Now, I know horror/thriller films are not for everyone, but, hear me out. I, myself, do not typically watch horror/thriller films often anymore. Well, definitely not as much as I used to. Around five to six years ago, my favorite genre was horror. It’s practically all I ever watched. I’m talking I would fall asleep to the Halloween movies as if they were something to tuck me in at night before bed. Crazy, right? Then, out of nowhere, they started to actually freak me out. As in mind racing, heart pounding, the whole nine yards—which, as you can imagine, was a total bummer. Now, I will mostly only watch these types of films with my best friend, or with a group of friends. Well, except films like The Exorcist (1973) in which a handful of times were enough to actually say “never again”. If you haven’t experienced Regan in all of her forms of possession, go forth and give it a go. I believe it’s worth at least one watch to grasp the brilliance and significantly terrifying effects it can have on your psyche. I suppose this is why in large part it is still talked about to this day and referred to as a classic.
With that said, all films in this genre aren’t as terrifying. It’s the demonic possession ones that I’m okay with never having seen, or, never watching again (again, me personally). I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in feeling this way, but I’m also pretty sure there are a ton of people who live for the horror/thriller genre. This isn’t to say that I would completely cut off watching scary films, but I am more selective now, you know because of the possible nightmares that could ensue from having watched them.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into some movies currently streaming that are definitely worth watching at least once. Most of these films aren’t blockbuster hits or well-known’s either, but, doesn’t hurt to give it a shot, right?
16. Double Jeopardy (1999)
Okay, so I know that this movie is of the older variety, however, it is a fantastic thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It stars Ashley Judd (more recently seen in the Divergent series) who is placed in prison for the murder of her husband; even though she has no recollection of what happened and upon her awakening on a boat to blood stained hands and a missing husband, she is even more confused. As time goes on, she maintains her innocence and is eventually freed and is truly only living for her son. Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men) is her probation officer who has no time for any one of his parolee’s nonsense. Judd and Jones have great on screen chemistry and plot reveals throughout the duration of the film will have you hoping desperately for this woman’s justice. This is definitely worth watching, guys.
15. Kristy (2014)
Most times when I am having a veg out weekend with my best friend, we scroll through the Netflix queue and have marathons of titles/synopses that stick out to us. We stumbled upon Kristy because that is her name, and we thought it would be fun. I suppose the most notable star in this movie is Ashley Greene (The Twilight series). Although she is not the main character, she is the most recognizable. Moving right along, the whole aesthetic theme throughout this film was dark. If you are trying to watch it in a bright room, you may have issues. This story follows the main character Justine (Haley Bennett, Hardcore Henry) who is alone over the holidays and is essentially terrorized by ritualistic killers after she makes the mistake of stopping at a gas station to pick up some necessities. Honestly, that’s really all I can say without spoiling the movie, but I can tell you it will not be winning any awards. But if you ask me, the psychological reasoning for the terrorization makes the film a lot more memorable than any Oscar win.
14. Curve (2015)
This movie starts out like any good nightmare. A road trip alone to clear your mind before reality sinks back in. Then, your car starts stalling and having issues in a desolate desert area, and you see an attractive man that you are not sure you can trust, but you’re alone so… go with your instincts. It starts off setting up this premise and then shortly into the film, thiller-esque events start happening at rapid speeds. Julianne Hough (Safe Haven) and the surprisingly creepy Teddy Sears (The Flash TV series) have a cat and mouse game of safety and self-defense. You will be rooting for the good guy and biting nails at the bad guy, but they both make this an enjoyably suspenseful 81 minutes. There were a couple of dips of boredom in action, but overall it was a solid performance from its two leading actors.
13. Final Girl (2015)
Bored at home one day, I was flipping through my ever increasing list of movies to watch in my current queue and happened to stumble upon Final Girl. I decided to give it a shot because I recognized two of the actors: Wes Bentley (Hunger Games) and Abigail Breslin (Zombieland). The cinematography of this film is hauntingly beautiful (in my own humble opinion) and although at times the storyline seems a bit disjointed, it definitely kept my attention.
Four guys for some unknown reason like to hunt and kill women, specifically, blondes. Bentley teaches Breslin how to be a weapon so she can put a stop to their madness. The training is intense but the payoff is worth it to me. It’s a different kind of film, maybe a little more akin to an indie film, so be prepared when going into it for some interesting pacing and a unique plotline.
12. House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
This film by Rob Zombie is, I would venture to guess, a little more known. When I watched it for the first time ever, I left feeling disgusted, confused, and worried for our society. The very next day, a bunch of friends convinced me to watch it again. And I loved it (what does that say about me?). It is dark. It is twisted. It is terrifying to think there are actual people in the world like this today, however, it is also like a sadistic train wreck you simply cannot look away from. This film got a lot of flak. A good portion of the population hated it (so I’ve read), but form your own opinion, people! Make it a Halloween must have if you will. It’s a movie that you can be content with the fact that it is on-screen and that this whole storyline did not derive from your own mind.
11. You’re Next (2011)
All hail Sharni Vinson (Step Up 3D)! Going into this movie, I was skeptical. A family getaway, middle of nowhere; family comes under attack? It’s all been done before, right? Not this way. At least not any way I’ve ever seen. Vinson plays the girlfriend to one of the family members, and when the house comes under attack, she surprises everyone. By everyone, I mean this to include the viewers as well. I didn’t see the capabilities of her coming from a mile away, and that my friends, is precisely why you should give this film a chance. It’s an action-packed thriller through and through. Although the reasoning for these murders that comes unveiled in the end could have been done in a million better ways, the rest of the movie makes up for it.
There are some typical thriller movie tropes, as is within this genre, but seriously folks, don’t let it stop you. This was another film I happened upon on a whim but feel it definitely should be shared.
10. Dead Silence (2007)
So… clowns are probably one of my biggest fears of life, however, ventriloquist dolls do not fall far behind. With that said, I am a firm believer in facing my fears. Enter Dead Silence. Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) plays Jamie a widower whose wife gets murdered (very early on, so technically it’s not a spoiler). Obviously, he wants to find out who murdered her and why. As the story progresses, cue scary dolls.
James Wan (The Saw, Conjuring and Insidious series) has to be one of my favorite horror film directors since Wes Craven. His movies are frightening, and he knows how to tell a story.
I watched this movie as a dare to my older brother who knows how terrifying dolls and clowns are to me. I suppose that’s just an older brother doing his job then, right? Now, I’m not saying I dare you to watch this movie if this kind of thing gives you the creeps, but, why not face a fear of yours, too? Just make sure it is during the day, with a bunch of friends in a slumber party setting so you aren’t sleeping alone. That totally still counts.
9. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
Ah, an oldie but a goodie. Wes Craven, who needs no introduction, was one of the most brilliant men in the horror genre (May he rest in peace). This film takes place in the “real world” where Heather Langenkamp (who portrayed Nancy Thompson in the original Nightmare on Elm Street) has to deal with Freddy making his way into the real waking world and haunting her and her family. What I specifically remember from this movie, and highly doubt I will ever forget, is when her child Dylan (Miko Hughes; Pet Cemetery) creepily starts singing:
“One…Two…Freddy’s coming for you…Three…Four…better lock your door…” You get it, right?
I am in no way saying this was the best Freddy film (because it’s not), but it did still maintain the creep factor that these movies are known for. Sometimes, my vote is that the effects could have been better, but the storyline and gore was spot on back in the 90s.
Then they killed it with incessant, nonsensical remakes.
8. Would You Rather (2012)
Welcome to one of the most sadistic games of “Would you rather?” to have ever been played. Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect) stars as Iris, an older sister just trying to figure out a way to pay the hospital bills for her very sick brother. This film plays on the heart strings in the sense that most people would go to extreme lengths to help someone they love in any way they can.
I’m not going to lie to you guys, a lot of the challenges are graphic and hard to watch. I wouldn’t say more thanHostel (2005), but still, graphic. We get to see Snow in a whole new light as opposed to the bubbly redheaded singer from Pitch Perfect. She gets to flex her acting chops in a whole new light (or dark depending on how you look at it), and she deserves to be recognized.
7. Apartment 143 (2012)
Remember earlier how I mentioned I don’t do possession movies? Well, this one happens to be that type of film and I didn’t intentionally seek it out. It was another veg out day at my best friends and she is very much into everything paranormal, so we gave this a shot. It did sort of terrify me to my very core in some parts, but that just proves how well it was acted and shot. It takes place in a – you guessed it – apartment building. It was a movie about a family who has been experiencing strange things that follow them (obviously), so a team of parapsychologists come and set up cameras to figure out what’s going on. It has a found footage feel, and certain parts will be things you can’t not see, even if it will be terrifying.
That’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?
6. Creep (2014)
Holy Mark Duplass! I know him most recently from the movie Tammy(2014), but didn’t realize he could pull off that kind of derangement. Billed as an independent found footage horror film, it is all of these things.
Duplass puts out an ad out on Craigslist (because nothing terrible has ever derived from Craigslist…) for a videographer to film him as he is a dying man, and wants his unborn son to know who he is. What do I have to say to this? Aaron (played by Patrick Brice, who also directed Creep), why did you answer the ad? This film is a slow but steady build of terror. Immediately the viewer grasps that something is off, but with each day/scene, more and more things don’t add up. Duplass and Brice were the only visible characters throughout the film, but absolutely kept me completely immersed into what was going to be the end result.
5. A Haunting at Silver Falls (2013)
The cover art alone made me want to say no, but at the pleading of friends, we gave it a go. Surprisingly, this was a well-made, well-acted film. It’s always a hit or miss when it comes to movies that are relatively unknown.
Here we have a troubled girl, that lives with her aunt and her aunt’s husband, who hears tales of a supposed haunting of two girls murdered at Silver Falls. The movie follows her around as she starts to see things she can’t quite explain. By the time we get to the big reveal, I wasn’t necessarily surprised at what events unfolded, however, the people involved were a little bit of a shocker. Overall, with the tons of terribly acted horror/thriller films that are streaming, this was by far one to consider giving a go.
4. The Rite (2011)
Okay, this falls in line with yet another possession theme, and of the religious kind, but it’s Anthony Hopkins, guys. He is a priest who essentially specializes in exorcisms. Michael (Colin O’Donoghue) is a priest in training if you will. He isn’t sure if the priest game is for him, but he feels sort of drawn to it. Anyway, he meets Hopkins (who portrays Father Lucas) and kind of shadows him, all the while still skeptical of exorcisms – despite witnessing some pretty crazy stuff. Then, things start happening that he cannot turn away from.
Short enough synapses to spark your interest? I don’t know if it’s the music or the special effects, or a mixture of the two that really gets me every time, but trust me when I say, it really does get me every time.
Also just to throw out some humble bragging, this movie also came out five years ago, and I was still brave enough to go see this in a dark theater and come home alone and survive the night. #soldier.
3. Darling (2015)
Holy sh*& you guys. This movie was… just wow. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into at the time (again with friends because nightmares). I knew it was in black and white, and that pretty much sold me (as I am a huge fan of classic movies).
Per IMDb, the description is that it is a lonely girl’s descent into madness.
That’s it, that’s the entire explanation for the film. Now, when watching Darling, you will want to pay close attention. The movie is broken down into chapters (which I thought was a really brilliant touch,) and is almost equivalent to a silent film. There is very little dialogue, which means that the character Darling (Lauren Ashley Carter) had a lot of work to do to convince the audience she was slowly, but surely going mad. She did a brilliant job emoting every feeling she was tasked to do.
This film is madness in and of itself, and it is totally worth the ride.
2. The Houses October Built (2014)
Your friends come up to you and suggest road tripping during Halloween season to find true gritty underground haunts. Seems legit, right?
Thus is the foundation that this film is built upon. It is a found footage movie as well, and clowns galore because I apparently am a sadist, so why not. When watching this, it honestly felt like stumbling upon someone’s real footage of their road trip gone very, very wrong. However, there is just something about horror films with good actors that keep me coming back for more. A friend and I – way before Netflix was popular – used to rent DVD’s via Netflix and have a weekly “cheesy horror” viewing party. So as you can imagine, I have seen some pretty bad films.
If you want to wait until the Halloween season is upon us again, I would definitely recommend this one.
1. Hush (2016)
If you haven’t seen this film yet, go, just go and watch it. A deaf writer retreats to the woods to find solace when she becomes the object of a masked killer. The most nerve-wracking thing about this film is that she is deaf. It makes it that much scarier because she can’t hear her attacker at all.
Going into Hush, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it. It seemed like it would be just another thriller that takes place in the woods, is desolate, and there is an obvious attacker; don’t get me wrong, it is all of these things, but it is also so much more. I’m sure her disability made it that much more nerve-wracking because the audience is clearly rooting for her and her fight for survival.
I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this film. The cinematography, acting, execution of rising action and climax was all there and placed at just the right moments. Hush comes highly recommended.