Feeling brave? Try watching these.
The House of the Devil
Student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) is in need of money and takes a babysitting job in a creepy country house. Its eccentric owner, Mr Ulman (Tom Noonan), asks the girl to look after his elderly mother instead. Soon, it becomes clear that Samantha didn't get the job by chance: the house inhabitants are sectarians who want to use her for an infernal ritual. Ti West's directorial debut is not only a homage to classic horror movies (the film looks like it's a lost hit from the 80s) but also a true genre craze. The director's unique method dubbed "awkward realism," which involves lifelike dialogues and rejection of hackneyed horror templates, makes the characters uncannily real: when Samantha starts fighting off the cultists, you can't help but imagine yourself in her shoes.
Neil Marshall's grim horror combines two things viewers expect from this genre: first, you're going to find it hard falling asleep for the next couple of nights, and second, you'll be surprised with the abundance and scope of action scenes. In Dog Soldiers, the director skilfully fuses the elements of a military action film and old-fashioned horror. The story follows a squad of British soldiers who encounter werewolf-like monsters in the Scottish Highlands. The men hide in an old house and fight the creatures, trying to make it to dawn. Marshall's directorial style reveals his inner horror geek: he uses plenty of effects, Hitchcockian suspense, and good-enough plot twists. Dog Soldiers follows the horror playbook to the smallest detail and everything works perfectly — those monsters will stay with you for days after watching the movie.
During lockdown, a few friends decide to have a séance via Zoom. One of them sneers at the spirits, so the supernatural being takes the offense, and soon, the friends start noticing strange occurrences in their homes. All action takes place on a Zoom screencast, which adds a claustrophobic effect on top of the supernatural horror. The film runs for less than an hour, and that hour will make you look around nervously waiting to be jumpscared.
In the Earth
A biologist and a park scout head deep into the woods to get to a science camp. Along the way, the heroes meet a distraught thicket dweller who kills wayward travelers, and the entire nature seems to defy arrogant humans. Similar to Ben Wheatley's previous projects, In the Earth can be described as a psychedelic horror exploring the darkest corners of human imagination. The abrupt, epileptic editing and membrane-tearing sub-bass sounds will make you lose your mind along with the characters on screen.
A detective novelist (Ethan Hawke) and his family move into a house where a terrible crime was committed a year ago. The man researches the incident for his new novel and watches video tapes he found in the house, which seems to unleash a sinister being. Director Scott Derrickson utilizes many of the commonplace horror techniques, from the old house setting to annoying jump cuts, but does this with much talent and skill. Sinister is one of the scariest 21-century horror movies, somewhat similar to James Wan's The Conjuring — but creepier.
Failed puppeteer Philip (Sean Harris) returns home where he is forced to confront his wicked stepfather, dreaded childhood memories, and a mysterious spider-like monster. Possum is the perfect horror thriller for those terrified of the A24 aesthetics. It's hard to tell exactly what is happening on the screen, but whatever this surreal sequence of shots is meant to say — it does look frightening. Like Ben Wheatley's In the Earth, Matthew Holness' film leaves an uneasy aftertaste in viewers. Watching Possum alone in a dark room, you'll plunge into a depressing world of disappointment and unfulfilled hopes — and sometimes this existential horror proves more terrifying than ghosts and monsters.
Ari Aster's directorial debut divided film buffs into two camps. Some said the director's mockery of the horror genre is outrageous and turns the film into a farce. Others, on the contrary, believe that Aster is the horror genius and his film is one of the scariest ever made. The Hereditary director indeed walks on thin ice: while the movie's plot is very similar to hundreds of other B-rated haunted house films, Aster's directorial optics change the story completely. In the movie, a family falls victim to a mysterious generic curse, and now Annie's mother must do her best to save her loved ones from infernal punishment. Hereditary is in fact so scary, you may burst into hysterical laughter while watching it: the horrible and the hilarious go hand in hand here, and the characters become more insane every second.