Genres used to be very distinct, but modern times call for new twists, and these days, suspense films become too suspenseful, you would think them to be horror most of the time. From the stark contrast of light and darkness to depictions of evil, horror films are not the only ones with jump scares these days. In fact, so many films convey an air of horror without being classified as such.
Here are some suspense films that tread the thin line to being all-out scary:
Don’t let the title fool you, this is not a story for children. In fact, this is a cautionary tale and a ghost story all at the same time.
The mid-1990s portrays a sense of adolescent nihilism, with haunted characters and a take on a major issue: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The film is so dizzying and so gritty, its style almost takes you to their time, as if the film’s quality in itself will infect you with the disease.
With a network of kids as characters, the film does not have a protagonist or an antagonist per se, but the plotline surrounds Telly, a sixteen-year-old who devirginizes young girls, and Jennie, one of his conquests, and who ever only slept with one guy.
She finds out that she contracted HIV from her sexual encounter with Telly, while he, oblivious to what he has, has been spreading the disease among young girls. The plotline is shocking, to be sure. However, what follows is a chaotic 24 hours that built up to decadent parties and pleasure—and the two remained out of contact despite Jennie’s attempts.
The film is dated, but there’s suspense about what is going to happen in the midst of exchanging bodily fluids. The film gets up-close and personal with these kids and their activities, but despite the big-city backdrop, one thing is clear: it, too, can happen to you.
Requiem of a Dream, 2000
Darren Aronofsky’s take on social issues was a soul-crashing masterpiece that is practically horror, a journey that takes you to a very personal and dark territory. Based on Hubert Selby’s novel of the same name, the film follows a group of characters who each have different addictions—from food, dieting, television, sex, and drugs—the hard issues are dealt with in this film. Each character has a unique voice quickly crumbled as they fight their own demons.
The most notable member of the cast is Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb, whose journey to stardom changed into a nightmare. Old age, media, and her body eventually caught up to her and her deterioration came in an attack of everything she always worked to achieve.
Everyone else in the main cast experience something similar, with consequences so horrifying captured under a distorted lens and playing to a Japanese anime-horror tune that will keep your heart beating in your throat instead of in your chest.
The last film is breathtaking in its tale of ferocity, but it is not a trait that will see a happy ending. The film is very disturbing, you might as well watch horror instead—at least they won’t assault your senses. Irreversible is actually designed to make a viewer feel physically uncomfortable, with visual and aural effects that may or may not cause nausea and extreme discomfort just by being in the room.
Told chronologically but backward, it opens with a monologue of an older man indicating that the story is a depressing one, and what immediately follows did not disappoint: a brutal and horrifying murder in the cellars of a homosexual Parisian night club. And in a way of explanation, a series of events unfold that explained how two men got there.
The next scenes and stories were no better. Rooted in the 1970s and 1980s way of story-telling, the film proves unbearable to watch, with little to no entertainment value or appreciation, mostly just scene after scene of gruesome situations that make the audience feel like it’s pushing them to the edge of nausea.
These films may not be considered horror, but between ultimate discomfort and an all-out terror, most of us would probably prefer to scream than vomit while watching a film, to be honest. If you are more into actual horror films, then read our few suggestions about the best British horror films.