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One theme, five killer films. We explore five films featuring college kids facing horrors far greater than rush week and final exams.

College life is often depicted quite idealistically in film. But anyone who has survived college knows that it’s not always a walk in the park. Fortunately, most co-eds have never had to face killer clowns, zombies, evil spirits, or psychopaths. But those things sure do make for some great entertainment — and a great way to relieve the real-world stress and tension often experienced in academics. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that watching terrifying scenes on screen can help improve our response to fear and anxiety.

Even without the added stress of a campus serial killer or a flesh-eating virus, just trying to get through school with your sanity intact can be difficult and scary enough.

Fortunately, there are some great services now that can help struggling students balance competing priorities and deadline pressures. You may even want to pay for research papers and find professional writers to help you complete your assignments according to requirements and never miss any deadlines. That gives you more time to tackle the most important things in life — like watching more horror movies!

If you need a break from your studies, we recommend these five great horror films about students in peril. 

1. Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)

The story begins at the film school where graduating students are working on their final projects and follows film student Amy Mayfield. Amy is having doubts regarding the subject of her thesis. But a conversation with the school’s security guard inspires her to make a film about a serial killer who murders in the fashion of urban legends. Things turn terrifying when real life begins to imitate art and the members of her film crew start turning up dead.

Final Cut was the follow-up to the hugely successful 1998 slasher film Urban Legend, directed by John Ottman in his directorial debut. Among the wacky urban legends explored in the film, we get the notorious “waking up in a bathtub full of ice with a missing kidney” scenario, a burrito contaminated with roach eggs, a carnival with fake corpses that turn out to be real, and a ‘fake’ murder filmed on camera that turns out to be an actual snuff film.

More over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek than Urband Legend, this entertaining sequel is a treat for horror fans due to both its story and its numerous references to other great horror and film classics. For example, the opening sequence was inspired by the infamous Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”. There are also homages to 1974’s Black Christmas and 1960’s Peeping Tom. Film scholar Jim Harper, in his book Legacy of Blood: A Comprehensive Guide to Slasher Movies (2004), also states there is a “distinct Argento influence” present in the film.

Where to Watch: Available to buy or rent on most VOD platforms

2. Truth or Dare (2018)

Truth or Dare, also known as Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, is a supernatural scary movie. It centers around a group of students on vacation in Mexico who play a game of truth or dare with deadly consequences.

The film’s central protagonist, Olivia Barron, is a  college senior who has a reputation for always being kind and selfless. She plans to spend her final Spring Break of college building houses with Habitat for Humanity. But her friend convinces her to come on a trip to Mexico with a group of friends instead. At a bar, Olivia meets a man named Carter who invites the group to go drinking at an abandoned church. It’s there he suggests a friendly game of truth or dare.

During the game, Olivia’s secret crush on her friend Lucas gets revealed. Then the real nightmare begins. Carter admits that he tricked them into playing a supernatural version of the game and warns them to do whatever the game asks or they will be killed.

Besides its creepy premise, Truth or Dare also deals with issues of love and friendship, which should help it resonate with its core audience.

Where to Watch: Available to buy or rent on most VOD platforms

3. Cabin Fever (2003)

This modern horror classic blends truly scary body horror with comedic elements.

The film follows a group of college graduates who become the victim of a flesh-eating virus while renting a cabin in the woods during Spring Break. After encountering — and killing — a hermit suffering from a rare disease, the group seems to invite some pretty gruesome karmic justice that begins from drinking infected tap water.

Cabin Fever was co-written and directed by the guru of gore, Eli Roth, in his directorial debut. He wrote the film in 1995 with his former NYU roommate Randy Pearlstein while working as a production assistant for Howard Stern’s Private Parts. As may be difficult to believe now, his early attempts to sell the script were unsuccessful because studios felt the horror genre had become unprofitable. But the spectacular success of Scream in 1996 changed all that, and horror was hot again. Still, Roth had an uphill battle because studios wanted something more like Scream.

The inspiration for the film’s story came from a real-life experience during a trip to Iceland when Roth developed a nasty skin infection. Various elements of the script were also inspired by Roth’s favorite horror films, including The Texas Chain Saw MassacreThe Last House on the Left, and The Evil Dead.

Where to Watch: Available to buy or rent on most VOD platforms, or watch for free on Peacock with ads 

4. Happy Death Day (2017)

Happy Death Day took a familiar premise, the idea of a day that keeps repeating over and over like we saw in Groundhog Day, and breathed new life into it with a fun horror twist.

This black comedy slasher film was directed by Christopher Landon and written by comic book writer Scott Lobdell. It stars the great Jessica Rothe as a college student who gets murdered on the night of her birthday only to wake up the next day and realize she is living in an endless time loop — one in which she must die in horrific new ways each day unless she can figure out who her killer is and find a way to stop the vicious cycle.

The mask in the film was constructed by Tony Gardner, the same man who built the “Ghostface” mask from every Scream film. Scream itself was listed among the influences Christopher Landon took for the film, along with Halloween (1978), the obvious Groundhog Day, and comedies of the 1980s such as Sixteen Candles and Back to the Future. He aimed to make a “fun, silly horror movie”. He also wanted to emulate the protagonist’s personal growth in Groundhog Day to comment on “this age of social media and all the crappy things that kids do to each other”.

Happy Death Day was praised by both critics and fans, spawning a 2019 sequel, Happy Death Day 2U. While there are some great scary moments, and the kills are super fun, the film really delivers in the area of comedy and even some surprisingly satisfying human drama.

Where to Watch: Available to buy or rent on most VOD platforms, or watch for free on FXNow, fuboTV, DIRECTV, or Spectrum On Demand

5. Scream 2 (1997)

The last film on this list is an undisputed classic and definitely at the top of its class when it comes to great collegiate horror.

One of the scariest stories ever takes place at the college where Sidney Prescott is striving to get her degree (Windsor College in Ohio), while hoping against hope that she can move past the carnage of her time at Woodsboro High (where the events of the first film took place). Thinking she can finally move on after the death of Ghostface, it’s not hard to predict that Sidney is sadly mistaken.

Her past has caught back up with her in a big way, and Sindey must once again race to figure out who is behind a series of brutal murders.

This well-received sequel was released less than a year after the phenomenal success of Scream. This time, the filmmakers also deliver death scenes that are much more elaborate — ramping up the fear and the fun.

Where to Watch: Available to buy or rent on most VOD platforms

Author’s Bio: Robert Griffith is a content writer with a Master’s degree in Psychology. He studies the impact of films on mental health and their use for youth. In his free time, he gives lectures to students at college.

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