Sometimes, the best horror movies are those that don’t rely on aliens and monsters, but instead, on a chilling story about the darkness of humanity. One of the most recent examples of this was Scott Derickson’s The Black Phone, which thrives through Ethan Hawke’s inspired casting as the Grabber.
As always, movie fans on Reddit have been extremely active in discussing this topic and sharing some of their favorite horror movies where the villain is no less human than the heroes. Those Reddit users had plenty of great ideas, ranging from all-time classics to some truly underrated gems.
Saint Maud (2020)
Rose Glass’ debut directorial horror feature Saint Maud was one of the most underrated horror films of the past few years. Despite flying under a lot of casual audiences’ radars, the film was a huge hit with critics thanks to its intense psychological atmosphere and examination of humanity.
Reddit user thecosmicfailure calls Saint Maud “really good”, with a lot of other accounts agreeing. The film is chilling and haunting in all the right ways, navigating themes of mental health and religious obsession without ever making these the sole purpose of the story.
Alex Garland has been one of the leading horror directors for several years now, and his films have offered some kind of insight into the darkness of the human mind. His latest outing men is no different, exploring the dangers of patriarchy and, more specifically, the inability to recognize male privilege.
Redditor nicamity describes the film as “definitely worth a watch”, endorsing the film’s unique style and subject matter. While it’s far from a perfect film, it houses a vital message that all audiences need to be exposed to, and the horror element just makes it hit home even harder.
Less of an all-out horror and more of a psychological thriller, David Fincher’s Se7en is often cited as one of the greatest crime films ever made. It follows two detectives as they hunt down a deadly serial killer, blending elements of horror and Gothicism along the way.
One Redditor calls Se7en “one of my favorite movies of all time”, proving just how effective and impactful it is. With standout performances from Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, alongside some stunningly bleak cinematography, there’s a reason that Se7en is considered one of David Fincher’s best.
Although the ending of Split some kind of supernatural or superpowered involvement, the majority of the film focuses solely on a group of girls as they attempt to escape from a dangerous man with Dissociative Identity Disorder. M. Night Shyamalan’s film is an incredibly effective thriller that utilizes James McAvoy’s incredible lead performance in a horrific and terrifying way.
Reddit user dr-bill says they “would recommend” Split to anybody looking for a movie where monsters aren’t necessary to keep the tension high. This is something that Shyamalan always does effectively, as he knows exactly how to navigate the darkness of humanity in an engaging way.
Ravenous is undoubtedly one of the wildest and most shocking horrors of the 1990s, and that’s a towering accomplishment. The film follows Guy Pearce’s Captain John, who encounters trouble in Sierra Nevada when a group of strangers begin to recount disturbing stories.
“Look up nothing about [Ravenous] before watching it,” warns Redditor lanoitakude, claiming that the film is “a wild, wacky, gruesome ride with one of the greatest and strangest horror soundtracks ever recorded”. It’s definitely a film that’s best experienced blind thanks to its unpredictable narrative and shocking theme.
There are certainly elements of fantasy in titan, but the story itself is an incredibly human one. Following one woman as she adopts a new identity and poses as a young boy who recently went missing, Titane was described by critics as one of the most disturbing and unsettling films in recent memory thanks to director Julia Ducournau’s fascination with body horror.
Reddit user laurapalmersmom430 names “Titane” as a great horror movie for those looking to get frightened by humanity, rather than monsters. While it might better be described as a thriller, the film certainly has elements of horror that will make the audiences squirm, as it originally caused many people to walk out.
Don’t Breathe (2016)
Don’t Breathe proves that humans can be just as terrifying as monsters with Stephen Lang’s chilling performance as a blind man whose home is broken into by a gang of young friends. The film is incredibly technically-impressive, with Fede Alvarez’ direction standing out as one of the main reasons that it’s so impossible to look away from.
Redditor koalajoness simply writes”Don’t Breathe” in response to the original prompt, currently believing that nothing else needs to be said about this rollercoaster horror/thriller. There’s a reason that Don’t Breathe is considered one of the 2010s’ best thrillers, and anybody with any doubt about how scary a ‘human horror’ could really be should give it a try.
Ari Aster’s second feature movie Midsommar is widely regarded to be one of the most shocking and repulsive horrors of the past few years, despite the film taking place during the day and without any clear ‘evil’. It’s a genius way of proving that horror isn’t just blood and gore, which Aster pulls off expertly.
One Reddit user admits they loved Midsommar because they “love culty movies”, and Aster’s film certainly gives off a similar vibe. The cult might not initially seem that dangerous, but it becomes clear over the course of the film that things are much darker than they seem.
One of the best things about Stephen King as an author is that, within the horror genre, he’s incredibly versatile regarding the kinds of stories he can write. While many fans associate his stories with the supernatural, he’s also written several (like ‘misery‘) that focus simply on the complexities of humans and their relationships.
Redditor lucia-pacciola names “Misery” as one of their favorite ‘human horrors’, which is a great example of a film that doesn’t require any monsters or aliens to be genuinely frightening. Both James Caan and Cathy Bates provide two of their best performances as two individuals in a confined battle of wits with their lives on the line.
The Wicker Man (1973)
Boasting another cult-centric narrative, The Wicker Man prides itself on being one of the most unsettling and disturbing horror/thrillers of all time. Alongside being a well-crafted and genuinely frightening film, the story also explores some important themes regarding religion, sexuality, and ritualism.
Redditor mikeyfreshh calls The Wicker Man “one of the best horror movies of all time”, going on to claim that the film is exactly what the prompt called for, a thrilling horror movie where the humans find themselves as both the victim and the enemy.
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