The mention of romance generally elicits a youthful and delighting emotion, but it is subjective by nature. The maturity of a relationship can unearth some shocking truths, which is at times very discomforting for the audience to experience. Also, contrary to the popular notion, romance is often dangerous and destructive by nature, especially when both sides are not equally willing.
In a sad turn of events, a happy romance can also deteriorate with time and become bitter when people can’t even stand each other. It is a surprise when a film that is assumed to be romantic or dramatic from the outset changes its nature where the horror tag becomes more appropriate. Without further ado, here are 10 romantic dramas that are actually horror films:
1. Gone Girl
Every relationship goes through tests. Ask any married man and the advice is unavoidable: don’t marry. Well, watch “Gone Girl” and you don’t need any suggestions – the fear is real. Nick Dunne, a writing teacher played by Ben Affleck, is cheating on his wife Amy and she learns about it.
Amy is the daughter of a celebrity parent whose fandom is based on the children’s book series “Amazing Amy,” which was based upon the child Amy’s behavior. Amy spends her days under this gigantic pressure of living up to her parents’ success and this affects her personality. They are also going through a financial struggle that is destructive to the personality of sociopath Amy.
David Fincher doesn’t reveal Amy’s sociopathic tendencies at first. After she suddenly goes missing, the press questions Nick’s motive behind that. Nick is framed by Amy as a punishment because of his attachment to a second woman.
Amy is a perfect example of Female Hysteria. She can’t adjust to the shocking truth and tries to ensure that their past relationship status would remain intact. In the process, she tangles her husband in a maze and acts as a savior in the end. “Gone Girl” is not a drama, it’s a horror.
2. Bitter Moon
Inflicting pain on others is a special kind of joy, which is a remembrance of our brutal past as cavemen. The sexual experiment with sadomasochism and masochism dates back to many centuries earlier. Cast in the role of the sultry French beauty Mimi, Roman Polanski’s real-life wife Emmanuelle Seigner displayed various styles of romance in the 1992 film “Bitter Moon,” an underrated film from the auteur Polanski.
It is shivering to hear the confession of Oscar Benton that the thought of a vulnerable and insecure Mimi gives him indescribable pleasure. Later in their relationship, they resort to different types of sexual games to rekindle the spark, but the games were more about power and domination than love.
In time, an aged and matured Mimi retributed back to Oscar for her painful past. The love games are thrilling and horrifying to watch, as the viewers are as helpless as the bound Oscar to control the situation. After watching “Bitter Moon,” youngsters will think twice before wishing to be married with some random exotic beauty from some strange part of the world.
3. Nocturnal Animals
There is always a reluctance in couples to admit that they never totally understood their partner. The legend is that you can’t understand a women fully in a single lifetime owing to their complicated personality traits, but it can be equally applied to their male counterparts. The truth is that people still haven’t understood how to perfectly communicate with each other and there are always some unspoken truths in any relationship.
In Tom Ford’s first film since “A Single Man,” Susan Morrow questions her relationship with her husband Hutton Morrow, whom she married after a divorce from Edward Sheffield. Sheffield’s literary aspirations were always looked down upon by Susan, and now that he had written a complete novel dedicated to her and named it after the nickname given to her by Edward. She was curious, and she read the manuscript sent by the author himself.
The horror of “Nocturnal Animals” lies in the psychological horror of guilt. The dark content of the novel disturbs Susan, especially the protagonist’s journey through hell to save his wife and children from the rapists, only to lose everyone and die in the end. This reminds Susan of how she aborted their children without informing Edward to untie all connection to him before applying for divorce. Edward doesn’t meet Susan according to their pre-decided appointment at the restaurant, and now the hellish journey of guilt is all Susan’s.
The title of “Honeymoon” hints at a conventional cabin-in-the-woods slasher film, but the film’s treatment of horror is more intelligent than most run-of-the-mill productions. True to the name of the film, the story starts with a romantic premise.
After their wedding, Paul and Bea visit their inherited property in Canada – a secluded cabin in the woods – to spend their honeymoon in tranquility. All is fine until Bea meets with a friend of the past and starts to behave abnormally. Bea also shows her hesitancy with motherhood, as a mere mention from Paul elicits uncomfortable response from her.
“Honeymoon” never explicitly clears the source of its horror but maintains a chilling atmosphere throughout. It is an alien invasion, psychological horror all packed around a film that seemed a regular romantic drama at first.
5. Gerald’s Game
Stephen King’s prolificness in varied genres of novels is enviable. He is one of the rare great living legends who understood the connection between all-encompassing love and horror. Bathed in his prophetic observation, the film adaption of “Gerald’s Game” is full of surrealistic fantasy and a frightening atmosphere.
Jessie and Gerald’s relationship was full of unrevealed rage toward each other. Gerald was furious at Jessie’s irreverence in rekindling their relationship, platonically as well as physically, but he never expressed it to her. But Jessie was ready to accept Gerald’s fantastical love games and enacts a rape fantasy in which an excited Gerald, overdosed on Viagra, dies from a heart attack. A handcuffed Jessie cried for help when her subconscious takes over.
Gerald comes to question her about the unfulfillment in their marriage and in a flashback, Jessie’s sad childhood is shown. Jessie was haunted by the childhood memory of her father masturbating by sitting a young Jessie in his lap, getting aroused by it. It is indeed a tough exposition to swallow and the handcuffed Jessie’s mental and physical pain is too depressing to watch. The romantic night of horny Gerald and sexy Jessie easily succumbs to horror in the superbly directed film by Mike Flanagan.