You’ll notice this is not a “Fi’s Five Favorites” list. That’s because these are not my five favorite horror movies, nor my five favorite cross-genre movies with some kind of scare factor to them. These are the five movies that have given me the flat-out most intense case of the jeebies, which, oddly enough, isn’t even close to being the same list.
Of course, that distinction changes nothing about the credit these movies deserve for their insane jeebies-inducing-ness.
First up, Sinister.
If you haven’t seen it, here’s how it goes:
Ellison is a down-on-his-luck true crime writer looking for his next hit.
Why it’s terrifying:
On paper, this is a pretty basic evil house story, so it takes doing a lot of things extremely right to put it on this list. First, the obvious personal stuff.
The obsession that goes with writing, on the other hand, and the terrors of failure, of being selfish, of being a fraud, of not being understood, of being asked to choose between what and whom you love, those this movie gets spot-on, making Ellison’s fate extra scary in a very different way for me, for obvious reasons.
Okay, on to the non-writer creep factors, which are quite sufficient on their own.
Unlike most evil house, family-stalking-demon stories, Sinister isn’t about its jump scares.
The result is that with no overacting, underacting, imperfect visual effects, and no looking away from the scene itself in order to avoid these things, there’s about as little as there can be in the way of comforting reminders that this is a movie.
We get no more or less than exactly what low quality soundless recordings of things like four semi-conscious people tied to weighted deck chairs being drowned in a swimming pool would look like.
It’s a simple, perfectly effective communication of the horror of the subject, and just recounting it here is giving me the chills all over.
Okay, true horribleness aside, there’s one more extra special touch that puts Sinister over the top for me.
Evil house stories usually come tumbling down over the obvious question: Why not leave?
It’s moving out of the house that kills you.
Oh, the torment begins the moment the family moves into the evil house, and it’s a hundred percent effective in forcing them to run screaming from their massive suburban investment. And that’s when the obsolete shaky-cam stalker footage starts.
I love when any story can successfully spin a tired trope a new way, so this would feed my love of this movie without having to feed my fear of it, but it manages to do both by making the sense of doom that much stronger.
Knowing that characters probably won’t escape from an evil house but can at least spend a couple hours trying like hell can be scary.
Knowing they've already made an unrecoverable error but still have to pull the trigger to resolve the rest of the curse, that's doom. And for me at least, that's infinitely more terrifying.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome! Or keep up with my fictional musings by joining me on Facebook, on Twitter, or by signing up for email updates in the panel on the right!