10 Horror Movies That Prove Less Is More

The art of subtlety.

Lake Mungo
Arclight Films

Considering that most horror movies are entirely concerned with scaring the hell out of audiences, it's fair to say that horror isn't a genre known for its subtlety or restraint.

Filmmakers typically bamboozle audiences with buckets of gore, loony jump scares, and will rely on any old trick in the book to leave viewers terrified.

But not all horror films are created equal, of course, and sufficiently creative filmmakers have found ingeniously unexpected ways to leaves audiences no-less terrified.

These 10 horror films all made an art out of not showing viewers what they thought they wanted to see.

By shying away from the focal monster or refusing to commit to heightened supernatural nonsense, these films all mined tremendous anxiety and suspense from that which we didn't see.

Though the minimalist approach doesn't always work and risks leaving viewers crushingly unsatisfied, these movies all proved that leaving something up to the audience's imagination can be infinitely more effective than splashy special effects or loud jump scares.

As much as we all love over-the-top gore and practical monster effects, there's something to be said for the unsettling power of unseen evil cloaked in the shadows...

10. The Blair Witch Project

Lake Mungo
Artisan Entertainment

When The Blair Witch Project hit cinemas back in 1999, it was like nothing else audiences had seen at the time.

Ditching the typicality of narrative filmmaking with its groundbreaking found footage style, this unconventional presentation style melded perfectly with a viral marketing campaign which effectively sold the film as something more real than horror fans had ever seen before.

But what really pushed Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez's film over the top was their subtle, restrained, and economic approach to scares. Rather than littering the screen with gore, ghouls, and tired jump scares, the viewer is left to fill in the blanks themselves.

Through the sheer atmosphere of the woods and compellingly terrified performances of cast members Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard, The Blair Witch Project proved itself an uncommonly tense horror despite never once showing the titular entity itself (a virtue the 2016 sequel sadly ditched).

The film's astronomical success ushered in an era of me-too imitators which quickly rendered the found footage genre tiresome, but the original article is proof perfect that the ingenuity of the human imagination cannot be topped.

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Lake Mungo
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Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.