An Introduction to Horror

Posted on December 14, 2021

Horror is one of those genres that is definitely an acquired taste. I completely get it- not everyone wants to go to bed at night right after having just watched something scary. But, like many other fans, I welcome anyone who is interested in getting into the genre for the very first time with open arms. 

Horror can be an incredible, cathartic experience for the viewer, which is why I personally enjoy it. Whether it be books, movies, television, and more, I believe that horror is so beloved by audiences because it provides us with an adrenaline rush within the safety of their own homes. In a way, horror is cathartic. And unlike Christmas movies, horror, to some people’s surprise, is a genre that can be celebrated throughout the whole year, not just in October! 

Starting horror is something that can definitely be daunting at first glance. Within this umbrella term are countless other genres-slashers, psychological, creature features, the list can go on and on. What do you even start with? The classics? The ones currently in theatres?

As a self-proclaimed horror movie fanatic, I have compiled a list of 5 horror movies that I think are a great gateway into the genre. These 5 films encompass a few of the many genres that horror can include. 

Due to the nature of horror movies, I would suggest consulting the crowd-sourced website ‘Does the Dog Die’ to check any potential trigger/content warnings prior to watching any of these films if you are ok with being spoiled.

“Suspiria” (1977) dir. Dario Argento

Image Credit: IMDb

Let’s start off with the classics! “Suspiria” is one of my personal favourite movies, which stars a young American girl named Suzy who moves to Germany to join a prestigious ballet school. After a series of mysterious murders, Suzy is confronted with the sinister, supernatural nature of the school. “Suspiria” is a chilling, visually beautiful experience, with a lean towards the body horror factor which makes this film so memorable. Additionally, “Suspiria” features strong and compelling women characters, making this film a definite must-see for any horror fan.

“The Cabin in the Woods” (2011), dir. Drew Goddard

Image Credit: IMDb

What is a beginner horror movie without “The Cabin in the Woods”?! But seriously, this horror-comedy covers the basis for what one immediately thinks of when it comes to a horror film: 5 20-something-year-old friends go on a getaway trip to a cabin in the middle of the woods-what could possibly go wrong?

What I like most about “The Cabin in the Woods” is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, but maintains a level of self-awareness in order to subvert horror conventions to amuse their audience as they pay homage to almost every trope and archetype found within horror.  

This movie also answers the question “Why?” when it comes to some of the more bizarre, randomness that is often seen within horror movies through a comedic, yet insightful and unique perspective. I definitely recommend this movie to give yourself a good laugh.

“The Ritual (2017)”, David Bruckner

Image Credit: IMDb

“The Ritual” is one of my favourite Netflix original movies, horror and otherwise. Based on the novel of the same title, this film follows four college friends as they reunite after the tragic death of the fifth member of their group. To honour his memory, the friends hike through the Swedish wilderness and are tested by Norse gods, pagan cults, and most of all, by themselves. “The Ritual is visually striking, and is definitely a film I recommend for anyone who is interested in movies that involve cults and mythology.

“Scream” (1996), dir. Wes Craven

Image Credit: IMDb

There is a reason why “Scream” is featured in almost every horror recommendation list. It really is that good. Filled with iconic characters, scenes and imagery, “Scream” continues to retain its well-deserved reputation as a cult classic that has played a monumental role in redefining the horror genre. Another horror-comedy, “Scream” is about highschooler Sidney Prescott who is targeted by the mysterious killer known as Ghostface. The success of this movie led to an entire franchise, further cementing “Scream’s” reputation as a horror movie staple.  

“Creep” (2014), dir. Patrick Brice

Image Credit: IMDb

Lastly, another Netflix gem I can’t get enough of is “Creep”.  This film, in the style of found-footage, follows filmographer Aaron, who answers an online ad to record a stranger for an entire day. As Aaron meets up with this stranger, a man named Josef, the activities of the day and his requests become more and more strange. The low-budget quality of this film only further adds to its quirk and witty charm, and the performances of actors who portray both Aaron and Josef reveal a very compelling dynamic that I simply cannot get enough of. “Creep”, as its title suggests, is the perfect level of creepiness that successfully unnerves the viewer.

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Karlie (she/her) is a 3rd year Media Production student with an affinity for horror movies, creative writing, manga, and spaghetti-not necessarily in that order. In her free time, Karlie likes to make art, listen to music, read, explore new corners of Toronto, and hang out with her spoiled tuxedo cat named Jasmine. Karlie is excited for her second year as a blog writer for SpiritLive!