News Reviews

Retrospective – Silent Hill (2006)

A retrospective deep dive into Silent Hill on its 15th anniversary

Video games, particularly of the horror/survival genre have a rooted integrity that has a massive potential to complement cinematic adaptations. But, typically when game adaptations appear on the ‘big screen’ an overall lacklustre effect looms over any positives, with House of the Dead (2003) being a prime example. Silent Hill manages to swerve any major perpetration and has successfully conjured an almost cult status 15 years later.

A keen passion for the game, truth to pivotal details, and a brave narrative are what allowed Silent Hill to keep its beloved status. With this being said, in no way is the film entirely welcomed, with a mixed reception clouding its reputation. However, as I’ll soon decipher, the craft behind Silent Hill is undeniably worthy of cult class. 

Surrealist imagery, an atmospheric score and a labyrinth setting all melt together to create a purposefully incoherent jungle of horror. The rumor of Konami’s 1999 game being developed began circulating in the early 2000s, with director Christophe Gans constantly bartering for the rights to remake the rapidly growing game into a feature film. In fact, Gans was so personally drawn and passionate about this adaptation that during pre-production he would bring a large gaming setup with him so that whilst he was playing cast and crew would see exactly what angles and stages they should focus on re-creating. This is where a primary issue with its critical consensus lies.

Personally speaking, I do not have a great knowledge of video games at all, let alone Silent Hill. Yet, after watching plenty of playthroughs and description pieces I can fully understand how well Gans translated the hellish world of Silent Hill onto the screen. And with this basic knowledge comes a completely new perspective on the film. To lay it bare, the essence of Silent Hill relies neither on a visual frenzy nor a discerning setting, instead it’s unique perspective depends on every single detail above, even the small features that go unnoticed make a drastic difference to the audience’s experience. 

This amalgamation is tremendously challenging to effectively orchestrate. The story itself continuously takes 180 turns whenever it pleases, seeming almost nonsensical at times; but, let’s not forget that Gans is recreating a video game that has an almost unlimited amount of moves and scenarios to work your way through. Hence the film running for a staggering 125 minutes. Where I found myself truly drawn in straight away is through the narrative.

We follow Rose (Radha Mitchell), as she takes her adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) to the mysterious town of Silent Hill to uncover the truth behind Sharon’s innate devotion to this town. However, after they get into a car accident en route, Sharon is nowhere to be found. As a basis, I found that the extensively daunting and dark landscape encapsulates the disturbing nature of the story. When we dig down to its roots Silent Hill tells the tale of parallel dimensions and the consequences regarding veneration of power and the idolisation of higher beings. 

In avoidance of abundant spoilers, Silent Hill imitates a curse, where its unlucky visitors become stuck in limbo. The fog-casted town is a purgatory whose history has led Sharon to practically become cursed. However, an effective backstory does not immediately grant the film a gold star, instead, the boundless story can leave audiences bewildered with many questions unanswered. And this is where one of the main criticisms lies. Personally, as a viewer who had no previous experience with the game, I was at first confused with the immeasurable amount of information that I had to comprehend to understand the ending.

Seemingly I was not alone as many reviews voiced hassle over the excessive exposition drops. But for me, this is where my intrigue to know more about this film grew. Colloquially when we first watch a film we do not always become immediate fans, we need time to process and revisit to appreciate its intentions. I’ve watched Silent Hill a handful of times now and I can truthfully say that the constantly expanding universe entwined with the town is entirely enthralling. 

Silent Hill would have not been as effective without the immaculate creature designs. The film’s unnerving atmosphere is impressive, but for audiences to sit through 125 minutes of sole environment-based scares is a lot to ask. Gans re-envisioning of Pyramid Head, Dark Nurses, Grey Children, and Lying Figures all graphically personify what made them so scary in the game.

Perhaps the most interesting and overall perplexing discovery that was made evident by the film is that these monsters primarily disturb as they are all forms of humanoids, rather than completely alien antagonists with zero resemblance to an actual person. Sharon’s connection to Silent Hill is due to a tragedy that was struck by people; everything regarding the horror of the town is rooted in human consequence

This furthers my next point, the symbolism behind Silent Hill. It takes only a brief read of a synopsis to compare Rose’s journey into the abandoned town to Dante’s Inferno. The tale of Dante’s Inferno is such an iconic method used in the horror genre to attain a deeper meaning to a film, which of course leads to rushed endings and a plethora of stereotypes. Yet, in this case it’s hard to think of a more viable explanation. Grief, revenge, fear, anarchy, trauma, and guilt all come to life within each setting of Silent Hill. Of course, I’m not going to explain the copious layers moulded within Inferno, but when we compare the torturing of souls without rest, alongside the grossly immoral evils of lust that led to the corruption and downfall of Silent Hill we can rest assured make sense of this ambiguously misleading universe. 

The legacy of Silent Hill has been rather unconventional. Unlike many horror adaptations, Silent Hill was not made into an ever-expanding film franchise, with only one sequel to bare its name to. However, the game did soar as multiple editions and continuations followed. What we can take away from this retrospective look at Silent Hill is that the actual visual appeal that Gans has produced, combined with the game’s true essence of immorality and personal dread has certainly left its mark on video game adaptations within horror.

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.


This week in horror 25.04.21

Goodnight Mommy remake casts Naomi Watts  

The 2014 Austrian horror, Goodnight Mommy both shocked and engrossed audiences at its Venice Film Festival premiere, with its sinister portrayal of identity marking its reputation as being one of the best horrors from the 2010s. As with any internationally successful film a remake has been announced. Naomi Watts will lead the film as the key character, and although news of the remake has been somewhat apprehensively perceived audiences are warming to Watts taking on this role, with her reputation of excelling in previous remakes such as The Ring and Funny Games. 

First look: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It 

Excited horror fans finally get a first look at the latest installment in the Conjuring Universe (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It). Due for a June 2021 release the film sees paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, take on one of their most perplexing and challenging cases. The latest trailer promises a haunting thrill of deceit, tension, and beyond chilling demonic antics as we see the Warrens dig into yet another ‘real case’. As fans eagerly await to see the eighth entry into this ever-growing cinematic universe a lot of apprehensions has been made abundant by fans. This is the first Conjuring film to not be directed by James Wan, instead, the director is Michael Chaves. Chaves previously directed possibly the least favorite film out of the series, The Curse of La Llorona. 

The Last Will and Testament of Charles Abernathy picked up by Netflix 

Netflix horror films only continue to soar the market as they pick up yet another movie, ‘The Last Will and Testament of Charles Abernathy’. The script has been floating around for quite some time now, with a rather mixed bag of reviews following closely behind it. However, with Alejandro Brugués (Juan of the Dead) directing this upcoming horror, the film is surely destined for an interesting ride. The story follows Billionaire Charles Abernathy, who on his 75th birthday invites his family back to his estate in fear that something or someone is going to kill him. 

Alexandre Aja’s latest horror Oxygen releases trailer

Alexandre Aja has certainly gained a name for himself within the horror market, with multiple hits lurking in his filmography including High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes and Mirrors. Aja’s latest journey is the upcoming sci-fi flick Oxygen, which has already amassed quite a buzz since its trailer debut this week. The film follows Elizabeth (Mélanie Laurent), a scientist who wakes up shut in a cryogenic chamber with complete memory loss. With her oxygen drastically depleting she must uncover the mystery to survive. The trailer is just as claustrophobic as it sounds as confined spaces and psychological thriller tactics merge together to create an utterly gripping experience. 

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.


Original vs. Remake: It (1990) & It (2017)

Remakes, reboots, and revivals have taken possession over a hefty section of horror productions, with a plethora of classics being reenvisioned to either accommodate younger and newer audience members or to bring new light to beloved genre favourites. Although we have seen our fair share of remakes gone wrong, there remains a select bunch of films whose newer additions have proven to be just as good or even better than the original.

For this ‘Original vs Remake’ edition, we will be comparing It (Tommy Lee Wallace, 1990) and It (Andy Muschietti, 2017). 

Storming onto the screens in 1990 is It, a terrifying portrayal of a demonic entity who takes on the shape of a clown to terrorise its victims every 27 years. However, its latest string of targets (the self-acclaimed “Losers Club”) may just be brave enough to banish Pennywise for good. Unlike a generic (yet anything but mundane) humanoid creature Pennywise the Clown does not play the typical game of lurching out from dark corners and hiding under the bed, instead, it preys upon individuals own specific fears to weaken and destroy them in what is their worst nightmare.

Of course one of the only writers capable of conjuring such an unsettling story is Stephen King. King penned It in 1986, and although the film drifts slightly from the novel the true essences are kept clear. 

To determine the winner of the old and new “It’s” is an impossible battle as each film encapsulates alternative identities, but to firstly differentiate between the two we need to discuss the classic character of Pennywise. The 1990 It casts Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) as the dreaded clown, with simple makeup and costume (at least for a clown). As Curry is the titular character there is an immense amount of pressure to create a multidimensional performance that can both lure his child victims in and then frighten the living daylights out of them.

Curry does not fail once, in fact, I might even go as far as stating that his portrayal is one of the best that horror has ever seen. The sheer embodiment of shapeshifting terror is brutally brazen, which is only furthered by Curry’s witty balance of stark humour and horrifying antics

It was made as a tv miniseries, with two episodes and a total original length of 192 minutes, with the physical release merging the episodes to become a feature length movie. It is a unique factor within itself for a ‘made-for-tv’ movie to become an outstanding success, let alone make its mark as one of the most iconic horror’s. Due to the broadcasting, certain restrictions were put in place that is typically abolished within mainstream horror including a limit to bloodshed and gore, as well as censorship to graphic content.

After horror audiences were subjected to grisly violence from exaggerated 1980s horror, It certainly was a breath of fresh air. Audiences’ tactics shifted from gratuitous shock to psychological character studies. We are not met with generous carnage, with the piece actually having an almost black comedy mechanism. However, the comic motifs are not a replacement of fear, with the flicking of Curry’s performance from inviting to menacing being nothing less than startling. 

On this note, It relies upon subtext and internalised concepts to create a bounding journey. During the first act, we see the losers club as children dealing with their own individual issues, which are rather harrowing yet realistic considering their age including traumatic milestones such as grief, and abuse. Although the ‘losers are all dealing with scarring experiences Lee Wallace does not show them in extreme jeopardy, with the camera simply cutting to their expressions when Pennywise strikes. Despite some scenes feeling slightly dated, It is an undeniable classic that still holds up to this day. 

News of a remake began to emerge from as early as 2009, but it was not until 2015 when the production began to pick up speed with Muschietti being announced as the director. The trailer almost immediately amassed a cult following of its own, with the view count entering the millions. The brand new shiny Pennywise enthralled audiences (myself included!). Curry’s vivid and rambunctious appearance was wiped away in favour of a brandished shadowed look complete with dusty clothing and a more styled-out ginger barnet.

Bill Skarsgård took the brave step of becoming the nerve-wracking Pennywise. Such an iconic role is accompanied by severe pressures, however truthfully his small appearance in the trailer and posters was enough to create a swift fan appeal. It was about to enter onto the horror scene with a killer force, conjuring a vigorous reputation as being one of the highest-grossing horror films of all time

It is not better than the original, but it is on par. There are a plethora of reasons as to why this is my belief, but one of my main factors is that the loser’s club has refined and well-developed personas that transcend into a coming-of-age movie. Quite favourably I admire any film that decides to use age appropriate characters rather than twenty-somethings playing tweens. Although It (1990) enacts the same character backstories, the relationships between the losers have such an authentic bond that plays out as non-scripted; just as if the camera was kept rolling whilst they would playfully make jabs at one another.

Simply due to more modern filmmaking and techniques, Muschietti transforms the fictional town of Derry, Maine into a hellish landscape with treacherous corners lurking in the ordinary. Pennywise does not even have to be in shot for our senses to start heightening. The atmosphere alone is daunting, with the town hoarding a dark omen; Derry exceeds being just a town, instead it becomes a character. This is certainly an aspect that It (2017) focuses on, alongside one of the other primary differences, the graphicness.

It does not shun its psychodrama roots, yet we are welcomed to indulge in grisly carnage. Although visual gore is not the focus, there is plenty of horrific imagery whose sole purpose serves to disconcert our awareness. The infamous opening scene shows a little Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) chase his paper boat that falls down a storm drain where he fatally meets Pennywise. At first, Pennywise dons the joyous clown persona to fool Georgie, before he mutates into a disgustingly ferocious beast with razor-sharp fangs ripping into this small boy’s arm. His metamorphosis into a barbaric behemoth both entices and panics the audiences. 

Muschietti and Lee Wallace’s take on King’s beyond incredible tale of a demonic clown truly emulates and escalates some of the most vital and engrossing moments of the book. It is not necessary to compare and battle these two films as they are each substantially iconic in their own individual ways. I view them as equal contenders who compliment each other, and both deserve their own hallmark within the horror film history. 

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.


This week in horror 17.04.21

Zack Snyder’s releases trailer for Army of the Dead 

Zack Snyder bravely tackled a highly acclaimed remake of Dawn of the Dead in 2004, now we are all excitedly anticipating the release of his next zombie venture, Army of the Dead. News soared online when Netflix dropped the bombshell that Snyder is back for another battle with the undead last year. Now we only have to wait until the 21st of May to see a motley crew of mercenaries breach forbidden zombie grounds in a bid to pull off an epic heist. The trailer bares its roots quite brazenly, with a focus on the unique route that Snyder has taken; instead of brainless, lethargic, zombies roaming we are roared at by a new breed of hyperintelligent beasts who are skilled, organised, and damn right ruthless. 

Texas Chainsaw Massacre receives an official R rating

The ever expanding Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise only continues to grow with the latest entry rumoured to be one of the most bloody and brutal yet as the Fede Alvarez produced horror gets a confirmed R rating. David Blue Garcia directs this direct sequel to the original, with a similar stance that 2018’s Haloween (David Gordon Green) took through ignoring previous films in the series. Although information has been kept tightly underwraps, we do know that Alice Krige (Silent Hill), Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade), Jacob Latimore (Detroit), and Sam Douglas (Killing Eve) are set to star in the Sawyer family’s latest killing spree. 

Host’s Jed Shepherd announces live-action horror game, Ghosts

It’s no surprise that here at Dead Northern we are massive fans of 2020’s standout film, Host (Rob Savage). Now we get to see writer Jed Shepherd tackle another ghoul themed project as he introduces Ghosts, an ultra-immersive gaming experience where you play in real-time. The story you follow will see you play the role of a TV producer who has to tackle a daunting urban legend known as The Long Lady. Ghosts reunites the cast of Host once again (Haley Bishop, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Jemma Moore, and Caroline Ward). One of the most intriguing factors is that the game is entirely live and is only playable on release at 10pm in your timezone. Ghosts takes massive inspiration from live games from the 1990s including Phantasmagoria and Night Trap. The project is currently looking for backers on Kickstarter.

Mike Flanagan announced as director for The Season of Passage adaption 

Christopher Pike’s sci-fi horror novel The Season of Passage has grown an impressive fan base since its release in 1992. Joining Flanagan in adapting this beloved book exploring a crew’s voyage into Mars is his brother James Flanagan who will be co-writing the film. The Season of Passage is definitely in good hands as Flanagan has become somewhat of an adaption aficionado with numerous hits under his belt including Doctor Sleep (based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name), the upcoming Netflix series The Midnight Club (based on another Pike novel) and the now modern classic The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson’s infamous haunted house book).

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.


Review: The Power

“Slow burn tale of 1970s blackouts in an East London hospital, that linger with you long after viewing”

Unlike many atmospheric horrors, The Power does not fall helpless to one tone scares and gimmicks. Instead, we are prescribed a potion of outstanding performances, apt pacing, and a lingering sense of dread, all melted together with a tremendously haunting setting.

The Power is written and directed by Corinna Faith and starring Rose Williams (Sandition). We follow Val (Willaims), a young and naive nurse on her first shift at a very strict hospital in 1970s East London. Her time on the ward is already burdened as the austere Matron (Diveen Henry) makes it clear that one mistake will end Val’s budding career, however, an authoritarian environment is her least concern as a nation-wide power cut brings out deadly secrets

The Power uses the backdrop of the 1970s blackouts to convey an innately eerie setting, with the government announcing limited electrical consumption in a bid to ward off total prolonged periods of power cuts due to strikes, plunging the already tangled maze of a hospital into an indistinguishable labyrinth of terror. The long empty hallways have a literal dark spell cast over them, making it possible for anything to hide in the dark and allowing for the isolating corridors to become a void of darkness. Following this organically chilling setting is a barrage of long shots lingering over Val and harnessing a sense of foreboding doom which is kept tightly under wraps.

The Power certainly toys with our expectations as Val’s ‘too sweet to be true’ persona is utilised as a veil that harbours a hidden past of deceit. Is it a coincidence that Val is placed in a dark ward with an even shadowier past? Or is she destined to live out this horrid night?

It is aspects such as the unpredictability of events that Faith employs to nurse our inclinations about who to trust. For me when a film takes an unforeseen turn where our habitual instincts are twisted then the effect has a greater payoff. A mundane formula is thrown out the window when it comes to The Power, with us being kept in the dark just as much as Val and her colleagues. However, the depths that the film manages to reach would not have been possible without the stellar performance by Williams. Throughout the entire film, Val exhibits a complex range of emotive states, with her balancing melancholy innocence alongside eccentric hysteria. 

A further inclination that The Power floats around regards the connotations of hierarchical power, not just electrical. Faith ambitiously nods to positions of power within 1970s Britain, with a keen depiction of the female nurses being subjected to cruel behaviour and demanding orders. One of the least subtle cues includes one of Val’s colleagues describing how the book she’s reading follows “a girl who has enough and brings the whole place down”, and of course she’s referencing Carrie. Val is often framed in positions of vulnerability; an abuse awareness poster illustarting a woman with her hands clamped across her mouth actually reflects upon Val’s face in a prominent example. Her doe-eyed stance frames her as a fragile lost girl, who even prior to starting the ‘dark shift’ has all of the lights in her small bedroom turned on. The dark exaggerates her loneliness and helplessness, pandering evil circumstances to her beckon. 

With a slow burn stance unravelling throughout this film it is certainly not for everyone, but for those with an interest in disconcerting narratives and an attraction to stories that linger around you long after viewing, then The Power is certainly for you. 

The Power is available to watch via Shudder right now!

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.


Review: Violation

Violation stormed through film festivals forming a fierce reputation, with floods of praise following closely behind. Soon a budding curiosity into why this film was gaining so much recognition occurred, but now with Violation streaming on Shudder we can entirely understand its limelight. Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli have curated a sorely brutal genre challenger, with its allegorical skeleton provoking even the most seasoned of viewers. The film follows Miriam (Sims-Fewer), and her husband Caleb (Obi Abili), as they visit her blissful sister Greta (Anna Maguire), and her charming husband Dylan (Jesse La Vercombe). However, their sunny weekend soon buckles when Miriam’s relationship with Dylan reaches a boiling point.

Early on it is made rather evident that Miriam and Caleb have serious relationship issues, which is even furthered highlighted when we see Dylan and Greta fooling around, imitating a teenage romance. Yet, the disharmony runs deeper than what we are first made to believe, as Miriam and Dylan’s chemistry is intoxicatingly electric. Their light flirting can be easily masked as playful banter, but their lusty gazes spill a brewing attraction. After a somewhat tumultuous argument between Greta and Miriam we are non-surprisingly met with the truth that Miriam is a selfish person whose self-acclaimed ‘good deeds’ are for her satisfaction only. And it’s with this notion that the film drifts from the rape revenge archetype. Miriam and Dylan cosy up by the fire, with a warm auburn glow framing their mood, and although she shows a faint sign of want, she soon backs away with a stern warning that she is faithful within her marriage and respects her sister, as well as herself. However, the unthinkable still occurs.

Revenge cinema is inherently visceral, merciless, and coarse. Although Violation understands its genre privileges, it denies conformity, and instead breathes through our moral compass. Classic avengers of rape revenge films, such as Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) in I Spit on Your Grave (1978) represent the personification of our anger over said unjust acts. Without indulging in spoilers, Violation fires the ‘right or wrong’ trope through choosing to harbour both of the main characters actions through similar lights.

This is where Violation harshly shines. Assault is not provoked, nor is using flirting as an excuse acceptable. Miriam is a hopeless victim to the worst of crimes, just as much as any other. We do not particularly mellow to her character; she is actually rather bothersome. But a victim she remains. Being a saint is not in alignment with being a victim. Violation confronts us with a grueling truth that not many other revenge films do. No is no, regardless of circumstances or character portrayal.

Violation truly infiltrates the notion of ambiguity even further through the final act. After the assault, the film drifts into a trippy structure and utilises non-linear storytelling, almost embodying the cruel consequence of confusion that comes after harm. The rest of the film twists our perception and positions Miriam as a ruthless punisher. Without risking plot points, she becomes barbaric and cold with her revenge, with Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli using intensely realistic visuals and gruellingly graphic dialogue to disturb.

To accompany such a stark narrative is a glowing cinematography that utilises its nature-based setting to boast a deep symbolism. The manner in which Violation is composed exposes the seedy underbelly of nature, with plenty of close-up shots of insects and animals in different stages of their life cycles. Visuals such as a spider falling to its death and a caterpillar crawling along embodies what the film successfully attempts to convey; the ferociousness of human nature is inevitable and the position of prey to predator is a constantly evolving chain which eventually twists.

With a dark air continuously being laden over every scene it’s no wonder that Violation has been met with glowing reviews, however one aspect that I feel needs more attention is the absolutely phenomenal performance by Sims-Fewer. In what I could only imagine is an extremely draining role comes a unique responsibility to show respect to an awfully harrowing situation. Sims-Fewer does just this, through avoiding displaying Miriam’s actions as hysterical (as usually seen in revenge films), but instead through homing in emotions of distress, anger, grief, and regret. Creating an all-encompassing role that refuses to portray the victim as a flaming ball of anger, but one who is experiencing gaslighting and dismissiveness from those she should trust the most.

Violation sets a new path for revenge cinema, with a varied range rousing contemplative questions and a unique perspective on what it means to be a victim.

Violation is available to watch via Shudder right now!

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.


Top ten classic horror movies from the 1990s

1- Scream (Wes Craven, 1996)

“There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie.” This self-proclaimed meta movie arrived onto the horror scene at a time when it was in urgent need of a boost. As much as we all love our entertaining 1980s horrors, it positioned the genre in a midst of insincerity where there was a general lack of respect and regard for horror being considered actual ‘cinema’, rather than just schlock. And it took the directorial skills of Wes Craven and the imaginative writing of Kevin Williamson to bring horror back to the limelight for good. Scream has since become a classic, with its overarching wit and deconstructing attitude blossoming a tv series and three additional films, as well as a highly anticipated fifth film coming soon

2- It (Tommy Lee Wallace, 1990)

Pennywise the dancing clown may have won over most audiences with the 2017 remake directed by Andy Muschietti, but this devilish clown’s success is loaned by Tim Curry’s portrayal of possibly one of the most sinister characters from the entire 1990s. Legendary author Stephen King penned It in 1986, and although production companies were hesitant to fund a ‘horror’ production the film’s popularity soared across television networks with great success. It is unconventional in the sense that Curry’s erratically terrifying performance conjures an entirely ruthless villain who will no doubt feed off every viewer’s darkest fears, making It a titular horror not to be missed. 

3- Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992)

Do not even dare say Candyman’s name five times into a mirror, otherwise you will regret it… Clive Barker’s short storyThe Forbidden is the basis for this urban legend based horror. It is this folklore element that forces Candyman to shine; throughout we are held by both the film’s sinisterly gruesome moments, alongside the mystery surrounding Candyman’s identity. The subject of identity is continuously referred to as we follow Helen (Virginia Madsen), who is caught in a whirlwind as she attempts to solve the mystery of why Candyman spends infinity taunting neighbourhoods and who this monster really is. But it is the true presence that Candyman has which makes it one of the most important horrors of the 1990s. The film aided the visibility of the horror film to mainstream cinema, with it claiming positive reviews and positive critical exception within a short period after its release. Since its release it has spawned into a franchise, with an exciting companion film produced by Jordan Peele being released this year

4- The Craft (Andrew Fleming, 1996)

The Craft has rightly conjoined its power to the 1990s teen tenet that saw an influx of horror films aimed towards an adolescent audience. The film craftly investigates the dire consequences of angsty spell casting and the occult, all whilst throwing in an ounce of high school hierarchy for good measure. This film has become a cult classic, with its reputation still being prominent amongst fans today. This is primarily thanks to its denotation, including the underlying themes of marginalisation and a constant juxtaposition between goth witches held against a middle class suburban catholic school. 

5- The Blair Witch Project (Eduardo Sánchez & Daniel Myrick, 1999)

It would be nearly impossible to create a list of the best 1990s horror without mentioning The Blair Witch Project. This showstopper has divided opinions ever since its release, with new viewers dismissing its scares and announcing it as mundane. Despite negative opinions the sheer success and speculation regarding this film is undeniable, with its release almost creating mass hysteria with many audiences believing that the film is real lost footage of real murders. How could this have happened? Well, it turns out that an extremely cunning marketing strategy really is worth it. The film’s website released seemingly authentic newsreel footage and missing person reports. Alongside this the directors would claim that this was genuine and that they had released it to spread the word to find the ‘missing actors. The film preceded time and went viral before ‘viral’ strategies became popular

6- The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)

The Silence of the Lambs will forever go down in history as being one of the few horrors to ever reach a prestigious level and receive an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1991. Much of the film’s success is owed to the incredible performances of both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins roles, which saw them tackle a cat and mouse style tease with an inept ease. The film also generated a kickstart in 1990s thrillers taking dark seedy routes to provoke a reaction, with David Fincher’s Seven (1995) being a prime example. Since its release, an attempt at making the film into a full franchise has been tried, although these efforts have mainly fallen flat. However, the true terror of The Silence of the Lambs remains the exact same today. 

7- Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999)

Audition is a unique and complex film that relies upon its dismissal of genre tropes through a non-linear narrative, mainly influenced by surrealist elements. We follow a lonely widow, who in a desperate attempt for love opens an audition for a new companion. With Audition’s disorientating discourse we find ourselves in awkward settings that play out like a romantic comedy, but with an ever-looming presence of dread. The entire film is one drawn out build up to a terrifying climax. And it is within this slow burning tension where our fear is prolonged, and our wits confused. The film can be read as an allegory for the dramatic effects that come with the objectification of women, alongside a character study based upon the consequences of trauma

8- Misery (Rob Reiner, 1990)

As with many horror lists, Stephen King makes a second appearance with his thrillingly dark hit Misery. The film closely follows King’s original story, with the primary storybeats remaining very similar. Misery takes the premise of a “number one fan” and runs with it. We follow Paul Sheldon (James Caan), a novelist who finds himself stranded in a blizzard, but luckily Annie (Kathy Bates), rescues him and vows to take care of him…forever. What works incredibly well in Misery and allows it to be still so chilling is the belting tension that does not give up throughout the whole film. To only further this is an extremely isolating setting, where any chance of rescue is near impossible, especially when the captor disguises her real guise of an ‘angel of mercy’ so well. 

9- Ringu (Hideo Nakata, 1998)

Japanese horror has always been prevalent with classics emerging from the country since the 1960s & 1970s, with films such as Onibaba (1964) and Hausu (1977) gaining cult recognition. However, the release of Ringu saw a resurgence in Japanese horror, becoming a widely respected subgenre. The film follows a cursed video tape that releases a vengeful ghost (known as an onryō) to kill those unlucky enough to watch the haunted tape. On a deeper level Ringu reflects the structure of traditional Japanese families, with the film reflecting issues regarding the loss of a nuclear household structure as a result of the country’s fading stance within the global economy during the early 1990s. 

10- From Dusk till Dawn (Robert Rodriguez, 1996)

From Dusk till Dawn gained immediate success due to the involvement of Quentin Tarantino, however even without the garnishing of Tarantino’s legacy From Dusk till Dawn would remain a significantly paramount film within 1990s horror. The film tiptoes towards the western genre with the primary setting being in the Mexican desert as two crooks attempt to escape a saloon inhabited by vampires. This hybridisation allows for complex antagonists to shine, particularly on a visual level almost reminiscent of exploitation B-movies. Plenty of violence and extravagance is laid on display, yet it is so purposeful and truthfully entertaining that any overblown plot points just add to the excitement, rather than distract from the tone.