When October rolls around, streams of “Hocus Pocus” and “Halloweentown” are bound to skyrocket. But for some viewers, Halloween would not be complete without the more sinister horror movies that are designed precisely to provoke nightmares. Luckily for Netflix subscribers, the platform has far from a shortage of horror movies. The tricky part is finding the films that aren’t a clichéd and laughable mess.
This month, join me on my “Quest for the Best” in Netflix horror where I’ll integrate my own terrifying choices with those of film critics from Rotten Tomatoes, the A.V. Club, Decider and more. In this first edition, these movies all have strictly human villains — no supernatural or monstrous creatures involved.
My personal favorite: “Hush” (2016)
Home invasions are terrifying for anyone. But being deaf while an intruder is lurking right behind you brings a whole other level of horror. In her secluded home in the forest, Maddie (Kate Siegel) is stalked and terrorized by a man intent on terrifying Maddie before entering her home. And his game becomes all the more interesting after discovering his victim is deaf.
Enjoy the first ten minutes of the film, because after that you will not get a single second to breathe. The intense battle between killer and soon-to-be victim comes in waves, but the tension of who will strike next remains powerful in every moment. It’s clear that Maddie will not go down without a fight, as Siegel beautifully crafts a woman who is courageous and intuitive. It’s a refreshing change from the helpless hysterics commonly played by women in the horror genre. While films about the supernatural can be dismissed as unrealistic, “Hush” is immensely frightening because it’s so real. The villain’s monstrous nature derives from his pure humanity, but the malicious character is not any less chilling.
“Green Room” (2015)
Following their performance at a club, a punk rock band winds up as the only witnesses to a brutal murder by a group of white supremacist skinheads. The horrified band is forced to barricade themselves in the club’s green room and try to survive the wrath of the violent gang surrounding them.
Warning: this movie is violent, violent and even more violent. A consistent string of gruesome gore maintains a high level of tension for this tale of survival. Despite the limitations of the film taking place in mainly one location, critics describe the thriller as unpredictable and engaging nonetheless. As an added bonus, Patrick Stewart delivers a chilling performance of the neo-Nazi gang leader, skillfully avoiding an over-the-top and typically dramatic villain.
“Creep 2” (2017)
In this film, a video artist answers a Craigslist advertisement and ends up documenting a day in the life of a man (Mark Duplass) who flaunts himself as a serial killer. What could go wrong?
This movie is the sequel to the 2014 film “Creep”, and it assumes the viewer has already seen the first film and is familiar with its unnerving subject. Yet the sequel stands out more than the original. It got a 100% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes — enough said. Despite its raving reviews as a horror movie, some critics claim the film is not “scary” in the traditional sense, but it combines an uncomfortable tone with awkward humor for a disturbing masterpiece.
“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), an FBI agent-in-training, is sent to visit serial cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) and pick his brain. Starling’s goal is to get Lecter’s help in solving a different murder case. The manipulative Lecter proves to be a challenge for Starling, who is inexplicably drawn to the imprisoned killer and caught in his malicious game.
“The Silence of the Lambs” is one of the most well-known horror classics, and for good reason. The film crafts a storyline that is nuanced and intricate, allowing for it to capture the fascination of the viewer without relying on the shock factor of gore. Hopkins gives a memorable performance of a deranged yet intelligent killer that will chip away at the viewer’s nerves as much as it does for Starling.
Edited by George Frey | firstname.lastname@example.org Edited by Chloe Konrad | email@example.com