It’s common knowledge that sometimes less is more, and like most maxims, that old chestnut is untrue as often as it is fitting. Unless you’re a very rare combination of fortunate and talented as a filmmaker, the odds are that your monster movie, for example, will probably fare better if it actually has a monster to show the audience and not just a blank screen full of oh-so-scary empty potential.
But like every cliché, the idea that less is more came from somewhere, and sure enough there are a handful of precedents dotted throughout cinematic history which proved the adage true (every once in a while).
For a sufficiently skilful filmmaker, leaving things unseen and unexplained can add to a scene, forcing the audience to imagine something much deeper, scarier, or just more interesting than the production’s limited resources could afford to cobble together.
Much like Lovecraft’s monsters are most famous for being described as, well, indescribable, here are a few films who made you picture something far worse than anything they could have shown onscreen.
10. Bird Box
Netflix’s adaptation of the novel Bird Box, received a mixed reception upon its release. A big budget effort from streaming platform, the film boasted an impressive cast but suffered from uneven pacing and a central conceit which skewed very close to the superior A Quiet Place and the inferior The Silence, both of which were released around the same time.
Despite this the film did have its moments, most of them owing to its very clever premise - as the characters will be driven to madness if they see the monsters causing the apocalypse, they’re forced to navigate the crumbling remnants of their world while being down one pretty vital sense.
While the film may struggle in other areas, one choice that must be commended was the decision to never portray the monsters. It’s a clever call in meta-textual terms, implying that nothing that the audience would be capable of seeing could represent their threat. Good move - even if it did result in some prankster crediting John Cena as the actor portraying them (Can’t see him - get it?).