As a fan of the supernatural horror I am more than pleased to witness the sub-genre’s revival in recent years. While certainly not all recent outings have been great, there has been a good portion of decent films being released lately. James Wan’s The Conjuring looks good based on the marketing material we’ve seen so far, but see for yourselves as it hits theaters in the US this weekend.
In honor of The Conjuring and in true Rotten Tomatoes fashion, here are five of my favorite supernatural horror films, in order of release date.
5. The Amityville Horror (1979, Stuart Rosenberg)
Scary, creepy and atmospheric: The Amityville Horror is one of the best haunted house films ever made. The story revolves around a young couple that moves into a new home that apparently has a dark past. What really sells this movie for me though is Margot Kidder, who not only looks enchanting, but can also act: How refreshing is that? Anyway, if you’re looking for a classic genre film that has stood the test of time and can still be quite frightening, look no further. This is it.
4. Ringu (1998, Hideo Nakata), Ringu 2 (1999, Hideo Nakata) & Ringu 0: Bâsudei (2000, Tsuruta Norio)
I would recommend watching the whole Ringu trilogy, before approaching the American remakes (which are also good). Nothing beats the original Japanese trilogy however. This is my favorite horror trilogy, because the quality is consistent throughout. Three excellent detective stories slash mysteries slash supernatural horror films. I also recommend using subtitles, because so much is lost in translation when dubbing a film, besides it’s also scarier that way.
3. Noroi: The Curse (2005, Shiraishi Kōji)
Noroi is the scariest film of the five, at least on a first viewing. It’s especially frightening if you believe in demons and the supernatural. Still, this is probably my favorite found footage film. It was made before the sub-genre caught on in America, so it has the advantage that it wasn’t just made to cash in on a gimmick. The faux documentary tells the story of a filmmaker investigating paranormal incidents connected to an ancient demon who seems to be back for revenge.
2. Solstice (2008, Daniel Myrick)
Directed by one of the guys responsible for The Blair Witch Project, Solstice retains the same atmospheric undertones, while presenting itself in a shiny and glossy teen horror aesthetic. When I first watched the movie a couple years ago I’ll admit that I was mostly lured in thanks to the charming Elizabeth Harnois (playing two roles at the same time). Since then I revisited it, because it was genuinely scary and much better than what you’d expect from similar fare.
1. The Innkeepers (2011, Ti West)
As someone that doesn’t mind slow-paced films, but actually prefers them I really dug The Innkeepers. It has a good sense of humor, build-up and Sara Paxton, who’s always easy on the eyes. Beyond that it is a good haunted ‘house’ film, because it is more about tone and atmosphere instead of plot. While the first two acts are excellent in creating a creepy environment, the third act falls a bit flat because it shows too much and what it decides to show isn’t nearly as scary as what’s in the viewer’s mind. Still very recommended.