Fright Club: Tortured Romance

A lot of horror romances don’t work out. Whether it’s the demon/internet connection hoping to impregnate you, the stalker/voyeur/vampire obsessed with you, or that dreamy girl who turns into a hungry panther every time she’s aroused – finding Mr. or Ms. Right in a horror movie can prove dangerous.

Let’s not even talk about prom dates.

Here are five of our favorite examples of the dire, bloody, terrifying reason that following your heart is not always your best bet.

5. Scream (1996)

Oh, poor Sidney Prescot (Neve Campbell). Her boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) is practically Johnny Depp levels of hot, but ever since that thing with her mom, Sid can’t get intimate. Plus, Billy Loomis might be the town’s serial killer.

No, love doesn’t turn out great for Sid and Billy. Or for Tatum (Rose McGowan) and Stu (Matthew Lillard). Or for Mr. and Mrs. Prescott. In fact, the only romance that seems to flourish at all ends up giving one guy a terrible limp.

4. It Follows (2014)

Moments after a sexual encounter with a new boyfriend, Jay (Maika Monroe) discovers that she is cursed. He has passed on some kind of entity – a demonic menace that will follow her until it either kills her or she passes it on to someone else the same way she got it.

Writer/director David Robert Mitchell has captured that fleeting yet dragging moment between childhood and adulthood and given the lurking dread of that time of life a powerful image. There is something that lies just beyond the innocence of youth. You feel it in every frame and begin to look out for it, walking toward you at a consistent pace, long before the characters have begun to check the periphery themselves.

Mitchell’s provocatively murky subtext is rich with symbolism but never overwhelmed by it. His capacity to draw an audience into this environment, this horror, is impeccable, and the result is a lingering sense of unease that will have you checking the perimeter for a while to come.

3. Trouble Every Day (2001)

Backed by a plaintive, spooky soundtrack by Tindersticks, Clair Denis’s metaphorical erotic horror examines gender roles, sex and hunger. Denis is one of France’s more awarded and appreciated auteurs, so a one-time voyage into horror should not be dismissed.

A newlywed American couple head to Paris, ostensibly to honeymoon, but Shane (Vincent Gallo) is really there to re-establish connection with old colleagues Coré (Béatrice Dalle) and her husband, Léo (Alex Descas). The three scientists once participated in an experiment, and Shane needs to find them.

The film is a startling work of biologic-horror, but its existential riffs on intimacy, dominance and violence—common fare in the genre—are clearer-headed and more disturbing here than in anything else that swims the same murky waters.

2. Get Out (2017)

Writer/director Jordan Peele crafts an impeccable horror based in social anxiety, articulating something more relevant and powerful than anything horror had undertaken in decades. His is a brilliant take on modern racism, cultural appropriation and horror.

On a less metaphorical level, it’s also a look at a really, really bad romance. Poor Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) agrees to spend the weekend with his girl Rose (Allison Williams) and her parents, meeting the family and participating in a big, rich-white-people party.

But Rose’s relationships don’t turn out so rosy. Just ask Georgina and Walter.

1. Audition (1999)

The prolific director Takashi Miike made more than 70 movies in his first 20 or so years in film. Among the best is Audition, a phenomenally creepy May/December romance gone very, very wrong.

Audition tells the story of a widower convinced by his TV producer friend to hold mock television auditions as a way of finding a suitable new mate. He is repaid for his deception.

Nearly unwatchable and yet too compelling to turn away from, Audition is a remarkable piece of genre filmmaking. The slow moving picture builds anticipation, then dread, then full-on horror.

By the time Audition hits its ghastly conclusion, Miike and his exquisitely terrifying antagonist (Eihi Shina) have wrung the audience dry. She will not be the ideal stepmother.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.