The Ring (2002)
Anyone who reads this synopsis will die within 7 days. Oh wait, let me start over. Anyway who watches this movie will die within 7 days of doing so. Still not right? Nevermind. The premise of this incredible psychological thriller is the same. A video tape is circulating. Those that watch it are doomed to die within 7 days, so says the mysterious caller that dials their number immediately after they've viewed the tape. This film, directed by Gore Vidal and starring Naomi Watts, is a real chiller! Watts plays a journalist investigating the the institutionalization of a teenage girl who went mad after watching her friend, who had viewed the tape 7 days earlier, die a horrible. This is a movie about restless spirits whose tragic circumstances must be revealed to the world. Yes. We've seen those type of plots before, but never in such a horrifying and believable manner. This movie scared the bejeezus out of me. If you like a good horror movie that isn't all blood and guts...this is a true gem!
This 2009 movie by director Jaume Collet-Serra had adoption groups across the country up in arms. After seeing this horrifying account of an adoption gone awry, who would ever want to adopt a child? Non-sense. Intelligent movie-goers can certainly distinguish between reality and a well-crafted thriller, If not, they wouldn't be fit to adopt anyway, would they?
But this is admittedly one frightening tale and makes for a great Halloween horror movie night. After bringing home the seemingly perfect new addition to their family, Kate and John Coleman begin to realize that appearances can be deceiving. This "orphan" is deliciously wicked and the child actress that fills the role of Esther the orphan, gives a chillingly convincing portrayal of pure evil. Yes...I realize...the words "evil" and "child" should never go together, but when they do, the result is a spine-tingling, eye-covering, heart-pounding experience!
Hide and Seek
This 2005 movie, directed by John Polson and starring Robert de Niro and Dakota Fanning, is a taut psychological thriller. De Niro plays psychologist, Dr. David Calloway, whose wife commits suicide in their bathtub. Shortly after, he moves away with his daughter, Emily, (Fanning) to start a new life, but becomes very concerned when his daughter develops an imaginary friend and their relationship turns ominous. The story twists through dead pets and people, all of whom have died mysteriously in the bathtub!
Emily blames her imaginary friend, Charlie, for the deaths, but who is Charlie, really? You have to watch this frightening tale to find out. It's worth every minute and the acting is top notch as you would expect from the likes of De Niro and Fanning.
This one is a great Halloween rental. My teenager had a houseful of kids watching it last year and the screams kept coming!
I happened upon this thriller on cable one night and loved it! John Erick Dowdle directed this 2008 thriller about a television reporter and her cameraman, who become trapped in a building that becomes quarantined by the CDC after a mysterious virus begins turning the occupants into raving killers out for blood. But this is no run-of-the-mill horror flick, full of blood and guts. It is a well-told, complicated account of circumstances so realistically portrayed that it will have you believing something like this could actually happen.
Lead actress, Jennifer Carpenter (of Dexter fame) is spending the night shift with a local fire station, working on a story, when she and her cameraman are called upon to ride along to what is thought to be a routine emergency call. Before long, blood-curdling screams are heard coming from an apartment and dead bodies begin to mount.
Get the heck out of there, right? No one is ever smart enough to do that in the movies. But in this movie, they're booking for the exits. The only problem is the darned CDC has them quarantined and no one can get out.
It would be too cruel to reveal the ending, but this movie is a must see if you love psychological thrillers like I do.
This movie may have been released in 1973, but it stands as one of the scariest movies of all time. Few characters have been as horrifying to look at the possessed child, Regan, played by Linda Blair.
We all know the story by now. Child is possessed by Satan. Her head spins. She spews pea soup and mocks the priests who come to save her. Her body is ravaged by evil spirits, splitting her flesh and causing boils all over. It's disgusting. It's horrifying and yet you can't turn away.
The movie has a thought-provoking subplot, as the younger priest struggles with his faith in the wake of his mother's terminal illness, and the older, wiser priest, a mentor of sorts, leads the charge to excise the devil from the 12 year old child.
If you haven't seen this one since the 70s, it's worth another look.
This 2003 supernatural thriller was recommended to me by a friend. I wasn't sure I was interested, but I'm glad I gave it a viewing. Halle Berry is convincing as psychiatrist, Dr. Miranda Grey, working in a women's asylum, who soon finds herself a patient in the same hospital after surviving a one car accident on a rain-soaked night as she tries to avoid a spooky girl standing in the middle of the road.
When she awakes in the asylum, she learns that her husband has been brutally murdered and she is the primary suspect, but she can't remember a thing.
There are other worthy performances in the film by Robert Downey Jr. as a psychiatrist and colleague of Dr. Grey, and by Penelope Cruz who plays one of the other patients.
After Dr. Grey escapes the asylum, she begins her quest to figure out how and why she might have killed her husband. As the storyline unfolds, the tale grows darker and more sinister. This one is a spooky thrill ride that you'll be watching through your slightly parted fingers!
Two detectives, portrayed by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, are on the assignment of their lives. William Somerset (Morgan) is only days from retirement and mentoring the newcomer, David Mills (Pitt). When this case is thrust in their laps, Somerset knows he can't walk away until he's helped solve it.
The case, in this 1995 thriller directed by David Fincher, involves a serial killer who goes by the name of John Doe. Everything about him is steeped in mystery. He is making headlines by killing people according to which of the 7 deadly sins he feels they have committed. The visuals are gruesome and the manner in which the kills takes place is truly depraved, and yet the movie is believable and horrifying. That is likely because the acting is outstanding.
John Doe is played to deliciously evil perfection in an understated performance by the impeccable, Kevin Spacey, who might just go down in history as one of the most evil villains in cinema for this role! The ending will shock you and leave to utterly speechless!
This 1996 movie had to make the list for two reasons. First, the opening scene is about the scariest opener I've ever seen. Classic horror!! The second, is that the movie, despite its horror genre classification, is full of camp and has plenty to laugh at.
While the, "depraved slasher offs a group of witless teenager" premise has been done to death (no pun intended) this one is actually very entertaining. It pokes fun at the genre by walking a fine line between camp and gritty fright-night movie.
As soon as it was released, it became an instant cult classic.
The newest movie (2010) to make the list is set in 1954 on Shutter Island, a fictitious plot of land upon which an asylum for the most dangerous criminals is housed. Separated into various buildings for women, men and for the really dangerous criminals, this campus gives everyone who watches the film, the creeps.
U.S. Marshall, Teddy Daniels, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is sent with his partner to Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a notorious female murderer who is presumed to be hiding somewhere on the island.
As with most scary films this thriller is full of rainy nights, dark footage, and agonizingly creepy anticipation as characters slink around the asylum. The story line can be complicated at times, but the movie's brilliance comes in that just when you think you have figured out what's going on, you realize you're way off base.
This is one of the great twisted endings in thriller cinema history.
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