Top 10 Reasons Why Horror is the Best Movie Genre
© 2017 Donnalyn Vojta Leilah Publications
All rights reserved.

A lot of people shy away from horror movies, especially because they remember being afraid of the “boogie man” when they were children. People ages 18 and up tend to enjoy horror movies more because, by that age, their brains don’t process the films’ images as real. They know it’s only movie magic, so they can truly enjoy the thrills and chills without the lingering fear effect. No other genres make you hold your breath, jump out of your seat, scream or curl into a little ball like a juicy horror flicks! Those reactions are usually followed by laughter at oneself or at others–what’s not fun about that?!

Some people may be tainted because the first horror or thriller film(s) they saw were bad ones.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, as they say (whoever “they” are). Movies that received a lot of hype and press prior to their release, but then disappointed movie-goers could ruin someone forever on horror flicks. Don’t be one of those victims. You may be such a victim if you watched The Blair Witch Project, The Witch, or Crimson Peak. Despite opinions to the contrary, especially as to Blair Witch, these three certainly did not deliver (at least, in my opinion). Don’t despair. The following list could revive your excitement about having a good scare while watching a movie with your big bucket of popcorn! Here’s my analysis:

1.THEY SURPRISE YOU.  Think of the movie, Psycho (1960) with Anthony Perkins playing the lead, Norman Bates. Really! Would anyone have thought that he was not only keeping something extraordinarily disturbing in his creepy house, but also, he would…well, I won’t spoil the movie for you. Psycho continues to cause lots of trembling gasps from first-time viewers to this day. Oh, and we cannot forget about its famous shower scene, now an iconic scene across all genres of film.  Alfred Hitchcock knew what he was doing. That’s for sure! Even the filming style—weird angles and zooms in and out at odd times—greatly added to the creepy factor. If you haven’t seen this classic, get it and watch it now.  Well, wait until you finish this article, then go get it.

2. THEY TWIST YOUR MIND. Ever see The Others (2001) with Nicole Kidman? That one has you going in one direction for almost the whole movie until you really find out who’s dead and who’s alive. I’m pretty good as figuring out endings, but this had me stumped all the way until the actual moment of reveal. Nicely done, Alejandro Amenábar (director). It’s crazy, but very weird and eerie along the way! The Sixth Sense (1999) would fall under this category, too. That’s also an iconic film at this point, starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment. When the movie ends, you will find yourself replaying the whole thing in your head to figure out how you missed so many clues.

3. THEY SHOCK YOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL SYSTEMS. I put Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Seven (1995) in this category. The former stars Anthony Hopkins and Jodi Foster, and the latter stars Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. These pairings, alone, should draw you to see these extraordinarily scary movies—both about serial killers. Silence involves an imprisoned cannibal and a female FBI agent who must consult with the cannibal serial killer in order to hunt down another serial killer. In Seven, the diabolical killer messes with the minds and lives of the detectives (Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) who are trying to hunt him down. It’s quite an emotive movie. Both movies sport some pretty grotesque surprises, but overall, they are psychological thrillers, not simply blood and gore. Silence and Seven shock us, as compassionate human beings, to the point where we have to see if the serial murderer is ever stopped. They are can’t-stop-watching movies. These are perfect films for escaping from the hum-drum of everyday life, if that’s what you need.

4. THEY GIVE YOU EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT FILM VIEWING. These are awesome because you are so entrenched in the story that it’s like nothing else is happening around you, and you will likely be, literally, at the edge of your seat watching every second as if your life depended on it. I put Alien and The Thing in this category—both the 1982 and 2011 version of The Thing. Alien is great, especially if you saw it any time during the early 1980s. It came out in 1979, and it was way ahead of its time, sporting a setting in space where transportation vessels bounced around the solar system like 727’s moving cargo and people back and forth in the mainland U.S.A. skies.  It’s still great now because of its unique story of an unknown non-human creature killing people who were on a simple exploration mission. Sigourney Weaver stars and shines in the film. The Thing is great because of  its  disturbing story and quick pace. This ill-fated cast of researchers determines that there is an alien organism among them that morphs into any person or living thing around them. You never know whether one of the characters is really the original person or the monster about to attack! These are the type of films that keep you guessing and betting who is the next to be infected or killed, which adds another layer of entertainment for the audience.

5. SOME HAVE WEIRD UNIQUE STORYLINES. Most of the time–the weirder the better, but some can be disappointing. The good quirky ones include Insidious (2010) and the not-so-good ones include Jeepers Creepers (2001). Insidious takes the viewer into another realm, where a child is stuck, and his parents need to find a way to get him back to our world–the living world as we know it on Earth. The film’s creation of the other realm is amazing. It boasts lots of creepy scenes, colorful but dark spaces, and who doesn’t want to see a young boy be rescued and re-united with his own loving parents?  Great plot!  Conversely, Jeepers Creepers starts out scary, but ends up silly, in my humble opinion, so the frightening beginning becomes a waste of time once the story’s end is revealed.

6. THEY CAN BE HORRIFYING TO YOUR CORE, proving that you’re not so tough after all. Those are especially fun to watch with friends because then you can tease each other after you and your buds display your childish screams and embarrassing jumps back, or up! The Ring (2002) and The Conjuring (2013) are great for this kind of fun. In The Ring, a movie about an urban legend that says watching a certain videotape of bizarre images will be the catalyst of your own impending death, imparts some of the most scary, nightmarish images I have ever beheld on screen. I won’t give anything away, but suffice it to say, your feelings on faulty TV’s may never be the same. The Conjuring contains the classic events that scared us all as children: dark basements, flickering lights, sounds under our beds, I can go on, but I’m getting scared just thinking about it. These spooky treasures substantially up the terrifying scale as the story unfolds. As if the horrifying demonic possession plot isn’t enough!  If you like screaming and feeling chills up and down your spine, this is your category.

7. THEY CAN MAKE YOU ANGRY, BUT when the bad guy/thing finally gets payback, it is ESPECIALLY SATISFYING to the human heart. When a Stranger Calls (1979 or 2006 version) is a great example for this category. The first one made movie history with the line, “Have you checked the children?” For anyone who has ever babysat at night, this movie will be especially scary, and for everyone else, it’s still scary, and you may even find yourself yelling at the movie’s babysitter to do something different than what she’s doing. It’s hilarious to be a viewer, or see viewers, screaming at a screen in desperation and frustration to help this poor babysitter. Good fun!

8. THEY CAN SPOOK YOU, which is always mind-bending, especially when you are not sure yet whether you believe in ghosts. Check out Paranormal Activity (just the first one from 2007) to really make you wonder. It’s so reality-based that it’s difficult not to believe in ghosts after you watch it. The film is pretty cool because it’s based on a young couple who live together, and because of some odd phenomena in their home, they begin videotaping rooms within while they sleep to see if they can catch whatever is causing these strange and creepy household anomalies. What’s more horrifying is that it’s not just ghosts in the cast, but demons who can physically contact the living. Yikes!

9. SOME ARE WONDROUS AND UNIQUE, and who doesn’t love those qualities in a flick? Try The Haunting (1999) with Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Owen Wilson. It has it all! Strange ornate mansion, eerie secluded location, great visual effects, a diverse and quirky set of characters trapped inside a haunted estate, and, of course, a supernatural presence orchestrating the entire plotline to a surprising, exciting and somewhat bittersweet ending. This is for those who prefer surprises over terror. Scream (1996), starring Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette, could arguably be put into this category, too.  That became a big hit because it was almost a spoof on horror films, yet was its own actual horror film as well.  Well done, director, Wes Craven!  Great fresh thriller flick.

10. FINALLY, SOME SATISFY THE HUMAN NEED FOR JUSTIFIABLE REVENGE.  These are my personal favorites. For two women-centric thrillers in this category, see Sleeping with the Enemy (Julia Roberts) and Enough (Jennifer Lopez). So satisfying! Never underestimate a woman, especially, in Enough‘s case, where a woman must protect her child. In Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), Julia Robert’s character must escape from her cold diabolical and dangerous husband, and she gets pretty far in her efforts to start a new life without him.  The fun part is how this film has scenes that scare the daylights out of you, even though when taken out of context, would not scare anyone. The story-telling is fantastic in this one, especially one particular line at the end of the movie. I won’t provide the quote, but you will know what I am talking about when you hear it. In Enough (2002), Jennifer Lopez plays, Slim, an abused wife who very carefully finds a way to leave her cheating abusive husband, but then he catches up to her. Ladies, Slim will give you hope and inspiration to fight back against men who abuse women. I have found that many men like both of these revenge-type movies as well.  They are both awesome films, primarily because of their exciting cathartic endings.

Of course, some of the above qualities may be found in action-packed dramas, but there’s just something extra thrilling, spine-tickling and bone-chilling about getting these entertainment treasures from horror and spooky films that makes horror movies so much better. Check out all the above films, and see for yourself if horror films should move up on your list of favorite kinds of movies. Happy Thrills!

For Donnalyn Vojta’s upcoming fiction thrillers, see her website or her author Facebook page. and!