The elegant death and decay of our natural world during Fall is perfectly mirrored through the gut-munching destruction horror films provide. Horror and Fall go together like children and piles of leaves (add a hidden serial killer to that pile of leaves and voila, instant horror). Like the ways in which we celebrate the season, each person takes to horror films differently than the next. I posit that no one actually hates horror, they just prefer a particular brand of the genre. The most benign pieces of art and entertainment almost always involve horrific elements because fear is such a universally evocative feeling.
Bringing friends together and watching horror movies is a cornerstone of autumnal celebration. It is key that when curating these events that you understand who your audience is. Challenging your established opinions is always a great approach toward entertainment, but you also want to try to provide your friends with a good time and not show your arachnophobic friend, Arachnophobia.
Here are 5 types of friends you probably hold very dear to your lives, and recommendations based on the type of horror they’ll dig:
1. The Significant Other/Date You’re Trying to Impress
Whether they’re the loves of your lives, or a crush on a Friday night, introducing horror into a romantic situation can make for a very stressful choice. You want to show them that you have style and taste, all with a good sense of fun. You want to be cautious, not wanting to totally freak them out (you better leave that Region Free DVD of Cannibal Holocaust in the box under your bed where it belongs–for now.) but adventurous, proving you aren’t a total wuss.
I bring to you: Black Swan.
Darren Aronofsky‘s 2010 film has the perfect amount of psychological, supernatural and body horror, with the cerebral qualities that give you plenty to discuss when it’s over. Even if you’ve seen it before, Black Swan is great on a rewatch, discovering each bit of insanity as it creeps into the edges of the frame. The balance of the ballet-centric plot with the allure of Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis‘ riveting performances makes this film appealing for all people. This one allows you to show off some art house film-cred along with your steel nerves.
2. Big-Game-Talking Buddy Who’s Got It All Figured Out
I have three words for you: Shock and Awe.
You want to absolutely annihilate this person. They go into horror films with a level of braggadocio reserved for battle rappers in 8 Mile. They’re smarter than you, they’ve always “seen it coming” and they laugh at your visible emotions. Of course they’re masking their own fear and everyone around them knows it, but you want to take delight in finally being the person to bring the giant down to earth. Don’t worry about going too far here. This person is likely stubborn enough to stick around in your friend group no matter what you do to them.
Remember that box you keep under your bed, hopefully chained shut, the contents inside being hidden by something seemingly innocuous? I want you to take that box and unleash all of its horrifying contents upon this soul.
Each of these films serve up some of the most grotesque imagery in cinema. You might find it difficult to get through Audition or Visitor Q by Miike due to the absolute absurdity of the Japanese director’s visions, but trust that his work will get the job done.
The Last House on the Left provides you not just with an awful tale of sexual abuse and revenge, but a window into the creation of one of horror’s greatest legends, Wes Craven.
Cannibal Holocaust‘s director, Ruggero Deodato was arrested and charged for murder because it had been thought he actually filmed the real murders of his cast. Italian authorities thought this was a snuff film. That is all I have to say.
Pick one and go wild.
3. Needs To Be Tricked Into Watching a Horror Movie
These friends discuss what they would do in horrific situations mostly by saying, “Uh-uh. I’m getting out of there. I don’t have time for that.” I think this group has more courage than they give themselves credit and just need to be slightly goaded into the realm of scares with a low piece of dangling fruit.
You can take two approaches to this friend: Completely surprise them with a movie that sounds nothing like horror, but is. Or dust off an old classic that is far scarier than anyone remembers/thinks.
For the first category, go for Creep (2015) by Patrick Brice. The film stars charming funnyman Mark Duplass and starts off loose and light enough, but travels down some very dark paths that will sneak up on and ensnare a typically cautious viewer.
As for the second, give The Last Man on Earth (1964) a shot. This Vincent Price starrer could feel unassuming to a modern audience with its black and white portrayal of vampires (which they are, though the line between zombies and vampires is muddled here) and the presence of traditional Horror-Ham, Price. This film gets downright creepy, however, and there are images and moments that will stick in all viewers’ heads, along with an ending much more poignant and ripe for discussion than Will Smith‘s 2007 take on the material in I Am Legend.
4. It’s Time to Raise the Bar
This friend is placated by just about anything that says “Boo!” or has a Pumpkin Spice flavor option. Which isn’t to say that this is necessarily a bad thing! They don’t typically get out of their comfort zones and rarely challenge themselves with material that deserves discussion. It’s not that the friend is plebeian sensibilities, horror movies simply aren’t a devotion for them.
Show them Let the Right One In (2008).
I know, I know… this reeks of you, as curator, sitting there in your turtleneck, smoking an American Spirit, nose turned all the way up toward the sky. Except this isn’t pretension! Let the Right One In is a genuinely unnerving vampire tale that portrays adolescence and the pains of growing up and making the right choices. It’s smart, it has depth and, most importantly, it is horrifying.
Note: Don’t mistake this with the merely passable American remake, Let Me In.
5. Friend Who is Way Too Into Horror and Movies in General.
If you’re curating, this is likely yourself. You love horror and movies so much that it manifests through all-night horror-thons and bad jokes about Satanic rituals.
Let’s face it, you’re just as annoying to your friends for your constant analytical tendencies and know-it-all attitudes. Odds are, you’re super-stoked for Halloween because your friends have no choice but to placate your need to show them movies. So, how do you program for yourself?
Here’s the cop-out answer: You don’t. This is about having a great time with those closest to you over two hours of cinematic joy and terror. Pick what you feel works best for the group, taking into account the personalities around you and enjoy. Be adventurous! Be fun! Be creative! Let your freak flag fly!
And always, ALWAYS pick THE MIST.