A good movie thriller should scare you at least once. But what often separates the ones that stick with you from those that fade is how they create a steady atmosphere of stress that you can live in while you watch their stories unfold. It’s difficult to define and hard to find, but it is easy to feel it.
This type of good stress can be unsettling to watch, but it will increase the terror and thriller films’ ability tap into your emotions. No matter how much you may try to resist the movie’s attempts at terrorizing you with gory close-ups and jump scares, good stress subverts them by making everything around the story a pervasive terror that lasts long after the credits roll.
Even in small doses, cinematic stress can help you get out of a funk. It’s worth looking for features that take you to places that may not be obvious. It’s time to get out your favorite stress movies for October’s spooky offerings. If you feel the need to look into these features, here are some suggestions.
Veronika Franz’s and Severin Fiala’s Goodnight Mommy transform Germany’s beautiful countryside into the stuff that causes nightmares. It is a story about two young brothers who believe their mother has been replaced by a beast. The boys notice a change in the appearance and demeanor of Susanne Wuest, an unnamed woman who has just returned from surgery to her twin brothers Elias Schwarz and Lukas Schwarz.
The boys’ mother must wear thick bandages all over her face while she recovers from the procedure. She also displays a new level strictness towards the children, which is far different from the way she used to interact with them before she left. Although Goodnight Mommy may initially make you wonder if the bumps in their night might be just figments of their imaginations, you soon doubt her identity and her insistence that she is the same woman the children know.
Parasite is Bong Joonho’s drama about a South Korean family that intersects in an elegant web of deception, aspirations for upward mobility and deceit. Parasite is a drama about a family that lies its way to the blessings of another, but it becomes a psychological thriller with horror elements. Parasite’s amazing ability to seamlessly transition between cinematic genres is what makes the shift towards the almost supernatural possible. It also serves as a reminder that you can be scared by any story if it is written well.
Beyond the Black Rainbow
Beyond the Black Rainbow’s mystery is not revealed until the film invites you to explore the meanings of its striking imagery and the sparse, dread-inducing music. Panos Cosmatos’ 2010 film tells the story of Barry Nyle (Michael Rogers), who works as a researcher at an organization that studies metaphysical and spends his time at a facility where Elena Allan (Eva Allan), is held prisoner. No matter how hard Barry pushes Elena to open up to him, the girl’s resolute in her physical silence, and only communicates her one desire–to be reunited with her father–telepathically.
Beyond the Black Rainbow’s strong use of color and disturbing imagery to create the sickly, twisted atmosphere that drives its story recalls Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Jonathan Glazer’s cinematic adaptation from Under the Skin. Beyond the Black Rainbow creates a feeling of claustrophobia, which increases as Barry’s sinister obsession with Elena grows more intense. By the end, Beyond the Black Rainbow will make you feel like you are fighting for your freedom from a madman’s prison cell.
Mathieu Kassovitz’s Gothika may be a ghost story, but it is a great thriller about a psychiatrist who is accused of murder and finds herself in the same place she used to work. Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry), a psychiatrist, puts all her faith into science and medical expertise. But nothing about her apparent psychotic break makes sense, even though her closest friends believe she may be a murderer.
Miranda accepts her tortured life in the psychiatric ward and learns from her firsthand the inhumane treatment she and others suffered at the hands the other staff members of the facility. Miranda is disturbed by the possibility that the force behind her search for justice regarding a series of murders may actually be calling her from the beyond.
Denis Villeneuve weaves an engaging and intricate web in Enemy, his psychological thriller from 2013. It is about a college professor who discovers that he may be a twin or a clone or the perfect doppelganger to a struggling actor. Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal), catches a glimpse of an actor that resembles him and sets out to find out more about Anthony Claire (also Gyllenhaal).
Although neither Adam nor Anthony can recall being born to siblings or having undergone secret genetic tests, they both know that they are dead ringers. They share the same DNA and have similar bodies. Both Anthony and Adam are open to the possibility of meeting someone else in the world, which opens up their imaginations to the many possibilities that await them. However, both men find that they have more in common than they thought.
Blood Red Sky
Peter Thorwarth’s Blood Red Sky is a story about a mother and son duo, Nadja (Peribaumeister) and Elias(Carl Anton Koch), as they embark on a flight from Germany to New York. Due to Nadja’s unique blood-related medical condition she and Elias spent a lot of time planning their journey. They must travel without ever being in direct sunlight. Everything seems to be going as planned when the movie starts. When the family’s flight is disrupted by a group led by Berg (Dominic Purcell), Nadja realizes she must fight back to reveal the secret that she has worked so hard to conceal from her son.
Tarsem Sing’s The Cell revelled in the strange intersection of brilliance, absurdity and humor with a twisty tale about a psychologist’s search for the mind of a madman. Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez), a psychologist who has a great deal of knowledge about the minds of children, is an invaluable asset to the police’s investigation into Carl Rudolph Stargher (Vincent D’Onofrio), the serial killer who drowns his victims in glass boxes.
The harshness and coldness of The Cell’s real world contrasts with Stargher’s dreamworld, which Deane discovers as she searches for the murderer’s next victim. Eiko Ishioka, the costume designer, creates a gravity well that forces you to focus on the characters. The Cell alternates between images of absolute beauty with the macabre.