MAN. Knowing it was a low budget indie film didn’t set my standards very high, which is why this one was so surprising. The simple, straight forward plot was actually really creepy right up until the last scene. So good.
The Babadook dook dook. It was the ending that hooked me with this one. The rest of the movie has some pretty good scenes and creepy imagery but a mom who realizes she can’t kill a demon so she kicks the crap out of it and keeps it locked up in her basement, feeding it scraps, all to protect her child…yeah…that’s a pretty awesome ending.
You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, this movie had ridiculously high ratings the second it came out in the theater. You must have known it was going to be good.” Remember though, a lot of the time I disagree with critics and from the trailers, it looked like it was going to be really disturbing. Not just on a scary movie/horror level, but disturbing on a very real, current day and age, level. I really thought from the trailers that I wouldn’t enjoy it because it would just be too depressing. Kind of like watching Requiem for a Dream where you know it’s a good and important movie, but it’s actually painful to watch. I wasn’t planning on seeing it, but my husband and two of our friends really wanted to so we went and man am I glad we did. I should have know since Jordan Peele wrote and directed it that it would have some aspects of humor but the T.S.A. character MADE that movie for me. He was hilarious and at all the right moments. On top of that, it’s not often that you get to cheer along with the audience to a movie. Usually, that’s reserved for opening nights of the Star Wars series or something along those lines. Maybe we just got lucky and had a good crowd but we were cheering him along and the ending, though I don’t think it was how it was originally intended to end, was so gratifying and unexpected. LOVED IT.
I guess I haven’t seen many alien abduction movies that really creeped me out but this one sure as heck did. I remember having goosebumps listening to the recordings and watching the “real” police footage. I’m pretty good at the whole suspension of disbelief thing so maybe that’s why this one seemed so scary to me. It’s one of the few movies I went back and watched again right away to take a second look at everything. Plus, Milla Jovovich.
As I said before, gore is normally not my thing. Maybe it was just because Katherine Isabelle was in it and ever since Ginger Snaps she’s pretty much been a horror icon to me. There are some pretty gruesome and disturbing things in this movie but I found myself rooting for her the whole time. Girl power took a really twisted turn in this movie but it worked for me and I like this movie so much more than I expected to.
I’m starting to realize that I may just be a sucker for movies that have actors/actresses that I love. Or is it the actors/actresses I love just pick really great movies to be a part of? 😉 The second I saw Nicholas Brendon in the trailer, I HAD to watch this movie. Buffy is amazing. Anyway, I knew I was really only watching the movie because he was in it and I hadn’t seen him in anything in so long so I didn’t set my standards very high. As the movie progressed though, it really started to turn into a mind bending plot. Not just the alternate dimensions but how would you tag or find a way to determine which dimension was yours? And then the more disturbing aspect of how far would you go to make sure you ended up in a not-crappy dimension. Woah. Yeah. This one was way better than I expected it to be.
Even though the name “cloverfield” is in the title of this one, we weren’t expecting the two to be connected. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to turn into a Sci-Fi movie either. I spent the first 2/3 of the movie trying to figure out what sort of crazy John Goodman was. Was he delusional and really thought the world was under attach when it wasn’t? Was he a pyschopath and just keeping them down there to torture them? Was he really trying to protect them and was just a little crazy with the way he was going about it? I really enjoyed guessing as the movie went on. I was totally shocked when he actually dumped the guy in the vat of acid so I really loved that I wasn’t expecting that at all and then when she escapes and you realize they’re the same aliens from the Cloverfield movie and everything clicks, yeah, that was a good moment. Apparently they’re making a third movie in the series that is set to come out this year. 😀
Yet another one that I hadn’t heard anything about but watched simply because Scarlett Johansson was in it and wasn’t expecting much from it. It turned out to be so dark and disturbing though. I really had to pay attention and process what was going on to figure it out though and I still missed a few things that made the movie that much better once I learned about them after the fact. I really liked these obvservations. I knew the fly was important and the main character’s objectives changed at that point but I hadn’t really put together what was going through her head as she watched the fly. Reading about it after the fact really cinched everything together and made it that much better. Definitely wasn’t a feel-good, exhilarating ending but still definitely a great movie. AND THE SOUNDTRACK! Oh my goodness, that creepy hunting theme. So good.
Let Me In came out of no where. I hadn’t heard about it, didn’t really know much about the actors in it and just kinda dove in and gave it a shot. I’m now realizing that I tend to enjoy movies that take time to figure out exactly what is going on. It started off dark and eerily slow, but the more you discover about who Abby is and what her backstory is, the more disturbingly marvelous the plot becomes. Here you have this who-knows-how-old vampire in the body of a child who lures young boys into falling in love with her and promising to be her guardian until they’re too old to care for her, and she finds another child. You go from watching this seemingly sweet relationship between two children develop, to realizing how disturbing it is that she is potentially hundreds of years old and luring boys to her, to feeling sorry for her current guardian who was once that young boy she was luring and who fell head over heels for her and devoted his life to caring for her, only to be replaced by the next boy who is doomed to the same fate. So tragically disturbing. Another really great and interesting take on a vampire movie.
I have no idea how I missed this one until a few years ago. John Carpenter and Kurt Russel?!?! How had I never seen or heard about this!?!? I think we came across this in some horror movie list and we we said exactly that. “How the heck have we never seen the Kurt Russel horror movie?!” Oh my gosh, so good! We were placing bets the whole time about who was the infected one and how it was going to end. I LOVE a movie that can keep you guessing until the very end.
While I wouldn’t exactly call this movie “scary”, I remember watching it when I was very young and loving it. It popped into my head again a year or so ago and I wondered if it would be one of those movies that seemed great when you were a kid but then you re-watch it as an adult and it’s awful. Maybe it’s because I have such great memories of it as a kid but it was every bit as good now as it was decades ago when I first watched it. So funny and quirky with a feel-good ending and a haunted castle thrown in for good measure. Oh, and did I mention, Peter O’Toole, Liam Neeson, Daryl Hannah, Beverly D’Angelo, Steve Guttenberg, Peter Gallagher and Jennifer Tilly are all in it! I’m not making this up, they’re seriously all in the same movie together. It’s amazing. Liam Neeson is a wee baby compared to his “Taken” days.
I have seen this movie probably more than any other movie on the planet. I think my brother and I watched it weekly, if not daily, during the summers when I was a kid. I shouldn’t even have to say more after mentioning Tom Hanks, because he’s amazing, but throw in a side of Carrie Fisher and Corey Feldman, some goofy, paranoid neighbors and a cult leader and you’ve got yourself a great movie, my friends! So quirky, so hilarious and so re-watchable. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to post a favorite movie list of any kind without including this movie. Definitely one of my all time favorites.
What are your thoughts on any of these movies? Are there any scary movies you’ve seen that were unexpectedly good? Gore, suspense or creep factor? Comment below!