When it comes to horror movies, I have discerning tastes. I’m not a huge fan of slasher films, and I prefer suspense, slow builds, and overall eerie atmosphere to gore and jump scares. Horror is one of my favorite genres to consume, in all its various forms. That said, I do have my favorites. Here are seven (fairly) recent horror films that scared the pants off me.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Directed by Oren Peli
After a young, middle class couple moves into a suburban ‘starter’ tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially when they sleep. Or try to.
What got me most: I have a soft spot for found footage, and this one scared my pants off. I had to fall asleep watching cartoons.
Last Shift (2014)
Directed by Anthony DiBlasi
From director Anthony DiBlasi comes a Manson inspired horror film centering around a transitioning police station. Officer Jessica Loren has been assigned to wait for a Hazmat team to pick up bio-hazardous waste from the station’s armory. But unbeknownst to Jessica, cult Leader John Michael Paymon has haunted the department ever since he and two of this followers committed suicide a year ago to date. And now, Jessica is about to find out how dangerous they can be when she’s left alone on this Last Shift.
What got me most: I wasn’t expecting this movie to scare me. I also don’t remember any movie scaring me as badly as this one did. I’m not sure what happened, but I think you should watch it. With the lights off. By yourself.
The Conjuring (2013)
Directed by James Wan
In 1971, Carolyn and Roger Perron move their family into a dilapidated Rhode Island farm house and soon strange things start happening around it with escalating nightmarish terror. In desperation, Carolyn contacts the noted paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, to examine the house. What the Warrens discover is a whole area steeped in a satanic haunting that is now targeting the Perron family wherever they go. To stop this evil, the Warrens will have to call upon all their skills and spiritual strength to defeat this spectral menace at its source that threatens to destroy everyone involved.
What got me most: “Based on a true story.” No. Thank. You.
Three film students travel to Maryland to make a student film about a local urban legend… The Blair Witch. The three went into the woods on a two day hike to find the Blair Witch, and never came back. One year later, the students film and video were found in the woods. The footage was compiled and made into a movie. The Blair Witch Project.
What got me most: Arguably the most iconic found-footage horror film ever, this movie scared the pants off me because it felt so real. Kids running scared in the middle of the woods? Yeah, that kind of thing could happen. No thanks.
Directed by Scott Derrickson
True-crime writer Ellison Oswalt moves himself and his family into a house where a horrific crime took place earlier, but his family doesn’t know. He begins researching the crime so that he can write a new book about it to help his flailing career. He uses some “snuff” film footage he finds in the house to help him in his research, but he soon finds more than he bargained for. There is a figure in each of the films but who or what is it? As a result, his family start to suffer (as does he) and things take a turn for the worse. Will they survive?
What got me most: Scott Derrickson can fight me. Home videos? Lawn mower? Nope and nope.
The Orphanage (2007)
Directed by J. A. Bayona
A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.
What got me most: Creepy little children. And that ending? What the hell? Pro tip: watch it in Spanish with English subtitles. So much better than the dubbed version.
It Follows (2014)
Directed by David Robert Mitchell
For nineteen-year-old Jay, Autumn should be about school, boys and week-ends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors, that seem to be only a few steps behind.
What got me most: It can be anyone. Anywhere. And it moves so slowly, but it’s terrifying.
If you’re looking for a fierce, frightening flick, check out one of my picks. Want even more spooky things in your life? Sign up for my newsletter for writing progress updates, and check back on the blog each week for more horror, true crime, and unsolved mystery posts.
Tell me, what are some of your favorite horror films?