Telling the tale of a bumbling policeman who’s summoned to solve a spate of mysterious murders and illnesses in a small Korean village after an enigmatic Japanese man comes to town, Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing does not sound like much on face value. But don’t let the rehashed premise deter you – this is a wonderfully terrifying film that relishes in its ability to build like few others do. With a running time of 156 minutes, it stands as the longest film on this list, and while most horror movies clock in at around 90 minutes, Na Hong-jin’s effort rests its laurels on its pace, seldom taking the easy route to quick scares.
Imaginative, spellbinding and patient, The Wailing is an adept experiment in undoing the tropes of Hollywood horror cinema. With no reliance on sound cues, jump scares or prescient plot points, Na Hong-jin’s masterful flick will leave one reeling with frightful delight for years to come. And with the film available for streaming on Netflix, few horror fans can (or should) stay away from this bonafide hit.
3) It Follows (2014)
Many horror films rely on a subtle metaphor to propel its narrative and It Follows is certainly one such film. It tells the tale of Jamie “Jay” Height after she has sex with a boy who has passed on a deadly curse. Now “infected,” Jay must evade the supernatural entity that will endlessly pursues her until she has sex with another person, thus passing it on to them.
From Them! to The Purge: Election Year, a great deal of the films within the horror genre rely on an allegorical approach to not only placate censorship but to also shrewdly explore a cultural milieu without the sociocultural preconceived notions regarding them. And few movies have executed this quality better than David Robert Mitchell’s It Follow, which examines the unsavory duality between love and sex.
On the one hand, sex is a representation of trust, love and companionship. On the other, it’s a dangerous activity that can infect, wither and destroy. It Follows investigates this dichotomous existence in a sharp, brilliant fashion that blends classic horror tropes with a fresh new interpretation of them. From the long takes to the unnervingly beautiful shot compositions, Mike Gioulakis’ anachronistic cinematographic work is a wonderful homage to horror films of yore. Combined with the masterful score by Disasterpeace, It Follows is a wonderful pastiche of 1980s horror movies that exists in its own right as a masterful exercise in terror.