A Completely Serious List of Horror Films that Aren’t Terrible, I Swear

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Do you love horror? Are you some kind of sick adrenaline junkie? Do you spend days cradling cheese puffs under the veil of darkness whilst gleefully watching zombies rip the innocent from limb to limb? I have just the thing to make your day, you shameless weirdo. Check out the seven most spine-tingling and not the least bit clichéd (alright, a lot clichéd) horror films guaranteed to feed the monster that lives in place of your cold, black heart. Some spoilers follow.

1. Saw

This timeless classic will live on forever as one of the most tragically beautiful cinematic pursuits of all time. The Saw series is like a modern day Romeo and Juliet…if the friar was a sadistic lunatic intent on forcing reckless children to appreciate their crappy existence by saw-ing (hehe) off various body parts. Juliet the Junkie claws out the key to her freedom by disemboweling her dearest Romeo from inside out. But like every great story, it too has a moral. In the end, our heroes learn what a precious thing life is, and to not take this miracle for granted. Juliet becomes the friar’s devoted assistant in the sequels, agreeing to continue his philanthropic work. And it’s not just the Romeo and Juliet level plot that makes Saw a wondrous roller coaster of emotion. The film’s color palate is an exquisite array of crimson hues, emitting a rainbow of muddy browns and grime for that rustic, fresh-out-of-a-60’s-Asylum look. Fun for all ages, it’s a great family watch.

2. Paranormal Activity

Working proof that low-budget shaky cam movies are the films of the future, Paranormal Activity will likely ensure you and your loved ones will never step foot near that creepy neighborhood kid again. Treat yourself to this delightful film by watching nothing at all happen for the first 70 minutes. If suspense is a killer, you’ll positively die from the excruciatingly slow plot. The brilliance lies in the sheer magnitude of the mental distress created by the film’s overwhelming lack of good pacing. As the appallingly normal boyfriend and girlfriend go about their lives, you’ll be stuck wondering such mind-bending questions as, “Did I leave the oven on?” and “Has the dog been fed today?”

3. Devil

At last, Devil is a film we can all relate to. A perfectly functioning elevator breaks just as a ragtag group of strangers step inside. For all you cerebral nuts out there, you’ll have a blast contemplating who committed each carefully crafted murder of the eclectic, and not at all clichéd, party. Was it the detective, a generic cop-extraordinaire and recovering alcoholic? Or was it the unsavory mattress salesman? Or perhaps the debutante with a filthy rich husband? Guess all you want because this code is Da Vinci-levels of uncrackable. A classic case of “Who Dunnit?,” this thriller will leave you perplexed as ever when the finale reveals the killer actually is the sweet old lady! M. Night Shyamalan, you sly dog, you.

4. Insidious

There’s just something about children that is eternally creepy. In Insidious, the audience is swept away into a visually breathtaking purgatory of sorts, home to a gaggle of quaint characters. Little Johnny (or some other generic white name) falls into a deep coma after literally getting lost in his dreams. The frightened family calls out for the help of a cliché wise old woman with the ability to communicate with the beyond, and, as you may have guessed, chaos ensues. If the ghosts don’t get you, the jump scares certainly will, proving once and for all the only requirements for horror nowadays are jump scares, loud music and a troubled suburban family.

5. The Purge

Neighbors. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em, amiright? The Purge takes place in a nondescript modern United States where one day a year, all crime, including murder, is legal. The rule derives from the reasoning that humans are inherently violent and keeping their “killer” instincts bottled up is unhealthy behavior. Thus, the government did them all a solid and said, “You get one day, you little heathens. One.” Don’t be fooled by the logical fallacy; this film makes a good political point. If pillaging, murder and other assorted debauchery is allowable by law, then why would we ever want to do it in the first place? Laws are only made to be broken, right? So why have them at all? It’s gen psych people, try to keep up. Anyway, avoid watching if you’re the wealthy family on the street with passive aggressive neighbors.

6. The Grudge

Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets bested by a house that just won’t quit. It’s the horror film that left you and all your depraved little friends attempting that weird backbend trick at every sleepover with that one popular girl you secretly hated. The Grudge, quite literally named, is about a woman (of course), spurned by her professorial crush (how original) and murdered in a rage by her jealous husband. Said woman morphs into a vengeful Japanese spirit and occasionally haunts Buffy by surprise-shampooing her hair. In the end, love does not conquer all and the house miraculously survives a massive gas fire because its power was just too strong, and a sequel promised phat bank. Buffy awakes in the hospital, ecstatic to find her favorite raven-haired fan had followed her all that way. How sweet.

7. The Cabin in the Woods

So simple. So brilliant. And just when you thought the “haunted house” angle couldn’t possibly be refreshed, The Cabin in the Woods tops the list for its delightful rejection of classic horror stereotypes and tropes. Sure, the girl who likes sex is still punished for having it, but so is Thor, the hot jock. Equality for the win. If you weren’t paranoid about the government before, you certainly will be after finding out this college camping trip is actually a carefully orchestrated murder-sacrifice controlled by an unnamed agency to appease ancient folks living underground. Apparently in this universe, we humans must appeal to a bloodthirsty hole in the ground, rather than the Big Guy Upstairs. In the touching finale, the redheaded virgin and resident stoner cling to one another as the world literally crumbles around them. Netflix, meet Chill.

Rachel is a third-year production major at the University of Florida. She enjoys young adult adventure novels and hopes to one day publish her own. Other hobbies include Disney, OneRepublic and getting emotional over Harry Potter.

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