When you think of #horror movies, you probably think of ghosts, monsters and demons. But there are films that dive deeper into the genre to give us a different breeding ground for horror: Human nature. These movies don't need a disturbing apparition to give us goosebumps. Instead, they lean on the the brutalities some people are willing to commit. They're the kind of experiences that make you doubt waving hello at your neighbor just in case they're a psychopath.
**WARNING: Spoilers for all of the below.**
1. 'I Spit On Your Grave' (2010 Remake)
- Studio: Anchor Bay Films
- Writers: Adam Rockoff (remake), Meir Zarchi (original)
The plot revolves around Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler), an author who travels to a secluded cabin to write her next novel. There, she's stalked by four men who eventually break into her house. Jennifer manages to escape and runs into the town's sheriff, who takes her back to the cabin presumably to inspect the scene. In reality, he takes her right back to the intruders, and the five of them brutally rape her and leave her for dead. What ensues is a game of cat-and-mouse as Jennifer gets revenge on them.
However, what surprised me the most about this film is its portrayal of human behavior. These five monsters aren't hiding in a dark cave with eerie music playing every time they show up on screen; they have normal jobs and if you bumped into them on the street, you probably wouldn't give them a second thought. A monster can be, for example, a police officer and family man with a baby on the way without anyone knowing his true impulses.
2. 'Hide And Seek' (2005)
- Studio: 20th Century Fox
- Writer: Ari Schlossberg
After his wife commits suicide, David Callaway (Robert DeNiro) moves to upstate New York with his daughter, Emily (Dakota Fanning). Once there, it seems she creates an imaginary friend. But this no usual play-date style friends, this a blood-thirsty, twisted psychopath who will take down anyone who bothers it.
The film makes us believe that Emily found a friend in an evil-murderous spirit. But that's not the case, it's actually her father, David, who suffers from a split-personality disorder; he was "Charlie" all along. It was David who murdered his wife after catching her with another man at a party and made it look like a suicide. He went nuts and created an alternate persona focused entirely on rage that encouraged him to continue in a murdering rampage and later on in the movie, to try to kill his own daughter.
3. 'The Human Centipede: First Sequence' (2009)
- Studio: Six Entertainment
- Writer: Tom Six
Josef Heiter (Dieter Laser), a retired surgeon, wants to make himself a new pet. He doesn't get a dog or a cat like any sane human being would, though; instead, he wants a human centipede. To achieve that, he kidnaps three people - one man and two women - and surgically attaches them mouth-to-anus.
After the procedure's complete... You know what? It's best for everyone if I keep the description of this twisted ride short, but I trust you can imagine just how horrible and disgusting both the film and its crazed protagonist are.
4. 'Knock Knock' (2015)
- Studio: Lionsgate Premiere
- Writers: Eli Roth, Nicolas Lopez, Guillermo Amoedo, Anthony Overman, Michael Donald Ross
When his wife has to go out of town with the family, main character Evan (Keanu Reeves) stays home due to a shoulder injury. One night, two young women come to his house asking for help, telling him they need to get to a party but don't have any means of figuring out where that is.
Long story short, he invites them in and the three share some sexy time. But, it turns out the two guests are actually psychopaths who trash his house, rape and torture him, kind of kill a friend of his by taking away his inhaler, paste their sexual encounter on his Facebook profile for everyone to see and ultimately leave him buried in his backyard.
5. 'The Boy' (2016)
- Studio: STX Entertainment
- Writer: Stacey Menear
By the poster, you might be expecting yet another story of Pinocchio gone berserk... and for the majority of its runtime, the story seems to be that: A woman named Greta moves to England and gets a babysitting job for a couple who are going on vacation.
Unfortunately for her, the family is, well, bonkers, and they task her with taking care of a porcelain doll named Brahms, which they treat as their son as their real child passed away. For a big portion of the movie, the doll seems to move on its own and weird noises - including a child's cry - are heard throughout the house, making you think the damn thing's possessed. In reality, it's controlled by its real-life counterpart - who's now an adult that was in hiding for years after killing his friend when he was little. As a grown up, he "requires" his parents send him sacrifices in the form of babysitters.
6. 'The Hand' (1981)
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Writer: Oliver Stone (screenplay), Marc Brandel (novel)
The Hand is a weird and confusing movie, which is saying a lot considering the other entries on this list. Essentially, an artist named Brian (Michael Caine) loses his drawing hand in a car accident caused by his wife. Despite their best efforts, neither he or his family find the hand, and eventually move on. However, the missing appendage starts killing people, which Brian sees as hallucinations.
After bodies start piling up, the police find the remains of Brian's lover and his lover's lover inside his trunk. The strange thing is, the hand killed the young man in a car accident. That means there was never a severed hand crawling around killing people and it was actually Brian all along... right? Well, while he's confined to a mental asylum, Brian tells his doctor his hand doesn't like her, and the severed limb pops up and strangles her. After that, the man laughs and escapes. So it's never actually clear if he was in control of the hand, or wasn't, but ultimately embraced it. Still, that's enough to make him a non-supernatural monster in my book.
7. 'Gothika' (2005)
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Writer: Sebastian Gutierrez
Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) works as a psychiatrist in the Woodward Penitentiary for Women. All is fine until the ghost of a young woman possesses her and murders her husband. Because of this, she's committed in the same facility in which she used to work. But this is no ordinary ghost tale in which a spirit freaks out at people living in its old house, folks.
Miranda slowly uncovers that her husband - who was (much like the characters in I Spit on Your Grave) a respected member of the community - kidnapped girls, drugged, tortured, raped them and then killed them. All with the help of their town's sheriff, who also raped the inmates at the facility Miranda was kept in. In the end, it's revealed the woman who possessed the psychiatrist was one of the men's victims.
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So, what did we take away from all of this? Don't trust anyone and assume everyone around is a psychopathic murderer who wants to kill you. But, jokes aside...