When modern viewers enter their local multiplex, they expect the viewing to be between 90 and 120 minutes long, but the occasional feature becomes news as it exceeds that limit. However, sometimes making a movie shorter than the average feature length can have a huge impact on its pace, especially in the world of horror.
Modern films tend to run a little longer than they should. This can weaken the flow and make the whole film unwieldy or bloated. Failure to cut a long story can hurt any genre, but can be deadly for horror. That’s why horror films that respect brevity should be celebrated.
Lead time: 88 minutes
Fede Alvarez’s 2016 horror thriller subverts the home invasion subgenre with a dark and shocking rollercoaster ride. The film is about a trio of young criminals who break into houses to earn enough money to survive. They choose a blind veteran as their new target, only to discover that he is an extremely deadly threat with a series of dark secrets just below the surface. The film is tense and violent. His pace is fast-paced, from a simple start to numerous huge changes in direction in a matter of minutes. This movie couldn’t handle two hours, the sequel couldn’t handle the 100 minute it got. It’s meant to be exciting, and it delivers on the title’s promise with breathtaking moment-to-moment action.
Lead time: 87 minutes
Looking back at the original 1988 film, it’s hard to believe this franchise is alive and well almost 35 years later. This is an extremely simple no-frills film that sets its premise in its title and plays it out with no frills. Chucky is still relevant, but the movie that started it all is a classic slasher. Brad Dourif plays serial killer Charles Lee Ray, who is shot and bleeding after a confrontation with a betrayed cop. To save his life, he uses his mastery of voodoo magic to transfer his immortal soul into a nearby talking doll. When this doll is given away to a local six year old, Chucky must use his new cover to continue his fun and claim a new body. The franchise is evolving, but the original succeeded thanks to superior creative vision. Night of fear Directed by Tom Holland (no, not the one) who helped make it a hit.
We’re all going to the World’s Fair
Lead time: 86 minutes
Jane Schönbrun’s recent coming-of-age horror film must be seen to be believed. It follows Anna Cobb as Casey, a lonely teenager who turns to the internet in search of community and fame. It’s a hallucinogenic and bizarre film that explores sincere and bizarre themes in terms of the absurd. Over the course of their career, Schoenbrun have established themselves as one of the preeminent voices in the Internet’s weird and wonderful landscape, and their first feature film is a testament to that vision. After a short theatrical performance We’re all going to the World’s Fair been gone for a while, but fans can finally find it on HBO Max and see what this one-of-a-kind horror movie is all about.
under the shadow
Lead time: 84 minutes
This psychological horror film in Persian is worth watching just because of its unique premise. The action takes place in Tehran during the 1980 Iran-Iraq war. The film centers on Narges Rashidi as Shide, a former medical student trapped in her home by a rocket attack. While there, something malevolent seems to appear and terrorize the hideout and its inhabitants. Shide is forced to face the possibility that her PTSD is destroying her perception of reality, or the presence of an evil spirit that could be even more deadly. This horror film from the Iranian feminist period is a rare treat, filmed with an impressive level of intelligence and tension. under the shadow received rave reviews upon release, but still remains unnoticed by most viewers. More people should find this unique film, it’s a powerful piece of filmmaking put together from a few rarely used pieces.
Lead time: 78 minutes
The found footage sub-genre has surpassed all expectations in its few years of popularity, but there are certainly standouts out there. One of the best examples of horror found in footage is this Spanish nightmare that spawned three sequels. The film follows a reporter and her cameraman covering an outbreak of a new disease in an apartment complex. It’s technically a zombie movie, but it feels much more immediate, gripping, and violent than the usual writhing undead story. 2008 American remake Quarantine, stripped the film of much of what made it special, but the original is an outstanding horror experience. [•REC] is a near-perfect example of fast-paced, spontaneous horror that should serve as a model for future filmmakers. In some horror stories, less is more.
MORE: 5 Underrated Japanese Slashers