Horror and comedy are more often than not the genres that make us as an audience feel the most, from the visceral reaction to some gore in a film like Saw or some of the strongest laughs from comedy.
They make us react the most, and seeing how others react to brilliant moments in any film is great fun, however, sometimes watching films from these genres, specifically horror, alone can also be massively affective, leading to some of the most shell-shocking, bone-rattling cinema experiences one can dream for. Today, we are counting down ten of the horror films you shouldn’t watch alone… they may be a little too much.
1. It Comes At Night (Trey Edward Schultz, 2017)
The sophomoric feature film from Trey Edward Schultz, A24’s 2017 horror film It Comes At Night has proved to be one of their most divisive releases to date. For those who disliked it, it proved as a boring mess that never really went anywhere, however, Schultz personal portrayal of this post-apocalyptic world was also bound to have some people falling in love with it, and such a harsh portrayal of the end of the world.
It is really rare that something as poignant and sharp is released, and knowing that Schultz wrote it ridiculously quickly shortly after the pain of a family member makes a whole lot of sense. The film is incredibly mean, consistently enigmatic and shockingly depressing, serving as this dark look at family dynamics and lack of trust between people and also as this stirring, genuinely believable look at the end of the world.
2. Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922)
The only silent film on this list, sadly, is Murnau’s iconic Nosferatu, one of the most well known of all silent films. And it absolutely deserves the spot, even if there is no sound to bring the fear to life.
Thankfully, Max Schreck manages to bring so much to his performance as the titular Nosferatu that nothing else matters, and the design of his character is perhaps the single most memorable horror character ever put to screen. The film is one that petrifies instantly, however, the growing power that it holds over most viewers is also stunning, with the film being one of the most eerie, uncomfortable watches out there.
Though it has been joked about on several occasions, from an appearance in one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants to the wonderfully light hearted Shadow of the Vampire (dir. E Elias Merhige, 2000) which stars Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck as Nosferatu, and John Malkovich as a direction so focused on presenting perfection that he hires a real vampire and makes a pact with Nosferatu himself, Nosferatu remains as hair-raising as ever.
3. Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)
A film that you are probably all sick of seeing here by now, but one that just has to be mentioned is Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs. It may be growing old to some now, but the power that this one has on first (and second… and third…) viewing is really second to none. It is really just so rarely matched, and it is almost guaranteed a mention on any kind of ‘most horrific’ films list.. it’s bound to rear its petrifying head somewhat consistently. And to anyone who saw the film alone, pat yourself on the back.
Martyrs remains one of the most traumatising, shocking, abrasive films ever made, still working as one of the real highlights of the modern French Extremity Wave alongside Them and maybe Inside, two more films you probably shouldn’t see alone.
If you can handle excessive violence, gore, misery, torture, vomit, screaming and crying and even themes of inescapable trauma and that almost all evil is necessary in some way to someone, Martyrs may be the film for you… but even for the most detached film watcher out there, be wary. The power that Martyrs contains will sneak up on you. It’s just a shame that Laugier has shown so little of the same skill since.
4. Opera (Dario Argento, 1987)
This is more of a personal pick than anything else, however, Argento’s Opera is certainly not a good film to watch alone, especially on a dark night. As with most Argento films, the style is quite flashy and direct, creating this beautiful, cinematic world that bounces right out of the screen along with a wonderfully loud and jarring soundtrack that is guaranteed to make you wary of the volume. It also contains some of the nastiest scenes involving needles in any film, the kind of specific phobia work that fits right in with the syringe scene in Saw II.
It’s a really fun, seriously scary murder mystery thriller that never really lets ups, remaining one of Argento’s strongest films, which is really saying something considering just how strong a director he can be! Opera works great with a group of friends so, rather than watching it alone and not sleeping for a while, pop it in when you have some friends around and have a great time!
5. Sombre (Philippe Grandrieux, 1998)
Not the best work from contemporary auteur Philippe Grandrieux, however, this one feels like the defining ‘horror’ Grandrieux film, when compared to his others which mix a lot more together.
Sombre, the film that earned him the majority of the recognition that he has amassed throughout his career, definitely gave audiences a strong idea of the kind of power that he had. Using the editing and cinematography to create this avant-garde hell-hole, the film follows a man as he stalks women. There really isn’t too much of a storyline holding the film together, with it working much more as a mood piece as opposed to something narrative to be followed throughout.
Grandrieux manages to throw the audience so deep into the world that he creates with his camera that, once the end credits roll, there is this unshakeable discomfort that persists. The lead performance is seriously distressing, the use of music is second to none (this is consistent with Grandrieux) and the way that the world is built through the editing choices is just astounding. It is ridiculously powerful.