You know what’s scarier than monsters? When there’s no monsters. It takes a very special kind of horror film to be seriously terrifying without relying on the supernatural to spook the audience, but some do pull it off – and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about today. Mainly, in a thinly-veiled attempt to get you to share your favourites in the genre with me, because I’m really into them right now and want to see more, but hey, who’s counting? Let’s get to the list!
Look, it’s no secret here that we stan Ethan Embry, but this isn’t the only reason I love this movie. Cheap Thrills is a nightmare of escalation, as two old buddies are pulled into a game of lucrative dares with a sadistic and wealthy couple. It’s a mixture of watch-through-your-fingers cringe and genuine horror nastiness, with a supporting performance from the well-practiced weirdo Ethan Embry to really sell it. Fun, excessive, and tense, Cheap Thrills is an insanely uncomfortable rollercoaster in the best possible way.
The Skin I Live In
I am always ready to beat my big drum and yell and hoot and holler about Pedro Almodovar, but honestly, if you haven’t seen this movie – now’s the time. A genderfuck horror version of Frankenstein, seeped through with grief, guilt, loss, and twisted sexuality, it features a career-best performance from Antonio Banderas in a role you will never be able to see him the same way after. It’s got Almodovar’s trademark telenovela styling, but it’s profoundly unsettling and genuinely frightening.
And now for a director I am much less sure about. M Night Shyamalan, for all he’s made some fucking stinkers, is also a fucking fabulous horror director once in a while, and The Visit is a great example of that. A found footage horror about a pair of kids staying with their estranged grandparents for the first time, the best thing it has to offer are a pair of brilliant central performances from Ed Oxenbloud (who also blew me away in Wildlife, for what it’s worth) and Olivia DeJonge as the siblings taking a family trip, well-observed and incisive. Thrown in Kathryn Hahn and a really solid twist, and The Visit is easy Mr Night’s best horror since The Sixth Sense.
(header image via Vulture)