Horror films tend to be shorter. It doesn’t matter if it’s a commercial release supported by some major studio or some independent filmmaker’s obscure arthouse film project. They just happen to be short. Who knows why. Sure, recently almost every kind of film gets to be shorter for financial reasons and to not bore general audience (and seriously these days, they can get bored by almost everything) but through the years some directors decided to go with much longer running times.
Just this year “Apostle” was pretty long and Luca Guadagnino’s re-imagining of Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” is not only longer than the original, but it’s 152 minutes in total. Maybe we’ll get more of such films soon, we will wait and see but for now, let’s take a look ten of such horror films that are way longer than usual but at the same time, worth every minute.
10. Thirst (135 min)
Park Chan-wook is one of the best known Korean directors in the world, thanks to his The Vengeance Trilogy and most recently, The Handmaiden. “Thirst” is not as popular as those but still it is strong stuff. Type of film that sticks with you. As it’s expected from Chan-wook’s style, it’s pretty brutal. Vampire horror, it is loosely based on Emile Zola’s brutal 1867 novel “Thérèse Raquin”.
Very atmospheric, from every shot it’s obvious that Chan-wook gives special attention to every detail and as usual with his other films, there’s some sort of poetry to be felt in the narrative. Another trademark of the director is unpredictability which exists here in this film as well.
It’s also notable for being first South Korean film to be jointly produced by Hollywood. Universal Pictures International Studios invested in the film during its production stage and secured North American distribution rights.
9. I Saw the Devil (144 min)
At first glance, “I Saw the Devil” may look like another Korean revenge flick but it’s much more than that. Mixing the concepts of good and evil into a single fusion of vague emotions, the director Kim Ji-woon interprets cruelty in his own way.
The film is very violent but the scary part doesn’t come from the graphic violence but more from how mean-spirited the portrayals are. What makes things scarier is definitely Choi Min-sik’s performance that is just pure evil and is very well written as well. The violence can put you off as it can be pretty gross to some tastes and you may find some clichés here and there.
Another thing that some viewers can criticize is how believable/convincing you’ll find the twists. But even though it’s a flawed film, in general it still works as an interesting character study as it also does a compelling, powerful, nightmarish ride. There are two different versions of the film but run times only differ by two minutes (142 for the International and 144 for the Korean).
8. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (134 min)
“You mean all this time we could have been friends?”. Recently Ryan Murphy’s “Feud”, starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford respectively, got a lot of awards and critics attention. Hopefully it helped more people to get to know about not only of these two icons, but also about the film “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”.
Anecdotes about the making of the film were legendary and the rivalry/feud between its lead actresses was an important factor to its success. It’s because of this film that the subgenre of psycho-biddy films was created and its influence of the genre kept on lasting on many films from “Mommie Dearest” to “Requiem for a Dream”.
The movie was very original for its time and is still cited as one of the best psychological horror-thrillers of its time with particular attention given to its black humour and campy tone. The film was nominated for five Oscars, something bit rare for a horror film back in time and earned one for its costume design.
7. Tale of Tales (134 min)
Not for everyone but still a unique experience for anyone who’s interested in original films. Consisting of three stories which are not exactly intersecting but features some references to each other, “Tale of Tales” is about a sad queen desperately wanting a child, about a princess given in marriage to an ogre, and about two old sisters and a lusty king.
Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone took inspiration from collections of tales by Italian poet and courtier Giambattista Basile: Pentamerone or Lo cunto de li cunti (Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones). The movie got strong reception at its Cannes premiere and some tried to interpret what it’s all about.
One of the main things brought up was how it’s all about the ugliness of humanity while the director Garrone claims ”There are three distinct themes (in the film) but they are all connected to the idea of desire that can lead to obsession”.
As I said, it’s not a film that would appeal to every taste but despite its running time, it’s not something that would bore you even if you don’t like to watch what’s going on as its pacing is fast enough and its visually captivating. The movie captures the old versions of fairy tales pretty well but keep it in mind: it’s not a bedtime story for kids.
6. Bone Tomahawk (132 min)
In 2015, everybody were busy with praising “The Hateful Eight” which is a terrific film but that was not the only great western film of the year starring Kurt Russell. S. Craig Zahler was already an acclaimed novelist before he made his feature film directorial debut with this movie and we’re glad that he did because it’s such deliciously violent, witty western-horror that we were glad to have.
The story follows a sheriff, a gunslinger, a befuddled oldster and a cowboy as they attempt to rescue a group of people from a band of cannibalistic troglodytes. For most of it’s running time, Bone Tomahawk is a talky, character-driven western but the characters are so well developed and the interactions between them is so good that you won’t yourself to be bored for a second even if you dislike slow-burn films. Their conversations increase the audience’s understanding of them.
Speaking of these characters, the movie is also powered by great performances from Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins who would get an awards buzz for his excellent work if we’d live in a better world but then again he got nominated for an Independent Spirit award.