Chill Factor

Tuesday 7 February 2012, 16:16

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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The Woman In Black is an old-fashioned ghost story that aims to scare you through suggestion rather than special effects. Seeing the film made me think about my most spine chilling moment in cinema - what is yours?

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    Comment number 1.

    Has to be Ringu. When the girl is crawling slowly out of the TV for what seems like an eternity, watching it through my hands, it literally sends shivers up my spine every time.

    Then the US version went and ruined the best scene in that film!

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    Comment number 2.

    Has to be the moment in Exorcist II: The Heretic...

    ...when I realised that this was an hour or so of my life that I wouldn't get back!

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    Comment number 3.

    On a less frivolous note I'd say it was several moments in John Carpenter's HUGELY underrated "Prince of Darkness" but in particular the scene when Lisa Blount (whatever happened to her?) is pulled into the mirror and into hell presumably, and then the window is smashed leaving her trapped forever.

    Also THAT clown in Poltergeist!

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    Comment number 4.

    Funny Games. The bit in the living room. All of it.

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    Comment number 5.

    It's always chilling when a beloved child turns out to be not what they seem, as in another recent Hammer film I saw last night called Wake Wood where a couple is given the chance to resurrect their deceased daughter for 3 days. Reminded me of Pet Sematary. As the older gentleman, Judd (Fred Gywnne) says at one point in his thick New England accent, "Sometimes dead is better, Louis".

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    Comment number 6.

    There's a scene in The Strangers that really got to me. The scene where Liv Tyler's husband has gone out for some reason, and she is in her kitchen on her own, and there's an extended sequence where Tyler is just on her own, no talking, just having a drink and the leader of the three villains in the film just walks into the house, blurred slightly because he's on the other side of the room, and he just stands there for a few minutes watching her, Tyler unaware of this person's presence. Then he walks out silently, coming and going into her house at will, rendering any protection she may have of locked doors and barred windows completely useless. It’s that whole idea that he could just walk into her house, unbeknownst to the inhabitant, and leave without any sign that he was in there. That chills me to the bone.

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    Comment number 7.

    For me it would have to be the scene in Signs where Joaquin Phoenix is sat in the cupboard watching the news broadcast where an intensely disturbing scene is shown. Along with the entrapment of Phoenix in that small confined space only adds to the tension, I have had my hairs stand up on end everytime I think of that scene.

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    Comment number 8.

    The scene in The Others where Nicole Kidman enters the room and sees her young daughter sat on the floor with a veil over her head playing with a puppet. She then notices that actually it appears to be a creepy elderly lady. When you first see the womans old hand the fear just shoots straight through me everytime!

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    Comment number 9.

    The end of the vanishing, when rex is burried alive really sent shivers up my spine, as did the ending to the wicker man, when he realises his fate.

    As for "not seeing the horror" - even though its a different genre, in reservoir dogs - the scene in which the ear is cut off. The camera pans away and all you hear are screams. A perfect use of suggestion. People ofyrn say its a brutal scene, but its in your head.

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    Comment number 10.

    DON'T LOOK NOW - NIC ROEG
    THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
    SLEEPERS - KEVIN BACONS SCENES
    CAPE FEAR - DE NIRO IN THE THEATRE
    ROSEMARYS BABY

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    Comment number 11.

    For me it would have to be the penthouse scene in Oldboy near the end, when Dae-Su is shown old pictures of Mi-Do his love interest at the time, and connects that dots that she is actually his daughter. Then realising this relationship was based upon a ploy constructed by his captor from earlier in the film. Absolutely chilling.

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    Comment number 12.

    Whistle and I'll Come - I know it's a TV play, but the atmosphere of slow creeping dread it creates, plus Michael Hordern's fine performance make this genuinely very creepy indeed.

    The Exorcist - that split second when you see Pazuzu's face at the very end still sends a shiver up my spine.

    Blair Witch Project - The very final scene, where he's standing in the corner. Was scared to turn the lights on for days afterwards.

    Ringu 2 - a crap film, but the bit where Sadako climbs up the inside of the well after the heroine is also very creepy indeed

    Surprised you didn't cite The Exorcist, Mark. Then again, I would imagine having seen it 200 times there's nothing left to scare you anymore!

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    Comment number 13.

    The scene at the end of Snowtown (spoiler alert). A guy enters a room where a few guys are there supposedly to sell a computer. Only we know their history but immediately he senses he is soo in the wrong place as the door is closed to darkness and silence. Horrifying and more so than the actual scenes of violence shown earlier as our dread empathy and anticipation fill in the blanks.

    Likewise the hobo encounter in Mulholland drive achieves huge fear when little happens due to the build up of anxiety and paranoia. Yikes!

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    Comment number 14.

    Two quick responses, if you'll indulge me.

    I had the chills pretty much constantly throughout the first hour of last year's movie The Silent House, due to the film's ingenious combination of a unknown lurking menace that is (mostly) only heard with the incredible levels of claustrophobia achieved by the 'gimmick' of the film being shot in one long, unbroken take - with no edits or scene changes, your brain becomes aware that there is absolutely no escape. I couldn't really pinpoint a specific moment here; I genuinely had a non-stop feeling of sinking, shrinking, shriveling helplessness in my gut - which I think qualifies as a great cinematic chill. I was rather surprised by Kermode's lukewarm reaction to this film.

    And secondly - although he's never produced a out-and-out horror movie (or has he?), I think that David Lynch has an incredible ability to unexpectedly terrify his audience, sometimes down to using outright shocks but mostly due to his incredible manipulation of mood and atmosphere. One of the most memorably chilling moments of my cinema-going days (long may they continue) came towards the end of Inland Empire when after a long, suspenseful walk down a very Lynchian hotel corridor (I think), Laura Dern is suddenly confronted by someone whose face is a grotesque, distended distortion of her own. The result is uncanny. This moment was typically presented as a "shock" (quick edit, musical sting etc) but it had a different effect on me. The image is held for several seconds, and for those seconds I felt as though I was sinking deeper and deeper into my seat. In my opinion, this moment is the closest not only Lynch but ANY filmmaker has come to approximating genuine nightmare imagery. It chilled me to the bone.

    I just love David Lynch.

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    Comment number 15.

    For me it has to be the scene in Phillip Kaufmans Invasion of the body Snatchers,when our hero Donald Sutherland does" the scream".To this day it still gives me the willies!

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    Comment number 16.

    For me, one of the most chilling moments of all time is in Pet Semetary, when Rachel has a vision of her deformed sister Zelda, when revisiting her old bedroom. Rather than simply jumping out and giving the audience a cheap scare, Zelda is revealed gradually - crouched down in the corner of the room - so small and insignificant in the frame that she's almost unnoticeable. It's only when Zelda starts slowly moving towards the camera that we notice her. It's not long before her hideous face completely fills the frame and she's yelling psychotically at the top of her voice, straight into the camera. It doesn't make me jump, but just picturing that image in my head now chills me to the bone.

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    Comment number 17.

    I've got to agree with some of the others who have said The Blair Witch Project. Really chilled me and had me looking over my shoulder for some time.

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    Comment number 18.

    I'll second Blair Witch, Signs, and especially the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

    The most chilling scene for me is the phone call scene from Audition. Even with all the gruesome stuff to follow, the image of the woman waiting for the call with her "bag" (shudder) is the one that stuck with me.

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    Comment number 19.

    The Stepford Wives is one of my favourite scary films. It's no horror, but it is indeed creepy. Being a 23 year old man-child, I can't relate to the 70s paranoia first hand, but this is still a film that seriously creeps me out. There are several chilling scenes in this film (the ending is a stand-out), but I really love the scene where a certain character starts to 'freak out' in a kitchen. You'll know it if you've seen it. There are many great films that mix Cold War paranoia and the family unit (Polanski gave us fine examples in Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown) but, for my money, this is the best one.

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    Comment number 20.

    I don’t scare easily but the first time I saw The Sixth Sense when I was about 10 or 11, the dead people had such an effect on me, I didn’t dare look up to the roof of the landing in my house in case I saw someone hanging there.

    I still find the film inherently creepy now, especially the man behind the locked door up the stairs. A scene that completely relies on viewers’ imagination.

 

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