The Art of Scare: Artistic Horror Films |

horror films

by Lindsay Wong

While slashers and thrillers may make for exciting horror movies that thrill us and chill us down to our very core, artistic horror films are often overlooked. Many movie fans consider the horror genre trashy or tacky, with the sole purpose being to scare viewers with cheap thrills. Nevertheless, there are many hidden gems within the horror genre that are artistic and convey deep messages, simultaneously scaring viewers.

Raw (2016)

‘Raw’ is a French coming-of-age horror movie about Justine, a vegetarian student who undergoes unusual initiation rituals at her new veterinary school. Cannibalism is the main theme of the film, as Justine is forced to eat a raw rabbit’s kidney but then develops a craving for human meat, and loses control of her desires. ‘Raw’ also explores female sexuality, as Justine must navigate a male-dominated environment.

Tastefully directed by director Julia Ducournau, ‘Raw’ received critical acclaim for its message of female empowerment through Justine’s character. While it was criticised for being too graphic and bloody, it enabled the film to leave a longer-lasting impression on viewers.

Dogtooth (2009)

From the outside, they seem like the perfect family, as the husband has a high-paying job and a massive house. However, the family occupying the house is anything but perfect. ‘Dogtooth’ is a bizarre Greek fantasy film about a controlling, violent, and abusive father who keeps his children (a boy and two girls) locked away from the outside world, well into their adulthood.

This is the definition of a dysfunctional family – the father feeds them lies and the children act like animals at times. While the film surpasses all understanding of a plot, it is artistic in the way that it injects humour into moments of horror and bizarreness. 

Suicide Club (2001) 

Since Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world due to the work pressure and bullying, suicide is considered a taboo topic that is not often explored in the media. ‘Suicide Club’ tackles suicide head-on by following police officers examining an incident of which 54 schoolgirls commit a mass suicide. This triggers a wave of suicide across the country among the youth.

‘Suicide Club’ was directed by Sion Sono, who was once part of a pseudo-Christian Communist cult, whose experiences influenced the film’s direction. With ‘Suicide Club’, Sono hoped to also address the influence of pop culture and the media on the youth. The film garnered a cult following and even a sequel called ‘Noriko’s Dinner Table.’

The Cell (2000)

‘The Cell’, starring Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn, is about a psychologist who enters the mind of a serial killer through a new transcendental science in order to save the last victim who’s still alive. While many scenes seem stereotypical for horror movies, it is inherently clever in depicting how serial killers think and feel.

The film is brutally honest and portrays the serial killer without any filter, from his gory visual to the way he slaughters his victims. The surreal landscape and dream-like atmosphere utilising Gothic visuals and Pop Art references offer up a disturbing yet stunning eye candy that makes the film an artistic masterpiece. 

Videodrome (1983)

‘Videodrome’ is a film about body horror that is set in a dystopian future in which technology has infiltrated every aspect of everyone’s daily life – not too far off from the reality that we know today, and even shows technology similar to Siri and Alexa. The protagonist, Max, is a TV station CEO looking for the people behind ‘Videodrome,’ a channel featuring violence and torture. Soon, he gets slowly and painfully consumed by ‘Videodrome’ in a gruesome process.

The cult classic features themes that are still relevant in today’s world. With ‘Videodrome’, director David Cronenberg aims to tap into our subconscious by depicting our masochistic, subservient tendencies on screen.