Horror movies have the unique ability to scare, make you jump, permanently traumatize, and most importantly, comfort. It may sound like a contradiction, but the genre has always been a welcoming place for those who are lost.
The horror movies that dominated the 70s and 80s were the black sheep of the film industry, which is partially why the genre holds a particular fascination for the outcasts. Horror also has a special way of connecting emotions with fear and turning fear into a safe space. These ventures into the dark and gloomy have ensured that many horror movies have become comfort movies for people of every background.
‘Trick ‘r Treat’ (2007)
Trick ‘r Treat remains the best horror anthology film to watch on Halloween night after all the trick-or-treaters have gone home, the jack-o-lantern candles have been blown out, and you sit down to watch a movie with a bowl of leftover candy. In it, four interwoven stories are told on Halloween night, where different groups of ordinary people have sinister secrets.
The movie has its fair share of horror, but despite this, there is something incredibly enjoyable about the urban legends of All Hallow’s Eve. And let us not forget the most important part of the film – Sam, the seemingly innocent trick-or-treater with an adorable head shaped like a jack-o-lantern. He is the face of the movie, and haunts all of the stories, bringing comfort with his background anonymity.
‘Thir13en Ghosts’ (2001)
Thir13en Ghosts tells the story of a family who inherits a house from an eccentric uncle. The only problem is that the house seems to have its own spectacular agenda: it’s filled with strange, shifting walls and vengeful spirits that want to annihilate anything in their path.
The ghosts, makeup effects, and settings in Thir13en Ghosts remain some of the most fun in horror, to this day. While many people don’t think very fondly of the movie, the thirteen ghosts themselves are unforgettable. Each of them had a distinct style, horrifying backstory, and dreadfully unique look. It’s fun to learn about each ghost and decide which one is your favorite. Is it the Jackal or the Angry Princess?
Gremlins is a great horror film to show the kids, because of its adorable creatures and amusing shenanigans. The movie follows a salesman who is looking for the perfect gift for his son on Christmas Eve. He comes across a shopkeeper who sells him a rare Mogwai and tells him to never expose it to bright light, water, or food after midnight.
Of course, all of those things happen, and the Mogwai transform into a gang of Gremlins that terrorize the town. The movie introduced the breed of curious and furry critters into pop culture and they have become one of the most well-known creatures in horror. It’s hard not to fall in love with the adorably charming Gizmo or root for the vicious Stripe.
‘House of 1000 Corpses’ (2003)
Rob Zombie is the king of rock monsters, having started in the industrial metal band, White Zombie, and later going solo. In 2003, he brought his love of monsters and horror to the big screen in the black comedy horror film, House of 1000 Corpses.
After two couples find themselves on an abandoned road with a flat tire, they are led down a road to the terrifying House of 1000 Corpses, filled with a group of twisted individuals. Even though there are throat slashings and stabbings galore, family is at the core of this movie. There is comfort in knowing that your family can be as strange as they want, and they’ll stick by you. Just cross your fingers that they reel in the murderous tendencies.
Stop motion horror is a beloved genre that fans adore thanks to the likes of Henry Sellick‘s talents. The unique animation has an eccentric style that brings real, static objects to life. There is a level of creepiness that can’t be achieved with live-action horror.
Coraline is an especially comforting piece of dark fantasy animation because it tackles the themes of courage, identity, and child-like imagination. Many times, people begin to lose their identities and imaginations as they grow older and make their way into the “real” world. Coraline reminds you to look around corners and inside secret doors to discover alternate worlds.
Antlers is one of the best-told stories about the darkness of folklore creatures in recent times. In the movie, a teacher and her sheriff brother take care of a young student who is harboring a deadly secret inside of his home – his father is possessed by the spirit of the Wendigo.
The movie is about the darkness of humans and of the supernatural, and it comforts to the bone. It deals with the loss, pain, and abandonment of a child that is unexpectedly pushed into a parental role and tasked with caring for his father and brother who are turning into monsters. The movie connects trauma with the supernatural and provides a place to reflect on your own grief.
‘The Witch’ (2015)
The Witch begins in 1630 New England, where panic and fear sets in among a family of farmers when the youngest sibling disappears. The movie spirals into paranoia as things increasingly go wrong, and they begin to suspect their eldest daughter, Thomasin, of witchcraft.
Underneath the surface, The Witch is a story about being an outsider. Thomasin is an outsider within her family to the point that they begin to accuse her of murdering her siblings. Something is comforting about the idea of being able to leave your life behind for a new one filled with magic. Black Phillip gives Thomasin the choice to “live deliciously,” where she finally gains a sense of belonging in a coven of sisterly witches.
Stephen King‘s it has always been the subject of nightmares for both children and adults. The antagonist, Pennywise, has fueled the phobia of clowns since the 90s when Tim Curry transformed into the creature in the original miniseries. The classic novel got a reboot in 2017, and Bill Skarsgård made Pennywise even more menacing.
When most people think of it, they think of a horrifying clown that lures children into sewers and chews their arms off. At the heart of the story though, is something much more comforting: friendship. The Losers Club is the main protagonistic faction in the movie, and their unhappy lives unite them into one of the greatest friendship groups in cinema.
‘Sleepy Hollow’ (1999)
Tim Burton’s adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a lesson in how to build a gorgeous Gothic setting with fantastical characters that walk the line between reality and dream. Set in the year 1799, the plot follows Ichabod Crane, who is sent to the wistful town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of murders.
The Gothic style in the movie brings a comforting sense of dream-like fantasy and the illusion of a quieter life in a small town. Sleepy Hollow is filled with ghosts and a haunting atmosphere that makes it easy to get lost in. Watching the movie on a dreamy, rainy day will surely put you in the mood for wondrous fall evenings.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
If you grew up with an older sibling or cousin, chances are you’ve been told some stories about Harold the scarecrow, and The Big Toe. Both are terrifying children’s stories that are a part of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a book of horror shorts. A movie based on the classic book was made in 2019 that stayed pretty true to the texts.
Part of why this movie is so comforting is because of its connection to many people’s childhoods. The book was a huge part of a lot of children’s lives and got many kids into horror at a young age. Seeing the iconic stories and characters from the book’s illustrations come to life on-screen is exhilarating.
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