Today we’re going to look at some of my recommendations, Paranormal Activity, Cabin in the Woods, and Autopsy of Jane Doe.
I will tell you a little bit about each of the films and why I think they are worth watching. That being said I won’t spoil anything. After all, I’m recommending you go watch these yourself.
Paranormal Activity is a found footage style Horror film, in which the main characters, a young couple, Katie and Micah, are haunted by a supernatural presence in their home. The story opens early on in the haunting with Katie and Micha aware that something is going on in their home but not understanding exactly what. They are setting up cameras to capture the weirdness to explain it. Unfortunately, the cameras reveal a lot more than they were expecting and they need to work past their preconceived notions on the supernatural before they can begin to deal with it.
This film makes my list for several reasons, first and foremost it plays with our fear of the unknown wonderfully. The setting of the home takes a place we normally associate with safety and comfort and turns it on its head. The characters are believable, their reactions understandable and they have a genuine feel to them, no doubt in part because of the style of filming. The plot isn’t complicated, but for me, that helps in this movie, it allows you to focus more on the characters. Lastly the I’m a firm believer that less is more when it comes to monster/ghost horror, and Paranormal Activity takes that idea and runs with it. While there’s plenty of spooky goings-on you never actually see what’s causing it. You see the action and the consequences of the actions but never do you see any men in rubber suits, animatronics or monster CGI. That for me made this scary. This creature could touch and affect the characters world, but they couldn’t even perceive it. It could be standing right in front of them and they’d be none the wiser until it chose to mess with them.
Imagine for a moment trying to protect yourself from something like that.
Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods is such a difficult movie to talk about as so much of what I want to say goes into spoiler territory. In Cabin in the Woods a group of college students retreat to a remote forest cabin where they encounter a horrific truth that threatens far more than just themselves.
The reason I love this film is that it is, in a way, a love letter to horror movies. It plays on tropes in a unique and refreshing way. The characters are a great example of this, you have all your typical slasher movie character, the jock, the nerd, the hot chick etc but its all turned on its head by my favourite character, Marty. Marty, despite being the typical stoner trope, is the character that calls out all the typical horror movie bullshit that we usually find ourselves screaming at the television “Why are you splitting up?” “Why are you suddenly acting like a prostitute?” and he does so perfectly, it doesn’t feel unrealistic, he is genuinely confused why his normally sane friends are suddenly acting like so unlike themselves.
The setting, as you probably guessed, is a remote cabin, in some woods. But once again this horror trope is shown to be so much more than expected. The plot is unpredictable and well worth your time.
The whole film plays builds the atmosphere of survival and uncracking impossible mysteries, which naturally are fully cracked by the end of the film, giving you a surprise ending that if you’re like me, you really weren’t expecting.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
In Autopsy of Jane Doe a body of an unidentified woman is brought to a morgue, but her death is revealed to be more tragic, strange and horrifying than you could imagine.
Autopsy of Jane Doe changes all the time, it starts out as a crime/mystery film but quickly evolves into a non-supernatural horror, then just as you think you’ve got an understanding of where the film is going it turns into a supernatural horror. But leaves you wondering if it really was a supernatural horror at all or was it more a psychological horror?
The setting is perfect, the location of a morgue which is also a home, plays right into the duality of this film. Most people would not be comfortable in a place where bodies are prepared for burial, yet this is a small family run funeral home and as such has a warmer feel than you’d expect.
The main characters are wonderfully put together, giving you a never before have I felt so much for a character who starts the film dead. The main characters who are not dead are wonderfully written, there’s not a great deal of development there but this isn’t really a story about them, this is about Jane, who she is, and what happened to her.
The plot is fast paced and raises so many questions before giving a satisfying pay off that I loved. Like Cabin in the Woods this film builds a great atmosphere of cracking unsolvable mysteries, but it does the job in a different way, while for the audience they mystery is solved (kind of) for the world in which this story takes place, it may never be.
I love how this film keeps you guessing right up to the last moment before the film cuts to black.