There are weird movies and there are creepy movies. There’s a difference, I think, between the two. A weird movie need not be creepy and a creepy movie need not be weird. Weird is strange but whimsical while creepy is also strange but profoundly eerie. Certainly, the two share some characteristics but are still distinctive in the end.
Take Tetsuya Nakashima’s Shimotsuma Monogatari (or Kamikaze Girls) for instance.
Now there’s a prime example of a genuinely weird – even by Japanese standards – movie but it’s far from creepy. Shimostuma Monogatari is an cute comedy that’s quirky (the insane story and the colorful characters) and absurd (the effects and the cinematography) but it’s hardly the creep-under-your-skin type of movie.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, on the other hand, falls under the creepy movie category.
True, there are definitely a lot of things weird about Pan’s but considering the genre it belongs to (dark fantasy), I didn’t really think there was anything particularly weird about them. Perhaps it was because of the juxtaposition of Ofelia’s magical world and her somber reality that made it creepy but lucid enough to not be weird? Whatever the case, the movie was disturbing. (really great though, I highly recommend)
In this list, I’ve got 4 movies that are both weird and creepy. These movies have the outrageous and absurdity that’s almost comical in weird movies but also the dark and ominous underlying tone prevalent in creepy movies.
Most of the movies in this list are hardly new though, except maybe for The Witch. They are fantastic movies to watch when you’re craving for something downright strange.
1. The Witch: A New England Folktale (2015)
I’m going to start off this list with a nice, traditional horror. The Witch, directed and written by Robert Eggers, tells the story of Thomasin and her devout Christian family in the 1630s. Banished from their village, isolated from civilization, and damned to starve when their crops fail, Thomasin’s family is preyed upon by an unseen malevolent force that exploits the family’s vulnerability. Witchcraft in this movie is dark and evil, centered on the devil himself, just as stated by historical records from that era.
The creepiness factor in this movie can clearly be seen (and heard) by the already haunting setting. Family in the middle of nowhere? Check. Witch in the woods? Check. Unsettling children and their stories? Check. Things were so obviously bound to go terribly, horrifically wrong but you still can’t predict exactly what will happen. That’s the beauty (and horror) of it.
The weirdness, on the other hand, mostly came after the ending, when the real villain was revealed. I can’t elaborate on it here because it’d spoil the mystery but I can say that it was weird. Really weird.
The Witch is a great movie though that I highly recommend. It’s so historically accurate – from the setting to the language to the beliefs of Thomasin’s family – that you can clearly imagine the characters as real people. And although this movie is scary, there aren’t any jumpscares that will stun you frozen, which I really appreciated. You don’t find that many contemporary horror/thriller movies that don’t employ jumpscares to elicit screams from the audience. The Witch mostly relies on disturbing the viewers with small tragedies that lead to complete and utter disaster in the end.
2.) The World of Kanako (2014)
Remember the weird movie example I gave earlier? Shimotsuma Monogatari? Well, guess what: that quirky comedy’s director (Tetsuya Nakashima) also directed this disturbing psychological thriller-mystery. Though, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that The World of Kanako is also Nakashima’s work. I mean, he did also direct Confessions, the superbly cunning and riveting psychological thriller that I loved (seriously, I can write a whole article about why you should have watched that movie months ago).
That aside, The World of Kanako is, and I don’t say this lightly, a warped roller-coaster ride of macabre that you’ll beg to get out of but can’t. The movie is about an ex-cop who’s in search of his estranged daughter, Kanako. As the ex-cop investigates his daughter’s disappearance, he gravely realizes just how little he – and everyone else – knows Kanako. Reader, be advised, you won’t know much about Kanako either, even after the ending.
Kanako is a pandemonium of crime and drugs and gore. The characters are all so weird and detestable, especially the main character, the ex-cop. Every time you think you’ve already figured out the plot, something completely different and outlandish happens, leaving you breathless, confused, and disoriented. The fast-paced cinematography doesn’t help either.
What’s creepy about Kanako? Everything. What’s weird about Kanako? EVERYTHING.
A tangent: I hated how people (particularly the MC) didn’t seem to suffer all that much from their injuries in the movie. No one can possibly crawl, much less fight, after getting beaten up. Several times too! It was annoying.
3.) Heathers (1988)
This one’s more of a black comedy than a horror or a thriller, like the two previous movies, but I want to include Heathers on the list anyway since it’s still pretty creepy-weird. The story revolves around Veronica, an acerbic teen who somehow managed to get stuck in her high school’s vicious clique, the Heathers. Wanting to get out – and topple the cruel social hierarchy of the school – Veronica fantasizes of killing Heather Chandler, the queen bee. J.D., the new kid who developed a fascination with Veronica, helps make her fantasies a reality. What Veronica doesn’t realize was that J.D. was serious. Deadly serious.
The entire world of Heathers was surreal and absurd. Death didn’t seem to faze anyone. The whole Bonnie and Clyde thing that Veronica and J.D. had was incredibly weird and creepy, especially when Veronica realized that her tall, dark, and handsome boyfriend turned out to be a narcissistic, psychotic, and dangerous pyromaniac.
Admittedly, Heathers suffered from several flaws prevalent way back time. The special effects and continuity were severely faulty. Character depth was lacking completely. Dialogue was unconvincing and awkward. Et cetera, et cetera.
However, despite all of that, Heathers was still a pretty great movie to watch. Once you get past the 80’s lingo, the shoulder pads, and the extremely outdated (and offensive) beliefs, it’s a fairly entertaining movie.
4.) As the Gods Will (2014)
Lastly, there’s this bloody, gory, intense piece of work. I learned of this movie, As the Gods Will, through a friend who admitted that she was so freaked out by the movie’s first few minutes that she couldn’t stomach sitting through the rest of it. I took her words as encouragement and, boy oh boy, was this movie a complete horror-fest. I loved it.
As the Gods Will is about a normal high school boy, Takahata Shun, and how these cute but bloodthirsty creatures take over his school, forcing the students to play childish games. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the creatures didn’t kill – horrifically, I might add – the students who lose in the game.
From the very onset, this movie is reminiscent of the cult classic, Battle Royale, also a story that featured a lot of high school students being killed in horrific ways. What makes Gods Will different though was the fantasy/supernatural take. You never really know or find out what the creatures are. Aliens? Gods? It’s not all that clear. All you really know is that the seemingly adorable creatures really amp up the creep factor. They’d have been hilarious if, you know, they weren’t going around killing teenagers on sight.
A lot of other elements and scenes in the movie would also be pretty funny and cute – I, admittedly, had to pause the movie and giggle several times – if there wasn’t so much blood being thrown around. The movie was weird that way, how it made the blatantly silly so deathly serious. The ending, though, well… it was lacking.
And that’s it for this list.
If you’re reading this, oh my god, you actually read this thing! Though the movies in this list really did freak me out, I can honestly say that I enjoyed watching all of them. They’re, if anything, interesting movies that really make you stop and think. I highly recommend giving at least one of them a try, see the beauty of the creepy and weird.
Side note: Upon my recommendation, me and my friends actually watched The Witch last week. Now none of my friends allow me to decide what movie to watch. Huh.