We are all incredibly reliant on technology. Be it cell phones, social media, television or even our own automobiles, we use technology every day. It makes perfect sense that horror films would use technology against us in an effort to scare us. Here are eight films that used technology as the focus of at least one major scare (or even centered the whole plot around it).
A Nightmare on Elm Street – Telephones (Land Lines)
Leave it to Wes Craven to turn a land line into one of Freddy Krueger’s nightmarish playthings. While the mouth-phone may not be deadly, it certainly provides quite a shock (and a little bit of playfulness) to the proceedings.
Ringu – VHS Tapes
Ringu really used VHS and televisions to scare the crap out of people in 1998. You think you’re going in to watch a movie about a cursed tape and then BAM! Out comes Sadako from the TV screen and you’re scarred for life. I would argue that the 2002 American remake is even scarier, but that seems to be a point of contention with many horror fans.
One Missed Call – Telephones (Cellular)
Takashi Miike’s One Missed Call may have come after the phenomenons that are Ringu and Ju-On, but it is no less frightening. In his 2003 horror film, victims receive a voicemail on their cell phones dated two days in the future. The voicemail is a recording of the victim’s own screams and eventual death. While the notion of a killer cell phone is a frightening one, the character’s deaths are also pretty twisted. The characters are killed in various ways, but the death always concludes with the victim spitting out a red candy and dialing a number on their cell phone. Natsumi’s (Kazue Fukiishi) death by contortion (below) is particularly gruesome.
Unfriended – Skype
Unfriended sure was a divisive movie, wasn’t it? While it’s not one that I would call scary, it was a helluva lot of fun! Sure, none of the characters were likable, but the whole point of the movie was to see these five awful teenagers meet gruesome ends. Be it by bleach, curling iron or blender, they all met some gory fates, and it was all by way of a ghost using Skype or some form of social media (it was nice to see a film actually use Facebook and not some $0.99 version like Bookface or something like that) against them. I don’t really understand the people who don’t enjoy this movie at least a little bit. It’s a bunch of millennials getting butchered by a social media ghost. What’s not to enjoy?
Kairo – The Internet
In case you couldn’t tell, Japanese horror was all about technology at the turn of the century. Kairo uses the internet to ignite one of the most depressing apocalypse stories ever told. In the film, ghosts enter the physical world through the internet, Upon coming into contact with these spirits, humans get a glimpse into the afterlife (it’s nothing but loneliness) and lose the will to live. They become nothing but black stains on the walls.
Videodrome – Television
David Cronenberg’s Videodrome is one messed up movie. Other than the fact that there’s a scene with a stomach-vagina-VCR hybrid, you get a living, breathing TV that draws you into its screen. In the film, the titular television series is supposedly being broadcast from Malaysia (but not really) and it depicts the brutal torture of people in a small room. It turns out that “Videodrome” carries a signal that causes viewers to develop a malignant brain tumor. Now that’s something that will make you never want to turn on your TV again.
Christine – Car
Leave it to Stephen King and John Carpenter to make a car terrifying (King would try this again just three years later with Maximum Overdrive). While the basic plot of Christine (a car is possessed by an evil spirit) is fairly silly, Carpenter is still able to make it somewhat scary.
The Den – Chatroulette
One of the biggest surprises of 2014 was The Den, an absolutely terrifying (and underrated) film about a graduate student (Melanie Papalia) who starts a Chatroulette-type social media site called “The Den” in an effort to talk to as many strangers as possible. It turns out that this isn’t the best idea, as she eventually witnesses a murder during one of her sessions and becomes the target of a psychotic killer(s). You’ll never want to video chat again.