5 Phobia-Based Horror Movies That Will Make Your Skin Crawl

5 Phobia-Based Horror Movies That Will Make Your Skin Crawl
Image credit: Legion-Media

After watching these horror movies you will definitely have new fears.

Men – Androphobia

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After the death of her husband, Harper decides to retreat to a remote village in England, but she doesn't get better: almost immediately, strange men start stalking her, and the weirdest thing is that they all look the same.

The new film from Alex Garland, the director of Ex Machina and Annihilation, explores Harper's subconscious to reveal her abusive relationship with her husband. Harper projects these experiences onto the men with the same face: her sexist landlord, an exhibitionist, a priest who rationalises domestic abuse and an unhinged teenager who stalks her. Harper's fear of men (or androphobia) stems from her being emotionally and, at one point, physically abused in her marriage. The film is replete with metaphors that hint at the phobia: an apple tree that refers to the original sin, a labyrinthine forest full of stalkers, and a mask of Marilyn Monroe, most of whose relationships with men brought her nothing but trauma. You can still catch Men in cinemas.

X - gerontophobia

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The film follows a group of young people who rent a farmhouse in Texas to make an independent adult film. Filming goes according to plan until the elderly landlady becomes jealous of the young actresses and gets rid of the competition one at a time.

X is shot in the style of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but its aesthetics are also influenced by Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights. The film is oozing with the freedom and sexuality of the hippy seventies. The characters are making an auteur adult film in the French New Wave Cinema style: natural light, experimental camera work, and improvisation are all seamlessly incorporated into the plot. The central source of unease in the move is the fear of ageing or gerontophobia. The director juxtaposes youth and old age, transforming what starts out as an erotic adventure into a bloody slasher flick.

Village of the Damned – Paedophobia

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During a brief alien invasion, the women of Midwich lose consciousness and find out weeks later that they are all pregnant. The babies that are born look suspiciously like them and are also telepathic and able to control the adults' will.

Village of the Damned, based on the book The Midwitch Cuckoos, represents the chilling children sub-genre. It's an exaggerated story about the fear many adults have that a child will become the boss if they are indulged too much. But the film is more complex than that. The director, Wolf Rilla, fled Nazi Germany with his family at fourteen. He saw how propaganda worked on children, so in his film, he shows this through the collective brutality of the children of Midwich. The film references paedophobia, an obsessive fear of children that leads people to avoid all contact with them. In Village of the Damned, however, this phobia is greatly exaggerated – the children here are unpredictable aliens, so being wary of them makes perfect sense in this context.

Cujo - cynophobia

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Based on a Stephen King book, the film tells the story of Cujo, a giant Saint Bernard. While hunting, the dog gets bitten by a rabid bat, becomes aggressive and starts attacking people.

Cujo is one of those horror films where the real monster is a dangerous and bloodthirsty animal or a group of animals; think The Birds and Jaws. The confined space in which the action takes place only adds to the terror. A mother and her young son find themselves trapped – they can't even open the door of a stalled car because Cujo, who has already killed several people, is roaming outside. People regularly get attacked by rabid dogs in real life, so the film is really disturbing.

Fear of dogs, or cynophobia, is a major theme in Cujo, a huge dog that can come out of nowhere and attack with viciousness. Don't be surprised if you jump at the sound of a dog barking after watching this film.

Mirrors – Eisoptrophobia

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The film tells the story of Ben Carson, a suspended police detective who gets a job as a night security guard at the Mayflower, a luxury department store gutted by a fire and shuttered five years prior. He soon notices that there is something wrong with the mirrors there.

Mirrors was directed by Alexandre Aja, who has also made The Hills Have Eyes. It's a remake of the 2003 Korean horror film Into the Mirror.

What's interesting about the film is not so much that it succeeds in scaring even horror sceptics but rather the way it shows off the author's profound knowledge and appreciation of the genre. Alexandre Aja seamlessly incorporates numerous allusions to iconic horror films into his narrative. The department store looks a lot like the monstrous mansion in The House on the Hill, the exorcism scene draws inspiration from the Exorcist, and the dark 1408-tyle finale sends a loud and clear message: there is no hope. The film exploits eisoptrophobia, a pathological fear of mirrors rooted in some popular superstitions. Some people who saw the film were later diagnosed with an obsessive fear of mirrors, so think twice before watching.