There are many different scary films out there, including: horror, thriller, and gore. Even international films can be frightening from time to time. There are also an incredible amount of ways to create horror or terror. For example, you could have some of the following:
Camera angles, direction, zoom, and cut sequences can be used to make a scene more intensely terrifying. For example: We’ve all seen the uncomfortable beginning sequences of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) in which the camera moves quickly in one long tracking shot that seems to take forever to cut. It is building up the uncomfortable atmosphere.
Lighting is obvious. If you’ve ever watched the film Lights Out, then you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that darkness is used to create tension rather than just presenting us with a dark space to fill with things we cannot see.
Symbols are more common in religious horror films: The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and The Nun are just some of the religious horror films which contain a plethora of symbols and imagery to stir the imagination into the right state of mind, in order to witness the religiously-based horror.
Music and sound are normally used to create discomfort in horror, and by that I mean you can listen to Tiny Tim’s “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips,” and all you can think about is the Insidious franchise. Speaking of Insidious—Within the first film, there are screeching violins at the beginning which resemble those from 70s horror, and yes, they still make sense today.
There are obviously many more things that directors use to create horror in movies. But, when the movie itself is not a horror movie, witnessing something uncomfortable, jumpy, or in any way scary or terrifying is normally a lot more frightening than you would assume. The reason for this is because you, as the viewer, are completely unprepared. If you’re watching Insidious, for example: You’re prepared for the jump scares, the atmosphere shifts, and the big scary everything. But, if you’re watching say a drama, or a thriller, you don’t fully expect it to be so intensely terrifying, and that’s why we’re going to go through five terrifying films that are not of the horror genre.
5. Hard Candy
By now, most people know the premise of this movie. It’s about a girl who is seeking out a man who is talking to her and, thinking he is a pedophile, she uses herself as bait to catch him. It’s a scary premise in-and-of itself, and has a pretty bleak outlook on humanity. There are many uncomfortable moments in the film, and by far the scariest thing about it is how the pedophile is played so believably, and how the girl is using herself as the bait to catch him.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s Nightcrawler is probably one of the most uncomfortable thrillers out there. Again, it is one of those films that makes you lose faith in humanity slightly, and the fact that this could actually be pulled off without very much effort scares the hell out of you. You mostly think to yourself, What would happen if this was going on right now somewhere in the world? About a man who sets up crimes in order to be first on the scene to catch the story, this film shakes your experience of how good humans are at lying to each other and, overall, how they can lie to the entire world without anyone batting an eyelid.
3. The Skin I Live In
This is not a horror film and yet, if you watch it, every single aspect of it will make you believe that it is. This film is about a man trying to fix a woman’s skin after a horrible accident. He does experiments to make her skin the best it can be. Loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, it’s not a horror film but it will shake you and make the viewing experience damn near impossible. It is just so uncomfortable to watch.
2. Shutter Island
Shutter Island is a film that plays with your mind. It uses a lot of aspects of a horror film. There are a couple of jump scares and atmosphere shifts, the cinematography is very horror-esque, and there are various symbols and signs pointing you to the finale of the movie. The acting is astounding, and really what makes the film so uncomfortable is how believable Leonardo DiCaprio is in the role.
*WARNING: Do not watch this film if you are claustrophobic*
Buried is an incredibly claustrophobic movie and is possibly one of the best performances by Ryan Reynolds to date. It is such an incredibly made and clever film, but the watching experience of it is just so uncomfortable it can sometimes make it difficult, stuffy, and very tight and compressed. The film is about a man who has been buried alive, and needs to get out before the oxygen runs out. Mostly filmed in real time, this film gives you a very good reason to never get yourself kidnapped—ever.