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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Five Scary Movies

    Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, The Others, Frailty, and The Mothman Prophecies are some of the scariest movies because they constantly question the rationality of time, place, and people. The viewer is unsure of what’ is real and what to believe, and throughout these films there is a secret not revealed until the end.

    It is the progression of a vague plot that keeps the viewer hooked. Can Rosemary really trust her husband and elderly neighbors? What happened in that isolated hotel that led a man to insanity? Who are the dead, and who are the living in The Others? Which brother is the narrator in Frailty? And what is the major disaster that will happen to the small town in The Mothman Prophecies?

    Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968): Although a pregnancy for a young married couple should be a happy time, Rosemary suffers from disturbing dreams and paranoia. Her husband and strange neighbors are of little help because they might be the cause. Female viewers showed their support for the innocent mother by copying Mia Farrow’s haircut.

    The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980): This is one of Jack Nicholson’s best films. His character’s change from a’ normal family man to family killer expresses the psychological effects of long term isolation. One of the film’s most famous scenes is when the boy rides his tricycle through the hallways and stops because at the opposite end are twin girls with expressionless faces.

    The Others (Alejandro Amenabar, 2001): A brilliant ghost story and a great example of suspense. Nicole Kidman did very well as Grace, the religious fanatic who denied killing her children for an undisclosed reason. The spookiest moments are seeing the dead people’s photographs, which were actually practiced in the 1800s.

    Frailty (Bill Paxton, 2001): Also featuring a religious fanatic; a dad uses God as an excuse to follow his homicidal instincts. The audience is supposed to believe it is one brother telling his family’s story to an FBI agent when really it is the other brother. Bill Paxton’s calm voice as he explains his mission to his sons is eerie to say the least.

    The Mothman Prophecies (Mark Pellington, 2002): Richard Gere unknowingly drove to a small town in West Virginia, but decided to stay until he figured out what mysterious force’ was haunting him and the town folk. The sound and visual effects representing the Mothman are nightmarish.

    The greatest qualities of horror films are not the amount of blood spilled or ways of killing a person, but using familiarity and identifiable characters to question the viewer’s point of view and expectations. The real monsters of these films are not ghosts and goblins, but people experiencing the unexplained.

    Family, religion, large and dark estates, sights and sounds, and death itself are what these films use to drive home a feeling of insecurity and vulnerability to the viewer. It is mystery wrapped in horror that produces the most fright.

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