Who doesn’t love a good horror movie? Whether they’re scary, gory, or goofy, they’re all great. But the best horror movies are the ones that make you think. They stick with you long after you’ve finished watching them and they get in your head and show you truths about the real world and yourself. These are things you wouldn’t usually expect to come from a horror movie, but the following five films do just that.
The Thing (1982)
What jumps out most in The Thing, besides the alien, is the way it shows how quickly fear and paranoia break down relationships. The film demonstrates how life-threatening situations can make people turn against one another, even friends.
Really, the alien in The Thing is irrelevant. You could easily replace it with something just as life-threatening, like an infectious disease, and the reactions would be the same. As soon as the fear of death sets in, that primal instinct of kill or be killed kicks in and things turn ugly.
Nothing highlights this more than the end of the film when Mac and Childs are the last two survivors remaining. Instead of toasting to survival, they just can’t let go of their fear and paranoia that the creature might not be dead and could, in fact, be their fellow survivor. What you’re left thinking about is how these two men find it easier to believe the other is a monster in disguise rather than trusting each other.
Shape-shifting alien aside, this kind of suspicion is a very real-world problem. How can you regain trust in someone when paranoia has bled into the relationship and torn it apart?
The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist shows a very realistic approach to what happens when science and medicine have to deal with something supernatural. Is demonic possession something that can exist in our rational society? If so, then how do you cure something like that? With science and medicine or does religion hold the answer?
In The Exorcist, a group of doctors along with Father Damien Karras agree that something psychological is affecting Regan and not something archaic like demonic possession. Exorcisms became obsolete when advancements in medical science provided concrete answers about mental health.
So what happens when science and medicine fail to fix Regan’s affliction? They have no solutions for curing demons because they have no real-world evidence to base it on. Religion doesn’t have these same boundaries, and what seems incurable from a scientific perspective may be remedied from a religious point of view.
The Fly (1986)
The Fly is a classic monster movie that shows how jealousy can quickly lead someone to self-destruction. We all have moments of jealousy, but some people let those moments guide their actions into some pretty dangerous territory. Unfortunately, we don’t always realize how far we have gone until it’s too late and the damage we’ve caused is irreparable.
Seth’s moment of jealousy comes when he fears his girlfriend, Veronica, is rekindling a romance with her ex-boyfriend. That moment causes Seth to make a rash decision, using himself as the next test subject in his experiment that transforms him into a monster.
The 1986 Cronenberg film demonstrates how easily your life can be destroyed all because of one poor decision fueled by jealousy. That’s something that could happen to anyone.
Brian de Palma‘s adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie shows how destructive it can be to someone being bullied and ridiculed for being different. Many of us have suffered bullying at some point in our lives, and it sucks. While some of us don’t like to admit this part, we have probably done some bullying to others as well. We all have our different quirks that make us unique, but for some people, those quirks draw unwanted attention.
Carrie is a shy, awkward girl who’s grown up in a repressed, hyper-religious household, making her an easy target for kids at her school to bully her. After they pull a humiliating prank on her at prom, she uses her newfound telekinetic abilities to get revenge on those who’ve wronged her.
The film shows how treating others with a little kindness and acceptance can go a long way. It’s also a cautionary tale of how ugly things can get when toxic situations like these escalate.
Alien looks at what happens when humanity’s curiosity crosses over a dangerous line. Humans are naturally curious about everything; we want to know what’s out there in the universe and are especially curious about whether there’s alien life. But how much are we really willing to sacrifice to pursue these discoveries? Are we willing to sacrifice the survival of the human race?
When the employer of the Nostromo crew gets the team to investigate a mysterious distress beacon, the group end up discovering an alien life form. The life form is incredibly lethal and claims the lives of almost everyone aboard the ship.
A more shocking revelation is that their employer wanted to find and bring the alien back to earth all along, no matter what the cost. It just goes to show that sometimes curiosity really can kill the cat, that is unless, of course, you’re Ripley‘s pet cat, Jonesy.