"Pet Sematary" (2019)

While watching creepy stories we understand that horror movies as well as all incidents are only a fruit of movie directors’ fantasy, including scriptwriters seeking to scare spectators. However, a good thriller is still able to frighten us. A usual horror movie certainly contains ghosts, possessions, murders, and all other horrific events which are not encountered in our daily lives. Every scary movie we pick has a unique story revealing certain creepy things. They fill your body tense with fear, your heart starts pounding and leads to a question: „What if all these stories are real? “. Here are the top 10 modern horror movies which you shouldn‘t watch alone.

10. „Pet Cemetery“ – horror thriller, based on personal experience.

In 1983, a legendary horror author Stephen King released a book „Pet Cemetery“ which was based on personal experience* and was first filmed in 1989. Two young directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer read this book of horror classics thoroughly, watched it‘s first screening and decided to revive the story using modern film-making technologies. The film director didn‘t change the scenario and tried to recreate the original narrative in honor of Stephen King‘s story. „Pet Cemetery“ is a story of a family (wife Rachel, son Gage, daughter Ellie and a cat Church) moving into a new house in an unknow place. The newcomers soon find out that there is an old cemetery nearby, where people bury their pets. Curious Ellie meets an elderly man in the cemetery which turns out to be their neighbor. It doesn‘t seem odd until family‘s cat Church gets hit by a truck. Daughter Ellie is feeling a deep sorrow for a cat and the elderly man suggests to bury the cat in the pet cemetery and claims this place is miraculous.

This place is an old native American cemetery where the deceased can be raised from dead. A father who didn‘t take it seriously just buries the cat. To his surprise, the next day cat shows up life and limb but not the same as it used to be. After the cats’ return it‘s getting even more horrific: family‘s daughter Ellie gets hit by a truck on her birthday. A father can‘t stand the pain and buries Ellie in the same cemetery where they buried a cat, knowing that she will come back… Creepy and scary scenes, wounds and blood are exposed in the film. The atmosphere is perfect: darkness, teasing silence, hard to hear sounds, disappearing light and sharp turns are just frightening. A perfectly developing tension and details added slowly tickles the feelings and engages in story. A smart involvement of child actors spices it up and makes it even more chilling.

9. „Us“ – a film for atypical horror movies lovers

We are the worst enemies of ourselves. It is the main, but not the only gripping subject in horror movie „Us“. Scriptwriter – Jordan Peele is already distinguished in Hollywood with a debut film „Get Out“ (2017), where subjects of racism and liberties of white people are disclosed. Racism is still a tender subject for most people in USA and stories in movies are calling our attention to real lives. Due to huge success of previous film, people had great expectations on a new pending film „Us“. Some were speculating about suchlike story while others were expecting more fear and horror. Actually, a new film was different than previous work of Jordan Peele. A film „Us“ meets all the standards of a classic horror movie, but by no means uses genre-specific clichés. There are no typical antiheros, pools of blood or characters yelling with fright. Fear is created here subtly, intellectually, forcing you to think. Subjects such like politics, race, personality and following of American dream are present. A story begins in 1986 and does not shy away from looking back to these times: there are so many connections with the music of that time and social everyday life. In the first scene of the film, a little girl Adelaide wanders to an abandoned house on the beach during vacation with her parents. She sees something so horrible and shocking there that she can‘t talk for a long time.

Now, that girl, an already grown woman Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) with her husband (Winston Duke) and children (daughter Zora and son Jason) are traveling for a vacation on the same beach. Jason wanders further and sees a bloody man standing with his arms outstretched. At the beginning, this means little to a viewer, but as the events progress, we can see that there are many small details and references hidden. It just persuades that there is nothing random in this film and we see exactly what the director wanted us to see. Unexpected guests attack the family in a vacation house. Such scenario has been seen more than once in movies, but here things are turning upside down again. It turns out that the attackers’ family are shadows. Only their leader, the Red, whose voice has been severely damaged, can speak. She explains that everyone has a shadow and their souls are united, but when a person can live freely and uncontrollably, the shadow is always suffering in darkness. Here one can see the desire of the filmmakers to show the privileged layer of society – the one – who has all the guarantees and liberties, and the lower one – who is always in the shadows, hides in poverty and is separated both physically and psychologically. This film forces us to look deeper into our lives and consciousness, to turn to our shadows and to look our fears in the eye.

8. The alien boy in the „Brightburn“

You can most likely recognize the story of a spaceship falling from the sky with a baby inside. Growing up in adoptive family, the boy discovers supernatural powers in himself. Familiar, right? In the 2019 film „Brightburn“, directed by David Yarovesky, we encounter a young alien child who grew up on Earth and also has supernatural powers. But unlike in the usual story of Superman, this young man, using his powers, begins to terrorize the city that has sheltered him. An alternative story of a superhuman emergence on Earth can be commendable. The story of the wreck of a spaceship on Earth is recognizable, but events after a family finds the boy, shelters him and hides the spaceship in the basement of their house, can be turned at a completely unexpected angle. This extraordinary boy‘s loving family calls him Brandon, and when he grows up, he starts behaving rather strangely, can‘t adapt to school and more and more signs of his powers occur. A boy becomes violent and even starts killing and hiding evidence…

7. An attraction of nightmares making your blood run cold: „Annabelle Comes Home“

The first film about the evil-possessed doll Anabel was released in cinemas in 2014. The sequel filmed two years ago told the story of the doll‘s creation. In the third part, we will learn even more mysterious secrets about Anabel. On the introductory stage we can already see the famous Ed and Loren Waren (actors Vera Farminga and Patrick Wilson), known from the „Conjuring“. However they appear in the film quite rarely because this time the focus is on the hero‘s daughter Jude (actress Mckenna Grace). Warrens are away from home, young Jude has to take care of the horror „farm“ hidden in the basement. This time the demonic doll chooses a new victim. The Doll Anabel is the true incarnation of the devil, which the Voren family takes home to isolate it in a priest‘s sanctified vitreous cabinet. However, Anabel does not stay in the cabinet for long, as nanny Daniela, lead by curiosity to contact her deceased father‘s soul, releases the horror-filled doll. A doll full of evil possesses the babysitter and starts a true chaos at home. The only way to stop this hell – is to bring the doll back to the sanctified cabinet.

6. The perfect blend of mysticism and nightmares – the „Suspiria“

Many of the older horror films can be described as rather superficial, as the visual tools were used more often (aimed at shocking the viewer with images rather than sensations). But now more and more often, horror filmmakers are trying to apply to the sonic and emotional scenes of an individual by creating a blend of mysticism and horror. „Suspiria“ tells the story of an American girl, Sara Banon (actress Dakota Johnson), who wants to learn the art of dance and joined a dance academy in Berlin. While improving her skills, Sarah is fascinated by the dance coach Madam Blanch (actor Tilda Swinton), but suddenly mystical things begin to happen in the studio: mysterious stories about the leaders and missing girls are told and some girls actually mysteriously disappear. This film tells the story of witches and the darkness that envelops them. In fact, the idea of the film itself is taken from the essay „Suspiria de Profundis“ (1885) by Thomas De Quincey, according to which the first version of this film was created by director Dario Argento in 1970.

It was his most successful film, winning a number of awards. The first version was characterized by visual and stylistic taste, bright colors, so forty years later, director Luca Guadagnino decided to create his own version of „Suspiria“ and revive the story. The second version of „Suspiria“ is accompanied by a graceful and lyrical course of events, but everything seems to be overshadowed by the film’s dense atmosphere. It is mystical and sometimes incomprehensible, full of confusing hints. The director chose a great rhythm of the film, changing shots and „doubling“ coherent scenes (such as girl‘s dance and torture at the same time). It always feels like something is not revealed yet, something is being hidden and something mystical is going on, so it catches the eye watching the film to the end. The background of the movie is gloomy, dark colors were chosen. Sound reflections are well-chosen as well, we can hear the breath of the dancer and even sounds emitted by her body during dance, it really creates an uncomfortable and quite terrible atmosphere while watching the film.

5. The bad twin in „The hole in the ground“

The hole in the Earth“ by Lee Cronin takes us to an Irish village to which the main film‘s character Sarah is fleeing. She is running from her husband, her son Christopher‘s father. The house she rented is next to a forest with a large sinkhole in the center. Arrived to the village, in the middle of the road she meets an elderly woman named Noreen who claims that Christopher is not Sarah‘s son. Soon Noreen is killed in a mysterious way and her head is buried in the mud. Noreen‘s husband tells Sarah that Noreen believed that Christopher is not her son and Sarah begins to suspect that. Sarah notices her son‘s strange behavior. Turns out that her son has a „Doppelgänger“ (it is a biologically unrelated similar or double living person, sometimes portrayed as a ghostly or paranormal phenomenon and generally considered a proponent of bad luck. Other traditions and stories equate „Doppelgänger“ to a bad twin). A woman falls into a hole in the ground and tries to get her son back. The film takes you to the unusual and horrible plot that will definitely not leave you calm.

4. Spiritualism and satanic rituals in the „Hereditary“

In 2018, the psychological horror film “Hereditary”, created by director Ari Aster, was chosen as the scariest horror film in history. The film focuses entirely on psychology and the characters’ inner dramas. After the loss of a grandmother, all family is trying to live a normal life: two teenagers are going to school, their parents are working and the mother, who is in the middle of everything, is trying to support the family as much as possible. In fact, the dead grandmother had many secrets hidden, that are somehow mystically related to the present. She was engaged in obscure and secret sessions of spiritualism and satanic rituals that later captivated her weird daughter. The horror of the film is mostly reflected in the very realistic narrative – everything here seems real. The viewer is forced to constantly speculate and fluctuate from reality to something paranormal. A great job of all actors as well as unexpected and terrible events make us guess anxiously what the grandmother was hiding and how it is related to this family. To evaluate tension in the film, a company „A24“ decided to measure the heart rate of all audience who was attending the movie opening. Normally, the human heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute at rest. In the 30th minute of the film, the average audience‘s pulse accelerated to 130, after an hour it went up to 150 and even reached 160 beats per minute at the end of the film.

3. A child straight from the hell in „The prodigy“

It is a story of John (actor Peter Mooney) and Sarah (actress Taylor Schilling) and their life after giving birth to their highly anticipated firstborn boy. As the boy grew up, his parents began to notice very strange and unusual signs that made their son Miles (actor Jackson Robert Scott) very intimidating. The boy was gifted with incredible talents that are not common to all his peers, so it is difficult for him to adapt at school. The boy‘s mother begins to believe that her son is under some inexplicable force. Miles begins to act even more weird, he can‘t control his anger and tendency to violence, the boy becomes incommunicative. His parents are trying to find ways of helping their son but it‘s only the beginning of a real nightmare. Miles starts to pose and increasing threat to his family…

The filmmakers showed the original version of the film to several groups of volunteers to make sure that the movie will be scary enough. While watching the movie, many volunteers were shuddering, some of them experienced panic attacks and some viewers even refused to watch the film till the end. This lead to shortening or even removing some scenes of the film.

2. A nightmare in the middle of the day in „Middsommar“

Have you ever seen a horror movie with atmosphere that is not even close to a horror movie? Forever shining sun, people‘s smiles, beautiful nature and all related traditions. Dominant bright colors, no darkness, no strange or haunted houses do not seem to lead to anything unusual or scary. Yet, among all these things listed we can discover horror that we have never seen. It is a horror in the daylight. It is a story of two youngsters arriving to a mid-summer festival in Sweden, which turns out to be a real sect of occultism, looking for victims. A festival, which only takes place once in 90 years, lists horrible and inexplicable surprises to them. Exceptional narrative and the way of filming makes the viewer squeak in surprise. You will probably be afraid to travel to Sweden after watching this movie… The „Midsommar“ director Ari Aster is already known as one of the scariest filmmakers in history. In 2018, the director became famous for his strange and atypical horror film „Hereditary“. The film was even compared to „The Exorcist“ directed by Villiam Friedkin, so Ari Aster decided to create another blood-curdling horror film that would remain in the viewer‘s memory for a long time. The „Midsommar“ is about a young couple Christian (actor Jack Reynor) and Dane (actress Florence Pugh) who is on the verge of breaking up.

Christian, invited to a mid-summer festival in Sweden, suggests his girlfriend Dane to come along hoping that it will help to strengthen their relationship. It is like a totally different world without anything reminding their everyday life. Meanwhile the atmosphere of the festival becomes more and more strange and incomprehensible. A strong visual context is used. Bright colors having nothing in common with fear or horror creates ambiguous feelings.

1. Mysterious guest in the basement in „I trapped the Devil“

In 2019, another new horror movie „I trapped the Devil“ was released at the film festival. This is American film with supernatural elements of horror. A husband and wife are going on vacation to the husband‘s brother Steve (actor Scott Poythress) who claims he has a devil living in his basement. A husband Matt (actor A.J. Bowen) tries to explain his brother that there is nothing in the basement and that all of it is only the result of his fantasy. Matt’s wife Karen (played by Susan Theresa Burke) is wondering why his brother thinks so and tries to figure out what is it with this mysterious basement. To everyone‘s surprise, they actually find something supernatural in it… The film immerses the viewer in a real atmosphere of horror, in which emotions and decisions revolve. Encountering such supernatural and mind-boggling powers always makes you think what would you in a situation like this.

Klaudija Benosenko, Arnas Mackonis, Gabrielė Butkutė

*So how this story can be related to Stephen King‘s life? In 1978 the author was teaching at the University of Maine in Orono city, Maine. He was living with his family in a rented house near busy highway. Pets were constantly killed on that highway, so the children of the locals set up pet cemeteries themselves. Stephen Hing‘s daughter had a cat which died on the same highway and was buried in the pet cemetery as well. Straight after this, his son almost died in exactly the same place. After these events Stephen King wrote a novel but he was skeptical at first and put the book aside. Later, the author still handed over the manuscript to the publisher.

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