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Halloween movie guide: best and worst horror films

Walker Donaldson

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I generally do not enjoy scary movies. Rarely does a horror film impress me in the same ways as a great drama; that being said, there are a few horror films that are both terrifying and enjoyable to watch. There are also films that, no matter how they try to be scary, just cannot get the job done. Horror is one of the most challenging genres if a high quality film is the goal. Two films listed below are perfect representations of horror films. The other two are exactly what should never happen in a horror film.


Top two horror films:


“Seven” (1995)

Before “Saw,” there was “Seven.” David Fincher’s film stars Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as two police detectives who attempt to catch a serial killer who bases his killing on the seven deadly sins. It is perhaps the most unsettling movie I have ever seen. The violence is not what makes the film disturbing and terrifying. The film’s success is instead based on its pervasive ability to plant ideas in the viewer’s head about their potential demise. Fincher preys on the assumption that his viewer’s imagination will run wild, and he is correct to do so. This creates the true terror in the movie.

“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

Anthony Hopkins is an incredibly versatile actor, but he is perhaps most well known for his role as Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.” Like “Se7en,” “The Silence of the Lambs” is a film that does not rely solely on violence to create fear among its viewers. The film relies on Lecter, a brilliant, cannibalistic serial killer to create the fear. The violence is horrifying, but Lector, who is in the entire film for no more than 20 minutes, singlehandedly determines the fate of the audience’s nerves through his disturbing conversations and mannerisms.

Bottom two horror films:

“Dawn of the Dead” (2004)

This remake of George Romero’s 1978 film of the same name is almost as cheesy and clichéd as the original. Zombies have become a large part of modern American pop culture. Films like “28 Days Later” and TV shows like “The Walking Dead” have been successful in creating something beyond a generic post-apocalyptic zombie story. “Dawn of the Dead” takes generic to a new level.  The story follows a group of survivors, with every token character known to man, stuck in a shopping mall. The plot is predictable and the outcome could probably be determined by viewing the preview. The only shining spot in the film is seeing Ty Burrell, who plays Phil in “Modern Family,” get eaten by a horde of zombies.


“The Last House on the Left” (2009)

Like zombie movies, a recent trend in horror films has been to create what is known as torture porn. Instead of using a strong plot and acting to create fear, this subgenre of horror films relies on incredibly violent scenes and graphic nudity to scare the audience. “The Last House on the Left” is a film about a father seeking vengeance for the beating of his daughter, and is a perfect example of horrific violence being used instead of creativity. Perhaps the most representative scene of this genre is one in which the father uses a microwave to fry someone’s head. This is analogous to how the viewer feels after watching movies like this.

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Halloween movie guide: best and worst horror films