5 Movies That Are Scarier When They’re Over

Recently, after having gone out with friends to see a very effective horror film (Sinister, which will feature here at some point soon) were exchanging anecdotes about our scariest horror viewing experiences. This concept came to me based on a comment left unsaid, and believe me this is a pure compliment, plain and simple. Nothing backhanded about it.

One of the films I was going to reference was Halloween, and the specific note I was to make on it was that not only is it a consistently, identifiably frightening film, but the end offers you no relief. In fact, the film is scarier after it’s over based on what occurs right before the end credits roll. I then proceeded to think about other similar films for this list.

The list may grow at some point in the future, but for now here are my five selections.

The Exorcist (1973)

This is the most visceral of the selections on this list. In every other selection the lingering effect has at least a little something to do with the way the story decides to resolve itself. With The Exorcist when the film is over, it’s over. The fact that there are sequels is a prime example of a studio meeting a demand that the story didn’t necessarily leave open. I understand that many horror films aspire, at least in a very small way, to leave the franchise opportunity out there. Being a horror “tentpole” is desirable, especially for studios who don’t have to spend much and get a massive return on hits, but the The Exorcist was over. Finished. What makes it such a lingering, troubling viewing experience is not only the steady intensity of the film that builds to a beautifully protracted, gutting, exhausting climax, but it’s a film that has you invest in all of its characters. All of them.

The Exorcist bravely eschews cutting to the chase in favor of character development. It could afford to do so, in part, because it was a new kind of tale at the time so you meet Reagan both before and after her possession; Chris, her mother; Father Merrin and Father Karras. The film raises the stakes for all those involved. All the characters have something to gain and lose in the final confrontation.

The film ends in a life-goes-on denouement, which other horror films have taught you not to trust, but why it really works is the overall power of the third act. The end is natural and makes sense, but you’re uneasy throughout due to all that transpired up to this point.

The Exorcist is the kind of film that wears on you and continues to do so long after it’s over.

Halloween (1978)

As previously stated, out of the three long-running slasher franchises that this one is the best overall. However, with regards to the first installment of the series, nothing in the subgenre comes close to Halloween. Few horror films are anywhere near it.

Halloween, like The Exorcist, is rather incessant, this time in the use of the stalking motif, some of the scenes leave you waiting and some of them lead to kills. That can be exhausting, but add to that how the film ends (You really should’ve seen it by now) that’s what makes it linger.

You have a rather lengthy, well-staged and fairly well-strategized final battle between Laurie and Michael. Then, finally, there’s no respite just escape.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Not dissimilar to the choice above, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has a similar effect of an ending. The major difference being there’s no mystery element about how does Leatherface get away. Our last remaining hero merely manages to get away by the skin of her teeth.

A fuller reaction to the film, specifically the end, can be read here.

Insidious (2010)

As a fan of the genre, you can start to become desensitized the more material you watch. That is not to say that a horror film can’t really affect you. Sometimes they manage too. The really good ones do. What’s fairly rare is to not really know how much.

After having seen it, when it was already late, suddenly some very creepy music was heard by both myself and my brother. Neither of us immediately figured out where it was coming from. After a second, we realized he’d left his laptop on with his iTunes playing. He and I both took it as an additional indicator that we saw something pretty good because that unnerved us so. More effective, in fact, than we realized.

Inferno (1980)

Inferno is the second, and perhaps most overlooked, film in Argento’s Three Mothers Films. Suspiria gets a lot of love and is deserved, Mother of Tears…to be kind I’ll say it’s divisive, but I’m fairly convinced I’m in a small minority of people who really like it. Anyway, the reason Inferno ends up here is because it quite literally ends on a jolt, on its highest point and then its followed by the entire theme blasting through the credits. What more could you want?

5 Reasons the Suspiria Remake May Not Be The Worst Thing in the History of the Universe

Suspiria (International Classics)

I am not a proponent of remakes in general and certainly am not a fan of the idea of a Suspiria remake, however, in light of recent information I am more positive than I was.

5. Possibility of Reviving A Classic

A common fear with a remake is that the original will be replaced with Suspiria it will likely not be the case. Aside from horror buffs you hardly every heard mention of this film before, when news of the remake first broke people are talking about Argento’s version more than ever before and good or bad the release of the remake will likely revive interest in viewing the original.

4. The Road Less Traveled Theory

Another reason this film may not be such a bad thing is something I’m calling The Road Less Traveled Theory, meaning that in remakes people always seem to be wary of seeing iconic scenes re-interpreted, likely the fault of the Psycho remake. I have reason to believe the story will be updated somewhat and the film is one of such intricacies that there are other avenues to explore and other ways to portray things and it’ll likely look like a very different movie.

3. Natalie Portman

Initial Reports way back when, speculated she might be in the running for the film, yet she stands sort of as a symbol of the positive casting possibilities this film has. Portman, or someone like her, is a positive because I have a feeling based on the inherent tension of Suspiria, plus the fact that David Gordon Green always gives his actors something to sink their teeth into, we should see her (whomever she may be) best.

2. David Gordon Green

You have at the helm of this project a man who has not only directed such diverse ventures as Undertow, Pineapple Express and The Sitter but also someone who is writing the adaptation. So you have not the puppet of some studio, I don’t think Green has yet been accused of that but a man fully invested in bringing his vision of this tale to the screen. Whether or not you like the adaptation presented is another thing entirely but it should be a focused and skillful interpretation of the story.

1. Argento’s Blessing

Up until recently this project had proceeded through pre-production stages without talking to Dario Argento and beyond not getting a seal of approval they hadn’t officially been granted the rights of adaptation, which is a hairy situation to be in. Now Argento has conceded because he has come around to the viewpoint that he is “convinced that his movie is a masterpiece and can’t be overshadowed.”

Which is a fair enough point. Why people get up in arms about remakes is usually due to the “How Dare You” syndrome we fall victim to when hearing about it. Indeed, there has been a rash of remakes of films that can’t be topped recently but in truth they, and similarly sequels, do not truly detract from the original inherently, it is our perception that skews. Similarly, if we really were so sick of all these retreads we would stay away en masse. While those who don’t know any better will flock out to see these films, the fact of the matter is the information is out there to be had so if you’re going to see a remake at least see it knowingly. The internet is a great thing sometimes.
 
These are the reasons I am not as scared as I once was. Fingers crossed.