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© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol

 

Halloween Horror Film Countdown: 4 Horrific Movies That Aren’t Horror Movies

Ben Driscoll

Love Halloween, but hate horror movies? It’s understandable, they’re so predictable and cheesy nowadays with terribly messy conclusions. But! You can still have that desired gut-wrenching feeling that comes with watching a great horror without enduring a film cramped by tired genre cliches! Here are four fantastically frightening films that don’t need suspense or the supernatural to crawl under your skin and remain there.

Threads (1984)

A realistically thought-out, BBC-funded docudrama about what would happen to Sheffield if it were to be hit by an atomic bomb. Seeing a Woolworths blow up may sound satisfying, but this is not a glamorising action film. The drama focuses an array of local characters’ intertwining stories whilst demonstrating the sudden bombing and the enduring relentless nuclear fallout that affects the survivors’ health and Britain for life. Along with the very normal people featured, Threads has this 80s video colour quality, both these factors create a very familiar British setting which makes this a brutal watch too close to home.  Watch it all here.

Coraline (2009)

Being a children’s cartoon, Coraline is probably the lightest of these films, but its subtle use of the Uncanny, the slight twisting of normality, makes the whole fantastical adventure quite unnerving. Bored and lonely in her new home, Coraline finds a secret door that leads her to a house that’s identical to her house. But her parents don’t live in it, her Other parents do. These different parents are identical to the previous ones, but they do have black buttons for eyes. They want her to stay forever. Fun, attentive and generous, these Other parents are everything Coraline’s originals aren’t, why go back? Something’s not right in this magically animated feature.

Irreversible (2002)

Irrevocable, unforgettable. Irréversible is Gaspar Noé’s unremitting rape-revenge nihilistic drama told in reverse, from revenge to rape. It uses the camera as an omnipresent intrusive viewpoint into its story: the camera travels and hovers over the action and forces itself back in time to previous vignettes of the story. Spectre’s new Bond girl Monica Belluci stars, yet the show-stealer of the film is a nine-minute long rape scene. It is not stylised, nor sexualised. The camera’s eye is still. In today’s discussions of inappropriate sexual violence (see: Game of Thrones), Irréversible makes the viewer bypass indulgence and endure the reality of what cinema exploitatively revels in. Plunged in memory-specific coloured light, Irréversible is a philosophical film that discusses altering the passing of time and its effect on the perception of events.

Kids (1995)

Recently propelled into the canon of Thoughtful-But-Cool 90s Teen Films, Kids deserves all of its cult status. Addicted to deflowering girls, Telly, one of the most despicable movie characters of the 90s, messes about on the streets of New York with his friends all the while looking for new very young virgins to sleep with in a city that is swimming with HIV and drugs. The characters are just that bit too young for all this to be enjoyable. Springbreakers‘ Harmony Korine’s script hangs a weight of mortality and dread over the unaware heads of the NYC cool kids who live in an endless summer of youth.