Although horror is and always will be a polarising genre amongst cinema-goers, both audiences and critics alike have always waved a white flag and admitted when a horror performance hits the sweet spot. Above all else, it’s an exceptional acting portrayal that allows the success of an average horror movie to spill over into mainstream critical acclaim.
The chemistry of Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster in 1991’s sensational Best Picture winner Silence Of The Lambs springs most to mind; as does Mia Farrow in the disturbing unfold of 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby or Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick’s game-changing Stephen King-adaptation, The Shining. The list could go on. There’s something particularly riveting and absorbing about an on-screen horror performance - it’s all in the sheer unfiltered terror of a victim’s eyes or the deafening haunt of their scream.
However, amongst the great horror classics, there is, unfortunately, a list of horror movie missteps that were swept under the rug before its performances could really be given a proper look at.
Bad horror movies are notoriously labelled as shameful flops, but sometimes a performance can act as a shining superior counterpart to the film’s awfulness. These actors and actresses are those who now deserve an overdue round of applause for their underrated performances in their ultimately inferior movies.