4 Underrated Horror Films for Never Leaving the House Again
Do you have big plans for Halloween night? Oh, shut up, you do not. Also, no, handing out candy to ungrateful kids definitely does not count. If you're doing that, you're at home. If you're at home, you might as well watch a movie. Your friends for damn sure aren't going to keep you company. They're getting dolled up in their finest sexy Ebola nurse/doctor/patient costumes to hit the town and make even more terrible decisions.
This can't conform to proper safety protocols.
Obviously, with today being Halloween and you being a total lemming who just does what everyone else does, if you do decide to stay in and stare at your television, chances are you'll want to watch a horror movie. If you're at a loss for one to watch, have a listen to this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by Cracked editor Tom Reimann and podcast editor Brett Rader. We talk about a whole bevy of underrated horror movies you should consider watching tonight, including one about how George Washington was a cannibal who made utensils out of the bones of children. You obviously don't want to miss that shit.
As for this column, I'll be doing the same, except with a slight twist. Staying home alone on a party night is never fun -- but, again, that's exactly what you're doing tonight. Instead of feeling bad about it, make sure your selection of horror movies cements your faith in the fact that leaving the house for any reason is a terrible idea. For example ...
I cover a lot of real estate in this column hating everything zombie-related, up to, including, and especially The Walking Dead. So, get ready to call me a hypocrite (I promise not to listen), because there are two zombie films on this list.
It's not like every zombie film ever made has been terrible; it's just a premise that's been taken in damn near every direction imaginable, to the point that most "fresh" ideas these days just involve mashing up zombies with something else awful. Like Nazis, for example!
Of course it's a real movie!
Because of all that, my instinctive reaction to seeing a well-done zombie movie in this day and age is something approaching complete and total awe. So, with all that buildup out of the way, might I suggest you stop everything you're doing and watch a movie called Contracted?
Someone's never heard of red eye correction!
Not only is it creepy as shit but it will go a long way toward alleviating any sadness you might feel over the fact that your Halloween night will not be punctuated by fucking a stranger in the back of a car. That's how the night starts for Samantha, the "hero" of this movie, after she meets up with a guy who, if I'm understanding the subtle imagery of the opening scene correctly, may or may not have been fresh off of sexing up a dead body with a biohazard tag on it down at his neighborhood morgue.
So, bad life choices all around. Whatever you've got going on that's making you feel bad about yourself or depressed about your station in life, just keep in mind that you're not having sex with corpses or people who have sex with corpses. How would you know if you were, anyway? As this movie teaches us early on, sometimes the person date-raping a dead body and the person slipping date-rape drugs in your drink are, shockingly, the exact same person. How confusing! Good thing you're staying home tonight so you don't have to worry about any of that nonsense.
You'll feel even better about your soul-crushing solitude as Contracted moves past its opening combo of awkward sex scenes. From there, the sole focus of the movie is Samantha, as whatever she caught from banging the creepiest motherfucker on Earth slowly turns her into a zombie.
As counterintuitive as it may be, it's the "slowly" part that's important. Instead of immediately turning into a snarling menace, Samantha tries her best to keep up her usual daily routine, all while that mystery illness that her doctor can't fix slowly eats away at her body.
If you've ever been forced to go to your shitty day job while violently ill, this movie will hit especially close to home.
Under the Skin
Don't worry, fellas, there's a "don't fuck strangers" film for you too. It's called Under the Skin and, chances are, you've probably already seen it. Maybe you've even heard good things about it. Maybe you've watched it six times and still have no fucking idea what it's about.
If so, that's because you're not paying enough attention. A simple repeat viewing should reveal that, at its core, this is a movie about how if a chick who looks like Scarlett Johansson pulls up in a white van and asks if you want to have sex, it's a sinister trap and you're going to die in a truly horrific manner if you take her up on it.
That's a total "too good to be true" situation. If you're not getting murdered, you're probably getting arrested. Whatever the case, one thing's for damn sure: nothing good ever happens in a van that looks like this ...
Actually, scratch that. Nothing good happens in a van of any sort. Vans represent nothing more than defeat or deception. They are for people who've given up on having anything resembling an interesting life if it doesn't involve the abduction and murder of several innocent victims. In Under the Skin, Scarlett Johansson tools around in that white van pictured above and, to the misfortune of the men of Scotland, decides to use the murder option to fuel her vehicle.
Also, that's basically the entire plot of the movie. I mean, I guess there's more to it, but not much. She's an alien of some sort, which explains the van, but the vat of liquid that each gentleman is dumped into, thereby disintegrating everything but their skin, is a little more difficult to figure out.
Someone make this make sense for me.
The movie certainly isn't concerned with that, though, so you shouldn't be either. Once you accept that you're basically watching the Donnie Darko of alien-abduction flicks, the entire experience becomes much more palatable.
At that point, it's just a movie about the dangers of going home with one of those unspeakably attractive women who randomly approach men on the street to proposition them for sex on such an appallingly frequent basis. One of those women might be Scarlett Johansson, and that Scarlett Johansson might be a goddamn alien.
Also, not a single word of the preceding paragraph will ever happen. You're going to die alone. Spooooooooooooooky!
Hey! Look! Another zombie movie! For maximum confusion, The Returned shares a title with a French zombie film and television series. Their titles are both written in fancy pants Francais, though, so you should be able to avoid them pretty easily.
I'm not necessarily saying you should. I haven't seen the 2004 film, but the television series, Les Revenants, is pretty damn great. In fact, if my description of the movie I'm actually here to talk about (I'm out front, silver Hyundai with the spoiler; it's a rental, lay off) doesn't exactly sell you on its merits, I'd highly recommend just checking out the show instead. Or watch them both. You have so many options.
It's way more interesting than this poster implies.
Anyway, as for the 2013 Spanish-Canadian (what?) film, The Returned, I've seen it three times, and I've come away feeling differently each time. It's a great premise. Basically, the disease that causes people to become tired Internet trends can be controlled with a serum that can be extracted only from dead zombies and must be taken daily. Miss a dose, welcome to adult-onset rabies.
The Returned: ask for it by poster color. It's the least confusing way.
Naturally, rumo(u)rs abound that supplies of the medicine are running out. If that happens, huge swaths of the population turn into monsters. Until then, they're just called "The Returned" by the highfalutin snobs that don't have zombie genes floating around in their system. At almost every stop along the way, it's pretty apparent that the zombies aren't the villains of this film, as the people in charge of keeping the public safe take increasingly extreme measures to identify and contain anyone and everyone infected with the virus.
It's an interesting idea, even if it's not executed perfectly. There are plenty of plot developments that hinge on the lead characters doing incredibly stupid things, to the point that resisting the urge to literally yell at the screen in anger becomes a legitimate challenge. Also, there are only so many points the "government imprisoning ordinary citizens" scenario can end on. We've seen every one of them countless times, and you'll see every one of them coming in this movie.
The biggest knock against it, though, is that the lead character looks a lot like Chris Martin from Coldplay.
Easily the most disappointing thing about any movie ever.
That makes him unspeakably hard to feel sorry for, which, in a perfect world, you totally would. It's no more or less troublesome than the blatant stupidity that leads him to getting attacked, though, and that shit happens right away. And even with all of those huge faults, it's still a fairly entertaining movie.
Or, if nothing else, it's a stark reminder that staying inside is always a good choice, because people are the fucking worst. You're doing the right thing by skipping that party, you lonely bastard.
Are you a writer or some other creative type who has the opportunity to take your talents to some remote location to bang out that dream project you've been talking about your entire career? Well, fucking don't. Just some cursory study work on your horror movie history will tell you that shit never works out for the best. You've seen The Shining, right?
Ring any bells?
Of course you have, please don't be insulted that I asked. I'm just pointing out that, holy shit, seclusion and writing out your feelings do not mix well for the inhabitants of any horror-movie universe. That's especially true for the doomed souls in the Lars von Trier sex nightmare Antichrist. It's the first installment in his "Depression Trilogy," the middle being a film called Melancholia and the last being Nymphomaniac, which is actually two parts and sort of a horror movie in its own right seeing as how it's chock full o' Shia LaBeouf.
Antichrist takes the seclusion-induced madness one terrifying step further by setting it in a cabin in the woods. Those things are so unsettling they eventually got an entire horror movie of their own.
I shouldn't have to tell you to watch it.
As for this film, it doesn't start off terrifying so much as completely heartbreaking, what with the toddler son of the husband and wife who make up almost the entirety of the cast (played by Willem Dafoe, what I hope is Willem Dafoe's stunt cock, and Charlotte Gainsbourg) falling to his death in the most content-looking manner possible while mom and dad noisily fuck just a few feet away.
I say those two make up almost the entirety of the cast because there's also a talking fox that disembowels itself before spitting two words of adorably creepy dialogue and then vanishing forever.
"Chaos reigns," is what the fox says, in case people are still asking.
It's around that point that a person could lose faith in this film's ability to not be completely fucking stupid, but stick with it. Shit goes from dull to porn to almost too gruesome to watch in the space of about 15 minutes.
Once things start to unravel, you won't want to stop watching, but your ability to keep your eyes open will be wholly dependent on how comfortable you are watching the guy from Platoon ejaculate blood and suffer the most gruesome hobbling scene in movie history, and yes that includes Misery.
Not only will this movie make you feel good about camping out in your big-city apartment on Halloween night, it will go a long way toward squashing any silly dreams you might still have about not being single someday. Antichrist makes alone forever seem like the most attractive life path possible.
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For more from Adam, check out 6 Compelling Reasons to Consider Switching to Satan and 4 Famous Movies Hollywood Will Never Stop Remaking.
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