Stephen King’s “1922,” movie remake of a novella that will surely scare you this Halloween … even without much jump scares. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
By Juri Dagio | Staff Writer
Halloween is almost upon us. If you are looking to get your scare on, or if you just want to experience a traumatic nightmare through your screen, check out some of the best psychologically disturbing films that you can watch now below.
“Midsommar’s” opening scene was claimed by many to be one of the most disturbing openings ever in horror films. The opening scene starts with Dani, played by English actress Florence Pugh, trying to call her emotionally aloof boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor). She is agitated that her suicidal sister is unresponsive though she attempted to reach her through call and messages. The intensity of emotional isolation and helplessness in this scene alone made it possible to prepare the viewers for the next scene that sets the whole movie to another level of horror ー Dani’s sister successfully committed suicide via car exhaust that killed her and shockingly, killed both of their parents. As a result, due to her desperation, she found love and affection in an eerie Swedish community that led the movie’s viewers to believe that there was a happy ending beneath the horrific incidents she encountered.
“Midsommar” can be streamed for free on Showtime or rented on a variety of platforms. Watch the trailer here.
Written and directed by Ari Aster, known for “Midsommar” and other psychologically disturbing films, “Hereditary” is one of those supernatural horror that needs to be seen to be understood. The story focuses on the impact family has on a person’s life through their upbringing. What made “Hereditary” psychologically disturbing is solely based on the characters’ intrapersonal and interpersonal issues. In the entire film, Peter Graham (Nash Wolff), is in a state of avoidance after the shocking death of her younger sister Charlie (Milly Shapiro). He avoided conflicts that led to him avoiding his own emotions. In contrast to his character, instead of showing empathy, mother Annie Graham (Toni Collette), became more and more confrontational throughout the movie. In the presence of the father, Steve Graham (Gabriel Byrne), who has been uncommunicative about the chaos, did not do anything but internalize the whole situation, adding to the disorderliness of the family. “Hereditary” have the boldness to suggest that the smallest unit of society, family, sometimes is not fit to be called a “home.” In fact, there are chances that it can become a collapsing fortress and a domain of continuous misfortunes. This film is so disturbing that according to an article written on The Sydney Morning Herald, American actor Nash Wolff developed “some sort of PTSD” in preparation for the role of Peter Graham.
“Hereditary” can be streamed for free on Kanopy or rented on a variety of platforms. Watch the trailer here.
“Last Shift” (2014)
“Last Shift” is set in just one place: a police station. Rookie police officer Loren (Juliana Harkavy) is about to begin her first shift as a police officer. Her job is simple: she is there to wait alone for the hazmat team to arrive and collect evidence that is difficult to dispose of. The catch is, she is not allowed to leave her post under any circumstances. Although the movie’s pacing is slow, looking at it through Loren’s eyes, the atmosphere of the entire film is dreadful forcing its audiences to watch Loren suffer emotionally and psychologically. As she deals with a homeless man she arrested for trespassing, more paranormal activities are happening to her that by the end, she is left completely broken. “Last Shift” is a film that many suggests as an easy one-time watch. Watch it once, then wonder about what you missed … before you sleep.
“Last Shift” can be streamed for free on Tubi or rented on a variety of platforms. Watch the trailer here.
As part of the “out of the ordinary” cult horror genre, “Apostle” starts as one story but ends as another. Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) travelled to a faraway island, disguised as a follower of a religious cult that kidnapped his sister Andrea (Lucy Boynton) for ransom. He is there to save her and to make up for his image of being the black sheep of the family because of his opium addiction. The first hour of the film makes its viewers believe that Thomas has only one mission to accomplish: run around the town populated by loyal cultists to find his sister. The story escalated steadily that makes its ending very shocking. He has to make an important decision ー save his life, his sister’s or eerily, choose the island.
“Apostle” can only be streamed on Netflix. Watch the trailer here.
“1922” is a movie based on Stephen King’s collection of horror novellas titled “Full Dark, No Stars” that was published in 2010. The film presents a whole viewpoint of Wilfred James (Thomas Jane), who manipulates his son to become an accomplice in the murder of his wife, Arlette (Molly Parker) over a feud concerning their family land in Nebraska. Wilfred’s desire to prioritize his selfish desires over his family is a terrifying and emotional portrayal of what it means to feed the evil side of a man proving that there’s nothing scarier than watching a man’s psyche unravel ー more terrifying than Stephen King’s killer clown.
“1922”can only be streamed on Netflix. Watch the trailer here.
On a deserted, forestry highway, Jessica (Jules Willcox), drives to the home of her father in rural Oregon. Packed behind her car is a U-Haul trailer, giving the impression that she is up for a long drive alone. This film terrifies psychologically through the sense of being watched, by an unnamed stalker who doesn’t want to watch discreetly from afar as his intention is to be seen.
“Alone” can be streamed for free on Hulu or rented on a variety of platforms.
Suggestion: Don’t watch the trailer.
“Jessabelle” is a well-knitted collection of stories and emotions in one horror movie. It focuses on Jessie (Sarah Snook), who’s released from a hospital two months after a car accident that’s killed her boyfriend and terminated her recent pregnancy. Due to financial troubles, she is forced to rely on her estranged father Leon (David Andrews) for support, opening a terrible past of family secrets revealing the reasons why Leon isn’t delighted to see his daughter Jessie. “Jessabelle” shows the disturbing reality of life: Jessie’s normal life ended in an accident, killing a new life with a potential lifetime partner, that made her turn to her father for help just to find out that she was never wanted from the day she was born, and “something” has been waiting to take her life away.
“Jessabelle” can be streamed for free on Hulu or rented on a variety of platforms. Watch the trailer here.
“The Vatican Tapes” (2015)
This film isn’t just another movie of a possession with a group of priests trying to exorcise the devil out of a human body. “The Vatican Tapes” introduces the idea that there is a secret archive somewhere in the Vatican where diabolic emergences are documented and kept hidden from the public eye. Though the film doesn’t circulate in a “found-footage” as the title suggests, it proposes the concept that the Vatican has a wide variety of CCTV footages to watch over a number of American facilities including the mental hospital institution where Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley) is in. Mysteriously, Angela’s case of demonic possession is different from what the Vatican has already seen. It is far more powerful, making Angela the birth of the anti-Christ that’s persuading the world through a sham faith healing revealing that the end is near.
“The Vatican Tapes” can be streamed for free on Freevee or rented on a variety of platforms. Watch the trailer here.
“Frozen,” not the cutesy animated movie, is the perfect scare for skiers and snowboarders who can’t follow a simple rule of a ski resort “obey all warning signs without exception.” The film is about a group of friends who got stuck, stranded, and left for dead on a lift in the middle of a closed resort. The realistic representation of the adrenaline to survive where survival is almost impossible is what made “Frozen” stand out from other survival horror movies. The movie creates interaction with its viewers by drilling ideas of logical ways to survive the situation ー into their heads ー just to see the characters suffer or die from doing these ideas making the audiences think that the situation in inescapable. This film is surprisingly well done despite being an independent film with very talented but unpopular actors.
“Frozen” can be streamed for free on Tubi or rented on a variety of platforms. Watch the trailer here.