Are you a horror movie buff? Then there are three things we know you look forward to every year – Halloween, the announcement of the next Ring/Ju-On instalment, and the new movies for the GV Horrorthon. But what makes a good horror movie so frightening?

There are some things that we will always be frightened of – instinctual fears that are buried deep in our human psyche. Things like child ghosts. Supernatural possession. Creatures that look uncannily like humans. No matter what form they come in, they will always instil this sense of dread in you. We’re not talking about jump scares here – simple unexpected shocks can frighten anyone. What we’re talking about is that sort of tangible suspense that you could cut with a knife, images which linger in your mind, and a sense of unease you can’t shake. These horror elements never go out of style – because as humans, we’ll always be frightened of them.

So what is it that gets us humans so edgy in horror movies? Here’s a look at six things that make us a lot more uncomfortable than it should.


1. Dead children

Still/Born. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Still/Born. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Horror movie series Ju-On has the most iconic child ghost of all – the ghastly white boy ghost Toshio. He doesn’t even have to do anything but just stand there and look at you, and you can already feel your hair standing. But what’s worse than a dead child?

A dead unborn child.

In Still/Born, a mother gives birth to twins – but only one survives childbirth. Unfortunately, the ghost of the stillborn child comes back to plague the mother and her baby. It’s a force that you can’t communicate with. You can’t talk to it. You can’t even recognise the ghost of the stillborn child. You might not even be able to reason with it. (I mean, if reasoning doesn’t work on a newborn, what more a stillborn?) All you can do is sit tight and pray for the best, and hope that the ghost of the stillborn doesn’t take its brother along with it.


2. Sewn up mouths

Living Space. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Living Space. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

What makes supernatural beings so terrifying is that we can’t communicate with them. That’s why the Titans of Attack on Titan are so fearsome, and also why we feel so uneasy when we see a ghost with its mouth sewed up. As social creatures, humans were born to interact with one another. Take away that ability to communicate and you’ll have violated one of the most fundamental building blocks of our humanity.

Just like the sewn up mouths in Living Space and Ouija. Besides the fact that it would be agonising to have someone pierce a needle into your lips repeatedly to sew them up, it forcibly removes one’s ability to talk. You can imagine what it’s like to want to communicate but be unable to – and how this would turn you into a spirit with unfinished business.


3. Haunted houses

Living Space. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Living Space. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Houses are a place of refuge, where we can let our guard down and be who we really are. A man’s home is his castle, after all. So when that safe space has been invaded by the supernatural, it leaves us shaken. It literally strikes way too close to home. If another person’s home can be haunted in film, what about our own homes? Will the very house we live in be the site of a haunting one day?

That’s why haunted houses are so common in movies. It represents a breach of the most intimate order, like in the Conjuring series or Living Space, where a couple on a romantic getaway has to spend the night in a farmhouse. Unfortunately, that safe space turns out to be more of a den of horrors, with all manner of nightmares hiding within its walls. The couple has to last till dawn if they wish to survive, but even that might be too much for them to handle.


4. ‘Things’ hiding under the bed

Terrified. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Terrified. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

In a house, your most private area is the bedroom. It’s where you have to be defenseless for a good eight hours a day (although we recommend nine hours of sleep if you can). It has to be safe. It must be safe. So if a ghost turns up under your bed, you might never want to fall asleep again. Who knows what else could be lurking in that space underneath your mattress?

It’s perhaps one of the most basest instincts we have. Children always ask their parents to check under their bed before going to sleep, just in case there are monsters there. We don’t learn to have this fear – we’re born with it. So films that tap into this, like Terrified and Ju-On, make us afraid to go to sleep for fear of what might be hiding in or under our beds. It makes us think that we always have to be on guard, lest some thing terrible appears.


5. Gory toilets

The second most private area of a house is the toilet – it’s where we disrobe and perform all our human bodily functions out of the sight of other people. We’re literally at our truest form in there, since there are no clothes to hide behind or make-up to preserve our looks. We don’t even want other people to see us, let alone a ghost. So when it happens, we’re terribly, terribly disturbed. Especially if there’s blood. Lots and lots of blood.

Remember that bloody toilet scene in It? You’ll see that again in Terrified, where a poor wife starts hearing voices in the kitchen. She soon discovers that they’re coming from the sink, eventually leading her to a blood-splattered toilet. It’s race against time as she tries to find out where the voices are coming from, before something terrible happens.


6. Slashers and stalkers

Ruin Me. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Ruin Me. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Slasher flicks are in a category all of their own, like the Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer series. If you’ve ever had a stalker or had to file a restraining order against someone, you’ll understand why. It’s just that unsettling feeling that someone is watching your every move, waiting to pounce on you when you least expect it. It’s why we have an innate distrust of government surveillance measures, because who wants someone looking over your shoulder every few minutes?

It’s such a famous trope that Ruin Me starts with a reluctant teenager going on an escape room adventure – Slasher Sleepout: The Ultimate Horror Movie Experience. Unfortunately, that game quickly turns sour when there’s a real slasher on the loose, murdering each participant in turn. If our heroine wants to live, she has to win the game and find out who the actual slasher is.

GV Horrorthon. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

GV Horrorthon. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Have you been permanently scarred by all this talk about horror movie tropes? If not, then your appetite has definitely been whetted for the GV Horrorthon 2018‘s crop of horror movies – Terrified, Living Space, Ruin Me, and Still/Born! The annual Halloween event returns for it’s 12th year with back-to-back screenings, director interviews and even gourmet popcorn. This is the Singapore debut of all the four movies, which means you’ll be the first in the country to watch them!

For $40 (Golden Village Movie Club members get to enjoy a special price of $35), you get to watch two back-to-back movies, in addition to getting 2 sets of Gourmet Popcorn (Barbecue and Caramel) as well as 1 bottle of green tea!

Choose from either Terrified & Living Space or Ruin Me & Still/Born for the GV Horrorthon 2018!

Are you an aspiring horror movie maker? You can also get up close and personal with Terrified‘s director and production designer and Living Space‘s writer-director during a dialogue session on Oct 26 and 27. Learn from the masters of horror if you’re intending to make your own scary movie!

It’s going to be one creepy, creepy Halloween.

Credits: Golden Village Cinemas


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