Horror, suspense and thrillers are some of the most fun movies to experience, but some films break new ground with shocking stories, visuals and memorable characters that stay with us. Here are our Top 5 scariest movies of all time — not necessarily horror. That’s a whole different debate. These are judged on quality of the filmmaker, writing, and, of course, how scary they are.
5. Wolf Creek: This movie is great because it breaks the mold of many horror movies — it actually develops the characters. When things start going wrong for three college students after a frightening bushman in the Australian outback starts torturing and hunting them, you actually care about them. The villain is wicked and cruel and the victims actually react how people really would. They don’t go into the dark room where they just saw the killer go. They run away, and the bad man chases them. A great horror movie.
4. The Ring: This feels like an urban legend coming to life. You watch a video. Right after you watch it, the phone rings. When you answer, you will die in the next 24 hours after the girl from the video comes out of the TV and kills you. Sounds simple, but with great acting by Naomi Watts, and a chilling story that leads her into the life and death of the girl in the video.
3. The Silence of the Lambs: Anthony Hopkins is dark, funny, and insightful in his portrayal of the serial killer Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter. Jodie Foster plays a complex role of a strong-willed but fragile FBI agent hunting down Buffalo Bill, a serial killer on the lose who skins his victims to make clothing with it. This movie plays with your mind and keeps you on the edge of your seat and never makes an easy choice for the story line. There’s never been a movie with such quality actors with a director who weaves the audience through a chilling and suspenseful movie. On a side note, this movie goes wonderfully with Chianti and fave beans.
2. Se7en: This is a brilliant script with fantastic acting from Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey. The story weaves around Pitt and Freeman, two detectives tracking down a killer who chooses his victims based on the seven deadly sins. The film takes some shockingly dark turns that make the hair on your body stand erect. It’s a bold, daring movie that pulls no punches. Whatever you do, don’t open the box.
1. The Exorcist: I saw this movie when I was 8 — not recommended. My older sister rented it when she was babysitting us, but she didn’t really know what she was getting into. The next morning I asked my Catholic mother over breakfast if the movie was real. “Yes dear, it is,” she said in a somber tone. It only frightened me worse. This movie was shocking — a villain that can’t be seen in any way other than the face of a twisted child. The acting is superb, as is the directing from William Friedkind, an Academy Award-winning director for “The French Connection.”
I’m 34 years old now and this film still scares me. It’s a deep, dark, and disturbing tale. I suppose my fear is drawn from Friedkin’s amazing ability to treat this as completely believable. This IS what pure evil must be like. The demon’s psychological attacks are far more powerful than any gory film could ever dream to be. And, for that, it is my pick as the most frightening film of all time.