ONTD Halloween Original™: 10 Coming-of-Age Horror Movies




I Am Not a Serial Killer © 2016 IFC Midnight

"Everybody’s gone / And I’ve been here for too long / To face this on my own / Well, I guess this is growing up."
- "Dammit" by Blink 182

The term "adulting" is a blemish on modern vernacular, but the idea behind it is understandable at the very least. For everyone who complains about being an adult, they surely may have forgotten what adolescence is like. The sudden growth spurts, the acne, the search for friendships, first loves, the fights with parents, and homework. Is that really something adults want to go back to?

On the other hand, think about what teenage characters endure in horror movies: demonic possession, lycanthropy, homicidal maniacs wearing masks, psychotic fantasies that seep into reality. Yeah, it might be easier to accept your mundane maturation toward adulthood after all.

Because puberty was a pain, here are ten horror movies about characters coming of age.




GINGER SNAPS

The 2000 low-budget Canadian werewolf movie named after the sugary confection should be watched by anyone who ever felt left out in high school. Why? For starters, the Fitzgerald sisters in Ginger Snaps are late bloomers. Physically and socially. They spend all their time together, filming macabre home movies that seem more like a cry for help than entertainment. Their mother is a suburban stereotype who seems overly invested in her daughters' lives, but neither Ginger or Brigitte seem to care. Their father has no discernible presence and could have been excluded from the story altogether.

At school, the sisters try their hardest to avoid their peers. This doesn't always work as evident in gym class when the youngest Fitzgerald, Brigitte, is picked on by a popular classmate. To which older sister Ginger has to then defend her. Yet as Brigitte struggles, Ginger begins to change after the pair's chance encounter with the mysterious beast that has been picking off local pets. Not only is Ginger transforming physically - as all the boys in the class notice - her personality has been overhauled. Ginger, once stricken with a case of self-induced seclusion, soon finds herself smoking pot, dressing more provocatively, and experimenting sexually. So what's gotten into Ginger? Has puberty finally taken its toll? Or is lycanthrophy to blame?

Ginger Snaps is a movie that resonates with many serious horror fans, who probably have at some point felt like a bit of an outsider. No matter how popular horror movies are, it's still not regarded by the general public as something not "okay" to openly enjoy. Using Ginger's new werewolf state as a metaphor for puberty is brilliant. It coincides with the idea that at that point in our lives, we really have no control over our bodies. Hair grows in places we never had hair before, mood swings develop, and hormones influence us to make the worst decisions. Unfortunately for the Fitzgerald sisters, Ginger's lycanthropic malady is not all perks. Growing up can be such a beast.







IT

Stephen King has the ability to capture the pangs of youth creepily well in his works, which includes Stand by Me, The Long Walk, and Silver Bullet. And last year, one of his most popular works, It, was adapted for the big screen. The young protagonists, dubbed "The Loser Club," find themselves being preyed upon by a local evil being known as Pennywise. Together, this group of unlikely heroes battle the creature while avenging one of their own's fallen sibling.

The antics and tribulations of the kids in It have understandably reverberated with adult viewers. Andy Muschietti's rendition is yet another serving of 1980s mimicry that inundates current pop culture, but he doesn't focus on only nostalgia. He uses it as a backdrop to King's story of puberty, loss, and coming to terms with the end of childhood.





THE NEW DAUGHTER

Some parents will say that dealing with teenagers is far more terrifying than anything one will see in a horror movie. But what if your teenager was suddenly under a supernatural influence during that rough period of adolescence? That's what happens to Kevin Costner's character in this creature feature. After divorcing his cheating wife, an author moves his teen daughter and young son to rural South Carolina. While walking in the woods nearby, the daughter stumbles upon a large mound. As it turns out, this is a burial mound. What's buried inside, though?

The remainder of the movie has the daughter acting out after coming in contact with the mysterious mound. Her clothes are more daring, she's aggressive with classmates, and her general indignance has been amplified. How did anyone know something unnatural was causing her unruly behavior? Anyway, Costner's character spends the movie fretting over his daughter's overnight changes, which speaks of his discomfort with his child's budding young adulthood. His quest to remedy the problem ties in to fathers' obsessions with their daughters' "loss of innocence."

Diablo Cody's Jennifer's Body had a similar theme of a young woman being possessed by otherworldly forces. However, in that movie, the friend was trying to save the titular character out of good intentions. In The New Daughter, the father seems to be as afraid of the supernatural hold on his child as he is with the overwhelming idea that she's growing up and there's nothing he can do about it.





MEMENTO MORI

Everyone remembers their first kiss. Their first love. Their first heartbreak. Unfortunately for many, those memories are painful. Beyond the spectrum of what's considered a normal amount of emotional pain at that youthful age. In this standalone sequel to the South Korean horror movie Whispering Corridors, two students -- Shi-eun and Hyo-shin -- at an all-girls school fall in love, and they become marginalized by their peers. Their classmate, Mina, later finds their shared diary, which sparks a wave of supernatural events at the school.

Memento Mori is a pensive, psychosexual entry in South Korean horror. Anyone familiar with the industry and society in the country would understand why a film of this nature would be deemed controversial. Back then in 1999, it was difficult to see this movie as a wide release was intentionally made unavailable for some time. The subject matter would still be controversial today. So the film is a milestone in Korean homosexual media. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked by Asian horror enthusiasts. For those with the patience for a slow burn, Memento Mori is a rewarding hidden gem.





I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER

Trying to find somewhere to belong to during adolescence can be tough. Even more so if you're diagnosed with psychopathy. This is the case for John, a teen growing in a small Midwestern town. He suffers homicidal impulses, which he fights regularly. John's mother sees to it that her son never caves to his desires by having him regularly attend therapy. Not to mention have John help out at his family's funeral home so she and his aunt can watch over him.

But those urges aren't easy to push down. Especially when there's a serial killer lurking about in town. Although John figures out who the culprit is, he is unable to divulge the truth to anyone as no one would likely believe him. And for good reason.

The movie is a strained examination of one teenager's mental well-being set to the backdrop of a cat-and-mouse game. This is no normal film about puberty. But when has puberty ever been normal?




TRANSFIGURATION

The desire to be something you're not isn't exclusive to teenagers. Everyone puts on airs or pretends. Some more than others. For instance, young Milo is obsessed with vampires. Not like a Twilight fan is. He watches Nosferatu and other classic vampire movies. Oh, and he also murders people and drinks their blood. But he's not a vampire. Not yet at least.

Milo takes a fantasy and makes it a dark, disturbing reality. He truly thinks he is going to become a creature of the night. He is involved in multiple murders, but those crimes don't faze him at all. When he's not vamping it up, he is being bullied by his peers. How he gets back at them is devious.

Black characters are statistically less likely to be made the protagonist in films, but it seems to be even less so with horror. Milo, in spite of his homicidal tendencies and delusion, is a dynamic, remarkably written character whose foil turns out to be his affection for his neighbor Sophie. Their relationship is inspiring as it shows that everyone is capable of making a human connection, even those who deem themselves to not be entirely human.




JUG FACE

You can't choose your family, they say. And that statement rings unfortunately too true for Jug Face's Ada, a teenager living in a backwoods community that wholly worships a creature living in a pit. This indie drama has elements of horror, but it is not a monster flick by any means either.

Jug Face is a southern gothic drama that touches upon subjects such as fringe religion, misogyny, the patriarchy, and incest. Ada wants something better for herself, and she knows the only way she can do that is to leave her home. But the toxicity of that life not only binds her, it stops her from growing and moving on.

This movie isn't for everyone as it's more suggestive than overt. The horror comes more from a place of oppression than the creature that supposedly lives in the pit. But if a viewer feels like dissecting a thinking-type horror movie that echoes cinema of the past, then Jug Face is a perfect viewing choice.





EXCISION
The adage of "follow your dreams" is a good one to believe in. Unless those dreams involve you killing a bunch of people. Then maybe it's time to wake up.

Pauline, the main character of Excision, is a social outcast at school because she is undoubtedly weird by most social contexts. She dreams of becoming a surgeon, and she wants to please her mother no matter what. Her sister Grace has cystic fibrosis, which immediately sets up a parallel between life and death in regards to the daughters. Pauline, however, isn't as emotionally well-balanced as Grace. She loses herself in surreal fantasies of murder, which influence her state of mind as the movie progresses.

Excision is a darkly comedic film carried by excellent performances from the lead, AnnaLynne McCord, and her mother, played by the undervalued Traci Lords. Adolescence has never been this brutal.






RAW

Being gifted at something should make one feel special, but at a young age, it can be a curse. Especially for Justine in Raw (oiginal title: Grave), the heralded feature-length debut from director Julia Ducournau. A lot of pressure is already on Justine's shoulders: she's attending the same veterinary school her parents met at. Her older sister Alexia is also a current student. So her future has already been decided for her in a way. Justine isn't your average teenager. Aside from her exceptional intelligence, she is especially mature for someone her age. Of course there are downsides to those traits: she's socially awkward and she lacks the confidence her sister has.

During a hazing ritual, vegetarian Justine is pressured to consume rabbit kidneys. This act not only triggers her insatiable taste for flesh but it also awakens carnal desires. Giving in to a carnivorous rite of social acceptance is a heavy-handed metaphor for growing up, and the subject of sexuality here is handled clumsily. Yet still, Raw has enough to satiate anyone's appetite for a very different kind of teen horror movie.





A TALE OF TWO SISTERS

People can be terrible. This is not a new concept. The selfish, cruel actions of one can change everything. This is true for sisters Su-mi and Su-yeon. Their lives have radically changed since the death of their terminally ill mother. Their father marrying her nurse, Eun-joo, didn't help matters either. Now, though, something sinister is happening in their house. But is it of human nature or supernatural?

The 2003 sleeper horror drama A Tale of Two Sisters is one of those films that is as convoluted as it is thought provoking. It begs viewers to pay close attention so they can better understand the trauama and emotional turmoil Su-mi and Su-yeon endure. That being said, the less said about the story, the better it is for new viewers.





Poll #2085921 Which did you prefer?

Which did you prefer?

Middle school
7(6.7%)
High school
40(38.5%)
Neither
51(49.0%)
No preference
6(5.8%)

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