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Hereditary, the new horror flick that has taken the industry by storm and has given various critics self-admitted chills, is also the latest to be touted as one of the ‘scariest films of all time’.

With that being quite the acclaim, let us take a look at eight other films that have not just been revered in a similar vein, but have also transformed the genre, and shifted the boundaries of horror storytelling.

8. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The film documents the exploits of three film students who are making a documentary on the legendary Blair Witch, in the woods of Maryland.

However, they get lost in the woods and once the isolation sets in, they begin to quarrel with each other, amidst the inexplicable events occurring to them.

As a seminal found-footage classic, it is considered a phenomenon today due to the novel marketing technique of using the internet and the found-footage method of storytelling.

7. Poltergeist (1982)

The film narrates the life of a family whose home is invaded by ghosts that seek to abduct the youngest daughter.

When the daughter is kidnapped, the family gains assistance from parapsychologists, who investigate and discover a poltergeist intrusion. They must now retrieve the daughter and escape the poltergeist.

Widely considered as a supernatural horror classic today, it popularised a plethora of horror movie tropes such as ‘the paranormal emanating from electronic mediums’ and ‘ghosts communicating through children’.

6. The Silence of the Lambs (1990)

The film introduces us to FBI trainee Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster) who is assigned to interview incarcerated cannibal, Hannibal Lecter (played by Anthony Hopkins), who assists her in the Buffalo Bill case.

Clarice must pursue the elusive Buffalo Bill (played by Ted Levine) while enduring psychological warfare with the equally fearsome Lecter.

A recipient of the ‘big five’ at the Oscars — best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, and best screenplay — the film is now considered to be a classic that interweaves between being a psychological thriller, and an unconventional horror film.

5. Alien (1979)

The film follows the crew of the Nostromo, a spaceship that is returning to Earth with the seven-member crew in hibernation.

The ship lands on a nearby planet for the crew to explore. However, a member is killed by a new-born alien that uses him as a conduit to enter the Nostromo, with the remainder of the crew left to capture it.

A sci-fi horror classic today, the film was praised for sound and production design, as well as its utilisation of visual effects.

4. Suspiria (1977)

The film introduces us to Suzy Bannon (played by Jessica Harper), an American ballet dancer who arrives at a prestigious dance academy in Freiburg.

Shortly after her arrival, various macabre events occur in the institute and Suzy begins to fall increasingly ill. Along with other suspecting dancers, she must uncover bizarre secrets of the institute.

The grandiose setting, and the stylistic flair of vibrant colours, coupled with slasher gore has made this Italian supernatural horror a cult classic, with a remake scheduled to be released later this year.

3. The Shining (1980)

The film follows aspiring writer Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson), who is tasked with being the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, during the harsh winter.

Residing with his family, he finds the task simple enough to focus on his writing, but the isolation and the torrid history of the hotel influence his mind, making him a threat. His family must now escape from the hotel, amidst a blizzard.

A multitude of documentary research has been conducted on the symbolism featured, and the horror film is regarded as one of the all-time greats.

2. Psycho (1960)

The film follows the exploits of real estate secretary, Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh) after she steals $40,000 from a client, in order to settle down with her boyfriend.

Increasingly paranoid, she stops at the Bates Motel for the night, but is murdered by the proprietor, Norman Bates (played by Anthony Perkins). Her boyfriend and sister decide to uncover the mystery, not knowing the horror that awaits them.

Impeccable with the tension built throughout, this Hitchcock horror classic also possesses one of the greatest scenes in film history (you know which one).

1. The Exorcist (1973)

The film introduces us to Regan MacNeil (played by Linda Blair), who is possessed by a demon after playing with a Ouija board.

After exhibiting bizarre traits such as using obscene language and possessing abnormal strength, doctors recommend an exorcism to be performed, which requires the presence of three priests, to combat the ancient demon.

The atmosphere, the performances, and the visceral supernatural horror has led to the film being widely regarded as ‘the scariest of all time’.


Don’t miss it!

Hereditary releases in the UAE on June 14.

— Sanjay Shankar is an intern at Gulf News.