Horror Films: Cheap Thrills or True Cinema?

A lot of people disregard horror films as trash and indulgent algorithmic Hollywood mainstream slop from their ten-foot-high horse. It cannot be denied that there are horrendous horror films out there, but that should not take away from some of the masterpieces hiding among them. Horror takes the most powerful emotions that humans feel, fear, and twists and manipulate it into countless different entities. Clowns, ghosts, serial killers, a man with knives for fingers; there are no limits to the reincarnation of fear and that is the pure magic of horror.

This Halloween, if you’re looking for an old school type of terror, look no further than The Silence of The Lambs. With the (unwarranted) hype surrounding Joker, allow Anthony Hopkins to remind you how villainous character acting is properly done with his sadistic charm and nauseating tension. The film delves into how the darkest corners of humanity are hidden deep within our psyche, waiting to burst out.

A film that you might have overlooked this year is Ari Aster’s folk-horror, Midsommar. It stars Florence Pugh as a young woman in grieving who, with her toxic boyfriends and his welcoming friends, attend a Swedish Midsommar festival and bear witness to the commune’s barbaric rituals. The film reiterates horror’s ability to take daily issues such as grief, mental health and relationships and illustrate them against the background of torture and violence. Pugh gives a stellar performance and blurs the line between victim, heroine and evil. A must-see but not for the weak-stomached.

Lastly, rewinding back to old Hollywood, lies Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Rear Window. Jimmy Stewart stars as Jeff, an injured man bound to his wheelchair and lead by boredom into spying on his various neighbours from his window. He soon suspects his neighbour of murdering his wife and is adamant to prove it. This is slow-burning tension at its finest. The claustrophobia that Jeff is confined to combined with his helpless state makes for a viewing experience as close to the edge of your seat as possible. It is nothing like the jump-scare filled nonsense churned out today and has truly stood the test of time.