We’re almost there! There’s only one more day until Halloween, so it’s time to get really scary now! I’ve shared my choices for classic horror, modern classics, and the writing staff here have shared their choices for their favorite Halloween horror films. If you’re up for a big scare, these are films are my choices for “One & Done” horror films–films that scared or traumatized me so badly that I will never watch them again.
I saw Deliverance this year at my local theater’s retro horror film fest. Being from North Carolina, the film is a bit infamous around here, as much of it was filmed about 2 hours from where I live. I was surprised to see it listed as a retro horror film, as my only real context for the film was Burt Reynolds and canoeing. I had no clue what it was about going in, and frankly, if I had, I wouldn’t have watched it. Deliverance has incredible cinematography and the horror elements are not derived from the supernatural, as many horror films are, but from grisly survival horror. Deliverance is extremely violent in a realistic physical and sexual nature, which keeps me from watching it again. I can detach from most horror, as much of it isn’t realistic. Deliverance is too real for me.
The Exorcist (1973)
I watched The Exorcist for the first and only time about 6 years ago; it was during my one-horror-film-a-year-at-Halloween phase. There are many things that I appreciated about the film, namely the cinematography and the practical effects used to create Regan’s possession. What I found especially compelling about the story is Father Karras’ journey from faith to doubt to faith again. However, possession stories are the type of horror that creep me out to no end. For that reason, I can’t watch The Exorcist a second time. It’s definitely earned the praise it’s often given–the scariest movie ever made.
One of the best films I watched last year was Hereditary. Ari Aster is one of the smartest horror directors on the block. You don’t have to know anything about the horror genre to be terrified at his movies, but if you dig in deeper, you’ll find that Aster knows his roots and knows them well. What I appreciated most about Hereditary is how it draws from multiple sources, but still tells its own story. Look for camera work and visual cues from Halloween and The Exorcist, sound editing from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and a metaphor for a very realistic horror many people face–can we escape our family trauma or is it just hereditary? Toni Collette gives an Oscar-worthy performance in this film. This film was so incredible, but it was so scary and traumatizing that I can’t watch it a second time. The only film that has scared me more is The Exorcist.
Ari Aster’s cinematography is the one reason I will always watch his films, but if Midsommar is any measure, all of his films will be “One & Done” films for me. In many ways, Midsommar is Hereditary in the daylight. Add a splash of The Wicker Man (the original, not that horrifically bad one with Nicholas Cage), and Midsommar is the modern day folk horror you’ve been looking for. The things I appreciate about Midsommar are the things I appreciate about Hereditary–cinematography, story, sound editing, etc. Florence Pugh is amazing in this film, giving an incredibly compelling performance as Dani. However, I couldn’t get past the numerous ritualistic sex acts (a more hardcore Wicker Man) and violence. I very nearly went to go see the director’s cut version that was in theaters recently, as I think it’s a fascinating story, but after reading that the film narrowly missed getting an X rating, I decided against it. Of the films on this list, this is the one I’m most likely to watch again, but probably will not.
Which films make your “One & Done” list? Stay tuned to Fangirlish, as we’ve got one more week of our Halloween Horror Countdown. Stay spooky!