The horror genre is thriving right now, with studios churning out franchise entries and new pictures which always seem to turn a profit. Given there’s so much cash to be made in being scared, then, it stands to reason that wily creatives would place some terrifying characters in decidedly non-horror films.
Whether it’s a particularly unnerving presence in a film designed for families or a wildcard antagonist that turns a thriller into a chiller, there is a lot of mileage to be had from dropping a character who would fit in perfectly well with the latest slasher into another genre.
Indeed these characters tend to be the most memorable part of the film; forget the hero or the story, when a ghostly presence haunts a film, that’s what grips you, what keeps you watching even when you’re dying to look away.
Whatever the style or genre, there’s a case to be made that a horror character is forever a welcome addition, to spice things up, to add a little tension, or simply for those added jumps.
10. Combo - This Is England
Stephen Graham has carved out a career playing explosive hotheads, but his breakout role remains his best big screen moment. As rabble rouser Combo, Graham turns this ‘80s coming of age tale into a horror story. He’s an electric talker, a charismatic leader, and a dedicated racist.
Based on writer/director Shane Meadows’ own childhood, Combo goes to show how good ideas can be co-opted by folks with their own agendas. Young Shaun believes he has found his place in the world among the skinhead community, but fashion and the music has been absorbed by the far right. Apart from his volcanic temper, it’s Combo’s insidiousness that makes him so scary - he takes Shaun under his wing, a quasi father figure, and before too long has the young lad is echoing his racist beliefs.
The television spin offs allow Combo to start on the path to redemption, now shifting the horror story into a tragedy. As scary as he is, Combo was indoctrinated into the far right himself - he’s not a monster, but a symptom of a wider societal issue.