Top 5 High School Horror Films
For many, high school was a horror movie in and of itself. For other, high school was the time of some peoples’ lives. The good news is, as bad as some of us had it in high school, at least we weren’t stalked by a zombie fisherman or a guy in a ghost mask. But that hasn’t stopped the horror genre from imagining what would happen if all the angst and pent-up confusion of puberty manifested physically. Usually involving crying and blood.
5) The Gallows (2015)
Listen. There’s an audience for the 2015 film The Gallows, even if said audience doesn’t include this writer. Subjectivity aside, The Gallows was made for the very audience that the characters themselves were — teenagers. The Gallows is a found footage movie focusing on a bunch of drama nerds that get locked in an auditorium and must face off against the malevolent spirit of a boy who was accidentally hanged twenty years prior. It’s pretty standard stuff but it did exactly what it was created to do — entertain teenagers. And who knows, maybe this film served as an introduction to the horror genre for some of its viewers.
4) It Follows (2014)
Teenagers have always been in a hurry to grow up. Video games and homework vie for time with drugs and sex. Unfortunately, they don’t always understand the consequences of having sex. The characters in the 2014 film certainly didn’t. When heroine Jay sleeps with her boyfriend for the first time, she invites an ancient evil into her life that can only be spread via sexual intercourse. Yes, this is a parable. It Follows was creepy, foreboding and extremely Carpenter-esque in its filming. It also really scared adult audiences about having sex. Imagine how scared teenagers were when they saw that having intercourse not only leads to possible STI’s but also a demonic, clingy demon monster.
3) Scream (1996)
Scream was one of the best high school-focused horror movies of the ’90s. Sidney Prescott is being tortured by a masked maniac who follows her everywhere — including her home, a house party and the hallowed halls of high school itself. She even almost gets murdered in the high school bathroom, which would be worse than any swirlie you ever got. Scream was a landmark achievement from director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williams. It turned the horror world upside down and defined the genre for a generation. We fell in love with the characters of Sidney, Gale, Dewey, Randy, and more. Scream felt like it could be real. We all know that Freddy or Jason or a scary sex monster could never actually exist. But somebody from our high school could certainly don a mask and go on a killing spree. Scream was funny in its observances, but it was horrifying in its authenticity.
2) The Faculty
Throughout many of our high school careers, we were convinced that our teachers had to be from another planet. This was, quite literally, the case in The Faculty. This 1998 movie came out during a time when “meta-horror” was at its peak. Scream, Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and more were all sharply written and focused on a young, attractive cast dealing with a masked or hooded killer. The Faculty took this same setup but, instead of a masked maniac, it introduced parasites from another planet that took hosts, ala Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The Faculty featured an incredible cast, featuring Josh Hartnett, Jordana Brewster, Elijah Wood, and more. Robert Rodriguez took a script from Kevin Williams (hence why it seems so similar to Scream) and breathed new life into the “high school horror” genre.
1) Carrie (1976)
Carrie White was a quiet, meek, misunderstood high school girl. She was never mean to anybody and usually just kept to herself, yet she continued to find herself as the object of torment for many of her classmates. Things at home weren’t much better, either. Carrie’s mother was a religious zealot who believed most things were of the devil, including periods, proms, and breasts. Carrie never really stood a change during her formative years, and that’s what is so heartbreaking about this film. It’s also something that challenged all of us watching. We may never have poured pigs blood on a classmate, but how many times did we laugh along with the bullies? How many chances did we have to stop bullying, but we blindly ignored those chances to save our own skin? How many times could we have changed the lives of “the outcast,” if only we showed a little bit of compassion and a little bit of empathy? The scariest part of Carrie is not the telekinesis or the overbearing mother or the climactic final scene that saw prom turn into a massacre. The scariest part of Carrie was the reminder that we probably had multiple opportunities to “save” the Carries that we knew in school; we just never took them.
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