Here are my top 5 scare-the-bejesus-out-of-me movies.
#5 Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
Wacky my ass. This shit scared me. Like, for realz. Granted I was six at the time, but still. Ernest manages to unleash trolls that stalk the towns-children then turn them into wooden figurines. Ernest tries to help but confuses milk, the thing that can stop the trolls, with miak. NOT FUCKING HELPFUL ERNEST. When you're a kid you do not want your main defender to be an autistic, no matter how well-intentioned, hick. Seriously, yo. That troll was organized. The worst part of it was when the girl heard something in her room, looks under her bed, then BAM, the troll is right fucking next to her in bed. For months I slept facing my wall because my child mind believed that if I didn't turn around the troll wouldn't be there. No one said I was a smart child.
#4 Paranormal Activity (2009)
Up until a few weeks ago Paranormal Activity would have been a lot higher on the list but I watched it with some friends after seeing it in theatres when it was first released. On my recent second viewing, it really didn't get to me. It felt like being at a dinner party and watching the couple who's hosting it fight. After you get past the scares the movie works as an interesting examination of a relationship in a tailspin, a tailspin on fire. But when I first saw it I was scared for weeks. It is eerie and unsettling. The noises are just familiar enough to happen in your own room and since most of the crazy stuff happens when they are sleeping, which is when we are of course most vulnerable, it adds new meaning to "never sleep again". Needless to say my friends who saw it a few weeks ago were rightfully freaked out, but I slept like a baby that night.
#3 Darkness Falls (2003)
I'm a bit ashamed of this one and got made fun of a lot for it. I was staying at my friend's cottage and we were all tired on the second or third night so we decided to rent a movie and Darkness Falls seemed fun and silly enough to work. I felt the beginnings of a cold so while we were in town I picked up some meds and my friends raided the LCBO. I felt so lousy I didn't drink at all. My friends who got pissed had a great time while I could barely bring myself to look at the screen. Darkness Falls' boogeyman is the Tooth Fairy or some nice old lady who was nicknamed that. Anyway, kids go missing towns people burn her now she's a ghost that will kill you if you go into the dark, but if you're in the light you're safe. There's even more convoluted plot than that but I'll spare you. Point being, the whole thing creeped me out. The climax takes place in a lighthouse. After the movie finished my friends decided to stumble to the lighthouse near the cottage. I declined.
#2 The Ring (2002)
This specific moment left me traumatized for days. Scared-to-open-doors traumatized. The movie as a whole works with plenty of disturbing moments and twists. Like when Naomi Watts' kid is all like, "YOU LET HER OUT? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?" Yeah. That was awesome. Director Gore Verbinski hit the nail on the head with this moment, though. Without any preparation a scene with Watts talking to her sister flashes to her niece's corpse. It got me. And it still gets me.
#1 Pet Sematary