Horror is a film genre that seeks to elicit fear or disgust in its audience for entertainment purposes.
Horror films often explore dark subject matter and may deal with transgressive topics or themes. Broad elements include monsters, apocalyptic events, and religious or folk beliefs. Cinematic techniques used in horror films have been shown to provoke psychological reactions in an audience.
Horror films have existed for more than a century. Early inspirations from before the development of film include folklore, religious beliefs and superstitions of different cultures, and the Gothic and horror literature of authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley. From origins in silent films and German Expressionism, horror only became a codified genre after the release of Dracula (1931). Many sub-genres emerged in subsequent decades, including body horror, comedy horror, slasher films, supernatural horror and psychological horror. The genre has been produced worldwide, varying in content and style between regions. Horror is particularly prominent in the cinema of Japan, Italy and Thailand, among other countries.
Despite being the subject of social and legal controversy due to their subject matter, some horror films and franchises have seen major commercial success, influenced society and spawned several popular culture icons.
1. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a 1974 American slasher film produced and directed by Tobe Hooper from a story and screenplay by Hooper and Kim Henkel. It stars Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow and Gunnar Hansen, who respectively portray Sally Hardesty, Franklin Hardesty, the hitchhiker, the proprietor, and Leatherface. The film follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead. The film was marketed as being based on true events to attract a wider audience and to act as a subtle commentary on the era’s political climate; although the character of Leatherface and minor story details were inspired by the crimes of murderer Ed Gein, its plot is largely fictional.
Sinister is a 2012 American supernatural horror film directed by Scott Derrickson and written by C. Robert Cargill and Derrickson. It stars Ethan Hawke as a struggling true-crime writer whose discovery of videos depicting grisly murders in his new house puts his family in danger. Juliet Rylance, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Clare Foley, and Michael Hall D’Addario appear in supporting roles.
Sinister was inspired by a nightmare Cargill had after watching the 2002 film The Ring. Principal photography on Sinister began in Autumn of 2011 in Long Island, NY with a production budget of $3 million. To add the authenticity of old home movies and snuff films, the Super 8 segments were shot on actual Super 8 cameras and film stock. The film was a co-production between the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
3. SAW (2004)
Saw (2004) might have reignited the so-called torture porn genre with its truly disgusting sequels and this is a huge. The original Saw is nowhere near as gross-gusting as you think it is and happens to be brilliant horror. Yes, the title is about an implement that a depraved killer suggests someone takes their leg off with rather than use a key to unlock a cuff, but Saw is actually remarkably restrained. The ideas at work here are significantly more grisly in your own mind than what you see on screen. Made on a shoestring budget by Leigh Whannell and James Wan, this tale of two men waking up in a bathroom, a corpse between them, is twisted but constantly intriguing.
4. Paranormal Activity (2007)
Paranormal Activity is where things got, err, dead serious. The first movie from now horror staple Oren Peli, it introduces us to Katie and Micah who have been experiencing some odd goings-on in their LA home. Ever the keen filmmaker, Micah sets up a camera at the foot of their bed to keep an eye on things while they sleep. The bumps in the night that follow are enough to make you never want to see another bed again, let alone lie on one.
The reason why Paranormal Activity is so nerve-janglingly effective is simple. Regardless of your favorite snoozing position or habits, we all lie down in a dark room, switch off, and become perfect prey for whatever lurks in the gloom. The now infamous shot from the bottom of Katie and Micah’s bed is a masterclass in slow-burn terror. Every simple extended shot as the clock ticks forward becomes an agonizingly tense eye test.
5. The Conjuring
The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and written by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes. It is the inaugural film in the Conjuring Universe franchise. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators and authors associated with prominent cases of haunting. Their purportedly real-life reports inspired The Amityville Horror story and film franchise. The Warrens come to the assistance of the Perron family, who experienced increasingly disturbing events in their farmhouse in Rhode Island in 1971.
Development of the film began in January 2012, and reports confirmed Wan as the director of a film entitled The Warren Files, later retitled The Conjuring, centering on the alleged real-life exploits of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a married couple who investigated paranormal events. In his second collaboration with Wan, Patrick Wilson starred alongside Vera Farmiga in the main roles of Ed and Lorraine. Production commenced in Wilmington, North Carolina, in February 2012, and scenes were shot in chronological order.