With all due respect to Mr. Eli Roth and the horror flicks that dominated the genre during the mid-2000s, there have been a handful of recent horror movies that both pay homage to what’s come before—reminding us of what makes a horror movie so damn enjoyable—while also introducing something that hasn’t happened before. Some of the movies on this list are as dark and humorless as the deaths they portray, while others offer a bit of whimsical light into the proceedings, striding confidently down the path first paved by the late, great Wes Craven’s Scream. The beverages we serve alongside should keep the fears at bay, at least until the inky darkness of pre-dawn.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Love it or hate it, but this 1999 film pretty much created the found footage genre that still, somehow manages to dominate the box office today. And even though the concept of recovered “documentaries” is pretty overplayed, this movie about three film-makers wandering into the woods, quickly getting in way over their head, is truly more unnerving than legions of higher-budget imitators—especially if you watch it in a room without lights. Toss back a few shots of Sloop Betty, a boutique vodka crafted in Maryland, the same state in which this movie was shot. But avoid the woods.
The Descent (2005)
This movie about a bunch of cave explorers gets tense fast—and that’s before the creatures that lurk in the recesses of the dark cave are introduced. But this film also stands out as one of the first in the genre with an all-female cast, an all-too-rare feat. To appreciate the dark paranoia delivered by this subterranean environment, pour
a glass of Deschutes’ Black Butte XXVII, an annual-release porter whose dense color is nearly as pitch-black as the most remote corners of that cave system.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
From the minds of geek auteur (and script co-author) Joss Whedon comes a colorful play on the typical slasher genre, embracing every trope and character, and then flipping everything on its head. Horror buffs in particular will love the near-perfect love poem at the end, one that pays homage to the legions of creatures that have haunted cinema for decades. Pair this tongue-in-cheek romp with a few Dead Guy Ales from Rogue, which offers a nice balance of maltiness and hops to mirror the humor/horror meta-ness of the film.
The Babadook (2014)
When Jennifer Kent’s film premiered at Sundance in 2014, it was praised as an instant classic, a return to the psychological realm of horror, rather than another retread into gore for gores sake (we’re looking at you, Human Caterpillar films). Pair the director’s mature impulse toward restraint with a few bottles of Rain in Blood, an orange pale ale from Dark Horse Brewing with a name that honors the guitar-centric evils of Slayer, along with relatively modest 5.5% ABV.
It Follows (2014)
It Follows plays more like a modern Hitchcock movie rather than a slasher flick, which is a good thing. Deeply suspenseful and full of ominous atmosphere—punctuated with flashes of gore—the film follows a cadre of young adults as they come to terms with the fact that one of them has been infected by…something…after having sex with a stranger—a “something” that will not stop until it gets you, or until you pass that infection along. Talk about taking the horror genre rule that sex kills and running with it. You can pay respect to the Detroit suburb settings—at once both wistful and ominous—by downing a few Oarsman Ales from Michigan-based Bells. Bonus—the 4% ABV means you can have several rounds of this tart brew without impeding your ability to run away from that which follows.