Panic! At The Movies: An Emo Top 10 Watchlist

6. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Cutting and eccentric backcombed hair – just one glimpse at Edward Scissorhands will rouse your sleeping inner emo kid.

In Tim Burton’s modernised take on Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein”, Johnny Depp plays an artificial man who has scissor blades for hands.

Castaway experiment Edward Scissorhands is adopted by a quiet suburban family who attempts to acclimatise Edward to ordinary family life. Yet, as hard as they try, Edward’s black leather attire and awkward gait do not fit in among a neat world of pastels and freshly cut grass. 

Any isolated emo kid could relate to Scissorhands’ melancholic existence and the struggle of sticking out like a sore thumb in the monotony of suburban life.


7. The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)

After some initial worries about the book to screen adaptation of The Perks of Being A Wallflower, it came as a great delight to fans to hear that the director of the upcoming film was to be none other than its author, Stephen Chbosky. After writing an emotional blinder and a staple of YA fiction, it was clear to every fan of the novel that no other person would be able to carefully conceptualise these cherished characters and bring them to the big screen as well as their original creator.

If you felt an affinity for emo culture, then you most probably experienced an emotional connection to Charlie (Logan Lerman), the socially awkward high schooler and wallflower in question. We learn more about Charlie as Chbosky’s narrative unfolds, but what is initially apparent is that he is extremely uncomfortable in his own skin and desperately lonely. Charlie latches on to a clique of outcasts who reject popularity, primarily made up of a stepbrother and sister duo—Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson). When Charlie watches them dance together to Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come on Eileen”, he learns a lesson in what it means to be unapologetically yourself. Charlie blossoms as he becomes a part of the loving friendship group and comes to rely on the gang of misfits to cope with his past traumas. 

As well as highlighting the importance of friendship and individuality, the film was one of the first modern ‘coming of age’ films that felt like a true reflection of the time. The film covered sexual assault, trauma and suicide as well as the ingrained violence and homophobia existing in many adolescent males. The film carefully explored each of these topics, validating the feelings and similar experiences of like-minded individuals who saw something of themselves in Charlie and his group of friends. The film does not deliver a comfortable fairy tale ending, asserting that trauma is not magically curable. However, when driving through a tunnel with his two best friends, arms outstretched, Bowie’s “Heroes” coming through the radio, Charlie delivers a line bursting with hope ‘And in that moment, I swear we were infinite’. Within the pain and darkness that can be often found in life, can exist beauty, solace and moments such as these which make life worth living.

He gets extra emo points for being an avid fan of The Smiths. 




8. Beetlejuice (1988)

Beetlejuice film Michael Keaton

The grizzly ghouls and creatures of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice look as if they have crawled straight out of hell and onto the screen. Michael Keaton’s Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetlejuice) is a crude talking, mischief-making menace who became a favourite and championed character of emo kids everywhere. The movie has all of Burton’s key ingredients: untamed energy, a blend of horror and comedy, and an iconic outcast with an unusual likeability.

Although the film is one of Burton’s more feral narratives, the story has never soured. Every hilariously macabre idea that spilled from Burton’s mind and into Beetlejuice is just as unique and entertaining as ever.

You lose ten emo points if you never dressed as Beetlejuice for Halloween. 

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