5 Scary Movies That Weren’t Meant to Be Scary

Halloween’s a-coming! The time of year when fear’s the fashion. Sometimes we channel that through schlocky slasher flicks, but sometimes, it’s a dose of reality that really rattles our bones. Here are 5 that hit a nerve:

1. Food, Inc

People are processes. All living things are. Parts of us that we never think about work in congruence all the time so we can function. We’re not breathing because of magic, we’re doing it because there’s an ongoing system to make breaths happen.

To keep the gears greased, we help our bodies out. We go for jogs, avoid walking through heavy traffic, and eat the right stuff. Hence why we check Nutrition Facts on every cereal box and only visit McDanks’ once a week (twice tops). If we learned anything from Supersize Me, it’s that fast food is junk, so we’ll just eat a lot less of it, right? Problem solved.


Or not. Food, Inc gets to the bottom of the dirty side of the food industry. How money influences the way food is processed and distributed. What chemical treatments make organic foods mostly synthetic. The deplorable treatment of livestock.

Ultimately, we learn that everything we eat is slowly killing us. Great, now I’m sad. No worries, Disney will make it better…

2. Wall-E

Ah! Here we go! Pixar will uplift me about the state of the human condition… Woah. Ok. Not so much.

The fate of humans in Wall-E isn’t exactly a stretch. Gone are the days of valuable in-person contact. Being “linked in” overrides experiencing the external world. And because of that, we sit on our asses now more than ever.

Our minds are already dependent on lightning-quick information oracles (smartphones). And that instant gratification is problematic when it comes to honest thought. Who among us can sincerely say they don’t have Google-brains? Who waits to access a meaningless text, Netflix stream, Youtube video, or the latest unflattering celebrity photo meme? Why would you if it’s all in your pocket?

It’s only a matter of time before our bodies and minds become over-sized jelly-filled donutholes… Caked in a glaze of thickly settled chub-sweat… Our bones reduced to a deliciously soft, flaky dough. But there’s still time, my friends. If we can just give up the things that make us insta-happy. No? Eh, at least I tried.

3. American Movie


Passion. Sure, it sounds great. When harnessed, it’s a compass. But that doesn’t make it risk-free.

Having it doesn’t put success in the bag. For that, you need tenacity, talent, and thick skin. Timing too. And whatever you do has to be accessible. If people don’t get it, you might as well be that smelly middle school kid sitting in the corner with a gnarly cowlick and stained sweatpants.

See: Mark Borchardt, the hapless hero of American Movie. He’s an aspiring filmmaker, but he’s a bit “out there,” a bit volatile, and very broke. There’s a sidekick, but he’s not the sharpest tool. The more we see, the more we start to fear for this guy. Because if there’s anything scarier than drifting aimlessly through life, it’s having a singular focus that you’re not very good at.

We do get a happy ending though. SPOILER ALERT: He finishes his movie. And a quick IMDB search reveals that he’s been keeping pretty busy since. So maybe, just maybe, it pays to dream.

4. Dogtooth

We’ve all probably felt the need to critique our mom and dad’s parenting. It’s only natural, right?

But if we ever start to nit-pick, it might pay to watch Dogtooth. Think your ‘rents are awful? At least they didn’t pick your sex partners and permanently confine you to their house. Then, when you tried to escape for various midnight romps and sexcapades, at least you could effectively communicate with the outside world. Not these kids. Part of their homeschool lessons was pairing everyday words with bizarre meanings, thereby alienating them from normies (ie. they call small yellow flowers “zombies”). It’s not exactly the kind of background that breeds doctorate degrees, and the outcome is predictably bleak..

Oh, did I mention that they’ve got an imaginary dead sibling to illustrate the consequences of their misbehaviors? And that they’re also told that cats eat people’s faces? So yeah, we got some crazy Village-esque scare tactics goin’ on. Only, in Dogtooth, there’s far less visible boom mic.

5. Liar Liar

Sure, it was meant to be a morality tale about the value of truth. And its tone was decidedly light. But think about how alienating it would be if you really COULD NOT lie. Your family would disown you. Your friends wouldn’t exist. I’d be out of a gig, because even irony and fiction are grown off branches of the lying tree. Not to mention I’d just be really boring and mean all the time. In short, I’d be Lars Ulrich… Or that lunatic from the Clear Eyes commercials. For real, that guy’s an actual nutjob. Don’t let his charming blandness fool you.


One of the most underrated movies of the past 5 years, The Invention of Lying, flipped that premise. It asked, what if the whole world couldn’t lie? The takeaway: Life ain’t so fab without fiction. Not only does it curb conflict in key places (at work, at home, at the RMV), it also adds a shimmer to the every day. Would you want to live in a world in which Ziggy Stardust wasn’t a thing? How about moonwalking? Planes? Cars? Skittles?! I think not.

See you next week, my lovelies!

Read More Halloween-Inspired Movie Posts, Here:

Scary Fiction to Celebrate the Season from Ruined Chapel

Jenna Jaxon’s Favorite Scary Movies

Recommendations for Halloween-Style Fun From Neal Steichen

Horror Chic from Noelle, Really

Mysteristas’ Excellent List of Horror Classics

Overcoming Your Fears From This Is Afterword


3 thoughts on “5 Scary Movies That Weren’t Meant to Be Scary

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