Illustration by Gabriel Toscano

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“A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “The Exorcist,” “The Shining” — what do these movies all have in common? You’ve probably heard one of your parents say they are the scariest movies they have ever seen. You might have even heard them say they don’t make horror movies like that anymore and there is some truth to that.  

Following the 80’s it seemed as if Hollywood had hit a wall when it came to horror. Horror became labeled as a trash genre. It was slogged down with endless sequels, remakes and cheap thrills with little substance. For a good two decades, there was hardly a good horror movie in sight. There were a few outliers like “The Blair Witch Project” and “28 Days Later,” but for every one of those there were a dozen like “The Grudge.” These types of movies relied on predictable jumpscares and meaningless gore. Their purpose was to create visceral reactions of shock and disgust, but with little lasting impression.  

The reason Hollywood became over-saturated with such bad horror movies is because it was a place for producers to make a quick buck. They would prefer to make money on movies that might get awful reviews rather than take a risk on one that would get great reviews but would prove a lot riskier for receiving a return on their investment. However, that would all change around 2010, and horror would enter a renaissance. 

This sudden revival was in large part because of streaming platforms like Netflix. With the rise of streaming, there was a need to draw in viewers therefore these streaming platforms were eager to accept anything new and exciting. It created a surge in original content across the whole board and horror was no exception. But they were not the only players involved. There were also companies like A24 which allowed greater freedom for their creators and they would come to release many experimental horror films that would pay off in a big way.  

It seems horror has risen back from the dead and there is now more than ever an abundance of great horror movies out there. With Halloween around the corner, it is a great time to give yourself nightmares with some of these modern-day horror classics. 

Here is a small list to get you started: 

  1. “Hereditary” 

“Hereditary” was Ari Asters’ debut film released by the aforementioned A24. It is about the Graham family as they struggle with familial discord. With the death of their grandmother, the family begins to unravel a dark and mysterious past surrounding their heritage. As time goes on they are led down a path they do not understand by a force they are not fully aware of.  

This movie belongs at the top of the list for several reasons. It dives into a level of trauma little before seen on screen, there are Oscar-worthy performances across the board, and it will leave you with a level of dread for weeks to follow. This is one of those movies that will make you think about it long after it is over and for some that may not be a good thing. It also has the added benefit of being filmed just around the corner in Summit County, Utah. “Hereditary” isn’t just one of the best horror movies of the past decade, it is one of the best horror movies ever made. 

  1. “Get Out” 

“Get Out” comes from the creative genius of Jordan Peele, the likes of whom you may know from “Key and Peele,” a Comedy Central hit that created many viral skits over the years. Peele would go on to have numerous acting credits which would all culminate in his directorial debut with “Get Out.” It received multiple Oscar nominations and won him Best Original Screenplay. At times “Get Out” can be humorous, but don’t be fooled. It is no comedy.  

It can be summed up as the feeling of being somewhere where you don’t belong. It follows Chris as he visits his girlfriend, Rose’s family. Rose hasn’t told her white suburban family that Chris is black which she doesn’t seem to find as a big deal, but he is on edge. This feeling of paranoia is handled expertly and gradually culminates from uncertainty into outright horror during the third act. 

  1. “It Follows” 

“It Follows” draws its inspiration from many of the classics from the 80’s — its stylish soundtrack will invoke that feeling instantly — but it is completely unique and deserves its place on the pedestal of horror movie classics. This indie film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was immediately picked up for a general release that quickly garnered widespread praise. 

This movie has one of the strongest and most intriguing opening scenes in film which instantly sets up the atmosphere and themes that the rest of the movie will explore. It then takes us into the perspective of a 19-year-old college student named Jay, who upon having a sexual encounter begins to be pursued by a malicious entity. As more is learned about this entity, the horrifying truth about the opening scene is revealed. It is both thoughtful and terrifying. One will be left puzzling over its meaning while looking over their shoulder to make sure they aren’t being followed. Never before has an old woman in pajamas walking slowly forward been quite so terrifying.  

  1. Shudder 

Shudder isn’t a movie but it is a new streaming platform that may have flown under a lot of people’s radar with there being so many nowadays. What makes Shudder unique though is that it is exclusive to horror movies. Not only does it contain many classics, but they have their own list of original content that is quickly providing to the horror movie renaissance.  

One of the most noteworthy of their contributions is in the form of a horror anthology series called “Creepshow.” It is based on the film of the same name that was released in 1982 by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King. “Creepshow” harkens back to the EC horror comics of the ‘50s. Each episode contains two original stories that tap into many of the best tropes of the genre. It is nothing more than horror nerds having a lot of fun with the freedom Shudder has offered them. It is simply a blast to watch. 

This Halloween don’t miss out on the spectacular and terrifying works this genre provides just because you heard someone say it contains nothing of worth. There are many great horror movies out there and more to come. 

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