Every once in a while, here at Voices in the Attic, we like to give some recommendations of horror movies. From the classics, to more recent releases, the goal is to provide as many scares as possible.
I myself have always been terrified by horror movies. When I was younger, I avoided them at all costs. But then, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, a friend of mine, who was very much into horror, decided she’d had enough, plunked me down on the couch, and told me we were watching Paranormal Activity whether I liked it or not. After watching the first movie, I didn’t sleep for a week, but that didn’t stop me from tearing through the rest of the series over the next couple of days. I was immediately hooked.
Nowadays, I’m a lot harder to scare, having been through countless horror movies since that first night. But there have been a number that have managed to get to me, even in more recent years. So without further ado, allow me to highlight some of my favourites:
Considering my intro, I felt it most appropriate to begin with Paranormal Activity. The individual movies can run a bit hot and cold, due to a few installments that were a bit more disjointed and tame than the others, but with that in mind, I still think the series as a whole was absolutely terrifying.
I still re-watch it every now and then, and it still keeps me up at night when I do.
The premise of the series is a young couple that are being haunted by a malevolent entity. Relatively straightforward, as far as horror movies go, but the movie works as a slow build, presented in the form of ‘found footage’. The young couple, Katie and Micah, setup cameras around their home when they start to notice some strange things happening. As the movie goes on, and more activity begins to take place, I found myself so focused on keeping my eyes on the screen, waiting to see what it was that was tormenting Katie and Micah, that any movement or slight sound in my own surroundings made me jump or scream.
It’s a simple premise, but between the found footage elements, the fact that the actors and characters have the same first names, and the fact that you never actually see what’s tormenting them, (only what it’s doing), it was a truly unsettling movie. It’s definitely what I call nightmare fodder.
I can’t create a list of horror movie recommendations without including my all time favourite, The Possession. I once told a friend it was my favourite, and she was surprised, citing that it wasn’t one she ever thought of as being popular enough to be a favourite of anyone. That just makes me think of it as a hidden gem.
The Possession follows a newly single father struggling to pull together decent surroundings and support for his daughters so that his wife will allow him more time to spend with them. He has just moved into a new house, and on his daughters’ first weekend with him in this new house, he takes them to a garage sale. At this garage sale, his younger daughter finds a box that seemingly has no openings, so naturally, she wants to find a way to open it.
Of course, being a horror movie, opening that box was exactly the opposite of what the characters should have done.
I felt connected to The Possession in a different way than I did Paranormal Activity. With Paranormal Activity, even though I knew it wasn’t real, I had a really difficult time reminding myself of that with the found footage, and the very real elements of a couple’s boring day-to-day life interwoven with the paranormal activity occurring in their home.
In The Possession, I was drawn into it because the horror was happening to a child.
There are, in my opinion, very few things creepier in a horror movie than a child, especially one who is possessed or in some way taken over by dark forces, and this element was highlighted extremely well in this movie. The younger daughter’s slow but steady descent into being taken over is expressed extremely well. I’m still horrified every time I watch it, and I like to believe that you will be too.
Winchester is an interesting film in that it’s based on a true story, but it’s a true story that is steeped in rumours and stories no one’s quite been able to hammer out.
Sarah Winchester, heiress to the fortune amassed from the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, claimed to be haunted by every person ever killed by a Winchester rifle. In real life, she hired round-the-clock construction workers to keep building extensions on her house, which was filled with dead-end halls, staircases that lead nowhere, and many other twists and turns. It was believed she did this to trap (or perhaps appease) the spirits that haunted the house.
In the movie, we get a closer, embellished look at some of the individual stories of the ghosts that could have been haunting her. Helen Mirren plays Sarah Winchester, and does an excellent job doing so. In the movie, a psychiatrist is hired to assess her sanity when concern is raised over how much of the Winchester fortune she’s using to continuously build her house. However, as he conducts his assessment—temporarily moving into the house to do so—he begins to discover that there might be more to Sarah’s story than most were willing to believe.
A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place took things in a different direction. A large majority of the movie was low to no sound, due to the story arch being about creatures that were attracted to noise. In addition to that, the movie opened with a horrifying and shocking twist that immediately set the tone of urgency for the movie, and made very clear how vital it was that the characters of this world all remain in total silence.
As I watched this movie with my brother and my friend, all three of us held our breath and barely said a word. A lot of movies are good at making you feel like you’re in them, but with this one, that meant being terrified to make a sound.
I would recommend it solely on the basis of seeing Emily Blunt and John Krasinski together, but the movie as a whole was amazing, and with a sequel to look forward to, you’d better get watching!
At first, I was actually not quite sure what to think of this one. A co-worker recommended it to me, and it sounded interesting, but I wasn’t sure how it would work as a horror movie. It follows a young woman who is deaf and lives in a secluded home by herself. When she’s stalked by an intruder attempting to get into her home and kill her, she has to find a way to defend herself and get rid of him without being able to hear him coming.
It sounded like an intriguing enough premise; it was original, but I didn’t think much would come from it. I was wrong.
Much like A Quiet Place, I watched the whole thing with bated breath, trying desperately not to make a sound while the action played out on the screen.
I think elements like these make for the best horror movies, though. Finding a way to keep the audience on the edge of their seats is key, and finding a way to do so that also brings the viewers into the movie is the mark of a great story.
There are so many more movies that I’ve seen that I’d love to include on this list, but for now I’ll stick with these five and save some more for another time. But when you next find yourself looking for something to do with your spare time, or just looking for a good scare, try one of these. You won’t regret it.
An excellent honourable mention for this list is anything from The Conjuring/ Annabelle universe. The entire series is fantastic and terrifying overall, and I would recommend it to anyone. If you missed it, check out my review of the latest installment.
Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.