Horror movies have been my favorite genre since I was a little girl.  No Nick Sparks for me thank you very much.  Purely gory flicks won’t make this list, because if you have a well written story, you don’t need it.  Instead of blood, I want to see the turmoil within the characters.  Do you run?  Do you fight? Do you leave others behind?  Can you hunt if you are also the hunted?  Can you be clever when the world is collapsing around you?

Here are my top 5 Horror Picks.  They make you think, they make your heart race, and they stay with you long after they are over.  If you haven’t seen all of these movies, I urge you to do so at once.  You won’t regret it!

5. Cabin in the Woods

Five friends go on spring break to a Cabin in the Woods.  Sure, you think you know where I’m going with this, but you actually don’t. The blonde isn’t a ditz, the jock is a sociology major, and the stoner has it all figured out. Finely crafted by Joss Whedon, the man who brought you Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse among many others, all you can really count on is the unexpected and superb wit.  With characters you genuinely don’t want to see die, you are holding your breath as the gang realizes they aren’t just being stalked in the woods, they are a part of something much more complex.  Save the world, save your friends, save your own behind, so many decisions to make.  Cabin in the Woods is a truly satisfying movie with an awesome ending that will leave you scavenging for another person to discuss it with!

4. Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 black-and-white American independent horror film directed by George A. Romero and was shot in my hometown! The story follows characters Ben, Barbra, and five others trapped in a rural farmhouse in Pennsylvania, which is attacked by unnamed "living dead" monsters.  Night of the Living Dead is often referred to as the birthplace of zombies in pop culture today.  Despite controversy surrounding violence in the movie, as well as the male lead being African American (unheard of even in the late 60’s), the movie is still one of the highest grossing horror films of all time.  If you live for The Walking Dead, or you like your zombies a bit slower, rent this next movie night. 

3.  The Fourth Kind

Easily one of the most disturbing movies of all time. The Fourth Kind, told in a documentary format, tells the story of psychiatrist Abbey Tyler.  After the death of her husband, Abbey continues his research into the insomnia that seems to be plaguing the residents of their home in Nome, Alaska.  What she finds is the unnatural commonalities between all the patients. They think they are sleeping, they dream of a Snow Owl, and then they remember nothing.  Abbey decides to take her research a step further and use hypnosis to get to the truth.  What she finds is downright horrifying.  The residents are being abducted from their beds.  However, the deeper she pushes her research the larger the target on her back grows.   The creepiest aspect to this film?  The similarities it shares with real-life documented cases in Alaska and around the world.  The idea of being taken from your home by monsters you can’t understand or fight is truly frightening.  By the end of the film, you will be yearning for a regular old serial killer!

2. Halloween

Halloween is the father of the horror genre. I’ve been asked many times why it is a must see.   It was a simple premise for a movie.  A young boy, Michael Myers, murders his sister in cold blood.  Seventeen years later, he reemerges to kill his other sister.  It set the standard for suspense and pacing that left you glued to the edge of your seat.  With a psychopath on a murderous rampage, only one scene actually contains any blood at all.  The atmosphere and a one-song soundtrack establishes the fear from the very beginning without the gratuitous gore that seems so prevalent in today’s horror flicks. Why should you see it?  The fear and anxiety comes purely from a well-developed plot and great actors.  As Michael races to find his sister, and his Doctor races to stop him, the action is intense. Halloween exploded into not only a franchise, but also resurgence of the horror genre, and for that, we thank it.

1.  Lake Mungo

Shot in the new fad of documentary filming, the movie begins with the untimely death of 16 year old Alice Palmer. She drowns in a dam while on vacation with her family. My first instinct was an annoyed "oh great an Aussie Paranormal Activity" but I was pleasantly surprised this wasn't the case.

Sure, it begins as a ghost story. Alice's brother sets up cameras around the home hoping to capture an image of the beautiful girl the entire family is devastated without. The family is what makes this whole movie work. With genuine sadness, Alice's mother confesses that she never allowed herself to be close to her only daughter. Her brother portrays very believable regret at never fully taking the time to get to know his sister. Finally, it is Alice's father that is most convincing. Taking on the very realistic role of a father who throws himself into his work to escape his sadness, and his family’s grief.

You come to care deeply about this family, especially once you realize as the viewer this is more than just a ghost story. As psychics and friends, family and neighbors are interviewed, you desperately want to know, what DID happen to Alice? You will begin to search the screen for the smallest glimpse of Alice, as you are hit with the realization that every ghost lived a whole life beforehand. As Alice's back-story unfolds secrets come to light, and just when you think you have the movie pegged, it changes gears entirely. As an avid horror buff, this movie had me on the edge of my seat the entire running time.

I can't reveal too much more. This movie was like peeling an onion, layer by layer. However by the end of this movie not only will the characters and stories stick with you. You will look around and begin to wonder what horrifying secrets those around you are keeping, and plan to take to the grave.
Just like Alice.

What do you fear when things go bump in the night? 
What is your favorite scary movie?

4/12/2013 18:06:13

I've loved horror since I was a little girl, too. Even so, I've only seen #4-5 on your list. Looks like I have some catching up to do!


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