It’s that time of the year again, where we celebrate all things ghoulish. Halloween is just around the corner and with the horror of Covid 19 still haunting us, throw your trick or treating plans out the window and instead, stay home, put on some scary movies and scream to your heart’s content. There are a million and one horror movies to catch, but we’ve assembled some of the most heart-palpitation inducing ones. We’ve even included a scream-o-metre to help you decide which to watch.
We know what you’re thinking. Surely any movie with Ryan Reynolds can’t be a horror movie. But this isn’t the comedic Reynolds we see in Deadpool, nor the charming, romantic lead in The Proposal or Definitely, Maybe. Reynolds plays a mentally unhinged factory worker, who stalks and chases after girls. He also talks to his pets, and is torn between taking his cat’s advice to become a killer, or his dog’s advice to remain normal.
Unfortunately, after a date goes horribly wrong, his life turns upside down, and tumbles downhill. If you like talking animals (all voiced by Reynold himself) and severed heads in fridges, this show is for you. Quirky, erratic and gory, The Voices, which also stars Anna Kendrick and Gemma Arterton, isn’t just a mindless horror flick, but also dives into the serious consequences of mental illness if left unchecked.
Screen-O-Meter: heart rate of 95 bpm
Verdict: While elements of the movie are scary, it has some humour that balances it out.
The Stonehearst Asylum isn’t like other asylums. In place of feeding patients with medication, the doctors here encourage the patients to live out their delusions instead. Based on the short story “The System Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” by Edgar Allan Poe, we are brought back to 1899, where asylum doctors, played by Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley, believe in treating their patients in unconventional ways.
However, they were not counting on the arrival of one young doctor, Edward Newgate, played by Jim Sturgess, who was struck by the beauty and story of a patient demonstrating a case of female hysteria, played by Kate Beckinsale. Fueled by his infatuation, Edward discovers the asylum isn’t about healing. Eerie corridors, fearful screams, unorthodox treatments, you will be kept wondering if there are supernatural powers at play here, or scientific experiments carried out by two demented doctors. And there is a twist at the end, too. Stonehearst Asylum is a movie for those who like a little bit of mystery peppered with a generous serving of horror.
Screen-O-Meter: heart rate of 104 bpm
Verdict: Mental Asylums are a hotbed for scary movies, but the beauty of Kate Beckinsale dials down the horror element by a bit. But those electric shock therapies are hard to stomach.
It started off slow, but when the pace picks up, so did the gore, in generous amounts. Mandy isn’t your typical horror movie, but a combination of crime, slasher/torture and psychopath elements.
The movie is set in the Pacific Northwest back in 1983, where Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) lead an outsider kind of life, and loving their peaceful existence. But all good things must come to an end, and their idyllic life comes to an abrupt stop when a hippie cult descends to the area. The leader of the cult, struck by Mandy’s beauty, kidnaps her. This is when the horror begins.
Consumed by anger, Red goes on a rampage, catapulting into a phantasmagoric trip filled with vengeance, violence and gore. Lots and lots of gore. Following a series of forgettable films, Cage returns with a vengeance himself, giving a gripping performance as a lovelorn man mourning his lost love. This "a blood-soaked revenge caper" will stay in your mind for quite some time.
Screen-O-Meter: heart rate of 115 bpm
Verdict: When Red goes on his killing spree, it’s a horror show of blood and gore, but at the same time, you find yourself rooting for him.
When Saw first came out in 2004, it revolutionised the horror genre. The plot twist at the end is something that people still talk about today, and an element that other movies tried to emulate. The film also launched a franchise of which Jigsaw is the 8th instalment.
Just like the first movie, Jigsaw follows a group of people who find themselves being forced to participate in a series of “deadly” activities in a barn. But who’s orchestrating the whole shebang? Jigsaw- John Kramer, the original mastermind of the killers, had been dead for almost a decade at this point. This is where the plot thickens. Is Kramer back from the dead? Or is this a copycat who admires the Jigsaw’s craft? Either way, there are plenty of elaborate traps, gruesome deaths and of course, the plot twist at the end. The question is, is your stomach ready for all the grisly deaths?
Screen-O-Meter: heart rate of 121 bpm
Verdict: You know the plot, it’s the same almost every Saw movie, but what makes Jigsaw scary is how each elaborate trap is more innovative than the last. Some of the traps will leave you guessing how the victim gets killed, and when they are offed suddenly, that’s where your heart thumps extra fast.
This is the one that will set your heart racing like no other. The opening is ordinary enough. True-crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) has hit a bump in his writing. He has not had a best seller for over 10 years and is descending into quiet desperation. He upends his family and moves into their new home where a family has been murdered, in hopes to get inspiration for his next book.
Upon discovering some Super 8 home movies with gory murders found in the attic of his new house, he vows to solve the mystery. Except things did not go quite as planned. The footage hints at supernatural forces at work, and soon, Ellison realises that he has unwittingly put his family in imminent danger. Creepy children lurking in the dark, eerie music and those sudden jump scares, Sinister will have you holding your breath and at the edge of your seat.
According to a study conducted by UK-based BroadbandChoices, Sinister is the scariest movie of all time, scientifically. The study sat a panel of 50 people down to watch 50 horror films while hooking them up with heart monitors to see which ones increase their blood pressure the most. While the average heart rates hover at around 86 BPM, those who experienced the jump scares in Sinister had heart rates that spiked to 131 BPM.
Screen-O-Meter: heart rate of 131 bpm
Verdict: The sudden scares and extremely unsettling footage in Sinister are enough to make anyone have heart palpitations. If you have a strong heart for horror, this is the show for you. Even Science says it.