(Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror. In this edition: 47 Meters Down has one of the most terrifying horror movie moments in recent memory.)
Two summers ago, director/co-writer Johannes Roberts’ small budget shark survival thriller 47 Meters Down quietly released into theaters and became one of the highest-grossing indie films of 2017. A feat its sequel, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, is aiming to duplicate or surpass at the box office this summer. It’s not hard to understand its success; movie audiences have been obsessed with shark horror ever since Jaws introduced a new kind of movie monster in 1975.
Like Jaws, 47 Meters Down kept the appearances of its sharks minimal. Instead, Roberts trapped the film’s protagonists underwater for most of the movie, focusing on the various obstacles to survival that accompanies humans out of their element. An element that happens to be the dominion of apex predators, portrayed as relentless killing machines. Roberts combined survival horror with summer’s favorite movie monster to deliver one of the scariest scenes in horror.
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On the night of August 8, 1969, four members of the Manson Family committed one of America’s most notorious crimes under the direction of their cult leader, Charles Manson. They’d brutally murdered actress Sharon Tate, her unborn baby, and the houseguests in her home that night; Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger. It wasn’t their only act of ruthless violence, but the high profiles of the victims captured America’s attention and curiosity, catapulting Manson and his followers into an unparalleled level of infamy. Manson himself became a cultural boogeyman.
While there’s been no shortage of coverage, speculation, and fictionalized accounts of the Tate murders over the decades, Hollywood seems to be marking its 50th anniversary with renewed interest in America’s most ill-famed cult. Between The Haunting of Sharon Tate, Charlie Says, Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood, season 2 of Netflix’s Mindhunter, and even the recently announced Tate, 2019 bears no shortage of new stories to tell surrounding the Manson Family or its victims. Fifty years and multiple generations removed, many of these films assume familiarity with the facts and take drastic fictional liberties to spin a new story instead. Avoiding any knowledge of the cult or the crimes seems inescapable in 2019, but with such varying reads and loose retellings of the events or key players, that might not exactly be true.
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Halfway through the inaugural season of AMC’s NOS4A2, the series is ramping up the personal stakes and danger for its central characters. Last week’s episode, “The House of Sleep,” opted for full blown taboo breaking terror with a harrowing peak into the twisted past of 135-year old vampire Charlie Manx’s righthand man, Bing Partridge (Olafur Darri Olafsson). Within the span of a single episode, Bing Partridge transformed from simple-minded pawn to arguably the most dangerous opponent plucky heroines Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) and Maggie Leigh (Jahkara J. Smith) will have to face.
Yet, for all of the episode’s shocking reveals, the buzz around both it and the entire series has been fairly quiet since the premiere. It’s a shame, because NOS4A2 is delivering some of television’s best horror that warrants more discussion and viewership.
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