The general premise of a horror film sees a group of characters fall victim to some form of terror that they must overcome. Whether that be a serial killer, a demonic presence, or some other form of suffering, there’s no shortage of monsters (metaphorical or otherwise) which horror protagonists can encounter.
This endless roster of ghosts and killers are supposed to be scary. We want to root for the protagonist to survive their ordeal. We, as viewers, should care about whether they live or die. This is how we become invested in the dramatic stakes, and the best way to accomplish that is by making the characters sympathetic – at least the ones who’ll make it to the end credits. Nightmare On Elm Street and Halloween would be entirely different films if we didn’t care if Nancy or Laurie made it out alive.
However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes horror films have no sympathetic characters whatsoever. In these films, characters may be punished for heinous deeds, or filmmakers may be embracing a mean-spirited, schlocky aesthetic to make a completely different kind of film.
Whatever the reason these films didn't need our sympathy to be incredible.
10. Unfriended (2014)
Internet found footage flick Unfriended sees a group of highschoolers' night take a deadly twist when an anonymous user hijacks their Skype call claiming to be the ghost of Laura Barns, a classmate who killed themselves exactly one year earlier.
The group initially believe the user to be a prank, but they soon realise the horrifying truth when the vengeful ghost begins to pick the teenagers off one at a time.
As the night goes on, Laura forces the teens to admit their horrible secrets which expose them as being even more obnoxious and self-obsessed than they appeared. Most egregious of all, though, is that each of the friends were directly involved in some way with Laura's bullying and death.
The worst offender is protagonist Blaire (Shelley Hennig), who desperately appeals to Laura about how close they used to be. However, in a final twist the ghost reveals that Blaire was the one who posted the original humiliating viral video which sparked the intense bullying that would lead Laura to taking her own life.
Alongside its clever take on the found footage genre, Unfriended likewise uses its cast of truly awful teenagers to tell an all-too-real allegory of the horrors of cyberbullying.