First came PG horror. Next came the PG-13 films. Now, the final part focuses on the transition into R-rated horror. The horror genre is a diverse one. As we take this next step into the typical R-rated horror part of it, know that there is so much range that resides in this section. Some are only a notch above a PG-13 horror movie and others should require eye bleach. Therefore, this is the trickiest step into horror.
Because you cleared Insidious and are feeling ready for something more intense doesn’t mean you should go jumping into Terrifier. There tamer R-rated gems are the building blocks to go back to the classics and move forward with the latest releases. There will be three subgenres on display: psychological, slasher and supernatural. Note that more subgenres exist–obviously–but these are the three that are the most recognizable. Let’s get started.
You’ve gotten this far, but still not into it
These three films I’ve picked are definitely a bit more intense than the ones mentioned previously. However, in my personal opinion, these are essential watches in the grand scheme of film, not just horror film. These are significant films from legendary filmmakers that should be viewed and appreciated–even if you’re not into the horror thing after all of this.
Another side note: these are R-rated movies. I am not recommending these films are for children. They are age restricted for a reason. That being said, the power is in the hands of the parents and whether or not their child is mentally ready for these films. I know that I watched them at a point that I was ready to see them which was definitely before seventeen, and some of these films (especially the first one) are seemingly important to watch as kids reach high school. A great rule of thumb if you can’t quite remember what happens in these movies is to check the IMDb Parents Guide, which is moderated by the people for the people. Keep that in mind, and let’s go over three movies that I think are great starting points for R-rated horror.
Everyone’s Favorite Period Piece: Carrie
Yes, I nabbed that heading from Fleabag. Carrie remains as one of the top supernatural horror films out there. Yes, there is a ripple of psychological horror in there, but due to Carrie and her seemingly omnipotent telekinetic powers, I am categorizing this as supernatural. Carrie is a Stephen King adaptation that carries a heavy message. It is tamer in its on-screen violence but does have moments of nudity and on-screen abuse that might make it a cautious watch. Albeit it is an important watch.
Honestly, it’s one of the best films that discusses the horror of puberty and how femininity isn’t always pretty. It might be too relatable of a tale to a high school girl who is trying to figure it all out as well. Carrie teaches the lesson of being kind to your fellow woman which some forget in the teenage years. The film also toes the line on arthouse horror–another subgenre worth looking into if you’re one for metaphors and symbolism.
Oh, the psyche: The Shining
Speaking of Stephen King adaptations, here is another that is our proud representation of psychological horror. Yes, the source material of this book makes it very clear something supernatural is at play, but Stanley Kubrick ditched that concept. The Shining is a domestic psychological horror through and through. We watch as isolation, paranoia and previous traumas and addiction take over a family in the snowed-in Overlook Hotel. With phenomenal performances from Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall (fight me on this one, I dare you), it is a surreal watch.
This film is mild in violence other than the last twenty minutes of the film and other than some sexual implications and some nudity, this film is tame compared to the other two picks. However, the mental gymnastics are the rough part of this movie. It remains one of the most rewatched films in all of cinema history and has spawned countless conspiracy theories about its meaning and what is real and not real. If this is your kind of thing, I must direct you to American Psycho next if you’re ready for a harder R-rated horror flick.
The king of all Slashers: Halloween
Now you might think me wacko to consider this one a starter horror. However, it is the horror film. It’s less intense than the films it inspired as in what we see on screen. The scares are impactful without the on-screen gore. This film created the slasher genre we all know as it manufactured the tropes of said subgenre. John Carpenter is a brilliant filmmaker that specializes in the genre that everyone needs to know and respect. That is a threat.
Halloween is a brilliant film with stellar cinematography and amazing performances from Jamie Lee Curtis (her first flick) and Donald Pleasence. It also has an interesting story, which I wrote about right here on TVOC. There is nudity, there is implied sex and minor drug use–and a lot of death. It is a slasher film after all. This is the most intense of the three on here. Therefore, the enjoyment of this film will determine if one would like to continue their horror journey and their next step into the R-rated horror realm.
That wraps the Starter Horror series on The Void of Celluloid. As I can’t stress it enough, horror should be respected and appreciated by all, but one does not need to indulge in it if they are not into the feeling of getting scared. Horror movies function off adrenaline rushes. Some people aren’t into that sort of thing. Others might want to take a stab at it but haven’t had the priming of becoming a horror appreciator: acknowledging that it is all fake and all in good fun. Much like roller coasters, horror induces a shock that should follow with a flabbergasted chuckle.
You can now check out TVOC’s TIkTok. Go ahead and check it out. I post daily to that thing so join the horror discussion and join me on our daily spelunking adventures. Next Monday, we’re going to be going over what is coming out this month both in theaters and streaming and discussing what’s worth seeing. January is always a rough month for horror but there are a few promising flicks if you dig through it all.
Thanks for spelunking this void with me. If you’re new to the Void of Celluloid, welcome. Feel free to spelunk some other voids while you’re here and follow me on other platforms by clicking the buttons below. We post regularly and stay up to date about what’s going on in horror today, reflect on what went on yesterday, and plan for a better, horror filled tomorrow. See ya next time.