Directed by Steven Spielberg
Jaws, based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel of the same name, is a thriller about a man-eating great white shark. Jaws is well-made schlock. The film has little ambition or purpose, but it’s well-paced, well-acted, and very entertaining.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Directed by Robert Weine
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a German Expressionist silent horror film about a nefarious hypnotist and a somnambulist under his control. The film’s visual design is striking even almost a hundred years later, though the painted canvas scenery is often far better than what’s happening in front of it. The story, by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer, is simple but incisive — or would be — if it weren’t almost completely ruined by a terrible ending not of Janowitz and Mayer’s writing.
Directed by F. W. Murnau
Nosferatu is a silent German expressionist film and an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel, Dracula. The film takes some unsatisfying detours, but Max Schreck portrays the vampire Count Orlak with quiet menace, and the movie is worth watching for more than its significance in the history of film.
Directed by Jordan Peele
Get Out is a satirical comedy horror film. It is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. Get Out is thoughtfully crafted; the film balances horror, comedy, and politics adroitly. The political statements are organic to the story, they rarely feel shoehorned in. Some moments land awkwardly, but most don’t.
Directed by Robert Eggers
The Witch is a horror film about a family banished from a Puritan plantation in 17th century New England. Stylistically flawless, The Witch has a strong sense of time and place. The film threatens to make a strong statement, but fades in the end.
The Neon Demon
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
The Neon Demon is a psychological horror film about models in Los Angeles. Neither the themes nor the aesthetic in The Neon Demon are subtle, but the atmosphere is still effective. The ending is perhaps logically reached, but it still feels like a disappointment.