Skilled horror directors know exactly how to manipulate you, tapping into your deepest fears in subtle ways. Like magicians pulling into their bag of tricks, at any moment a filmmaker might utilise silence, loud noises, gross out imagery, or girls with long black hair crawling towards the camera.
All of these methods play on some primal fears, and none are more potent than the fear of the unknown. For this reason, what you don't see in a movie is often just as scary as what you do see. Even more memorable than a blood filled sequence of monsters attacking people can be a scene where eerie sounds are heard in the distance. Your brain is forced to fill in the gaps, and sometimes nothing is scarier than your own imagination.
That's the case with these 10 films. They don't scare you just with loud noises or buckets of blood. Instead, hey scare you by leaving almost everything off screen. In some cases, pretty much the entire film functions this way, while with others this is only true of the first half of the movie. But regardless of how long it lasts, they still manage to terrify you by not revealing anything at all. Prepare to be scared.
10. The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project features exactly zero seconds of witches, yet it's one of the most terrifying films ever made.
A lot of that comes down to the brilliant use of audio. Take the sequence where Heather hears strange noises outside and her tent begins to shake. Coupling these horrifying sounds with the dark void of the woods, while minimalist, is relentlessly scary, forcing your mind to fill in the gaps. Your mental image of what's out there is far worse than anything that could appear on camera.
Then there are moments that aren't played up as scares, but that are incredibly eerie in a subtle way and really stay with you. At one point, the characters discover bundles of sticks everywhere, and although nothing overtly scary happens, you're overwhelmed with this feeling that something is deeply wrong. Simply showing the audience a bunch of sticks ends up being more effective than your average scene in any other horror film.
It's a movie that understands that less is more, utilising audio and creepy visuals to create something scarier than it has any right to be.