in

8 Horror Movies That Have Pretty Great Storylines, Too

horror movies good storylines the sixth sense

Many horror movies have flimsy pretenses standing in for a plot. “We just need enough of a coat hanger to put blood and guts and mayhem and scares on,” I imagine a Hollywood executive growled in between cigarettes and bites of a big sandwich. However, a rare few horror flicks go above and beyond what’s demanded of them, providing a fascinating story to go with their spooky set pieces. Here are some flicks that will scratch the “I want to be scared, but also want a solid plot” itch you may be having.

The Sixth Sense

horror movies good storylines the sixth sense
(source)

Before M. Night Shyamalan became a walking punchline for his poor filmmaking decisions, he burst onto the scene with this viscerally horrifying yet emotionally harrowing movie. The Sixth Sense casts a fog of melancholy and watches its protagonists — a traumatized child who sees dead people, a child psychiatrist having difficulties with his marriage, a litany of ghosts with unfinished business — wade through it. It’s telling that if you took out all the scares, this film would work as a touchingly subtle domestic drama. However, there are scares, and one hell of a twist ending, and for that, we have to thank Mr. Shyamalan for this, one of his three out-and-out genre masterpieces. (Unbreakable and Signs are the other two. [The Happening is also amazing, but for different reasons that have nothing to do with quality. {I could talk about Shyamalan all day, so I should probably just move on.}])

The Cabin in the Woods

horror movies good storylines the cabin in the woods
(source)

What do you do when you want to make a horror film that’s sick of horror films? You take every trope, cliche, and formula entwined with horror, stick it under the microscope, and dissect it to high heaven. That’s what screenwriters Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon did with this meta-muckraking-masterpiece, and the results are not only clever and funny, but genuinely scary as well. There’s so much in The Cabin in the Woods that could’ve gone wrong, and yet it all goes thrillingly right. Our teenage protagonists are nicely shaded, our office-bound directors are fiendishly funny, and our hypothetical monsters all deserves their own movie. Plus, I’d make a case for this having the most bonkers flat-out entertaining third act of any horror movie, ever.

The Exorcist

horror movies good storylines the exorcist
(source)

If a horror movie is good enough to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award and is good enough to win Best Adapted Screenplay, you know it’s doing something unparalleled in its storytelling. The Exorcist is gut-wrenchingly scary, with visuals and set pieces causing me to cringe and cover my eyes to this day. However, it’s also fascinatingly complex, dealing with Catholic guilt, crises of faith, and even fitting in a metaphor about the pains of puberty. The power of Christ compels you… to watch this excellently complicated horror film! Sorry, I’ll spider-walk my way out.

The Orphanage

horror movies good storylines the orphanage
(source)

Coming to us from Spain, The Orphanage has a lot of heavy concepts on its mind — abandonment, disabilities, HIV, revenge, and wrongful death — all involving children. The fact that it does all this with grace and care, while still managing to be harrowing, is quite the feat. There are visceral set pieces and shocking moments, to be sure, but the majority of dread in this film comes from the pain and regret of human folly. If this film had a “horror-movie-ending-that-makes-you-cry” competition with The Sixth Sense, I’m not sure which would win.

Fright Night

horror movies good storylines fright night
(source)

In some ways, Fright Night is the proto-Scream, or even proto-The Cabin In The Woods. It’s cleverly genre savvy, featuring a main character who’s obsessed with horror cinema and culture, and a Vincent Price-esque horror actor who must translate his big-screen experience into the real world. (Shades of The Three Amigos, no?) However, beyond these meta shenanigans, it also just tells a good vampire story, with spooky scares and fun updates of vampire tropes. It also easily asks one of my favorite questions of an audience: if you found out your next door neighbor was a vampire, what would you do?

Don’t Look Now

horror movies good storylines don’t look now
(source)

Even for a horror movie, starting with the death of a child feels bold and transgressive, particularly in 1973 when the film was released. And while the mechanics of the plot make sense in a horror narrative standpoint (the parents’ daughter may still be alive, and they must encounter spooky instances along the way to discovering the truth), it’s mostly the raw and vulnerable exploration of grief and moving on that makes this film a standout. There’s even an at-the-time graphic sex scene that dares to communicate that parents can try to move on after experiencing a trauma — a pretty complicated and progressive point of view for any movie to make, let alone a genre flick like this. Also, just, wow, what a perfectly grim ending.

Let The Right One In

horror movies good storylines let the right one in
(source)

Ah, young love. The butterflies. The anxiety. The unquenchable thirst for blood — wait, what? Yes, that’s right, the Swedish vampire masterpiece Let The Right One In works beautifully as an exploration of first love, feeling like an outcast, and what it means to find your people. To be fair, it also has vicious moments of blood-sucking carnage, but even those are shaded by the muted emotional realism at the material’s center. Plus, if this had a “horror-movie-ending-that-makes-you-cry” competition with The Sixth Sense and The Orphanage, I’m not sure what would win.

The Fly

horror movies good storylines the fly
(source)

Full disclosure: I’m a heterosexual man, but if Jeff Goldblum were ever to ask me on a romantic date, I would 100 percent say yes. That is how charming and attractive I find him, and it’s why, even when he’s turning into a horrible, viscerally grotesque fly-man hybrid, I completely buy Geena Davis’ devotion. Beyond being a movie about a man who turns into a horrible, viscerally grotesque fly-man hybrid, this is a movie about love, the attempts to look past a partner’s flaws, and the self-destructive behaviors love can make us engage in. Perhaps these primal themes could only be explored by a primal genre like horror. I, for one, am thankful for it.

Which horror film’s storyline do you love the most? Which ones did we miss? Also, give me a follow on Twitter, but be warned: the endings to my jokes may make you cry.

Contributor: 
Greg Smith
View Count: 
8
Weekly View Count: 
8
Mass images: 
horror movies good storylines the cabin in the woods
horror movies good storylines don’t look now
horror movies good storylines fright night
horror movies good storylines let the right one in
horror movies good storylines the exorcist
horror movies good storylines the fly
horror movies good storylines the orphanage
horror movies good storylines the sixth sense

What do you think?

Comments

Leave a Reply

Loading…

Loading…

0

Comments

0 comments

18 Posts That Are Too Pure for This World

Hamster Takes On First Level Of Super Mario Brothers