This article was written exclusively for The Film Magazine by Emma Kershaw.
Horror is a love it or hate it genre that leaves so many of us squirming in our seats. Some people are drawn to the suspense and the escapism of knowing it’s all fake, while others dread the anxieties that come with watching films that are sometimes genuinely hard to stomach. Studies have shown that the three main reasons people watch horrors are for the tension, the social relevance and the unrealism, while the reasons people avoid them are naturally somewhat more explicit.
While not initially intended to be scary, in 1896 French filmmaker Georges Méliès made cinematic history with his silent film Le Manoir du Diable, the first-ever horror film. Le Manoir was the the first film in history to include supernatural themes, setting the precedent for cinema’s long-standing love affair with exploring the terrible and horrific on the silver screen.
Although the genre has come a long way since it was first introduced to the form in the 19th century, not all horror movies will leave you sleeping with the light on for a month afterwards. So, if you’re wanting to dip your toes into the horror genre but don’t know where to begin, we have compiled a list of five films to get you started, each containing minimal jump scares but just enough suspense and tension to get your heart racing a little.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter for updates on more articles just like this one.
1. A Quiet Place (2018)
Starring husband and wife duo Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, A Quiet Place follows a family that is struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by blind mysterious creatures with an acute sense of hearing. Directed by the former “The Office” star, A Quiet Place amps up the tension with a lack of dialogue – only 90 lines were spoken throughout the one hour and a half running time – as a heavily pregnant Evelyn (Blunt) approaches her due date.
The film was praised for raising deafness awareness as it uses American Sign Language and sound was removed all together for scenes shot from the perspective of the family daughter Regan, played by Millie Simmonds.
Due to the limited spoken dialogue, the jump scares are easy to predict and the payoffs are very light compared to the tension felt during the lead-up, making A Quiet Place an enjoyably suspenseful film that thrills but isn’t so intense it will keep you checking the corners of your bedroom as you try to fall asleep.
2. IT Chapter Two (2019)
27 years after Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) is defeated by members of The Losers Club, the famously psychotic clown returns to terrorise the town of Derry, Maine once more.
As people start disappearing, The Losers Club (played here by Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone and Andy Bean) reunites to take down Pennywise once and for all.
One of the most anticipated films of 2017, IT Chapter Two features a less-than-average amount of jump scares given its almost 3-hour running time. Any bumps in the night and scenes containing blood and guts are balanced out with many emotional and even comedic moments, including that iconic dancing clown scene.
Unless you have a crippling fear of clowns, IT Chapter Two is a great starter for those wanting to explore the horror world.
Recommended for you: 10 Best Horror Movies of the 2010s