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Mark Kermode | 13:09 UK time, Friday, 8 April 2011

I've seen a bunch of new horror movies in all shapes and sizes recently but none of them have frightened me. Have I become impossible to terrify or have films just stopped being scary?

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    There always have and always will be trashy horrors, primarily because they're the go-to date movie genre the studios can depend on to keep greasing the accounting wheels. I would agree that there is a real lack of "actual" horror at the moment, by which I mean psychologically unsettling films that leave a lasting impression, and even less so those which are with artistic merit.

    Films like Carpenter's "The Thing" showed that there can be a real balance between nasty and genuinely disturbing, but alas that kind of thing seems to have given way to the "horror comedy" sub-genre: say "Slither" and films of that ilk, which feel the need to offer their audience relief after every scare or gross-out moment.

    I've all but given up hope of seeing a return to real horror, though I have to say that on your recommendation I did run down a copy of Wake Wood and while, as you pointed out, it is far from perfect, it is at least a glimmer of hope in an otherwise barren landscape.

  • Comment number 2.

    "Anti-Christ" and "Hard Candy". Not exactly horror films, I know. But there's something about mixing insane people and physical mutilation that really creeps me out.

  • Comment number 3.

    The last film to genuinely scare me was Neil Marshall's 'The Descent'. I watched it when it came out around Halloween time and I went to a midnight screening of it on my own. The long, silent walk back to the car afterwards was almost as unnerving as the film itself.

    No horror film since then has had an effect on me like that.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think you can and do become accustomed to the affects of a horror film.
    I've been watching them my whole life and find myself experiencing them similarly to how you describe it. Admiring, loathing or loathing the film,or somewhere in between but never really being "scared".
    The closest I've come was the first Paranormal Activity film, which left me feeling slightly spooked but I was never scared.
    I think the feeling of true fear is something that would be very hard to fake in people who are over a certain age (or dare I say it, intelligence) It maybe gets to the point where that level of suspending disbelief isn't really possible.

    It's maybe like the stories you hear of people who take drugs "chasing the dragon". Having had a profound experience or set of experiences before their body getting used to the feeling and it subsiding somewhat.

    I too think there's a difference between a film that makes you jump, and a film which scares you. I have a friend who watches horror films with me and he jumps at nearly everything, but he laughs as soon as it happens because it's more of a nervous reaction than an emotion.

    On the other hand I have been deeply unsettled by films not strictly speaking in the horror genre such as "Irreversible" and to a much lesser extent "Antichrist" more to do with it's shocking imagery and realism than anything else. (The realism is something I found lacking in films like Human Centipede and A Serbian Film, and the overall result was more humorous than scary or unsettling for me)

    Thought when I was young I did get scared by these films.

    1. The Exorcist (being banned at the time all I'd seen were clips from a documentary, possibly you had something to do with)
    2. A Nightmare on Elm Street
    3. Event Horizon
    4. Intruders (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104523/%29

  • Comment number 5.

    Interestingly, Black Swan was the last film to scare me. It isn't a film which is scary in the "makes me jump out my skin, flee the cinema" sense, but from the moment the mother goes to throw the cake in the bin in the 20th something minute of the film i was on edge. The film truly disturbed me. The handheld camera style made it more real and made me squirm just that bit more. I came out of the cinema shaking. People could argue that this wasn't through fear but for me it was. A truly chilling and disturbing film.

    Another film that gave me this shaking sensation was United 93. The first time i saw it was in French which, in a way, added to the experience. I came out of the cinema truly scared and disturbed.

    However, with both of the above films (United 93 more so) when i watched them for a second time, the chill was gone. And i wish it wasn't.

  • Comment number 6.

    A Nightmare On Elm Street, I was younger than the required age to watch it and it really did bother me. I stayed awake the enitre night with the bedroom light on.

    The Exorcist was the other. I had heard a lot about if from my dad who was a huge fan, that took away some of the scariness for me, few times I did have to look away though. Since then, nothing really, maybe The Strangers but made me jump rather than scare me, unfortunately they are making a sequel.

  • Comment number 7.

    I recently watched the Japanese version of the ring and that was the scariest film I have seen in a long time. no jump scares of use of gore just a simple feeling of uneasiness which stayed with me during the film and for a long time after.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have seen hundreds of horror movies in my life, some I've really liked (Wicker Man for example), and some I haven't, most are somewhere inbetween, but in all honesty I am yet to be scarred by any horror movie I've seen and I've come to the conclusion that the horror movie that will scare me simply doesn't exsist.

    I suppose I've had too much horror in real life to be scarred by anything they can film.

  • Comment number 9.

    For me only 2 horror films or even films have really scared me senseless and both were several years ago.
    The first was Arachnophobia, which although isn't a great film, I watched it when I was 10, alone in the house late at night and as the film finished 2 spiders were crawling across the floor towards me, Ive been terrified of spiders ever since.
    The second was The Thing, which again I watched alone quite young, the cold foreboding feel and the quite graphic special effects really terrified me and I had nightmares about my family turning into such aliens.
    I think the problem with recent horror films is most ideas seem to have been seen before, or you're so used to whats coming its not a surprise when it does, so they resort to endless loud noises and tactics to make the viewer jump as a method of being scary. I also think when you're younger its much easier to be scared than when you've aged and experienced how scary life is.

  • Comment number 10.

    The first film to scare me was Hitchcock's The Birds - Hitchcock knew well that our imagination scares us more than anything. The last film to scare me was The Shining - it still does to some extent despite multiple viewings. Kubrick's maze chase and Nicholson's (genuine?) psychopathy would be hard to beat. The most recent film to scare me (and still a long time ago) was David Lynch's Wild at Heart, especially the fight sequence on the stairs near the beginning and just about everytime Willem Defoe was on screen.
    I also remember being unsettled by the beach landings in Saving Private Ryan on first viewing and Richard Stanley's Dust Devil spooked me.
    The problem Mark is that, as we get older, we realise real life is far more scary than any fairy tale. No work of fiction can match the realities or war, famine, disease, poverty, etc. And when these things touch our own life we become more immune to fictionalised accounts.
    The other issue is that too many modern horror film makers seem to equate scares with gore which is, of course, just fatuous.

  • Comment number 11.

    The sign of a truly scary horror film is when you ask yourself "What would I do in this situation?". That's the problem with horror films these days, movies such as Saw, Hostel, and Final Destination feature people getting mutilated, incinerated, tortured, etc. Is there a time where any of us will actually be faced with this problem? Probably not, and in instead of feeling sympathy for the characters, the violence is disgusting, not disturbing.

    However, the last film I saw that truly unsettled me is The Devil's Backbone. Guillermo del toro completely understands what frightens horror audiences the most. A simple shot of a child twisting his ankle made me jump out of my seat, whereas a severed head in Saw made me yawn. If that's the state of horror cinema, then God help me.

  • Comment number 12.

    The last truly disturbing film that I saw was the Greek film Dogtooth. Watching it nothing really scared me but as the film went on I felt more and more uncomfortable due to the sheer creepiness of it all. I was still thinking about it weeks later, trying to figure the characters out and how they ended up in the situation they were in.

  • Comment number 13.

    In the cinema Anti Christ was the only film I have seen in the last decade that actually made my skin crawl and tempted me to cover my eyes - although not a complete by-the-book Horror, it was miles more disturbing and frightening than any recent pure movie of the genre. Likewise 127 hours - I think it will take a great filmmaker to make people truly scared of anything supernatural in the cinema these days as there are so many REAL horror movies that is just too effective for it compete.

  • Comment number 14.

    I remember getting very scared watching the following movies:

    The Descent
    The orphanage
    A l’intérieur
    Burning Bright

    Horror Aficionados do become accustomed to a certain level and as you pointed out, most effective movies tap into personal phobias. In my case, intruder based scenarios in oppressive environments work very well on me, as you probably can tell from the list.

    I also think that the horror world is very crowded and struggling for genuinely good ideas. When new ideas appear, they get so copied and re-used, that one becomes accustomed to it.

  • Comment number 15.

    Deep blue sea. That was just TERRIFYING. So disturbing...

    Oh and Stephen King's "It". I remember seeing that as a kid and it has haunted me ever since.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hello Mark, here is a list of recently watched movies, wich managed to scare me and/or made me feel uncomfortable in a not so pleasent way:

    - Antichrist
    - Eden Lake
    - Black Swan
    - Trash Humpers

    And by the way: Paranormal activity bored me (and my girlfriend as well) nearly to death.

  • Comment number 17.

    Over the last few years the films that have really creeped me out and left me feeling uneasy enough to sometimes require a "short break" during viewing, all seem to be Asian horror.

    These films often seem to have that really good mix of slow creepy tension with the odd sudden scare that seems to work so much more effectively than the American obsession with special effects and sudden fright after fright that can often be easily predicted.

    The kid in JU-ON still freaks me out whenever I think about him.

  • Comment number 18.

    I absolutely agree that most so-called horror movies do not scare the viewer at all. They are too focussed on gore, or signposting the frights, or revealing 'the monster' far too early.

    The one that really worked for me was The Orphanage, because it combined a constant feeling of dread, eeriness and anxiety with a couple of genuine jump-out-of-your-seat moments. The image of Tomás with his sack cloth mask haunted my mind for weeks after...

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm not scared by films, with two exceptions. I love supernatural horror because it is fantastical, but not because it scares me. 'The Exorcist' certainly did not come even close to scaring me (I prefer 'The Omen' and 'Rosemary's Baby' personally - though they don't scare me either), I just find it rather blunt rather than subtle. I tend to watch horror for the fantastical, and also in the hope of delicious atmosphere and suspense. I recently loved 'Let me In', but felt somewhat let down by 'Let the Right One in' since it had less atmosphere for me, and I felt the Hammer remake had more affective music (even though I have yet to forgive the composer for his poor 'Star Trek' score), pacing and casting - though both films are good.

    The first film that scared me was one of the Johnny Weissmuller 'Tarzan' films when I was a young child. A scene with a back-projected charging Rhino gave me nightmares... something about the way it looked because of the back projection process.

    The only film to spook me a bit as an adult didn't scare me but spooked me a little on the way home. 'The Company of Wolves'. It only did it to me the once.

    The thing that gave me the biggest fright though, was once again as a child... an item on 'Nationwide' (or was it 'South Today') about a werewolf appearing at the top of a person's flight of stairs!!! I was admittedly on prescribed drugs at the time and it resulted in a hallucination where, when I was playing tag with my sister... she ran upstairs, turned off the light... I ran up after her, reached out to turn on the light, felt a hairy hand touch mine, looked up and there was a wolf snout with large red eyes right in front of my face. Thankfully, these days, children are not given such drugs for being considered somewhat different.

  • Comment number 20.

    I haven't been scared by a film since I was 9 and that was Scream amazingly.

    I think this is partly a change of environment, I born in the States in Portland, OR and moved to the UK when I was 10 and a half, I just don't find the UK scary at all, Stoke late at night wondering in the woods was once but besides that no, I went back in 2005 for 2 weeks and was watched some Horror film and find it semi-scary, does this make any sense to anyone?

  • Comment number 21.

    There are really only 2 movies that have ever truly scared me:

    1. Audition - Takashi Miike's masterpiece of terror. The end torture scene is easily the most disturbing thing I have ever watched. Blows schlock like Saw and Hostel out of the water.

    2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - The movie as a whole doesn't scare me, but the scene where Sally is tied to a chair and screaming is terrifying to me. The continuous screaming is almost vomit inducing to me, but I don't know why. Perhaps Dr. K could help me. Maybe it's because it's such a realistic terror portrayed by Marylin Burns that it seems real to me.

  • Comment number 22.

    There's only been a few films that have scared me and made me feel rather uncomfortable afterwards.

    1. REC
    2. Paranormal Activity
    3. The Changeling (1980)

  • Comment number 23.

    If I recall rightly, didn't "Fred: The Movie" scare the good doctor senseless???

  • Comment number 24.

    I think the reason horror films aren't scary any more is that they are fully concentrated on the simplest of horror mechanics (strange noises, making people jump with music) rather than attempting to play on genuine fears such as Buried did, which is the last film that properly scared me. John Carpenter had some great examples of this, where he could weave social satire along side people's fears and that is one of the many reasons why he is one of my favourite directors or all time

  • Comment number 25.

    The problem is that filmmakers are too obsessed with horror as a genre. They've lost sight of what really scares them. Films are such a sterilizing and jading process anyway that only the most potent fears can be translated onto film.
    Perhaps we need to reassess what really scares and disturbs us. The last thing that really scared me was actually the cut EXORCIST spiderwalk you and your friend put together, but the last time I just didn't think that I would be able to sleep would be after watching MYSTERIOUS SKIN.

  • Comment number 26.

    About year ago I saw the film "Network" (now one of my favourites) and that scared me. Not the film itself, but how a satire in 1976 which included Cynical news stations and a mad prophet (UBS and Howard Beale) could be so accurately replicated in the present day (Fox News and Glenn Beck - who genuinely does scare me).

    As for horror films today, I'm not really scared when I'm watching them. But when the film has finished, I'm really scared about the progress of humanity!

  • Comment number 27.

    the one film that without fail makes me sweat with fear everytime i see it, and it doesn't even fall into the horror genre, is paul greengrass's united 93. I don't actually have a phobia of flying but in the last 20 minutes of that film my heart was racing, i was sweating, and i was gripping the armchair so tightly i honestly didn't know what was coming over me. it's the fear of not being in control when the threat is too strong to eradicate. and even thought the passangers fight back it is all too late and the final shot when the plane is heading straight for the ground getting increasingly closer and closer i literally had to heave a sigh of relief when i knew it was over. I think it is the only film that has instilled a geniune fear or emotion in me and it happens every time I watch it.

  • Comment number 28.

    Ils (Them) was the last horror film to scare me.
    Heartless had some genuinely scary moments as well come to think of it.

  • Comment number 29.

    The last film I remember genuinely scaring me was Ringu. I didn't see it upon release, I saw it shortly after the American remake "The Ring" came out, and I remember Ringu terrifying me a whole lot more than The Ring did.
    When it comes to Horror nowadays, it seem's Western releases have a trouble getting things right. Japanese, Korean, even Spanish films seem to be dominating the horror films at the moment, as they have been for the last 15 years.

    Additionally, it's worth noting that for a horror fix it seem's videogames are the way forward. Being able to draw you into a world like the games Silent Hill and Penumbra games do lead to some fantastic scares that films can only dream of providing.

  • Comment number 30.

    The only two films to genuinely terrify, upset and disturb me are Eraserhead and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Both films get under the skin and tap into really primal fears, never giving the audience time to catch their breath or distance themselves from the experience.

    Other films have individually scary moments or a scene of unease, The Exorcist 3, The Haunting, The Innocents and The Orphanage spring to mind but the two films mentioned above are the only ones that are consistently terrifying. Even early Cronenberg films, The Thing, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, and yes even The Exorcist are more fascinating and disturbing than outright fear-inducing.

  • Comment number 31.

    The top five horror movies that have really scared me are
    1) Rec
    2) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original)
    3) The Thing
    4) Halloween (Original)
    5) Carrie

    I think that the horror genre has now finally come and impaled itself to its own knife wielding sarcasm. With the recession now in full bloom, we are heading back to the psychological territory of The Innocents or The Haunting and that if horror was to survive this murderous rampage of cheap thrills and cliche's then be my guest, but be warned, the dreaded sequels are among us!!!mmwwwaahhahahahaha

  • Comment number 32.

    The last movie where I actually wanted to leave the cinema was Paranormal Activity 1 and 2 - 2 movies which scared me so much that during night time I had to keep waking up to see if anything was in my room.

    Never gone back to the cinema to watch a horror movie since the 2nd one!!

  • Comment number 33.

    I've been following this blog for a while now, but this post really struck a chord with me so I had to register to comment.

    When I was a teen in the 80s my Dad was ok with me hiring 18 cert movies "as long as there's nowt sexy in". This enabled me to hire some cracking 80s horror movies; some good, some not so good, but all of them scared me and I remember the feeling of actually being scared (wide eyes.. HEART RATE). I remember pausing the VHS to have a break from the film, going downstairs to see Mum and Dad ("yeah, it's alright..") and then return excited to watch the rest.

    It was like a drug. The Thing, Re-Animator, Evil Dead, From Beyond to name but a few.

    As I got older, I realised I was becoming immune and it worried me. Where can I get my fix?? And only within the past 4 weeks hope been given to me by yours truly when I saw Antichrist for this first time. There were many pauses, and I watched the last 15 minutes pacing behind the sofa. Now THAT's what I want! I can feel again!

    This has led me to other more recent films, some mentioned above (Audition) that go some way to giving me back my horror fix. So there is hope.

  • Comment number 34.

    I found the French film Martyrs to be a genuinely horrific viewing experience. As a horror film obsessive I don't get scared too often but this film really got under my skin and niggled away at me for a few days after watching. Not many films make me queasy but this is one of them.

  • Comment number 35.

    The last film that I saw that was made in the last ten years which made me feel really really uncomfortable long after I had left the cinema was Eden Lake, the film in which Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender's holiday getaway is turned into a nightmare by the local youths.

    While I wouldn't necessarily classify this film as a horror, this film really got to me and left me feeling completely unnerved and shaken to my core. The one film that was made in the last ten years that left me feeling completely shaken.

  • Comment number 36.

    Well last night I saw The (original) Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time and it left me speechless, stunned, and utterly shocked. Its absurdist and chaotic imagery formed the perfect nightmare. A few month's back, David Lynch's Eraserhead. By the end of that film I was whining and breathing quite heavily, laughing as well for recognizing the sheer fear and intensity it instilled in me.

    But none of those were as terrifying as Clean, Shaven, which is a contemporary film. I had to pause the film and get out of my seat about two times due to how frightening it was. It's perfect sound design, photography and editing gets you inside the head of a schizophrenic, and that's no place to be. Clean, Shaven is quite possibly the scariest film I've ever seen. If the good doctor hasn't seen it, I suggest he does immediately.

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm hardly ever scared by films, especially the repetitive torture porn that American studios have recently become fond of, but the French film Ils is pretty creepy stuff, especially the opening sequence - a good example of effective paedophobia in recent horror.

  • Comment number 38.

    I concur with CloudMountain - Martyrs was a really upsetting and disturbing film which made me feel a bit off-kilter and grubby for a good while after. Indeed it was this blog that gave me the tip off for it in the first place. It is probably the case that there is very little that horror aficionados haven't seen a thousand times before but timeless, effective horror is about style, timing and execution, pardon the pun.

  • Comment number 39.

    The last thing I saw which really terrified me in the "I can't unsee that now" was Martyrs. The subject matter at the end had my brain working overtime. I even got other people at work to watch it so I could form as sort of support group to make me feel better and vicariously disperse some of the horror from it.
    I even asked the good doctor when he came to Warwick about this as due to his review my friend refused to watch the film for fear of being scarred! other than this there has been nothing since Watership Down that got to me as much.

  • Comment number 40.

    Couldn't agree more with you Dr. K

    I have to say that it was the Orphanage - it made me remember why the dark scares you.

    Plenty of films use the concept of The Dark - but what actually scares you like with the water in Jaws is that it puts a threat in the dark.

    If the threat itself is scary then the dark or water whichever will scare you too - but if the threat is not there then neither is the scare

  • Comment number 41.

    It seems like a few people have listed REC as a scary flick, and I'll add myself to that list. I know it's a small part of a growing list of innocent-person-enters-world-of-crazed-zombie-like-things films, but the atmosphere created by its gritty verité style really did it for me. Another key element for me was that it's a Spanish film. I don't know what it is about modern Hollywood horror or any English-speaking horror of the past decade, but it just falls flat on me (like Quarantine, ironically). They seem contrived, cheesy and, worst of all, too comedic to scare me.

    That last point is perfectly illustrated by Drag Me To Hell - now, Dr K might get a little miffed at this, but I thought that film was just nonsense. Not that I don't like a good horror comedy, but the DVD cover severely mis-sold the film to me. Whoever called THAT film the 'scariest film of the decade' needs to go sit in a corner and have a quiet word with themselves.

    Back on subject, and I know that they're not really recent films, but a few months ago I watched the Japanese Ringu trilogy, and they creeped me out good and proper - especially the first one. Which is another thing: re-makes don't tend to scare me that much either.

  • Comment number 42.

    I have to admit i'm kind of where Dr K is in that several films make me jump every time i watch them but only a few, that i can remember, actually scared me. the first one to ever scare me was The Fly (80's ones) but i was 12 and it no longer has that effect.

    Someone mentioned Saw but that scared or even frightened me less than harry potter! It is grusome, yes, but scary? No. Furthermore i agree The Exorcists is scary and up until the point where you see the werewolves so was Dog Soldiers (although i was 13 at the time and like the Fly, it no longer scares me)

    The Devils Backbone is one which did leave me feeling uncomfortable. Scared? No strangely. However, my friends and i do have a theory. Films such as harry potter and alice in wonderland have elements of horror in them and, in the case of The Others quite strong physcological horror, which is readily available to young people as they are all 12 certificates. It seems to me that people seem to build up a defence to being scared or are just less easily shocked than previous generations. Any thoughts on this Dr K?

    Also just to back up my theory earlier, when the original 1950's The Fly was released my uncle (aged 17) went to see it and he said that him and his mates were all scared by it and that one of them actually walked out of the cinema. My cousin (his daughter, aged 9) watched the film about 10 years ago on tv and thought it was "pretty dull and quite sweet natured". My uncle still tells us that story.

    Moral: Times change.

  • Comment number 43.

    It was a while back and it was when "The Evil Dead" came out. there was a British short film that was shown with it about a young family that moved into a house they had just bought and the Mother kept seeing horrific scenes of what had happened to a family and thought they were ghosts... only about 20 mins to 30 mins long...now that scared me...but i can't remember the name of it. Anybody know which film it was?

  • Comment number 44.

    The last film that scared the good-for-the-roses out of me was [REC]; mostly the ending, and the thought of what exactly that thing was in the attic. It's also very effective in the way that it ratchets up the horror and claustrophobia throughout the movie, until you almost feel as though you can't breathe.

    Horror in general is a very personal thing. I was pretty well unmoved by the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but Ringu had me watching through my fingers, while I'm sure other people had the opposite reaction to those movies.

    For the scariest single scene in any recent movie, though, the prize has to go to Zodiac, and the scene where a suspected murderer asks Jake Gyllenhaal to come down to his basement. It's utterly terrifying if you put yourself in Gyllenhaal's position; how can you say no, but what's going to happen if you say yes? And of course, by this stage of the story Gyllenhaal's character is completely obsessed with the Zodiac case, so he HAS to see, even if it means the end of him. That's scary because we can put ourselves in his position, and there's not a drop of blood to be seen.

    One last thing: Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary is scarier than any movie I've seen, especially the ending, and all the worse when you know it's inspired by events that really happened to King and his young son. Shame about the rubbish movie adaptation, though.

  • Comment number 45.

    @DrEvil347

    I'm not sure what short film you mean, but one I saw recently that's worth a look is called Still Life:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La6T8Bq6CsU

    Creepy as hell, and an outstanding idea for horror (though I'm the first to admit that I can't guarantee if the idea is entirely original).

  • Comment number 46.

    Many people, myself included, dislike the whole torture porn scene where two-dimensional characters are tortured or killed nastily over the 90 minute duration. It's disgusting and leaves you with a nasty taste in the mouth but is it scary? No. However that isn't my main problem with modern horror. The main problem I have is many films mistake jumps and loud noises for being genuinely scary. It's easy to give someone a fright by suddenly having something move quickly and raising the soundtrack. Just look at all these 'screamer videos' on Youtube, or just look at films like Paranormal Activity which are basically just 90 minute versions of screamers. Once the jump is over, most of the time the fear is over until the next one appears a few minutes later and eventually this becomes tedious. No, the proper way to make a scary film is with unrelenting atmosphere *when nothing jumps out*. To paraphrase Hitchcock, tension is placing a bomb under the table and NOT detonating it. Oh, and it I It doesn't hurt to use characters that we care about either by developing them alongside the atmosphere.

  • Comment number 47.

    In agreement with above poster who said 'Black Swan'. Before that, 'Paranormal Activity' and even further before that, 'REC'.

    Favourite horror ever; The Haunting.

  • Comment number 48.

    I feel like horror videogames need to be brought up sooner or later. After being numbed to horror movies over the years, what I've found that scares me as a horror junkie are horror videogames. I know your stance on videogames, but you can't deny that having to interact and play through a horror experience is going to make you want to take breaks now and then. The fact that the creator has to trick the player who can move the camera freely is more ambitious, and set up scares at the right moments to align with your field-of-view.

    "CONDEMNED: CRIMINAL ORIGINS" is such a game, and being a first-person melee game with hardly any guns makes you all the more immersed in these dark and dingy urban environments while keeping a flashlight on. The scares are subtle, with noises of scuttling about and ambient tricks to make your heart beat faster. It also should be commended for not resorting to monsters at all, and instead showcasing how creepy the movements of humans can be with their realistic artificial intelligence. They all dress like hobos, too, so be afraid next time you're walking down the London underground because a hobo might have a 2x4 ready for your face.

  • Comment number 49.

    All of the films I was going to mention have already been mentioned - which perhaps lends some credence to the idea that horror films are simply not as consistently scary. Zodiac, The Orphanage, and Mulholland Dr. all gave me, at some point, a feeling of dread even once they ended.

  • Comment number 50.

    What movie last scared me? One that (I believe) you hated, Dr. K.... The Ring. I saw it in a completely packed house, had not seen the original (Ringu) and had not heard ANYTHING about it before I saw it. I just wanted to see a movie that weekend and there was nothing playing that I was really in need of viewing.

    It began like it was going to be a typically disposable teen scare flick, and then... It awas like the entire audience got a sense that this was not going to be the usual mainstream horror fare. The entire experience was filled with a nervous impending dread. There were no cell phones or talking or obnoxious audience behavior. Everyone there was in a cringing silent anticipation of the next awful thing that would occur onscreen.

    The 'closet' moment was the one one pretty much messed up the entire audience. In a good way. That freaked me out more than anything else in the film.

    I think the key to being ABLE to be scared by a horror film is to be completely unprepared for what's coming. The more you hear about a film, the less you're going to be surprised by it. I have to wonder if your own experience with Buried had more to do with fear of the unknown rather than the fear of enclosed places or being buried alive. When you feel like that you don't know what's going to happen next in a film, it's easier to empathize with the protagonists or victims. When you're sure of the outcome, there's nothing really at stake.

  • Comment number 51.

    Short answer: From the films I've seen recently - Into The Mirror (the orignal version). There was something very unsettling about the break in reflection.

    Long answer, as above - I think I got the tip on this one from this blog and It was a good film. The trouble was I'd already seen the Jack Bauer has his latest worst 24 hours in a mirror shop version; Mirrors, and also the English film The Broken which had a similar theme.

    If I'd seen the Korean version first then it would've probably been even more effective as a horror film.

    Other recent films to have made me feel uneasy but not quite scared have been Martyrs (cr4p but nasty) and Antichrist (cr4p but very nasty).

    Eden Lake was also very unpleasant because of the DailyM$%lish plausibility of it all.

    As a youth, Jaws, Event Horizon and parts of Aliens. Misery also made me feel quite sick.

    I also found the soulless mechanical unstopableness of the original terminator quite frightening.

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm sure you mean for us to mention horror films which are currently or recently in cinemas, but the last film I saw that, as you say, put the fear of God in me was Requiem for a Dream. I'd heard from friends that it was extremely well-done but very depressing. 20 minutes in, however, I realized with great relief that it wasn't sad, it was earth-shakingly scary. I enjoyed the ride with great thrills of fear (and I don't just mean the refrigerator, but Marion's complete loss of self-worth and all the characters' shattered hopes) and when it was over I sat in silence for a little while. I couldn't stop thinking about the film for two or three weeks afterward, even becoming distracted at work. Now that's what a great horror film should do!

  • Comment number 53.

    Norwegian Wood. No, it's not a horror film. But there's something truly nauseating about the way the strings on the soundtrack creep into a discordant, unsettling wail, as the "unfortunate event" is revealed toward the end of the movie. The horror of that sequence was almost as traumatising as when I first saw Ringu in a cinema (Picturehouse, Cambridge - thank you for the privilege). There's nothing quite like the primal, physiological terror with which the right combination of dissonant sound and suggestive image can penetrate you. Forget the big scare at the end - just the memory of that original video clip makes me want to chuck up my dinner. How do the Japanese do it?

  • Comment number 54.

    The last film to genuinely frighten me even after the film had finished?
    Rec, the Spanish horror.

    Watching the film, late night, in bed with my girlfriend proved to be the perfect atmosphere. What scared me most wasn't the exactly the film but how genuinely terrified my girlfriend became towards the end. The worse she got, the more she started to pass it on to me. I began feeling a little unnerved and then as I was reassuring her that everything was alright, I started to doubt myself. That was the true terror. I felt myself in denial for a short period of time.
    Proof that fear can be contagious.

  • Comment number 55.

    The one I most recently watched that terrified me was the original Tobe Hooper Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but in terms of recent release date, I found myself utterly freaked out by Black Swan. The whole mental illness plotline, coupled with the fact that there were some genuinely horrific sequences in it made it scarier than any recent "horror" movie.

  • Comment number 56.

    The best horror usually exploits and subverts the moral panic of the audience at time it was made. This means, I believe, a horror film can only be scary for a limited period of time, before it doesn't seem so bad after all because there are much scarier things 'out there' to deal with.

    The trouble with horror movies 'these days' is that they are ignoring what is really frightening us in our daily lives and splashing wolfmen and zombies and aliens all over the screen. Time for a new bad guy, Hollywood... one that can outsmart us. Movies have taught us everything we need to know about keeping vampires at bay. We don't need another manual.

  • Comment number 57.

    So many comments on here I agree with, including yours of course Dr K.I may have needed counselling after Martyrs if I hadn't pulled myself together and kept repeating 'It's only a film' ...'It's only a film'...Talk about Hardcore!!! The Orphange was a particularly scary experience for me personally,as my recurring childhood dream was being trapped in a cave with the tide rising,so you can imagine.!! Horror film makers have become lazy, sticking to the slash followed by trash format. That's why movies like REC and The Descent were such a breath of fresh air.
    Being frightened can mean lots of things to so many different people,the clown in IT for instance frightened the holy bejaysus out of me,and still does........And recently caught a low budget horror film called Dead Silence utter garbage to be honest,however it all revolved around a ventriloquist dummy and dolls....know when that hair stands up on the back of your neck.........Be afraid ...be very afraid......:-)

  • Comment number 58.

    the last film to make me shudder was sex and the city 2, believe me my screams were so loud 'please don't make me watch it again'.

  • Comment number 59.

    Context is everything. Watching The Exorcist or 28 Days Later... alone, late at night. The bedside lamp stays on all night.

  • Comment number 60.

    The last time I was truely scared by a film was No Country for Old Men. Now I know it isn't a horror film in the traditional sense. But dark alleys, monsters and ghosts will never scare me the way Anton Chigurh did. I've always felt that in horror it's the things you can't fully comprehend or predict that scare you the most, and Anton Chigurh encapsulates this for me. The only thing you knew for certain about that character, is if he wants you dead, your a walking corpse until he finally pulls the trigger

  • Comment number 61.

    Hey there Mark. I really liked this video because like you, I am a horror film enthusiast. I have to say, like you I have been disappointed with most horror movies of late. I really enjoyed Paranormal Activity, which actually did genuinely scare me a lot. I think it was the simple touches which did it for me. The idea of the photo in the attack placed above the bed, the fact that it was of a little girl which makes it much more dark, the notion of the macho bf being left helpless etc. I just found it really well done overall. But before that film, the last film which also really disturbed me was Session 9, the film by Brad Anderson. He made The Machinist later on, but Session 9 I found really interesting, disturbing, well acted and just the tone I felt was really spot on. I think you probably have seen it, but anyone else who is interested in proper horror films check it out. I am actually really interested in what you thought of the film Mark, as I have never heard you mention it on the blog or the podcasts. Have a good easter guys!

    Olly

  • Comment number 62.

    Horror films from Hollywood tend to be very predictable and follow the same basic route to a happy ending regardless of how hard they try to scare us. There have been near exceptions, such as Event Horizon and The Thing, that while not necessarily difficult to predict - do offer some creep-out moments that are easy to remember after the credits stop rolling. But if you want a better than average chance of being scared then watch films from the far east. Both Korean and Japanese horror offer genuine scares and unpredictable tales that can stay with you for days afterwards. My wife still gets the chills in a lift after watching the Eye (the original and not the re-hashed US version) years ago. The Ring trilogy is another excellent example.

    It's a shame that people are put off by subtitles as their revenge/action films are just as good as their horror and more emotion filled than anything coming from across the pond, with the likes of Oldboy, My Bittersweet Life, Goodbye Mr Cool and the Young and Dangerous series ranking high in my list of favourite films of all time.

  • Comment number 63.

    I'm of a similar bent toward horror films. They're either too predictable, pointless remakes or just too much like earlier films that were much better. Funnily enough, the only film recently to actually scare me and freak me out a little was the French horror film, Inside, which is certainly not the film to show a woman days away from giving birth, but to everyone else I recommend it! It was creepy, grisly and, yes, I couldn't get it out my head for days after. Hollywood, by comparison, is lagging far behind the Europeans, and they only have themselves to blame. Recycling horror films is just as bad as re-filming a classic shocker involving a shower murder, but doing so in colour and casting Anne Heche. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the next Hollywood horror film is aimed at the 3D market, with axes and the like flying our way. Can't (sigh) wait...

  • Comment number 64.

    As mentioned by other people:

    The Descent: the early claustrophobic scenes rather than the monsters
    Ils: A good example of the 'children are monsters' genre
    The Orphanage: The shock involving the old woman and the realisation about what happened to her son at the end.
    Halloween: Largely due to the simple but brilliant music

  • Comment number 65.

    The scariest and funnyist Horror films I have seen were: The Scariest IT 3hrs of menace even though I had read the book beforehand and The Langoliers also read beforehand and definately not to watch on an airplane! The funnyist - The Shining with Jack Nicholson so over the top compared to the book. All 3 from the pen of Stephen King. Now back to when I was a child- The Stone Tape... a play for today I think.....now that was scary.

  • Comment number 66.

    I´ve been a pretty big horror fan through my youth but for me the thrill that came with watching it at a young age has faded. Not that I can´t appreciate horror anymore as a genre, I just don´t get that scared anymore accept for "BOO"-moments but I consider that to be a different thing then say, feeling bad all night after seeing a movie like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Cannibal Holocaust in my youth.

    My two favourite genres always been horror and drama and I have to say they´ve switched places through out the years. While I liked drama earlier on it is´nt until later I came to fully appreciate it and become emotionally involved in it. Horror on the other hand has gone the opposite way and I now watch it with a more superficial mindset I guess. My point is that the feeling I got from both genres in different times in my life are very similar, perhaps even identical. So while Suspiria affected me before it is a movie like perhaps Bennys Video or The Piano Teacher that "freaks" me out these days. Maybe drama/thriller is the more correct term but you catch my drift. It is´nt the horror genre that´s gotten bad through the years (even though it totally has) but it´s my own taste that´s evolved in the terms of what make me uneasy.

    Texas Chainsaw Massacre still freaks me out though to be honest.

  • Comment number 67.

    I whole heartedly agree that horror has no longer horrifying and it really breaks my heart. I have loved horror my whole life. Obviously i was (well still am) scared by all the greats, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (my skin still crawls when i hear that noise during the opening) The Exorcist, Chrononberg's The Fly (made me feel very uncomfortable) but there has been so little in the last ten years at least. 28 Days Later was fantastically creepy, A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003) was very good, Rec and The Decent (is so scary because of the sound track.)

    It's a real shame that it has become so benign because, in my humble opinion there is nothing better than watching a film and feeling genuinely terrified. I even remember when i was allot younger seeking out and being scared by the covers of videos in my then local video shop.

  • Comment number 68.

    It has be The Descent - it was not just the claustrophobic nature of the horror that effected me but the sheer bleakness of the film, especially the ending, left be thoroughly unsettled when leaving the cinema

  • Comment number 69.

    I have to admit that it has been quite a while since feeling that chilling sensation during or after a horror film. The most recent film that comes to mind is 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose'. I admit its not perfect, but I think its done reasonably well and one or two scenes sent shivers down my back.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think its entirely possible that the market has become saturated with crap horror movies that the film that unsettle me aren't horrors at all. I agree with an earlier comment about The Descent, but that was due mainly to the claustrophobic environment than the nasty ghoulies underground. I was also freaked by The Blair Witch, but only when I watched on my own in the bedroom.

    For me, there lies the problem. The multiplex cinemas aren't designed for that intimate, personally reflective experience you get at home. I've now decided that if I want a decent horror, I'll watch within the confines of my own home as my recollections of scary viewing all stem from there.

  • Comment number 71.

    i would tend to lean toward saying films just dont have what they used to! studios appear more interested in churning out dross, than taking a minute to think if the film fulfils the criteria of the genre, namely to scare those paying to be scared!! HOWEVER in the japanese version of Ring, and lets face it, the only version worth watching, i had genuine chills,and a fear not felt before or since! the japanese hit the horror nail on the head every time. then America ruin it for everybody!

  • Comment number 72.

    As a huge horror fan I've been really disappointed by how long it's taken me to come up with an answer to this.
    Looking thorugh my dvd collection I've got to say the last films that really scared me where the ones that I saw late at night on the tv when I was a teenager - "Candyman" in particular kept me up at night for quite some time. Maybe it was something to do with being quite young and inexperienced with these type of movies that freaked me out.

    Recent(ish) films like "Eden Lake" and "Let the Right one in" have made me feel rather uncomfortable, but nowhere near as nightmare-inducing as the first time I saw "Halloween". Maybe I have grown out of the being scared stage, but I'm only in my 20s and I find the thought of that rather depressing....

  • Comment number 73.

    I'm somewhat in agreement. Quite a big horror fan but films just don't seem to scare me anymore and I'm only 20 so this would give a certain credence to your claim about it being a modern problem rather than a desensitizing to the genre.

    However in saying that, the last film to truly terrify me out of my mind was a recent enough one, Lynch's 'Inland Empire'. I saw it around this time last year and I spent the last forty minutes or so sitting on the couch in what can be best described as the closest approximation to an upright fetal position, wide awake and unable to move. Say what you will about his stream-of-consciousness approach to narrative structure, that man is a master of atmosphere. Though Badalamenti deserves an equal portion of the credit.

  • Comment number 74.

    @HowardBealeGoneMad

    You'll be pleased to hear (as I was) that Glenn Beck's Fox News show has been cancelled. Yay!!!

    On topic, it's really interesting to note how many responses on here deal with films made outside the US, whether that's here in the UK, Spain, Japan, Korea etc aside from the very famous examples (most of which are pretty old now). Is this because the tired old genre rules are ignored because of cultural differences? Audiences used to standard US horror tropes are jolted into life by unexpected tales from other places. Just a thought.

    I also think your own particular horror movie memories are exactly that - your own. As you mentioned, Buried relates to a phobia that you carry within yourself. I remember being very unsettled by the Evil Dead as a 12 year old mostly because I lived in a house backing onto a creepy wood into which I was routinely sent to get kindling for the fire. To this day my dad thinks I am a lazy s*** as I always got the absolute bare minimum I thought I could possibly get away with before sprinting out of there as fast as my legs would carry me. For years.

    Like a poster above, I was freaked out by the US Ring as I hadn't seen the Japanese version. When they played the video, the atmosphere in the cinema was palpably nervy. Although I do wish I'd seen the original first.

    Event Horizon played on my mind for ages after seeing it - mostly the "Liberate Tute Me" sequence which made me feel ill and really got under my skin. It's amazing how much of a Marmite film that is for people - as is Paranormal Activity it seems. The latter bored me until the last 10 minutes. I went to bed that night to a very loud thunderstorm - I didn't sleep much.

    PS Mark - would you classify the Godfather III as an Old Movie?

  • Comment number 75.

    Whislt a few films in the last ten years have scared me somewhat (The Devil's Backbone, The Orphanage, The Others, Pan's Labyrynth, the Descent...)I have to say that in terms of the last time a film really messed with my mind to the point where I wasn't sure I'd sleep was probably Blair Witch the first time I saw it. I was staying at my then girlfriend's house that night, and her loo was downstairs and you had to pass by a cellar door to get to it. I was so scared I basically held my bladder all night despite needing to go! The Haunting, the Fog, Halloween, Ring (all originals!) still scare me, and frankly Salem's Lot will never not scare me, to the point where I still won't sleep with the curtains open...just in case some vampire child comes scratching at the window.

    But I too sometimes think nothing's scary anymore--but then this isn't neccesarily new, I remember getting to watch Hellraiser whilst babysitting and being ready to be well and truly scared and...well I wasn't.

    I'd add as well that sometimes the scariest moments aren't in horror films, as someone mentioned above, bits of No Country for Old Men are really toe curlingly terrifying, and really, couldn't you argue that there's something almost supernatural about Chigurh.

    Oh and another vote for Event Horizon as an underrated film.

  • Comment number 76.

    My girlfriend says frequently that she's a horror fan, but I pointed out to her recently that I don't think she is. Not anymore. I don't remember the last time she saw a horror film she had much good to say about, and like Mark, I don't remember the last time she was scared by one.

    I think personally the formula for horrors has grown stale. Especially where American Horrors are concerned. The whole "string-swell, ominous corridor shot, BOO!" thing was never really scary, just jumpy, and its just gotten less jumpy as the years have gone on. Films that genuinely scared me were Ring, the Hideo Nakata version. I don't know why, but the pay-off at the end (no spoilers here) is just remarkable, Nakata shows so much restraint throughout the rest of the film that the finale comes completely out of nowhere and even if you ARE expecting it, its shot in such a unique way, that it is actually unpleasant to watch and genuinely terrifying. [REC] scared me too, quite a lot. Although I'm not really sure why.

    I know you've no interest in games Mark, but on this topic there is a game called Silent Hill 2. The sequel to the game that the (wretched) film was based on. There is a bit in silent hill 2 where you have to walk up a foggy mountain path. There is no music, only your footsteps. After awhile, a second set of footsteps can be heard, almost in time with but definitely not yours. When I heard this for the first time I stopped my character. The footsteps stopped too. I genuinely believed I had imagined it. After resuming the walk up the path, the footsteps returned and definitely sounded like they were getting faster. I was terrified. I didn't want to venture any further into the games world. If I stopped, the footsteps would stop also but I would never find out what they were, so I pressed on. However, I never did find out what they were. Because there was no pay-off. The game put me on edge and kept me there, purely because it could. No movie has ever gotten me on that level, perhaps with interactivity and a sense of agency, this is one area where games can carry the torch while filmmakers figure out how to be scary again.

  • Comment number 77.

    The last time I got scared was watching Kiyoshi Kurosawa's PULSE (Kairo) the scene when the ghost woman starts walking towards the camera in a disturbing dream like slowmotion and suddenly she does this kind of weird"misstep" then back to walking again...It scared the life out of me.

  • Comment number 78.

    @Touchfinder - Thank you for that message! That will make the rest of my day :)

    I will about agree for the posts supporting horror video games. I think for me and the rest of my genaration they have scared us more than almost any film you could name Mark. Bioshock is the best for me; although it is not technically a horror game due to the science fiction element, and is not the scariest (that goes to Condemned), the gameplay is unbelievably good, and the sound track makes the game almost constantly disturbing and terrifying.

  • Comment number 79.

    The last time I was really scared by a film was probably Ringu and also Dark Water, I think I saw them both back to back or over the same weekend. There were both pretty psychologically disturbing. But that was some time ago now. I don't think I've been desensitized, if anything I'm a lot more squeamish than I was, partly as a result of a girlfriend who once had a full on seizure as a result of a scene in Ravenous, which scared me more than anything else in my entire life (the seizure not the film). So I've become a lot more aware of gore and how it affected people around me and that made me hyper-sensitive.

    So much horror now seems to me to just be re-hashes of slashers or of the Saw/Hostel variety, and while I'm sensitive to blood and guts, it doesn't scare me. There's been nothing that has made me feel the way Ringu did, or Halloween when I first saw that, or even those old Hammers Horrors. I appreciate the technique used in Blair Witch and the films that have followed it, but I tend to think that once you've seen that done, you know what to expect, so it loses most of its impact.

    Horror is always more frightening when it is addressing or dealing with something else - not just mindlessly carving up teenagers/backpackers. It has to hit a nerve somewhere.

  • Comment number 80.

    Last new release film to give me goosebumps was in the middle of What Lies Beneath but the ending softened any feeling afterwards. Before that I would have to go back to Candyman which I saw at a midnight screening and had to drive home in the dark and resist the urge to say candyman 5 times into my rear vision mirror. But in all honesty the last film to give me goosbumps was an old film Les Diaboliques which I saw for the first time about 5 years ago.

  • Comment number 81.

    For me it harks back to the year 2001 and the fear and trepidation that was Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Kairo (Pulse) and Guillermo del Toro's El Espinazo del diablo (The Devil's Backbone). These films left me so utterly terrified that I could scarcely move, other than to cower in a corner, for the horrors that so seized me.

  • Comment number 82.

    When I was five, I saw the Bela Lugosi Dracula film. I remember the armadillos and the sense of scale when Dracula descended the stairs being both frightening and fascinating. More recently, the first time I saw David Lynch's Eraser Head, and the first time I saw The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, both on television in the dark, making me feel the same way I'd felt back when I was five.

  • Comment number 83.

    I remember watching US Ring with my housemates with my mobile phone hidden next to me. As the creepy video finished I pressed dial and the housephone rang and everyone jumped about 3 foot. Great fun!

  • Comment number 84.

    I think that for me to be truly terrified by a movie, I have to watch it on my own, which is why the videos seen whilst babysitting in my teens seem to be the most memorably fear-inducing: Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing, Carrie, Halloween. That said, by far the most frightening film I have ever seen is The Exorcist, which I watched for the first time in the Phoenix cinema in Oxford in 1992. Despite going with a big group of friends who all wanted to party afterwards, I had to run straight from the cinema to the college chapel and gather myself for half an hour before I could even speak. I think it fair to say that Paranormal Activity 2 has probably not struck anyone dumb with fear.

  • Comment number 85.

    The original Japanese version of 'The Grudge' terrified me. I remember watching it on my own at home about 5 or 6 years ago, while my housemate and his girlfriend were cooking dinner in the kitchen. They found it hilarious to see me watching the scary bits at the door as I just couldn't sit in the same room as that film!

    Since then though, the horror genre has suffered something of a famine - even the quality of South East Asian cinema, which was an area of horror you could rely on in the early 2000s, has become staid and boring.

  • Comment number 86.

    To be honest, the last film I was really scared of (and I mean SCARED, not just being tense) was The Exorcist when I watched it for the first tim a couple of years back – it was 1 in the morning and I was alone at home. Halfway through the movie I just could not take the eery atmosphere and that demon face anymore. I had to turn the movie off or else I probably would have gone insane. I still finished the film the next the and thought it was the perfect example of how to make a scary movie. Today it is in my top 10 of the best films I have ever seen. I never saw a movie again that had had this kind of impact on me, not even close.

    Kevin, 24, Germany

  • Comment number 87.

    The Orphanage really freaked me out. I watched it late at night, alone in my house that make peculiar noises at the best of times, especially the pipes. Better than 3D in my opinion.
    I haven't ever had that feeling before as an adult, you are right Mark, it is a good feeling.

  • Comment number 88.

    The last film I remember being unnerved and genuinely terrified by was the orphanage.

    The feeling of walking of the cinema, composing myself as I walked with my mother (It was merely a kind treat, no Freudian bates motel underbelly going on here) We made a short cut through the car park, with the buzz of screaming and shrieking in the cinema along with a whole bunch of horror fans setting in.

    Everything was going fine until we came to the door with one handle on it, I want to grab it and pull it open but all of a sudden, it opened all on its own and me and my mother screamed in a car park full of shaken up audience members.

    Turns out it was an automatic door.

  • Comment number 89.

    EVENT HORIZON! My favourite horror movie of all time. Also the last time i can remember being truly unable to sleep after a movie.
    Halfway through it my sister opened the door to my room and scared me so much that I spilled lemonade all over my lap.

  • Comment number 90.

    Sad to say, I believe being scared by movies is something some people just grow out off. I must have grown out of it in my late teens because I remember watching The Blair Witch Project in a cinema packed with terrified movie-goers yet wasn't frightened at all. I can still be repulsed and disgusted by horror but not scared

    A terrible side effect of this is that things that things that are supposed to be scary often become funny instead. I hate to say this to you Mark, but I first saw The Exorcist when it was re-released in 1998 at a midnight Halloween showing. Now it may have been because I had seen numerous parodies over the years before actually seeing the film itself but it didn't scare me at all, it just made me laugh.

    The last time I remember being scared by a film was when I saw The Birds on TV. I was about 15. I find it quite depressing because I'd like nothing more than to be scared in cinema again.

  • Comment number 91.

    Just to add to my above comment: it's not new movies that are at fault, although many of them are rubbish. I am have seen many of the classics since my teens such as Don't Look Now, Rosemary's Baby and Halloween and While I enjoyed them all, none scared me.

  • Comment number 92.

    As much as I love watching horror films, only a handful have ever stayed with me afterwards and made me scared of my own surroundings. The last one was 'Ju-on: The Grudge'.

  • Comment number 93.

    Inland Empire was the last film to truly scare me. Many horror videogames have frightened me over the last five or so years, however, such Condemned: Criminal Origins, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Silent Hill (far superior to the film adaption) and Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem to name a few. There's something about being directly responsible for the protagonist in a hostile environment that heightens the tension of the experience.

  • Comment number 94.

    I enjoy watching all sorts of horror films, but I think the only film that still keeps me feeling uneasy is Jaws. Still can't go swimming in the sea now without the music popping in my head and my heart rate speeding up. When I was younger A Nightmare On Elm Street did scare me, but I watch it now and it doesn't have the same effect.
    I find that with a lot of the newer horror that they just don't offer any new scares just the same old style used over and over again. [REC] and The Orphanage, The Ring (original) were all very good and had me feeling awkward in a lot of places. It's nice to see horror done without all the over use of blood and gore.

  • Comment number 95.

    Not being a spider fan at all, I struggled to watch the final reel of The Incredible Shrinking Man. I saw it for the first time when I bought it on DVD a couple of years ago.That punch-up with the house spider really got under my skin, as did the entirety of Arachnophobia when I saw that for the first time at about the age of 10.

    One of my favourite films of all time is Play Misty for Me - the one Fatal Attraction ripped off and, in my opinion, Eastwood's best film as director. I watched it for the umpteenth time the other night and I still find it really, really scary. Likewise with The Silence of the Lambs.

  • Comment number 96.

    In an odd twist, the last time I got terrified wasn't by watching a movie at all. It was when i went to see The Woman In Black in London as part of a birthday present from my then girlfriend. I was so frightened i'd felt like my personal space had been violated. Whilst i'm interested to see the new movie this year, i doubt it will be anywhere near as terrifying as the play as it will lack the immediacy and sense of participation of watching something in a theatre.

  • Comment number 97.

    Going back to Mark's original question, I think it's more a case of him becoming a little bit jaded with the horror genre. It happens now & then and really the only way of getting back to enjoying (& subsequently being scared by) these types of flicks is to take a break from them, at least for a short while (although I'm not too sure that's something a film critic can actually choose to do).

    Personally, the scariest movie I've seen in recent years is 'Paranormal Activity' and although I can understand why it doesn't work for some people I was completely freaked out by the events that occurred in that film.

    I agree with others that 'The Descent', whilst not being a particularly recent release, is also a very effective horror flick (especially if you suffer from claustrophobia) as is '[Rec]' but although that's definitely a very intense movie I'm not sure that I actually found it to be scary...

  • Comment number 98.

    also.
    If you want to be scared. Get past your irrational distaste for video games.
    For some reason the interactivity with the media helps in suspending disbelief.

    And some downright leave the lights on titles have come out in recent years.

    Here's just two you should get a review copy of...and tell me you weren't scared.

    1. Amnesia The Dark Decent
    2. Dead Space

  • Comment number 99.

    Not that I'm wanting to sound hard or tough but it takes a lot to scare me, and you have to try really hard in doing so. The only filmmaker who has ever truly petrified me, and you mentioned him in the blog, is David Lynch. And it doesn't take a lot either, but there is just something about his movies which strikes imminent fear in me, it doesn't take a lot for him to do it either.

    The most memorable of these was in Mulholland Drive which I watched on my own. Some background I watch most my movies in the dark on DVD in order to create the effect of cinema. That night I sat down to watch it, in the dark, and about 15 minutes in, as you will remember, a very strange burnt androgynous figure called 'The Bum' hiding behind the back of Winkies cafe appears on screen for about 3 seconds and truly scared the hell out of me. It came out of nowhere and doesn't appear again till the end of the film around 2 hours later. After that moment I had to watch the film with the lights on and slept with the lights on too. I watched that about 2 years ago. No other movie has done that to me since.

  • Comment number 100.

    I watched INLAND EMPIRE over in Brussels when it first came out (in Flemish w/French subtitles - so had no idea about the dialog). The images alone were enough to make me terrified. I like Lynch's way of unnerving an audience with subtle and unsubtle cues. His dreamworld experience captures that uneasy feeling I often get during nightmares. So, we have the "bam!" moments of shock interspersed with a more brooding horror (the "there is someone back there" scene).

    Despite many friends telling me it is boring, The Blair Witch Project is a very very effective horror, if you are of a certain mindset. It goes back to the standard line "its not what you see on screen, but what your imagination conjures up". Those people who were bored have no imagination. I was plagued by nightmares and visual/auditory hallucinations as a child - hearing those breaking twigs and strange banging of rocks in a woodland at night is not something that could ever bore me. Very effective. Compare and contrast with the BWP sequel!

    Finally, The Thing - this is more of a typical gore-horror, but the production makes it rise above and beyond other schlock (plus the soundtrack of course). Compare this with X-Files episode "Ice" and you can see that its very difficult to make a bad horror movie/tv episode in a frozen landscape "where no-one can cheer you up with ice-cream" - lame.

 

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