Now, horror films aren’t always about the gore, though they are sometimes mistaken for being synonymous. Horrors in fact are quite a broad bunch of films under one unifying message – to horrify and to terrify. Actually, some of the greatest horror films are the ones that tame the gore, that don’t give the audience cheap thrills like Hostel by Eli Roth or Saw by James Wan, or believe that more gore equals more horror. Instead, these films inject some well-crafted, well thought out thrills and terrors to set a killer mood and that familiar eerie feel
If you look at the horror films of the first half of the 20th century, if you just look at classic monster horror films, from Dracula to Frankenstein, horror can be portrayed with little need for gore. Going further, some of the greatest horror films, such as Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining, Roman Polanski‘s Rosemary’s Baby, and The Blair Witch Project have barely any gore in them
In this list, you’ll discover some of the best horror films that use psychological suspense instead of physical gore to horrify the audience that may have missed your radar the first time…
As a low budget horror, The Strangers came out with little media campaign unlike The Blair Witch Project, but make no mistake, this American horror film is absolutely terrorizing. Like most of the great moody horror films – such as Jaws by Steven Spielberg or Rosemary’s Baby – the enemy is not someone we all know and recognize. Quite literally in the case of The Strangers, it is a group of three random strangers. When a young couple return home to their summer house after a wedding reception, things seem eerie. First, their home is in the middle of nowhere. Second, its a disturbing pitch black outside. Third, a mysterious woman appears in the middle of the night, knocks on the door and asks for someone who isn’t there
And so, it descends, and from then on, we are gradually introduced to the gang of three strangers whose only aim seems to be to terrorize Kristen and James. Chilling? Yes. Creepy? Again yes. Edge of the seat suspense? Yes. Gory? Essentially none. The Strangers is a horror that horrifies with little blood and gory details. For me, the strangers in that house are some of the scariest villains in horror, because they arrive unannounced, masked, and motiveless, akin to Funny Games - the Austrian and American films by Michael Haneke. The mood of the entire film feels like a horror, but instead of blood you get suspense, instead of a guy killing dozens in brutal ways, you get three strangers constantly horrifying a pretty couple
Director: Brad Anderson
Cast: David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle, Josh Lucas, Peter Mullan, Brendan Sexton III, Charley Broderick, Lonnie Farmer, Larry Fessenden, Jurian Hughes, Sheila Stasack
As the electric asbestos removal team begin work on an abandoned and condemned mental asylum, one of the members discovers nine taped sessions with a former patient, marked patient 444. 9 sessions of hypnotherapy. As the tapes play on, gradually upping the tension, the team begins to discover strange things around the hospital, and madness ensues. By the end of the sessions, you yourself will be feeling jittery and paranoid
Session 9 is a chaining psychological horror that develops its characters well, giving them personal histories that complicate the job at hand. As the sessions move from one to the next, gradually revealing disturbing pasts of the mental asylum, the team discover themselves lost in a maze, and they begin to lose their mind to fear and madness. Session 9 is a challenging, chilling and genuinely horrifying film that isn’t as well known as it should be
Directors: David Moreau, Xavier Palud
Cast: Olivia Bonamy, Michaël Cohen, Adriana Mocca, Maria Roman, Camelia Maxim, Alexandru Boghiu, Emanuel Stefanuc, Horia Ioan, Stefan Cornic, George Iulian
Them - a French language film – is along the same lines as The Strangers, and some even consider The Strangers an American remake. To be honest, it does share quite a few characteristics –similar running time and the same premise. When Lucas & Clementine, a couple living in their remote country home in Romania – you know where this is going… -wake up to weird sounds in the middle of the night, they realize that they may be isolated, but are defiantly not alone. Already scared? You should be. Especially when you realize the couple have no lights, all phones are disconnected, and their car has been stolen. Scared now? Well, guess what? There are mysterious lights outside as well
When the French couple begins to be terrorized by masked people, the horror is relentless. As with The Strangers, there is no real story as such, all that grips is that the horror is real and visceral, and as a viewer you feel helpless as the night sets in and brings unyielding terror
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