horror stories: the best

“Let’s talk, you and I.  Let’s talk about fear.”  -- Stephen King, Night Shift.

I came to my love of cinema through horror movies.  So much of what I learned about the aesthetics of filmmaking and storytelling was from fright films.  One of the things which always bothered me is how easily the horror genre is dismissed by the entertainment industry: you don’t exactly see horror films being nominated for Academy Awards, and the ones that have been in the past are outliers.

Horror ebbs and flows.  Trends emerge, peak, and vanish…only to be reborn.  It’s always fun to see which monsters crawl back out of the dark ether over time: ghosts, vampires, zombies, or other ghoulish creatures from this world (or another!).  There was a time when I did fall out of love with horror.  CGI (computer-generated imaging) took the wonder out of many of the scary movies that I would go see, because most of it was so bad.  So I stopped going.  There’s something magical about practical effects: the texture of molded puppets, the elaborate makeup; things that digital effects created on a computer can never replicate.  In recent years, however, I’ve gone back to my beloved genre and been pleasantly surprised on occasion.

The following list is made up of horror movies that did their job – scaring the hell out of me – but also have something to say about the sinister realms of human nature.  Included are more recent films, as well as a few worthwhile classics.  They are good movies in general, all identifying labels aside.  Well-written, well-directed, well-acted, and executed with exceptional skill.  Each and every one sure to make your skin crawl, as only horror films can do.

  1. 28 Days Later (2002)
  2. Hostel (2005)
  3. The Babadook (2014)
  4. The Descent (2005)
  5. The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
  6. The Strangers (2008)
  7. Absentia (2011)
  8. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
  9. The Changeling (1980)
  10. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  11. Hellraiser (1987)
  12. Lights Out (2016)
  13. The Visit (2015)
  14. Cat People (1942)
  15. Black Sabbath (1963)

by// martin aguilera

Darrin Bush