Let’s start of with this: I hate the name elevated horror.
Elevated horror as a name sounds as if someone needs to excuse their liking of horror movies by putting certain movies into a higher tier. While in a sense this is true that there is a distinguishable category of horror movies, which are better on average than most horror movies, we also need to understand and acknowledge that just trying to do an elevated horror movie can lead to disastrous results. I mean, just watch any number of Red Letter Media’s Best of the Worst episodes and you’ll find various movies, which have had grand goals, but fail completely. Elevated horror as a name for a genre is just elitist. Also, you don’t need to be elevated to be good. Think Shaun of the Dead or Evil Dead or M3GAN.
That being said, I read the article on Wikipedia on the subject and I’ve seen almost all the movies listed on that page and of those I’ve seen, I’ve liked pretty much all. Some are among my favorite movies, so why not talk about them.
The list, in chronological order with a weird 67 year jump at one point. Also, I made the decision not to include M, even if Wikipedia included it on their list, because to me it is not a horror movie.
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Despite various attempts to promote Intolerance by DW Griffiths into the status of a masterpiece, in my mind this is the first feature film to deserve that title. Still weird and ambiguous in a way not many movies can achieve. The visuals in themselves are enough to make this a historically important movie.
The story here is hard to explain as it seems to move forward on it’s own, choosing whatever paths it wishes. Part of me questions my own love of this movie, but on the other hand, I’m not alone on this, as the movie made the Sight and Sound’s 2022 greatest movies at 146. Is everyone getting the same unease from this film, which feels like a relic from time before movies.
Ōdishon or Audition (1999)
A businessman has been widowed and with the help of a colleague, they start to audition new wives under false pretenses. It just happens, that the woman he finds alluring harbors a very dark secret. We, as the audience, know the secret, which makes this even more uncomfortable (in a good way) to watch.
Låt den rätte komma inor Let the Right One In (2008)
What if the vampire was just a kid? What if the actual horror was the daily existence and the vampire is actually a safe harbor from that? Set in a very grey Swedish suburb.
The VVitch – A New-England Folktale (2015)
Of course, I live in my own bubble, but I would assume that at this point everyone has seen this movie and at this point people have started to like it. A family moves away from the colony they have lived in because of religious differences. They find that their beliefs are not enough to protect them from the witch and themselves.
Maybe this is the prequel to the previous movie? Not really, but there seems to be common DNA here. A woman living alone in the woods is accused of being a witch and is hounded by the locals, which in turn drives her into taking up the mantle.
The Lighthouse (2019)
Two men start to lose their grip on reality as they are isolated on a small island with the titular Lighthouse. Visually this could be seen as a bridge over the wide gulf between Vampyr and Audition as this has a very old-timey feel.
Three generations of women try to contend with the eldest’s loss of her memory. There is a more sinister reason for her memory problems, but this is more about the family dynamic than anything else.
So, if watching horror movies is bad for you, why did they let people watch them for a job just so that no-one else could? This is especially weird, as so many of the films were censored in the UK just because, not really for a specific reason. This tells a story of a woman doing this job and seeing a woman in one of those movies, who might be her long lost sister.
De uskyldige or The Innocents
Kids can be the worst. I’m not actually sure this should be seen as elevated, but I went with this one, as I do like it quite a bit and even though it has more traditional horror elements than any of the other movies on this list, it still feels very different from your run of the mill horror movie.