This past week, Jordan Peele’s Get Out made its theatrical debut to critical acclaim. With its unique premise and focus on race, the film has quickly become a worthy addition to the unconventional horror sub-genre. Horror has always been home to many sub-genres. Whether it’s the tried-and-true slasher flick, the paranormal mystery, or the mind-bending psychological thriller, the genre has consistently offered a wide range of content to enjoy. Those seeking something in the same vein as Peele’s film might want to check out several of the films featured on this list.
Donnie Darko (2001) is messed up. Even after multiple viewings, I still can’t put into words what about it scares the hell out of me. Yes, Frank is freaky, and yes, dying is scary, but there is more to it than that. It’s mind boggling how despite its science fiction feel, the films manages too frighten you because you have no idea if Donnie is going crazy, or if his life truly is about to end. Coupled with the strange, jarring imagery and that incredibly creepy bunny costume, the film never relents in trying to leave you suitably unsettled.
The Wicker Man
The original The Wicker Man (1973) succeeds in hiding its horror premise in a classic mystery-thriller. It isn’t until the third act that it goes full on “scary movie mode.” Sergeant Howie spends the entire movie searching for the human harvest sacrifice on a remote island only to find out he himself is the sacrifice that will be burned alive. What’s so horrifying about the sequence is the sudden realization that dawns across his face when learns their is no hope. He is completed surrounded by people who believe whole heartedly that he must die to save their crop. There simply is no arguing and no escape. Only a short and very painful existence left for him.
The Hole (2001) takes teen obsession to a whole other level. The movie opens up simply telling you that three teens have been found dead in an abandoned fallout shelter. Through false flashbacks and revelations ,we find out that one of the character’s tricked her peers into the shelter with a promise of a party, only to lock them in until her crush falls in love with her. Three gruesome deaths later you’ll start to wonder if you’ll even be able to trust falling in love ever again. The idea of being manipulated into loving for someone and only to have them betray you is not only depressing, but all too real.
The Last House on the Left
Wes Craven is indeed the master of horror, but what happens when he turns the table on the killers? The Last House On The Left (1972) is disgusting on so many levels. It dabbles in sexual exploitation, and for that it often gets disregarded as a proper horror film. However, when the rapists and killers end up at the mercy of their victims’ parents, there is no holding back. While at no point do you ever feel sorry for the criminals, watching such good wholesome people quickly descend into murderous psychopaths makes even your upper-middle class white-picket fence neighborhood seem scary.
The body-horror film The Brood (1979) has few moments that would allow you to catch your breath. When a mother’s suppressed murderous subconscious evolves into living breathing demon-like “children,” it makes the idea of having a couple of kids a disturbing one. Deep down we all have thoughts of revenge or rage, but rather than being so blatantly evil like the killer in any numerous slasher flicks, this movie really makes you afraid to feel any sort of negative emotion. It’s chilling to wonder if we are capable of manifesting our most angry thoughts into disturbing physical manifestations.
Voyeurism is obviously creepy, and yet we often catch ourselves watching things we know we shouldn’t. The film Videodrome (1983) challenges us to betray our curiosity if we dare. The main character, Max (James Woods), discovers a television snuff show that he quickly becomes a fan of, going as far as to introduce it to people he knows in a sexual fashion. By the time he finally learns it’s controlling his very thoughts and actions, it’s too late. We watch and question whether every decision he makes is his own will, or part of a far greater scheme. It’s not your standard horror movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it does provide an excellent commentary on the vices of our society.
What about you reader? Any unconventional or strange horror films that you’re a fan of? Let us in the comments below!