We celebrate the diversity of horror by watching a wide range of flicks, from the sweet and silly to the white-knuckling and terrifying.
Horror is about the human experience. It’s about collective fears and anxieties. While it may not always be overtly terrifying, it always taps into our fears of the unknown — of losing control, of not knowing what’s hiding in the dark or just around the next corner, of that which we can’t explain or don’t understand, of the uncertainty of being alive and the ever-impending threat of death.
Sometimes, it’s a very real threat we can see and comprehend like home invaders coming to destroy the illusion of safety and security. Sometimes, it’s some supernatural threat we can’t rationalize or hope to fight. Sometimes, it’s a monster or some horrible creature stepping out of the darkness, the embodiment of all our childhood fears of the dark or what may be hiding just out of sight. Sometimes, our own minds are the greatest enemy.
This week, we celebrate the diversity of horror by watching films about people up against a threat — from the very real to the supernatural. Sometimes, it’s funny and lighthearted, and sometimes it’s unbearably tense and terrifying.
This horror movie-watching week, it’s all thumbs up from us as we watched some very unique people-in-peril horror movies, ranging from scary to spooky.
1. SPLINTER (2008)
Splinter is a really creative film with a fast pace that feels like it flies by. We love a horror movie that’s short and sweet.
We follow a couple camping in the woods, Polly (Jill Wagner) and her clumsy boyfriend Seth (Paulo Costanzo), who end up breaking their tent. Meanwhile, two criminals, Lacey (Rachel Kerbs) and Dennis (Shea Whigham), run into trouble while on the run when Polly passes by Lacey. Polly and Seth stop the car and are basically taken hostage.
The two couples end up hitting an odd little prickly animal and stop at a gas station, where they begin to be terrorized by a splintery parasite.
The effects are really cool and reminded us of the Black vomit scene from Jennifer’s Body. We love the scene where you get to see somebody being taken over by this splintery parasite.
People have complained about the shakey camera technique, but it didn’t bug us.
2. THE DESCENT (2005)OUR FAVORITE OF THE WEEK!
It’s probably not a surprise to say that The Descent is one of our favorites. We love the raw vibe of the film. Centered around a group of friends that become trapped in a cave with unknown creatures, it’s well-acted with a smart script that moves seamlessly from plot setup into harrowing action.
The cast included Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, and Nora-Jane Noone. They do an excellent job of making you feel like you’re watching a real friend group. The Descent from writer-director Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers) truly succeeds in building up the characters’ backstories quickly, so you care more about them by the time they get to the cave when all the terror begins.
If you are claustrophobic at all, this one might be hard to get through. Watching these women cram their bodies into tiny spaces throughout the cave adds a whole new level of anxiety to the film.
We love how Marshall plays with lighting, making good use of the partial darkness to drive fear. The red flare lighting in the cave, when the women are first exploring, looks incredible, and we loved seeing the pit covered in bloody bones and remains lit by a glow stick.
There are some memorable and tense scenes that are greatly impacted by the lighting for the better.
The descent is chilling and brutally graphic; we LOVE it. All the fight scenes are solid, and the attacks are top-notch, especially when they brawl with the creatures at the end. The actual creatures are incredibly creepy nightmare fuel.
Although we love a good final girl, we actually really prefer the alternative UK release ending that is much bleaker; it was considered too dark for American audiences, but we think it’s much better.
No matter what version you watch from start to finish, this one is a winner that will linger in your mind after you watch it.
3. US (2019)
There is so much we love about Jordan Peele’s sophomore sensation Us.
First, we love the soundtrack, which sets a great tone throughout and effectively builds tension. We love the family made up of Winston Duke as Gabe the father, Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide the Mother, Shahadi Wright Joseph as Zora the daughter, and Evan Alex as Jason the younger brother.
Not only does Peele offer us great representation that we don’t often get to see in horror, but the cast truly delivers with incredible acting and a rock-solid script that strikes the perfect balance of humor mixed with tense situations.
Us is a really interesting and original concept. It essentially follows a family as they are being attacked by another family almost identical to them called The Tethered. We get some great foreshadowing and clues along the way about what’s happening, along with a stellar twist.
Although all actors do a great job, Lupita Nyong’o really steals the show with her performance as Adelaide and her tethered double; she is completely convincing in both roles and does an impeccable job.
The violence towards the end is fantastic. Something about great kill scenes set to awesome music just really gets our blood pumping. A beautiful fight scene between the Mom (Lupita) and her tethered double (Lupita) is gorgeously unique and one of our favorite parts of the film.
There are a lot of unanswered questions, and some things seem a little unrealistic, but it is a great and incredibly fun movie nonetheless and well worth the watch.
4. VILLAINS (2019)
Villains is great and so much better if you go into it blind, so we’ll try to reveal as little as possible.
Essentially, petty thieves and questionable characters break into a house that belongs to a crazy couple and find more than they bargain for.
Bill Skarsgard does such an incredible job playing Mickey with Maika Monroe as Jules, his girlfriend and partner in crime; their chemistry is great. We love watching them together. They appear super compatible and feel like a real couple, which brings a more realistic and romantic element to the film.
Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Donovan do an equally stellar job of being completely insane, and it brings the movie to such an intense level.
Villains is a Dark Comedy with horrific elements that will keep you on edge. It’s never dull and always amusing. We get to watch this couple make mistakes and endure humorously tense and dangerous situations.
With a killer ending, this movie is worth watching if you enjoy a great horror-comedy.
5. EXTRA ORDINARY (2019)
Extra Ordinary is a really unique concept about ghosts and the paranormal. It is more funny than scary. To be fair, calling it horror would be a stretch, but it is spooky.
It’s a very light-hearted story about a woman named Rose (Maeve Higgins), a lonely Irish driving instructor, using her ability to talk to ghosts to save the daughter of a man she meets, Martin (Barry Ward), from being used in a Satanic ritual.
We love the always excellent Will Forte performance as the ex-rock star and aspiring Satanist.
There’s a great effect when a girl gets ripped in half during a ritual, and it’s outstanding. However, other than that, there is little to no gore or violence in this film.
Rose is so cute and endearing. She’s an easy character to root for and care about her journey.
The ending goes a little off the rails for us. It gets a bit sillier than we typically enjoy. Others, however, might get a real kick out of it as it’s certainly entertaining.
Ultimately, this unique and quirky ghost story is worth watching if you like more wholesome, spooky movies that excel at being funny and charming.
6. WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (2006)
When a Stranger Calls is a very early aughts horror movie. From the clothes to the dialogue, it takes you back. It has a very dramatic beginning, and we love the teen scream vibe of any high school-set horror movie.
This remake of the 1979 film of the same name follows a teenager, Camilla Belle, who is babysitting when she begins to receive ominous phone calls. The calls get increasingly threatening, and she ends up finding out — surprise, surprise — that the calls are coming from inside the house.
The setting really enhances the film because it’s an absolutely gorgeous home and a great place to watch a girl get terrorized.
When a Stranger Calls builds suspense well, and it is a blast to watch, especially if you’re in the mood for a 2000s vibe..