10 Totally Depressing Horror Movies: 10 fright films that will make you want to crawl into a dark hole and stay there for many days
Why do we watch horror movies? That’s a fairly easy question to answer. See, we’re all going to die. This is a fact. And we spend our small lifespans trying very hard to forget this fact. We distract ourselves with things. We get caught up in dramas both real and fabricated. Especially in Western culture. We need these darker entertainments to remind us of these bitter truths and I suppose, in some ways, they are empowering. They allow us to make ourselves feel superior to death. We can see people die and die violently in a movie and come out of it alive and healthy and thankful that we are not THOSE guys in THAT movie.
Now, there are all kind of horror movies and all manner sub-genres. But some of the greatest horror movies of all time don’t leave us wanting to whistle a happy tune. They are soul-smothering and totally
depressing fantasy experiences. It’s a masochistic relationship we have with these movies, like picking at scabs and it speaks volumes about our darker sides in that we spend money just so we can feel like s**t.
So if you are truly among the flock of folks seeking to see something that will make you want to crawl into a hole and stay there for days, may we humbly suggest the following 10 fright films whose aim is to promote misery. Skillfully produced and expertly executed misery, but misery all the same.
And beware…this list is FULL OF SPOILERS. Big time. So go no further unless you want to know all…
Witchfinder General (1968)
Vincent Price gives a career best performance in Michael Reeves' masterful look at the corrupt life of real-life "witchfinder" Matthew Hopkins, who visited villages in Cromwell's England and was paid handsomely to murder innocent people while pretending they were witches. Hopkins is the embodiment of capitalist evil and even though he gets his in the end, the decent people who are reverted to animal states to get their revenge fare no better. No one gets out un-ruined in this immaculate, hard hitting and totally depressing classic film.
Don't Look Now (1973)
Cinematographer-turned-director Nicolas Roeg's adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's novel is a hypnotic, haunting and emotionally devastating movie. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie's daughter drowns at the beginning and they spend the rest of the movie in Venice with Sutherland swearing he sees is child's ghost running around. And when he traps the specter in an alley at the end, it's actually a murderous dwarf who stabs him to death. Let the good times roll!
The Wicker Man (1973)
We are indeed talking about the immortal British original here, not the goofy Nicolas Cage remake, though both movies end the same, with a tricked police officer hero being burned alive in the titular contraption. But there's so much more going on in the original that add to the downbeat majesty of the movie, including the protagonist's (Edward Woodward) tortured and misguided celibacy and unyielding desire to be good. He's a complex character and so when he dies screaming it hurts us even more.
Pet Sematary (1989)
Stephen King's novel is one of the most depressing, hard-to-handle horror novels I have ever read and Mary Lambert's movie almost matches it, stripping down the narrative but still delivering an unflinching downer of a movie. An Indian burial ground has the power to resurrect the dead but when said corpses come back, they aint right. That includes little 3 year old Gage Creed who is crushed by a truck, buried by his grieving dad and comes back a scalpel wielding zombie with aims to kill his family. It's The Monkey's Paw on crack and man is it miserable.
Funny Games (1997 or 2007)
Director Michael Haneke made this bleakly satirical horror movie of manners twice, once in French and later as an American remake. We slightly prefer the remake because of the cast that includes Naomi Watts in her best performance and Michael Pitt, who is casually terrifying. A pair of young dandies insinuate themselves into a family's summer home and psychologically torture and murder everyone. The end!
The Others (2001)
Elegant Spanish/American horror masterpiece that owes plenty to Henry James and The Sixth Sense...but this one goes further. Nicole Kidman once more shows why she is one of the best actresses of her generation starring as a stern mother in a haunted English mansion whose children are allergic to the sun. The kids think someone is haunting the house. The mother is on edge because her husband has vanished in the war leaving her alone. Turns out she and the kids are dead, a murder suicide, and unbeknownst to them, they are the ones haunting the house. Beautiful but a real downer.
The Descent (2005)
Neil Marshall's claustrophobic horror masterpiece is a downer from the get go, with a mother losing both her husband and daughter in a violent car crash. While the later horror of her and her friends trapped in a cave with carnivorous mutants is nerve-wracking, it's the human drama of revelations about a tryst and her dead spouse that really resonate as well as that sob-worthy climax where the woman finally snaps and imagines she's reunited with her child, her mind inventing a final soothing fantasy before she's eaten alive.
French two-hander about a batshit insane childless mother who breaks into a preganant woman's home with designs to steal her unborn baby is often impossible to watch, with scenes of a fetus dodging a womb-invading knife and all manner of stabbings and belly damage. And the psycho gets her baby in the end. So do the math. This one is super depressing.
The Mist (2007)
More dark, domestic nightmare Stephen King but in the case of The Mist, the source novel is not depressing. It has its moments of msery, sure, but you can blame the soul sucking on writer/director Frank Darabont, who makes his main hero (Thomas Jane) decide to shoot his own son because he thinks there's no way out from the foggy shroud of monsters that have engulfed the city. Seconds later the army comes to rescue everyone and dad buckles to his knees in tears. Some liked this ending. I thought and still think it's stupid and tacked on. Depressing yes. But a fabricated depression.
A Serbian FIlm (2010)
If you've seen A Serbian Film, you know why it's on this list. If you haven't...think twice before you do! A downtrodden porn actor (are there other kinds?) is forced to star in an experimental film for dough and ends up immersing himself in a world of baby rape, necrophilia, adult rape and other fun stuff. It climaxes with the dude unknowingly sodomizing his own child and wife before the battered trio agree to off themselves with a single bullet. Happy days are here again!