Three modern horror flicks to scare you this Halloween
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's that time of year again, readers. The time of year when trees begin to ditch their dull green color for something more vibrant, when the warm weather begins to cool and when food companies decide to put out a limited edition pumpkin spice flavor for literally every product they have. Truly magical.
This change in the season also means that Halloween is just around the corner. And because you like reading lists that I like being paid money to create, I'm giving you my top three modern day horror movies to scare yourself with this Halloween.
A hugely underappreciated horror gem, "Bug" is a thriller based on the acclaimed play by Tracy Letts (who wrote the screenplay for the movie as well). It stars Ashley Judd ("Missing") as Agnes, a waitress living in a motel room who's dealing with an unhealthy combination of an abusive ex-husband who has recently been paroled, a genuinely tragic past and the occasional abuse of drugs and alcohol.
When her friend introduces her to Peter, a drifter and recently discharged soldier, her life gets even more complicated. Peter (Michael Shannon, reprising the role he originated in the play) confides in Agnes about how the U.S. government conducted biological experiments on him and fellow soldiers, and Agnes slowly becomes convinced he's telling the truth.
Aside from one brief cover-your-eyes moment, there's no gore or violence in "Bug." Instead, the horror comes from its claustrophobic setting, the relationship between Peter and Agnes and her slow descent into madness.
Judd and Shannon ("Man of Steel") throw themselves into their roles, delivering extremely fast-paced and emotional monologues so well that late film critic Roger Ebert said in his review "you almost fear for the actors."
Because of its themes of paranoia and trust, "Bug" is more of a mature horror film. It's perfect for those who hate excessive amounts of gore.
2. "The Cabin in the Woods"
Remember how "Scream" acted as both a love letter to the slasher genre and a satire of it? "The Cabin in the Woods" is kind of like that, only instead of slasher flicks, it's the entire horror genre that gets dissected while the story and scares unfold.
This is a hilariously dark horror comedy from the minds of Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and Drew Goddard ("Cloverfield"), and it's genre satire at its finest. "The Cabin in the Woods" takes traditional horror movie tropes -- the virgin, the stoner, the jock, the cabin in the woods, etc. -- and completely tears them apart.
It's almost impossible to talk about the plot of this movie without ruining the entire set-up, so I'll just say this: things don't go as planned for five friends on their vacation in the woods, and things don't go as planned for the audience either.
Come for the gore, stay for the meta jokes.
1. "Evil Dead"
This remake of the definitive cabin-in-the-woods horror movie is fantastic. Seriously, it's great. In my review of it, I said, "By today's horror standards, 'Evil Dead' is an absolute triumph. It makes an effort to have you connect just a little with the characters before they die, it doesn't take itself too seriously and the most important thing? It's a genuinely fun movie."
Because it shares the basic set up of having five friends alone in a cabin and because the original is what inspired the premise for "The Cabin in the Woods," definitely see this one before you see that.
Be warned: this movie is extremely gory. After one of the friends unleashes an ancient evil, they get picked off one by one in extremely gruesome ways. There are tongues split, jaws sliced off, heads bashed in and more.
Fans of the original will be surprised to learn that "Evil Dead" changes the plot in very small but significant ways to make for a new, enjoyable experience. And the last 15 minutes of the movie are guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping.
Gorehounds will feel right at home with this pick.