Scary Movies that Aren't Horror Films

This year’s Halloween movie season started with a whimper instead of a bang. The horror/suspense/reboot, Flatliners, proved to be none of the three. Calling it a movie only to describes it’s delivery medium. 

So far, the scariest thing to come out of Hollywood this October was the revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s behavior. Hollywood has yet again created more horrifying real life creatures than those they can imagine. 


That realization gets one’s noggin jumping around chaotically.  Jason, Michael, and Freddie fail to terrorize women (or potted plants) way a Hollywood Producer can. Maybe movies that scare us are also found under other genres. To that end, here are a few non-horror films that gave me the heebie jeebies and why.

Zero Days

Zero Days is the smoking gun for anyone believing in conspiracy theories.  Never mind that the the collective unintelligence of birthers, truthers, and infowarriors never saw this one coming.  Zero Days details the creation and release of the computer virus commonly known as Stuxnet. It is known by insiders as Project Olympic Games although that's not its official name as the virus does not officially exist; even though it really does exist. Welcome to the twisted realities of the deep state. 

Stuxnet is the modern Frankenstein for the digital world. The too true story includes mad scientists and a castle with harnessed lightning. The monster is much less visible and much more understood. It is a creature designed to do harm. 



In Frankenstein, only the village feels threatened. In Zero Days, the threat is worldwide. The monster runs wild in a supposedly secret cyberwar that no government official talks about openly. The results scare me and should frighten all of us. We are all panicked villagers now.


 I really wanted this documentary to be more playful. A story about tickling as a competitive endurance sport just sounds like it would fulfill all my cravings for the absurd. Instead I got a retelling of Psycho.



The journalists cooking the story barely get started when they face threats and intimidation. What was supposed to a quirky tale of an obscure and ridiculous activity becomes an investigation into attacks by unknown persons who wield privacy invasions and public ridicule like Norman Bates does his mother’s knife. Innocent lives are ruined and the attacker seems to be a non-existent woman. 

We learn of the carved souls of people whose lives are slashed via the internet. The fact that our private interests can be turned into weapons against us is scary as hell. Watch this film and wonder if your accounts on Instagram, Tinder, Ebay, and Amazon for starters are really as innocuous as you pretend them to be. Then consider what access to you have to places you don’t talk about openly. At the end of this film, I decided even my most casual web browsing should occur over highly anonymized channels. Not that I have anything embarrassing to hide; I’m as normal you, right? RIGHT?

 13 Reasons Why

Series like 90120 or Gossip Girl annoy the small screen viewer with over cliched stories about teen angst. 13 Reasons Why turns teen angst into a compelling and controversial look at teen suicide that is truly upsetting. 

It received a lot of backlash for it’s supposed glamorization of teen suicide and finger pointing which seems more like head in the sand dismissals. It is understandable; no parent wants to believe their child could do this or be involved in this.


But then, how would they know? Between cell phones, social networks, and their own cars, teens have connection and communication channels far outside of the range of parental awareness. They connect in real life in a world only a few adults witness but cannot fully manage: high school. 

The teens are just trying to cope with who they are physically with what few tools they have emotionally. Their parents and other adults try to help only to expose what few tools they actually have. Everybody wants to do right. They sometimes succeed, but often fail. Everybody tells everybody they’re okay, but none of them are. 

Me Trying to Get into My Teen's Mind

Me Trying to Get into My Teen's Mind

Watching the adults unable to fully grasp what is happening scared me. I could easily be one of those parents. I wouldn't even know if I was. The dichotomy of the teenage world against the adult world feels like a common nightmare. The endless hallway that you can never get through; that feeling of paralysis in the face of a true dream horror. No matter how hard you run, you will never access it. You will never get into it. All that will be left are the droplets of cold sweat.