So, with many a life looking to be one of isolation and fretful paranoia at the sound of a dry cough, sitting inside and watching a constant stream of films has become a very recommendable way to relax. For some people, feel-good pictures will suffice. For others, something more visceral will do the trick, and thankfully the horror genre has got more than enough on offer on streaming services for you. But given the majority of them take place at night, and therefore may not have the daytime ambiance that defines self-isolation, here’s a list of films wherein monsters don’t wait until dark to keep you going through the day.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
One of the most iconic horror films of all times doesn’t wait until dark to unsettle its audience with its bleak atmosphere, crazy hitchhiker and the terrifying first appearance of horror icon Leatherface. Famous for proving impossible to edit out any gore, because there is none, just unrelenting horror and the absence of reason, this film still serves as a masterclass of how to terrify an audience, and the best part is it creeps up on you without you or the characters even knowing. All the clues are there, but like the characters, by the time it all feels too wrong, it’s all too late, and the massacre has already begun.
Train to Busan (2016)
With the success of Parasite, interest in South Korean cinema is growing exponentially and one of the most recent successes is this near-perfect zombie thriller.
With the success of Parasite, interest in South Korean cinema is growing exponentially and one of the most recent successes is this near-perfect zombie thriller. While zombies in the West may be somewhat overplayed, they feel fresh in Korea, efficient, fast and only limited by darkness in their pursuit to infect all in their path. With a strong dose of social commentary and family drama in the mix, this is one of the best international horror films to come out in recent weeks, and will make you wish to go to Korea purely to experience an efficient train service that somehow functions even during an apocalypse.
Following Hereditary, Ari Aster once again struck gold, and critical acclaim, with a film taking cues from films such as The Wicker Man, which is an honourable mention for this list (though it’s more unsettling than scary). For his second time around, Aster presents the most terrifying film about postgraduate life since The Graduate, as paganist cults and disintegrating relationships dovetail into a nightmare for our lead characters. Set in Sweden, and set at a time where horror monsters would have little time to hide anyway, likely why most of them emigrated to America, the film is gorgeous to look upon, bathed in light and colour while setting Aster up for a promising career.
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
It’s simple in its presentation, unnerving in its violence and is more than up for testing the limits of savagery in the unflinching light of day.
One of Wes Craven’s most beloved classics, The Hills Have Eyes is a simple tale of the limits of civilisation as our characters face off against a family of cannibals in the desert. It’s simple in its presentation, unnerving in its violence and is more than up for testing the limits of savagery in the unflinching light of day. If you’re ever sad to be isolated, be glad that the travel which leads to this film’s circumstances is no longer advised, though with that in mind don’t watch The Strangers.
And round out our list is something a bit more fun. Tremors is a delightful send-up of creature features as a young Kevin Bacon takes on giant worms who wish to eat everyone in their path in a small town. It’s a ridiculous film but the effects are excellent, the characters offbeat and memorable and the film is just a rollicking good time which makes you glad to be firmly inside. Isolation is a key point as everyone is forced to effectively play ‘the floor is lava’ or use an arsenal of guns to defeat a single worm in a scene beloved by 1st amendment Republicans everywhere.
And that’s all for now, though this list barely scratches the surface of great horror with looking into which ironically may help you cope with the current crisis. Horror always will be the safest space to face one’s demons, and day or night, they’ll still be here when we’ve got nowhere else to go.