There's very few films I've watched multiple times with the commentary on. Saw is one of them. Although the franchise has traditionally been written off as torture porn, the first Saw was a surprisingly innovative film that spurned an unlikely legacy. Even the behind the scenes story of Saw is remarkable. Using their limited budget and resources as a strength, the filmmakers sought to make a film about two people locked in a room and essentially wrote the story from there. The idea eventually caught Hollywood's attention and they were able to expand on the concept. In an age when remakes and cheap scares were on high demand, it was nice to see a horror movie that thought outside the box.
If Saw was mistaken as torture porn, then with Hostel there was no mistake at all. This movie loved to make audiences squirm with unabashed goriness. But behind the unsettling special effects, there's more to this film than meets the eye. I like to compare it to the teen comedy film Eurotrip. While these movies couldn't be further from one another, they actually take place in the same city: Bratislava. Both of these movies utilize American ignorance of foreign cultures to their advantage. It's just that Eurotrip used it make people laugh. Hostel used it to make people afraid. The sequels might've lost this subtle touch, but I still think there's a lot to learn from Hostel's journey from Europe's bright lit clubs to its dark, damp dungeons.
Freddy vs. Jason
I was a HUGE Freddy fan growing up. I might've seen all the Nightmare on Elm Street movies a combined hundred times at least. So obviously the prospect of seeing both Freddy AND Jason on screen at the same time seemed like a fantasy. Something I would've read on a fan fiction website rather than gone to the movies for. Yet somehow it still became a reality. Let's be real: the movie kind of stinks. It doesn't rank high in either Freddy's or Jason's best of lists. But that doesn't make it any less fun. Sometimes the best way to truly appreciate a golden movie moment is to just turn off your brain and enjoy it for what it is.
Before remaking Asian horror films became the cliche of the 2000's, The Ring shocked me to my core. It was dark, unnerving, and surprisingly relevant. I became even more impressed with the film after watching the original. While the Japanese version was great in its own right, the remake managed to up the ante while actually spreading its wings in several surprising directions. It was grimmer and a bit more sadistic. Like many horror films, the sequels failed to carry it forward. But The Ring will definitely go down as one of the few times a remake was worthy enough to exist.
"Found footage" films get a tremendously bad rap. People either like them or truly hate them. And I can think of no film more polarizing than Paranormal Activity. Similar to Saw, what drew me to its film was its real life backstory. This movie was made with practically no budget. Just two actors and some clever innovating. Besides that though, the film is eerily reminiscent of Hitchcock in the way it slowly builds suspense. I also firmly believe that the location you watch a film adds or takes away from its viewing. I watched Paranormal Activity in the theater at night with just a handful of people in the audience. I wasn't home where I could turn on the lights or pause the movie. And maybe because of that, the first time I saw it was one of the best movie experiences I've ever had.
As a Blockbuster kid, I remember seeing tons of anthology films on the shelves. Nowadays, they seem to be a rarity. Every once in awhile a new one comes out that I enjoy (honorable mention goes to Trick r' Treat), but V/H/S has been my favorite. It's a found footage film, but it utilizes the format in several unique and interesting ways. Even the framing narrative takes care to surprise and scare. I'm afraid to say the sequels don't really keep the momentum going, but V/H/S to me gave some hope that the horror anthology genre might get some new innovation in the future.
What about you? What are some of your favorite horror movies that you don't think get enough attention?