The film follows a deaf and mute writer (Kate Siegel) as she flees to the woods in order to live a solitary life and finish her novel. However, when a masked killer pays a visit she must fight for her life in silence against a force who has the advantage of being able to hear his prey.
Looking for something truly fresh in the film industry is always tough, and the same can certainly be said for the horror genre. With many films essentially following the same basic plot/outline/premise as those that come before it, many films become repetitive. Hush attempts to change this however, bringing a new dimension and fresh take to the home invasion/slasher sub-genre which keeps things engaging. The fact our protagonist can’t hear her predator is agonising, and really emulates a helpless and hopeless feeling in the audience. A film that cleverly subverts expectations and conventions in order to bring a fresh take on the sub-genre is always worth a watch.
7. The Woman in Black
Often overlooked for its 12A (or PG-13) rating, The Woman in Black is a modern day throwback to the classic ghost story format. An adaptation of Susan Hill’s 1983 novel of the same name (and the excellent stage show) the film follows a young solicitor (Daniel Radcliffe) in the Victorian era who travels to a remote village for work, but soon discovers a vengeful ghost who’s taking the lives of the town’s children.
What makes The Woman in Black so frightening is it’s simplicity. There aren’t blood and guts flying around or a maniac on the loose slashing people to bits, but rather there’s a specific eerie mood and off tone to the film. Accompany this with beautiful scene/set design and an excellent performance from Radcliffe, who’s body language alone carries the film, and you’ve got a scarily classic ghost story that will be sure to have you jumping at those bumps in the night.
A freelance videographer (Patrick Brice) answers an advert to record the last messages of a dying man (Mark Duplass) in a remote mountain town, but the job takes a strange turn as the messages become darker and darker.
Employing the found footage technique expertly, and in a way that actually makes sense, Creep is a meticulously crafted tale of an increasingly awkward and tense relationship between two men that feels scarily plausible. Duplass really brings the film to life with his excellent performance as the type of person everyone has met at some point, who’s too keen to be befriend and quickly triggers suspicions as to their motivations. The balance of engaging tension impressively (bare in mind, there are only two characters) carries through to the film’s finale, which, unlike a lot of increasingly suspenseful films, doesn’t disappoint.
5. The Cabin in the Woods
Set up like a standard classic horror film, The Cabin in the Woods centres around five friends as they go for a break at a remote cabin (in the woods!) but discover something far more sinister, getting themselves involved in an increasingly deadly situation.
If you’re looking for a more fun horror film, this is the one for you. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have created something truly unique and entertaining with Cabin, but oddly it’s hard to sell because the less you know about the film before watching, the better it is. The film’s poster tagline sums it up, “You think you know the story”, but trust me, the narrative, detail, references, tropes/conventions that are used/subverted make this film a must watch for any horror/comedy fan but not necessarily for anything really scary, but for the shear enjoyment you’ll receive from it.
4. It Follows
Perhaps my personal favourite of the list, It Follows centres around a young woman who is pursued by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter which leaves her unknowing of who she can trust, where is safe and how to prevent the inevitable.
It Follows plays on its premise expertly, which is what makes it so fantastically entertaining and a true credit to David Robert Mitchell (writer and director). The supernatural force can shape-shift into different people that only the one being hunted can see, therefore the protagonist is always at risk and clueless of who to trust. This creates a sense of paranoia which is certainly emulated in the audience, particularly with the clever use of framing, cinematography and camera work. Investing in the film will leave you with an underlying paranoid feeling for days after.
3. Green Room
Green Room follows a punk rock band after their gig at a bar, but when they witness a murder by Neo-Nazi skinheads, their evening becomes a fight for survival.
Green Room is one of the most unsettling films in terms of violence that I’ve ever witnessed. The sense of dread and brutality is relentless and never ending, producing a feeling of reality and desperately impactful moments whilst never attempting to fetishise its violence or make it cartoonish. On top of this, the believability in the characters makes this even more brutal and believable, therefore more impactful and horrific. The rich and more complex characters provide this edge that helps to leave a lump in the stomach throughout the film’s runtime.
2. The Babadook
A widowed mother, who’s still haunted by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a potential monster lurking in their family home. However, she soon discovers there is a darker, more sinister presence all around her.
Personally, a slow, creeping psychological horror will always better a jump-scare filled blockbuster for me, and The Babadook is no exception. It’s desperately sad, with truly believable and haunted characters that drive the film’s eerie, disturbing unsettled atmosphere superbly, along with fantastic performances. It’s undeserving of its somehow mixed reviews (due to jump-scare obsessed horror fans) as it’s truly a masterpiece in psychological, slow-burning, genuinely creepy horror filmmaking. It will get under your skin, and that’s a true accomplishment.
1. The Descent
When a caving expedition goes horrifically wrong, the explorers become trapped and pursued by a strange breed of creatures lurking in the darkness of the caves.
Shot in a mere seven weeks, The Descent is a spectacular example of British filmmaking crafted by the mind behind Dog Soldiers, Neil Marshall. The film is genuinely nightmare inducing due to its claustrophobic, unsettling and traumatic approach to the narrative. Marshall plays with various lighting techniques, sound and camerawork which demands repeated viewing to understand just how fantastically crafted it is. Events escalate quickly, and the ride becomes an all-out assault on the senses, arguably making it one of the best British horror films ever made.