Great horror often has something important to say, and these ten films show the dangers of bullying and what happens when a victim is pushed too far.
Throughout horror film history, a popular trope has been that of victims who have been bullied seeking revenge on their attackers. This is due to the fact that people often like to see the underdog win and exact karmic retribution for wrongs committed against them. While it may not be right, and most of us wouldn’t advocate extreme violence, we can’t help but root for a victim who finally decides enough is enough.
Let’s take a look at ten great examples (in no particular order) of characters who went to extreme lengths to ensure their attackers would not inflict anymore psychological damage.
1. Darren Mullet, Tormented (2009)
The story in Tormented is really nothing new, as you’ve seen this kind of revenge plot many times before. But there’s enough here to make it stand out as a worthwhile watch.
After being mercilessly bullied by his classmates, and failed by everyone in his life who should have loved and protected him, Darren Mullet takes his own life. He was not a very popular kid, so not many people knew him or cared to know much about him, including popular girl Justine (who he secretly was in love with). After coming back from the dead, Mullet kills everyone he was bullied by — and those that stood by and watched him get bullied, refusing to defend him.
This movie is not as well known as others on this list. But it is still a good revenge movie and one I personally really enjoyed. It’s actually a comedy horror film, so there are moments of cheesy dialogue. However, there is plenty of gore. Any horror fan looking to see the underdog get his well deserved revenge should consider this film.
Unfortunately, this one is not currently available to stream for free, but you can check it out for a low rental fee from Google Play or YouTube. It’s worth the $3.
2. Michael Myers, Halloween (2007)
I know, you weren’t expecting to see Michael Myers on this list. But thanks to Rob Zombie’s reimagining of the seminal horror film Halloween, we get a version of The Shape in which Michael starts life out as a neglected and bullied boy.
There’s a powerful scene where he is picked on in the school bathroom by some bullies, and one of the main antagonists says some nasty things about Michael’s family (including his stripper mom). This strikes a nerve with young Myers, and he gets into a fight with with the boys, which is eventually broken up. A furious Michael later stalks one of the bullies in the woods and beats him to death with a giant tree mask, all while wearing his infamous clown mask and ignoring the bully’s cries for mercy.
Zombie’s version of Carpenter’s classic get quite a bit of hate, but this particular plot line is one way I think he delivered an interesting variation on the monster who kills without rhyme or reason. It showed that young Michael Myers was tormented and pushed to become the monster that he eventually became. The film is worth watching, even if just for the scenes with young Michael.
Halloween is available to rent on Amazon Prime, and it’s currently at a reduced price.
3. Rhonda, Trick ‘R Treat (2007)
Trick ‘R Treat is a great anthology horror movie, and I could honestly put it on a wide variety of ‘best of’ lists due to its many compelling stories. For this list, we are going to focus on the plot revolving around Rhonda and the kids going on a scavenger hunt.
Rhonda is an outsider, and the other kids initially just want her pumpkins. They invite her to hang out with them for the night with the intent of playing a cruel prank on her. In order to really scare Rhonda, the group of friends go as far as to dress up as children from the infamous School Bus Massacre legend that is very familiar to all of them. This plan backfires after the group encounters the real victims of the School Bus Massacre. Rhonda remains as the sole survivor of the supernatural attack after she locks the others out of the elevator, leaving them with no escape.
While this scene isn’t a very long one in the film, it left quite an impact on me. I have always questioned what made Rhonda snap so quickly and made her not want to forgive those that had tormented her. In the end, it is a good lesson to not be cruel to anyone as you never know their mental state or how little it may take to push them over the edge.
You can watch Trick ‘R Treat for free with a Shudder subscription.
4. Owen, Let Me In (2010)
Now, this may seem like an odd choice to include on this list because Owen never resorts to violence in Let Me In. However, a victim of bullying, he still manages to get revenge on his tormentors. It just isn’t him that personally exacts the revenge. In this case, an ally has his back, something many victims of abuse aren’t lucky enough to have.
Owen is a loner and does not have many friends. He befriends Abby, but soon discovers that she is unlike anyone he has ever met; she is a vampire. During arguably the most popular scene of the film, Owen is locked in the pool area of his school by his bullies while the rest of his classmates are forced to leave. The group tells him that he must hold his breath underwater for three minutes. Some of the members of the group feel this is a rather harsh punishment, but Owen is still held underwater.
As he is underwater, he hears screaming from his tormenters and watches as their blood and severed body parts fall into the water. Owen rises to the service and looks up at his savior, who is of course his one true friend, Abby. Personally, I prefer this scene over the original 2008 Let the Right One In because of how gruesome it is.
Sometimes it’s hard to stand up for ourselves and having good friends who have our backs is so important. Of course, ‘having our backs’ usually doesn’t mean dismembering our enemies.
Let Me In is available to rent from iTunes, Vudu, and on sale at Amazon Prime.
5. Laura Burns, Unfriended (2014)
After getting overly drunk at a party, Laura Burns is filmed, and the video is posted to YouTube with the title “LAURA BURNS KILL YOURSELF!” The humiliation is too much for Laura, and as a result of the harassment she receives, she commits suicide.
A year later, Laura’s former best friend, Blaire, has a skype group chat along with her boyfriend and some of their friends. They see an anonymous person in the group chat. The anonymous person has the same username that Laura Burns had, which makes the group believe one of them is messing with everyone. Laura begins to message and torture everyone, and each of them die in horrible ways seemingly out of their control.
The extent of the humiliation Laura suffered is soon revealed, as is the painful source of the anonymous video upload. And though I didn’t quite appreciate this film when I first saw it, I can see now that it’s a solid revenge movie. It’s also unique in that it shows how cyberbullying can affect a person just as much as bullying someone face-to-face.
It is a good reminder that whatever you post online will never really go away, so be mindful of how what you post might affect someone. The results might not be as extreme as what happens in this film, but they could be disastrous nonetheless.
Unfriended is on sale at Amazon Prime, or you can watch it for free with an HBO subscription.
6. Jack, Andy Dane, Emily, and Ravi, The Final (2010)
Rather than just focusing on one person, this movie is about a group of outcasts that decide enough is enough. They anonymously invite all of the popular people to a costume party. The group of friends drug the party goers and tie them together with chains. The chained people watch in horror as their friends are tortured as a way to teach them a lesson.
The group of outcasts have no intention of killing the party goers, but that does not mean there are no fatalities. By the end, all of the initial group of friends die (shooting each other, shooting themselves, etc.) since they had no intentions of living past that night. The remaining victims of this night are clearly traumatized by this experience, and some are even permanently mutilated for the rest of their lives.
This is one of the films that inspired this list. I remember seeing for the first time when I was thirteen. The acting can be cheesy at times, but there was just something about this film that stood out to me. It is so easy to assume that people who seek revenge are the bad guys, but very rarely do we get to see how they got to the point of doing those awful things.
It is truly a unique movie, and I would highly recommend it for any revenge horror movie lovers. You can check it out for free on Tubi or Vudu.
7. Harlon, White Rabbit (2015)
At a young age, Harlon was traumatized when he was forced to shoot a white rabbit by his father. This trauma sticks with him into his teen years, making it hard for him to “blend in” with the popular kids. As a result, he, along with his friend, Stevie, are the main targets for school bully Tommy and his friends.
Harlon begins to hear the characters from the comic books that he reads talking to him, often telling him to stand up for himself and calling him names like what his father calls him. Harlon befriends a new girl Julie who seems to understand him. Unfortunately, her friendship isn’t enough to keep him from snapping. In a fit of anger and pain, he takes his father’s rifle to school and begins shooting everyone he sees.
I won’t ruin the ending because it’s actually quite surprising and thought provoking. Once again, we are shown just how much bullying can affect someone, as well as the lasting effects of trauma experienced as a child. It is hard not to feel sorry for Harlon, even when the extreme violence starts, and just wish for him to get the help he needs.
In my opinion, this is an underrated film that really has a strong message to it. You can watch it for free on Tubi.
8. Rochelle Zimmerman, The Craft (1996)
This cult classic focuses on a group of teen girls that are witches. While they all have interesting stories to tell, for this particular article, we’re going to focus solely on the character Rochelle.
Being one of the only black students, Rochelle is one of the primary targets of racist bullies at her school. One of these bullies is a popular girl named Laura Lizzie. To get back at Laura for her racist remarks, Rochelle casts a spell on Laura to make her beautiful blonde hair fall out, resulting in one of the most memorable scenes in the film.
I think this character’s story doesn’t get enough attention. As a kid, that scene where Laura is pulling out her hair and losing it by the handfuls TERRIFIED me. Just remember, what goes around comes around. So if you choose to bully others, just know you’ll get what is coming to you — even if a pissed off witch isn’t involved.
You can watch this essential 90’s horror film right now on Netflix.
9. Carrie White, Carrie (1976)
You didn’t actually think I would make this list without including Carrie, did you? When you think about revenge movies, one of the first (or in my case, the absolute first) film you think of is Carrie — and for good reason.
In this terrifying tale, Carrie is the primary target for bullies at her school. She has no friends, and due to her strict religious upbringing, she is referred to as “Scary Carrie” by some of the kids. Things aren’t much better at home with her overprotective, far from nurturing mom. To further complicate her life, she discovers she has strange telekinetic powers.
Then there’s the infamous prom scene, when a cruel prank results in mass tragedy. Carrie finally experiences a moment of true happiness and belonging as she is crowned Prom Queen, while on a date with a popular and handsome boy. Sadly, her happiness is short lived, and she ends up with a bucket of pig’s blood dumped on her head. For any other girl, it would be enough to scar her for life. For Carrie, it’s the final triggers she needs to reign holy hell down upon her classmates.
Even if you have never seen this movie (see it immediately!) or read the novel (read it immediately!), chances are you are well aware of the legendary prom scene. It is, in my opinion, one of the best horror scenes of all time. It will leave a lasting effect on you and make you reconsider messing with the shy girl at school.
You can watch the 1976 film for free on Amazon Prime. But hurry! The title is leaving Prime on March 31, 2020. You can also catch the 2013 remake on Netflix.
10. Sue Ann (aka ‘Ma’), Ma (2019)
Let’s wrap up this list with a more modern pick. New student, Maggie, becomes friends with a group of kids soon after transferring to a new school. Their way of hanging out includes driving around and getting drunk. Since they are all underage, they stand outside of a liquor store and take turns asking adults to buy alcohol for them. They finally get someone to say yes to buying alcohol for them: Sue Ann.
Unfortunately, Sue Ann seems to have a strange fascination with the kids (particularly Andy). She even looks them up online and begins inviting the group of friends to her house for parties that she holds in her basement. She tells the kids to refer to her as ‘Ma’ rather than call her ma’am or refer to her by her actual name. This seems fun for the group of rebellious teens at first, but they all realize that Sue Ann is becoming increasingly obsessive and clingy.
Flashbacks reveal that she was the outcast in school, and that the children that she has become obsessed with are the children of some of her tormentors from high school. Andy’s father, Ben, was the one that caused Sue Ann the most pain after pulling a prank on her knowing her feelings for him. Ma devises a plan to get Ben to her house, as well as Maggie and her friends, so that she can party with the “cool kids.”
This is by far one of the stranger films on this list. The plot is unique and keeps you engaged the whole time. Ma keeps you wondering what she will do next the entire movie. It really is an awesome revenge story with a bit of a sick twist to it, and I would highly recommend you give it a shot if you haven’t seen it yet.
Ma isn’t currently available to rent, but you can buy it or watch it for free with an HBO subscription.