Horror 101: 10 Mike Flanagan-Approved Horror Movies For Beginners

Horror 101: 10 Mike Flanagan-Approved Horror Movies For Beginners
Image credit: Cinedigm, Gaumont

Yes, the title says "beginners," but this list will make you wonder if the director has any idea what the term "beginner" even means.

Mike Flanagan claims that these movies are "a gentle way" into the horror genre. Although, such a selection is probably more suitable for the most experienced and seasoned fans, who have already seen everything.

But who are we to argue with Mike Flanagan himself?

1. Terrifier 2

Sienna and her little brother Jonathan are getting ready for Halloween. While the girl prepares a fantasy warrior costume, Jonathan wants to try on the costume of Art, who committed a massacre on Halloween a year ago. But after meeting the real Art in the school corridors, the boy realizes that the killer is hunting his family.

While introducing new characters, the creators did not forget that the main thing in a slasher movie is murder. Art kills a lot, inventively and brutally, and the tension is regularly and skillfully intensified in the right scenes.

2. Gremlins

The charming, fluffy mogwai is absolutely adorable. Just be careful: it can die from sunlight, you should not splash water on it, and what will happen if you feed it after midnight…well, you better not know.

Gremlins is worth watching for at least two reasons. The first is the gremlins themselves. Evil, sneaky, funny, and worthy of all praise. And the second reason is the little mogwai Gizmo, the same one that ended up in the house of the main characters. He can be described in one word – incomparable.

3. Martyrs

The plot of Martyrs cannot be described in a nutshell – every 10 minutes something happens that radically changes the direction of the entire story. It begins as a home invasion thriller about criminals who break into other people's homes. Then the script introduces elements of a ghost story and even an action movie.

And in the second half, we have a close-up view of physical and psychological violence. This parade of cruelty has a rather powerful justification: the movie reflects on how far the man has fallen and whether he deserves to go to heaven.

4. Funny Games

Few people associate the name Michael Haneke, a recognized European master of arthouse drama, with the horror genre. Yet it was he who made one of the most eerie, uncomfortable, and simply terrifying films in history.

Two sadists enter a family's secluded country home and begin abusing them in every way imaginable. Ten years later, Haneke remade his own movie with Hollywood stars – Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Michael Pitt. The experiment was controversial, but that did not make the movie any less shocking.

5. Antichrist

A middle-aged couple loses their infant son when he falls out of a window. As a result, she falls into depression, and he, a practicing psychotherapist, tries to pull her out of the abyss of despair and guilt. Together they go to a house in the middle of the forest, to find their former harmony. But everything collapses – they discover chaos.

Antichrist became perhaps the most scandalous work of Lars von Trier. To a certain extent, this work can be called a horror film, in which the death of a child causes strange visions, leading to the gradual loss of sanity.

6. Possession

Returning home from a long business trip, Mark discovers that he has become a complete stranger to his wife during his absence. He decides to find out the truth. Gradually it becomes clear that this is more than just a love affair.

Possession begins as a very expressive family drama with all the standard elements. However, after the first few minutes of the movie, the director begins to escalate the tension and intensify the atmosphere of madness.

7. The Last House on the Left

Mari and her friend go to a concert, but instead fall into the clutches of a gang of criminals led by the sadistic Krug. After taunting their helpless victims, Krug kills the girls and arrives at the home of Mari's parents.

The debut film of the legendary Wes Craven became a grindhouse hit. Based on the plot of Ingmar Bergman's drama The Virgin Spring, Craven turned the tragic story of losing a child into a celebration of inventive sadism.

8. Cannibal Holocaust

A team of reporters flies into the Amazon forest. They come to make a documentary about the local tribes, but soon disappear. The group that follows in their footsteps discovers shocking footage that reveals the fate of the expedition.

Cannibal Holocaust is considered to be one of the first films shot partly in the found footage genre. But even more scandalous was the incredible cruelty shown in the movie. For example, the animals eaten by the natives were actually killed. Because of this, the movie was initially banned in more than 50 countries, but this later made it a cult classic.

9. A Serbian Film

A Serbian Film – words that send shivers down the spine of a seasoned viewer. Srdjan Spasojevic's film was released not so long ago, in 2010, but it has a reputation as one of the most extreme films in history.

According to the plot, a porn actor agrees to shoot a movie because he desperately needs money, but the director turns out to be a murderer. The movie depicts taboo and legally prosecuted topics and actions in a picturesque way, which is why it has such a scandalous reputation.

10. Imprint

Second half of the 19th century, Japan. A gloomy American takes a boat to a small island. On the island is a brothel where women are kept in cages like animals and forced to serve men under threat of beatings and starvation. But the silent man shows no interest in the abominations going on around him. He is only interested in one thing – the particular woman he wants to save.

The movie resembles a nightmare because of the unreliable narrator trope. At first, the girl the man is talking to gives him a short version of his beloved's tragic fate, in which she herself plays no role at all. But each time he demands the truth, the sex worker begins to play an increasingly important and sinister role in the story.