But like, in a good way… so get ready for these horror films!
Horror is a genre literally defined by fear and discomfort. It is a common phenomenon to throw on a cartoon or something comforting after particularly harrowing films, but some are just on another level. Whether it is subject matter, concept, or just straight up gore, here are seven horror films (in no particular order) that may leave you feeling particularly gross. Light spoilers ahead.
Climax (2018, Horror Films)
Gaspar Noë’s dark opus is one of the most wild rides you can take in contemporary cinema. It follows a company of dancers from all walks of life the night before they go on tour. To celebrate, they have a little get together in the complex where they have been staying, and when drugs, romance, and petty drama come together, the night becomes… increasingly unpleasant.
What is so fascinating about this piece as one of the intense horror films in the genre, is that it is largely unscripted. While Noë was there to lend a guiding hand, and manipulate a master plot, a lot of the interactions in the movie are completely improvised. What is just as interesting about this piece as that almost none of the cast are trained actors. They are dancers who Noë and his team recruited from various platforms and countries, just like in the film.
But what makes this film so disconcerting? It is hard to say without giving the premise away, but is largely in the atmosphere. It is incredibly internal and suffocating, with all the characters forced to confront their drama, some of which is cataclysmic. However, it can also be attributed to its structure. The film doesn’t follow conventional narrative, at the beginning of the film we see how the night ends, and throughout the remaining run time audience members can expect long sequences of intense dialogue, incredibly long shots, and a ten minute dance sequence. There is also of course the clearly disturbing content and violence, though, that can be left for the viewer’s discretion to explore, like in all films.
Suspiria (2018, Horror Films)
Luca Guadagnino showed the world his versatility when Suspiria came out in 2018, in the horror films genre. Just coming off Call Me By Your Name (2017), horror efficinatos were interested to see what he would do with the coveted Argento classic. Luckily, with a great screenplay, and great taste, the film came out to be one of the most beautiful horror films made recently, and was received well by critics and fans globally.
Suspiria is unique in the way that it gets under your skin, compared to other horror films. Every part of the movie works to make you squirm in your seat, or hold your breath. The score, which was composed by Radiohead’s Thom York, is haunting, and slinks throughout the film, never allowing much relaxation. Then there are the visuals. Sprinkled throughout the film are images of unexplained nudity, gore, and dying women. Then there is of course the more “conventional” gore, which is still dictated by the paranoid atmosphere of the film. If you know anything about the piece, you have probably heard reference to the dance studio scene, which is incredibly macabre, and notably has made some people leave the theater where they were watching it.
Suspiria is not afraid to dip its toe into the sensitive. Much of the horror is of the body, involving hair, urine, and other bodily fluids. That is not to say it is a body horror, or grind-house film, because it is actually far from it.
When the new filmmakers set out to create this new incarnation of the classic, they claimed they wanted it to be more of a “cover” than a remake- to convey the original feeling of the film in a new way. Which they were very successful in doing. Suspiria brings with it feelings of paranoia, disgust, suffocation, and hopelessness.
Prometheus (2012, Horror Films)
The Alien franchise revival within horror films came with a star-studded cast, and a look into the history of both humans and xenomorphs. With original director Ridley Scott, and a newer, sleeker aesthetic, Prometheus set out to tell a phenomenal story, and perturb fans.
In which it was very successful. Prometheus is perhaps the most cerebral film on this list, and is scary for that reason. It is concerned with extremely high concepts; origin, religion, evolution, meaning of life as a species, etc. While these ideas can be existentially terrifying on their own, the film illuminates with harrowing horror elements.
While these grander themes are what make this film scary, the execution of it is what makes you need a shower afterwards. The film is slimy, both literally in the more physical horror, but also in the way that slides into your brain, leaving you to think with clenched teeth about the piece long after it has finished. There is nothing quite as scary as confronting your own mortality and place in the cosmos, perhaps other than dealing with aliens gestating in front of you. Brutal, intellectual, and iconic, Prometheus is definitely unforgiving with its discomfort.
Perfect Blue (1997, Horror Films)/ Black Swan (2010, Horror Films)
These two films are grouped together for more than one reason. Darren Aronosky has admitted freely how inspired he was by Perfect Blue when conceiving Black Swan, that he even bought the rights to it so he wouldn’t get sued. While both these films are able to stand alone in terms of artistry and scares, it is important to view them together at times, as they inform each other to a great extent.
Both of these films deal with paranoia, and the horror of a changing reality. They both touch on themes of jealousy, celebrity, coercion and dependence, and the way they deal with these themes is also similar.
The viewing experience for these films is uneasy. Without a proper mind-frame to trust, and a reality to anchor, a viewer can never be quite sure just what is real, and what is a manifestation. Watching the descent into horror and dissociation is incredibly scary, as the audience can not even seek comfort in the journey of the protagonist, or the protagonist themselves.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017, Horror Films)
In all honesty, you could probably put most Yorgos Lanthimos films on this list. The auteur’s work often explores the more taboo or unpleasant realities of modern life, however The Killing of a Sacred Deer is perhaps filled with the most despair.
Following a guilty surgeon, his family, and a menacing, though polite young boy, Sacred Deer is so blunt and unforgiving in both its concept and delivery that it easily makes it an incredibly hard film to sit through. Lanthimos’ writing style is incredibly direct, there is little nuance, or subtlety, leaving the audience with a world so bare and scarily earnest. It truly shows what desperation can do to people, and how shame can manifest in both physical and psychological ways.
The film feels quite sterile, environment wise, perhaps to give in more to the brutality of the plot and language, and truly let the moments of discomfort fester.
Check out the trailer for the horror film, “Climax!”