My Top 5 Favorite RELAXING Horror Movies

I know what you’re thinking. Horror? Relaxing? Surely you kid.

Nope!

Though horror films are meant to thrill, scare, and discomfit us, there are a handful of movies I enjoy watching in my downtime.

As everyone who reads this should know by now, I’m a big rewatcher, and familiarity breeds comfort.

Each of these five films are classic horror movies, but as I’ve seen each of them more than once, they have become as relaxing as a day spa to me.

Side note: I’ve never been to a day spa.

Let’s dive into them then! Who knows? They could end up becoming your de-stressing, go-to movies too.

The Shining

Based on Stephen King’s illustrious novel, the film covers a family isolated in a hotel that is closed for the winter months, and they must not only deal with the physical isolation permeating the empty halls, but with an evil that creeps among them too.

I can’t even remember the first time I saw The Shining. I feel like it’s been a part of my life for years now. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, it’s a masterpiece of long tracking shots, uncomfortable silences, and sublime terror.

I love showing this movie to friends when I have the opportunity, and when I’m by myself, I really enjoy watching it on cold days with a warm cup of coffee in my hands.

The Thing

An Antarctic research station happens upon a frozen alien life-form with the ability to mimic organic matter down to the cellular level, causing mayhem and paranoia among the men trapped with it, as they no longer know who they can trust.

This movie only recently made it onto my list. I first saw it years ago, but because it had been so long since I had seen it, the details of the plot were hazy. However, while visiting my boyfriend in LA (way before this whole social distancing thing happened), we found a Blu-Ray of it at a Barnes & Noble. And you can bet I bought that baby right on the spot.

Since I haven’t seen The Thing as often as the other movies on this list, it still has the power to creep me out. If I have the house to myself, I’ll pop it on for an afternoon of grotesque and horrific fun.

The Exorcist

When her daughter becomes seemingly possessed by a demonic spirit and all other possibilities are exhausted, one mother finally turns to a priest for help in saving her child.

My own mother shudders at the mere mention of The Exorcist. She actually crosses herself when she sees the movie’s cover. (Which, if I’m being honest, is actually a pretty creepy cover. Shows Regan when she’s been fully possessed, and there’s an icky green lighting over everything.) However, my mother’s reaction to the movie is in part what spurred my desire to see it.

I will willingly watch The Exorcist at night, inviting the scares to bring it on. But, I have to admit, I’m likely to fall asleep to it at times.

Rosemary’s Baby

A young expecting mother must steel her nerves and try to find answers for herself as both her husband and her creepy neighbors take an unhealthy interest in her baby, an interest which hides an even deeper conspiracy.

I saw this movie at my aunt’s house a while back, when she had invited my sister and myself to go swimming in her pool. After the pool antics were done, I decided to watch a movie, and Rosemary’s Baby just so happened to be on. I was only half paying attention to it though, so when I saw it again later with my boyfriend as movie-night sort of thing, it was a tremendously hilarious experience.

Rosemary’s Baby unintentionally tickles my funny bone. It contains some outdated and truly inappropriate lines of dialogue that are side-splitting in how bad they are. But it does a good job at raising the tension. It’s the perfect movie to watch while eating from a big bag of chips, guffawing the whole time.

Alien

The crew of a space hauler encounters a deadly alien that slowly picks them off one by one.

It’s a simple premise, but it’s a fantastic movie. I already wrote a whole post about why I love Alien. I think the Alien/Xenomorph is the best movie monster to ever grace our screens. It fascinates me as well as terrifies me. If you haven’t seen it, you have a real treat in store for you!

I can watch this movie whenever, wherever. It is one of my go-to movies period.

My Top 5 Favorite Horror Video Games

Horror video games are scarier than horror movies. I’ll stand by that statement till the day I die. A horror movie can be scary, I’m not saying that it can’t be, but nothing beats being in the role of someone in those terrifying circumstances.

I mean, would you rather watch a character run away from a monster or would you rather be that character as he/she flees?

Exactly.

It’s bone-chilling, sweat-inducing, shiver-inspiring, and scream-splitting terror.

So even though it is broad daylight and the sun is shining through the window as I write this, I’m going to scare myself by telling you guys my top 5 favorite horror games.

Shall we?

5. Layers of Fear

Layers of Fear is not a particularly good or memorable horror game. There are others that outclass it by a long shot. Layers of Fear relies too much on jump scares, and a sense of player agency is missing. You feel as if you’re on a set path you can’t stray from, which makes the creepiness feel forced and manufactured. (And in a horror video game, you really want to mask that sensation.) You play as a renowned painter who has fallen on hard times. He has been ruined by his own arrogance and the disintegration of his family. Alone with his thoughts and a grotesque, new work-in-progress, he must roam through his dilapidated house as paintings fling themselves from their frames, wallpaper melts, and porcelain dolls scamper around corners from just outside his field of vision. Typical horror fare. I played the game once and then forgot about it. However, I made the mistake of getting my sister to play it while I watched years later. She screamed at every loud noise, flinched at every sudden motion, and shrieked at the smallest change in scenery. I got traumatized by this game because of her reactions to it. At one point, she threw the controller in fright directly at my face. I had a bruise for a week.

4. Slender: The Arrival

This game got a spot on this list because it was the first horror video game I ever played. And by played, I mean I cowered behind some friends while they played the majority of the game. My sister and I are friends with the Twins. They’re two of the coolest people I know, Robert and Emmanuel. When they bought Slender: The Arrival, they invited me and my sister over to play it with them. They turned all the lights off in their bedroom, raised the volume on their speakers, and began to play. It was terrifying. The atmosphere of the game is top-notch creepiness. What scares you the most in the game is your own sense of dread. You do half the work of scaring yourself. You play as a young woman named Lauren, desperately combing the woods and an abandoned mine in search of her friend. The infamous Slender Man haunts her every step. (For a synopsis of the latest Slender Man movie, be sure to check out my post here!)

3. Outlast

The plot of Outlast alone would be enough to scare anybody. You play as Miles Upshur, a reporter who is investigating strange experiments at an insane asylum. Several of the inmates are out to get you once you’re trapped inside, and you have to race your way out while hounded by deformed crazy people. You’re equipped only with a camera which has a night-vision setting. This setting is what gives the game its sense of horror as you move along, even while nothing happens. The quality of the video makes you wait for scary things to jump out at you. And when things do jump out at you, they are delightfully unexpected. Outlast is a game that made me appreciate jump scares.

2. Soma

Soma was made by Frictional Games, and it is one of my favorite games period. Its environment is unique in that the game takes place in an underwater facility after a meteor has crashed into the Earth and decimated the human population on the surface. The reason I like this game so much for itself is because the story is fantastic. It’s an intellectual puzzler of a plot, and there’s nothing I like more than a horror story that has roots in philosophy. This is the one game on this list I would recommend to anybody who has a love for video games in general. It’s great, and I wish more people knew about it. I feel like it flew under the radar when it first released in 2015.

1. Alien: Isolation

The suspense of the gameplay is what gives Alien: Isolation its power. Admittedly, the game runs far longer than it should, with a play-time of about 15 hours, which can potentially stretch a lot longer if you take your time. However, the AI of the Alien is superb. It’s masterful. Whenever it is present, you can feel the terror of having a Xenomorph in the same room with you. The Alien series has always terrified me (as seen in this post I wrote about the Alien specifically), and this game paid tribute to the beginnings of the franchise. You can’t kill the Alien, even if you have your pistol equipped. The closest thing you have to a weapon against it is the flamethrower, and all that does is temporarily scare it off. It always comes back. It dogs your character, Amanda Ripley, as she explores Sevastopol Station looking for information as to the location of her missing mother, the renowned Ellen Ripley. The tension the Alien inspires whenever it is present made me sweat buckets. You never feel secure. I could not play this game for more than 20 minutes at a time. Otherwise the stress would make me shake. I played this game with a friend of mine in order to survive the experience. We passed the controller off every time it got to be too much.

The Perfect Movie Monster

Tonight, I re-watched Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien film. It had been a while since I had last seen it (like a year, maybe), but watching it again reminded me of why I fell in love with it in the first place. 

And it’s because of that damned, beautiful, horrifying Alien.

Side note: Yes, in case you were wondering, H.R. Giger’s Alien deserves to be forever capitalized because it is the Alien to end all aliens.

The Alien terrifies me. The look of it is just so unlike any other alien or monster in pop culture. And its function as a “perfect organism” is all too apparent in its form. It only exists to kill, survive, and procreate. It’s a sleek, black creature, with strange protuberances on its back, a highly mobile tail, and a second extendable mouth within its mouth.

If I had to pick one word to describe the Alien, it would be invasive.

That’s what freaks me about the Alien. I mean, it starts out as a facehugger in an egg that only leaps out once it senses a life-form nearby. The facehugger then attaches itself to the face of its host. Once firmly in place, the facehugger sticks an appendage down the host’s throat and implants a chestburster inside of the host’s body. The host is released by the facehugger only to have a chestburster emerge (that’s a mild way of putting it) from his/her chest moments later. The chestburster later molts into what we know as the classic Alien.

That was me describing the Alien’s life cycle. The horror movie practically writes itself.

Alien survives the test of time the way no other movie has for me, all due to the Alien. The movie was released almost forty years ago, and it still has the power to frighten and awe people.

And how do I know this?

Firstly, I’ve watched it over and over again and have yet to be un-freaked out by it.

Secondly, I’ve shown Alien to nearly every person I’ve befriended enough to say, “Hey, wanna watch a movie?” and they have all been properly spooked.

Tonight, I showed it to one of my sister’s friends, Heather. She had never seen it before, but she had heard of it. “The alien comes from the guy’s chest, right?”

Oh, yeah, Heather. It comes from the guy’s chest all right.

I’m happy to report that she screamed at least five times.

And if I’ve said it once, I’m going to say it a thousand times, but that movie works because of the Alien.

And the most wondrous thing about the Alien is that it requires no explaining. Often, in monster horror movies, a lot of time is spent in exposition. Someone has to sit the protagonist down and explain all the rules about how the monster works.

The Alien doesn’t need that.

The Alien just is.

We know what the Alien does just by watching what it does as it interacts (that’s a mild way of putting it) with the crew of the Nostromo. The Alien is a self-explanatory monster.

And that is awesome and terrifying at the same time.

Side note: Did you know that it is unconfirmed whether the Alien needs to eat or not? All it does to survive is find hosts, make eggs, and drool. Rinse and repeat. 

This isn’t a true review of the movie Alien. More like a love letter to the Alien. Still, if you haven’t seen the movie, I would rate it a watch-it-as-soon-as-you-possibly-can-because-it-is-a-great-horror-movie-and-just-a-great-movie-in-general-and-don’t-watch-any-other-movie-in-the-franchise-because-they-all-suck-except-for-maybe-Aliens-with-an-s-and-Ridley-Scott-is-only-complicating-things-with-his-Prometheus-bullturkey-oh-don’t-watch-Prometheus-just-watch-Alien-because-it-is-SO-DAMNED-GOOD.