Top Five Overrated Scary Movies
I've always been fascinated by scary movies. We actually enjoy getting the bejeezus scared out of us through creepy and clever uses of the genre (some of us, anyway).
At least, that's the idea. However, horror films are often uninspired or bland. Often even the better-received films disappoint most audiences. Don't believe me? Let's examine the five most overrated scary movies, and reveal suggestions for better viewing!
I won't spoil any of these movies, but believe me, you'd probably be better off if I did.
5. Saw (2004)
The Premise: Two men awaken imprisoned in a bathroom. They receive terrifying instructions from mysterious mastermind Jigsaw: one must kill the other or their families will die.
Why It's Overrated: I don't mind the premise, but Saw offers one thing: gore. I'm not super squeamish, but gore only really scares me if used in conjunction with the right atmosphere. Essentially, it has to fit the story, not be used as an excuse for a lame plot. A string of disappointing sequels doesn't improve the franchise's reputation.
Saw provides stale dialogue and an implausible twist. If you're seeking torture porn, this movie has it. But there are better-written and more engaging graphic movies out there.
Instead Watch: Want something intense but clever? Prisoners and You're Next fill the gap. The Descent also serves well if you don't mind long build ups to the action.
4. Psycho (1960)
The Premise: A woman steals money from her job and runs away, hoping to find a better life. Along the way, she stops at a motel and things take an ominous turn..
Why It's Overrated: To be clear, I don't think this movie is bad. It introduced the famous high-pitch violin cue, and latter portions build tension nicely. The problem is simply how boring the first half is. The main character, who you probably won't relate to since she commits embezzlement, spends too much time driving around aimlessly, contemplating her decision.
Additionally, there's an unnecessarily long scene with the psychiatrist at the end (even the critically panned 1998 remake knew to shorten that segment).
If you really want to see Psycho, I recommend viewing the first few minutes then skipping to the motel. Just be aware you're watching more of an atmospheric thriller than a scary movie. Is it bad? Not at all! Will it live up to its hype? Hmm, perhaps not.
Instead Watch: Honestly, Psycho 2 isn't a bad pick for a more tradition horror film. The Strangers, Don't Breathe, and Silence of the Lambs also offer unique glimpses of unhinged individuals.
Prequel series Bates Motel is also splendidly disturbing.
3. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
The Premise: A group of young teenagers (of course) retreat to an isolated cabin to party and relax. However, they must face both monsters and a mysterious group operating behind the scenes.
Why It's Overrated: Honestly, maybe check this one out and decide for yourself, as it received mostly positive reception. Despite the hype, I was left underwhelmed.
The movie is part horror, but I wasn't afraid. It's also part parody, but I didn't laugh. The characters are the predictable stereotypes, and while this is done on purpose, it doesn't help endear them to you.
There's a "twist" near the end that seemed to captivate many, but frankly didn't alter my perception of the film. I wouldn't call this a terrible film, but never felt it lived up to the hype it earned.
Instead Watch: For better blends of horror and horror parody, try Scream or Shaun of the Dead.
2. The Exorcist (1973)
The Premise: A priest struggling with his faith must help a distraught mother expel a demon from her young daughter's body.
Why It's Overrated: The Exorcist was a marvel - for its time. It utilized impressive effects for 1973 and helped establish the horror genre. However, by modern standards, it falls short of its cult status.
I'd label it more disturbing than frightening, and felt the climax was lackluster. This film doesn't have much to critique, as most aspects are done fine. Just fine, though - the characters, tension, and dialogue work adequately, not exceptionally.
If demons or the thought of being possessed terrifies you, maybe you'll enjoy The Exorcist. But to most viewers it just can't live up to its monumental reputation.
Instead Watch: Craving some demonic monsters? Try Light's Out, Sinister, or Insidious.
1. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Premise: Three friends (though they barely act like it) hear rumors of a supposed Blair Witch, and explore the woods hoping to capture it on camera.
Why It's Overrated: I've seen dozens of scary movies, and I don't think I've ever liked the protagonists less than these people. You spend the vast majority of this film watching them whine and moan as they wander lost around a forest. And not in a tension-building way; in fact, the witch is never shown on screen, and thus I never felt scared.
I hardly cared about these characters, and even if I did, the movie doesn't offer enough excitement to make it interesting. Props to Blair Witch for popularizing the found footage style, but ushering in a new series of movies doesn't automatically make Blair intriguing.
Bland horror movies bore viewers with their uninteresting stories. Blair Witch goes the extra mile and actively irritates you with its tripe and uneventful story.
Instead Watch: Paranormal Activity (I prefer the sequels) or Cloverfield if you're dead-set on the found footage genre.
Which movie is the most overrated?
As technology advances, so too does the realism and depth of scary movies. They may never gross as much as the latest summer blockbuster, but horror films should be around for generations to come.
Feel free to vote for your pick of today's most overrated movie, or leave your own selection (and why) in the comments below!