Horror film is a divisive genre. There are an army of people who will watch any horror film and love even the bad ones because they want to be scared and enjoy the clichés that even the simplest horror film can do. There are also people that don’t want that, and are put off by horror films and don’t enjoy that edge-of-the seat tenseness; this is a list for you. These 10 films are perfectly safe to watch for anybody to not worry about being scared, as they defy the typical tropes of horror and still manage to be a great film.
1. CABIN IN THE WOODS (2011)
This one might be arguably the scariest on the list. Cabin in the Woods starts off like a traditional horror film, but is far from it. Using the tropes and clichés that horror fans love to draw people in, it’s what the rest of the film has to offer that gets audiences staying for more. The Evil Dead franchise is a clear inspiration, using the same cabin in the middle of an empty woods set-up. The film goes onto be more of a spoof/dark comedy, poking fun at the genre, in a twisted and clever way that never gets tired, and if I say anymore it will spoil the film.
2. SAW (2004)
Okay, I’m playing a bit loose with the rules here, because Saw is definitely not a horror; it’s a crime thriller film, and an incredible one at that. The Saw franchise rightly has the reputation for it’s over-the-top use of blood and gore and being labelled as torture porn. That certainly applies for the latter films in the franchise. However, the first film (and to some extent the 2nd and 3rd as well) focus fully on the crime aspects and follow the police, led by the great Danny Glover, trying to capture the Jigsaw killer.
3. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993)
If the previous two entries are so far are horror, then this one definitely isn’t, and probably comes under the genre of fantasy, but certainly tips its toes into the horror genre. The beloved stop motion Disney classic, from the mind of Tim Burton (who most people think directed, when he actually own wrote and produced) is a favourite film for many, mixing two of peoples favourite times of the years, as a bizarre cast of characters from Halloween Town, learn what Christmas is, so could be classed as the perfect film for Halloween or Christmas, and one that is suitable for most kids if you want to introduce them to scarier imagery without giving them nightmares.
4. A QUIET PLACE (2018)
One of the best cinema experiences I’ve ever had. The film takes place after aliens land on Earth and can track people down using sound, so a family are trying to survive while causing as little sound as possible. Director, John Krasinski (who most people know as Jim from The US Office), stated he doesn’t like horror himself, which kind of made him the perfect person to make one. The atmosphere of not being able to make a sound, meant that people in the cinema felt bad, even eating popcorn. If you missed it in cinemas, it will be safer to watch it from the comfort of your own home, but be sure to turn the sound way up to get the full effect.
5. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
Writer and Director, John Landis is one of the most beloved directors and this perfectly written horror comedy, that might have been the start of the spoof genre. Much like, Cabin in the Woods, An American Werewolf in London is clearly poking fun and knows exactly what it is instantly starting with the song ‘Blue Moon’ as we see the title characters walking through the British countryside. The film is most known for its incredible and practical scene where the main character transforms into the werewolf, an iconic scene that is worth the watch itself.
6. SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
Another horror comedy, this time from genius filmmaker Edgar Wright starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the first film in the cornetto trilogy and often considered the best in that trilogy, Shaun of the Dead is a hilarious film, taking what everyone knows from the rising zombie films at the time to make one of the funniest British comedies of all time and one of the cleverest movies ever made.
7. SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (2007)
One for musical fans. This dark, horror musical is the second appearance of Tim Burton on this list, with his two favourite actors, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, as well as an appearance from the late, great Alan Rickman. The classic story is bloody and you do get the odd moment of that, but doesn’t get quite as extreme as Saw does, and has the grim setting that makes it creepy and not knowing who to root for.
8. THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020)
My favourite film of the year so far, doesn’t delve too hard into the horror genre, refraining from jump scares and aiming for the psychological side. A spin on the classic Universal Monster film, that swaps the mad genius inventor for a modern story about a woman dealing with the trauma and PTSD of surviving an abusive boyfriend. A great performance from Elizabeth Moss and directed by Leigh Whannell, one of the writers of Saw, means this film is a must-watch film of this slower year for film.
9. PSYCHO (1960)
The iconic horror is not only a must-watch of the genre, but a must-watch from film history, from one of the best directors ever, Alfred Hitchcock. The shower scene, the motel, the bates. It’s all so iconic that it had a successful spin-off show, and really created the modern horror genre as we know it, creating the clichés. However, the age means it isn’t quite as scary as it used to be to 60’s audience but is never the less a cinema classic.
10. GET OUT (2017)
It just made sense to end the list with the Best Picture nominated, Get Out, which also won writer and first time director Jordan Peele the award for best original screenplay. The uneasiness you feel throughout the film when an African-American is brought to meet his white girlfriend’s parents. The expertly written script is why this film will last the test of time and go down in history as one of the best horror films, and given Jordan Peele the credit to make whatever he wants.
At least one of these films might just give you that tenseness to enjoy without making you too scared or give you any nightmares this Halloween.
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