Welcome to the multi-faceted sub-genres of horror
Welcome to the multi-faceted sub-genres of horror
- By Amanda Chai
- | Aug 31, 2018
Are you hungry for horror this Hungry Ghost Month? Don’t be afraid to admit it. There’s a certain chill in the air from all the joss stick and hell money burning, offerings along the road and such; it sort of also weirdly gets us in the mood for a night in with a horror flick. If you aren’t out appreciating our local getai culture, and can’t afford a date with the cinema, stream these seven films on Netflix to your heart’s content.
Local horror: Ghoul
It’s no The Maid, but Ghoul is Netflix’s first Indian original horror series, and there’s certainly some achievement in that. In three episodes, the story follows a newly minted military interrogator (Radhika Apte) who arrives at a covert detention center, where she soon realizes some of the terrorists there aren’t just from India. The series, originally intended as a feature-length film, is co-produced by Blumhouse—also known as the horror geniuses behind Get Out, Insidious and Paranormal Activity. As such, it too tackles real-world issues like hyper-nationalism and religion, while maintaining a distinct cultural identity that Southeast Asian viewers are sure to appreciate.
Psychological: Gerald’s Game
Rumor has it this Netflix Original is so terrifying it made viewers pass out. The film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name doesn’t contain much action at all—but then again, many good psychological horror films don’t need to. The bulk of the movie takes place inside the bedroom—after a couple, who in trying to rekindle the spark in their marriage through kinky sex games, reaches the worst possible climax ever: the husband (Bruce Greenwood) dies, and the wife (Carla Gugino) is left handcuffed to the bed to panic, hallucinate, and basically try to survive. Heads up: things get gory.
Don’t discount the zombie genre of horror—Ravenous (2017) is not your campy flesh-eating comedy flick (think Shaun of the Dead), nor is it the Hollywood blockbuster-make of World War Z and the Resident Evil franchise. Instead, the French Canadian film by Robin Aubert is a quiet, cinematic horror shaped by serene tableaus and serious social commentary. In the rural countryside of Quebec, a small village comes to grips with their loved ones turning into unrecognizable creatures; the survivors must venture into the woods to find safety and community.
Another Stephen King adaptation, 1922 centers on a farmer (Thomas Jane) and his penned confession of his wife’s murder. The act itself doesn’t take much screen time; the film plays out through a series of terrifying events motivated in equal parts by the supernatural and guilt. It is gory not through gratuitous violence, but rather in details embellishing the macabre act—plus a heck load of rats. Don’t watch after dinner.
B-grade: The Babysitter
Ah, the B-movie. A severely underrated sub-genre in horror, the B-movie has evolved into a cult category of its own, to include everything from campy horror-comedies to hybrid monster movies that only air on Syfy. The Babysitter follows 12-year-old Cole Johnson (Judah Lewis), filled with passion but a bit of a nerd, who falls in love with his hot babysitter (Samara Weaving)—only to discover that she’s part of a satanic cult that wants him as a sacrifice. Actress Bella Thorne is also in the film, so you already know it’s going to be bad. What follows is a classic Home Alone escaping-the-bad-guys scenario, complete with gruesome mishaps straight out of Final Destination. If you’re looking for an easy watch for when you want to shut your brain off, this is it.
Classic: Rosemary’s Baby
Come see how the masters did it, with 1968 psychological horror film Rosemary’s Baby. Roman Polanski’s iconic film about a pregnant woman (Mia Farrow) who suspects an evil cult wants her baby went on to spawn a legacy of films about black magic, satanic cults, and paranoid pregnant mothers. It was even cited as one of Stanley Kubrick’s (director of The Shining and A Clockwork Orange) favorite films. After this, you too can officially claim to be an educated appreciator of fine film.
Personal pick: The Witch
We like to see ourselves as seasoned consumers of smart cinema, and 2015’s The Witch stands out as one of the most riveting horror films of the last decade. A period supernatural horror film, The Witch follows a Puritan family in 1630s New England—a time and place undeniably imbued with irrational fear and religious misdirection. When the family loses their fifth child in a mysterious tragedy, eldest daughter Thomasin suddenly finds herself at the center of suspicion; it doesn’t help that she seems to have the most affinity with the forces of evil living in the woods. Because no intelligent film nowadays is without commentary, The Witch probes into the coming-of-age genre with a sharp look at puberty and female sexuality—all the while bolstered by a film score that’s consistently and creepily dissonant.