I don't like scary movies. There, I admitted it. For me jump scares and falling down while the serial killer is chasing you is somewhere between annoying and frustrating, often times both. When Halloween season comes around I'm assaulted with scary movies lists, Netflix suggestions, and creepy film marathons, all of which I ignore. So when we're surrounded by monsters going bump in the night it's good to have some movies to put on that won't scare you but can levitate those questioning your horror movie prowess. These films should pass anyone's "scary movie" test while giving you the safety from jump scares you deserve. Beware though, these still may scare you.
Sure when you look back on Ghostbusters you just think about a couple fun ghosts being busted by the antics of Bill Murray. Even the two more famous ghosts from the film are Slimer, who later became the ghost mascot for the franchise, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who was literally a giant marshmallow man. Slime may be slightly scary but it isn't enough to keep you up at night. However when you rewatch this classic you can really soak in the eerie and supernatural tones throughout the whole movie.
The opening scene starts in the library with your cliche librarian, an old lady, being somewhat stalked by a ghost who finds moving books and throwing reference cards amusing. Even when the guys investigate the matter they find mysterious slime and narrowly being missed by falling bookcases. Finally when they do find the apparition it transforms into something much more hideous. Move onto another scene where Dana Barrett arrives home only to have her own eggs cook on the counter and an entire alternative, evil, universe inside her fridge. Later on she would be trapped onto a chair with arms bursting out of the cushions and forcing her into possession.
Move onto the creepiest scene. Walter Peck has made it his mission to shut the Ghostbusters down and when he finally barges in and is able to turn off their ghost containment all the ghouls are let loose. New York is overwhelmed by paranormal activity causing mayhem and disaster across the entire city. Everything that had once been spread out or contained was now unleashed.
What truly scares us in a horror film is the possibility of it all happening to us. Freddy Krueger scares us because we all have to sleep and we all can't help but dream. But even with all the monsters and men with large knives what really scares us is ourselves. Seven tells the story of a retiring detective who is partnered up with a new rookie detective a bit in over his head. Their newest case is a serial killer who likes punishing people for their sins imaged after the seven deadly sins. Each new murder is more gruesome and vile than the last but the killer is leaving more and more clues as to his whereabouts and identity.
As you dive deeper into the murders the idea of a man judging you for sins everyone commits reflects heavily on ourselves. No one is perfect and we all make poor decisions or even do bad things. Judging someone off of their worst qualities never paints a pretty, or accurate, picture. Imagine if the next person you met at the grocery store only knowing you off of the worst decisions you've made. The punishing you based on those life choices.
Real life is what we try to escape from when we go to the movies. For most of us real life really isn't that bad but just the very idea that things could go wrong, almost easily, is scarier than most monsters in the night. Requiem for a Dream was directed by Darren Aronofsky and if you know any of his films you already understand the general uneasiness that can ooze out of his films, this one takes it a bit farther. The story follows a mother and her son, and his girlfriend, suffering from addictions. For Sara Goldfarb she is obsessed with television infomercials and after being invited onto a game show obsesses over becoming young and thin. She turns to pills, a "legal" way to solve her problem, and soon lives a more and more desperate life of addiction.
Then there's her son Harry and his girlfriend Marrion, both heroin addicts. Harry travels further and further down addiction as he moves from user to pusher. This all serves a higher purpose of hopefully getting Marrion a fashion store for her many designs. Their addiction and desperation to achieve their dreams only pushes them further into the dark world they inhabit. Harry finds himself caught fighting with his girlfriend, fighting an infection from injecting heroin, and doesn't notice the spiraling insanity his mother is going through.
The ending is a gut punch to the soul. A fog of bad luck and poor decisions ruining life after life. Seeing the lives it ruins, and their delusions that everything is still ok, is pure sadness. Even the thought of this film feels like a stress ball in my stomach that won't be erased. It may be the beautiful construction of sound, music, and imagery that works wonderfully together or the sheer malaise mixed with hope coming out of every pore of this film. Either way this film ends up being truly horrifying as a portrait of ruined lives. A fear can creep out of this movie about how close your life really is to that edge of madness, especially when that madness can approach unseen.
So that's it. Go forth and subject those horror fans to this list of nightmare fuel. Sure they won't be jumping in their seats and hiding underneath blankets but you'll know that fear is creeping into their brain.