In 2017, a list of the top 10 scariest movies on Netflix was released by the streaming service, showing that many of their viewers aren’t ready for the numerous scares offered up on demand. It’s interesting to note the movies deemed “too scary” to finish are kind of all over the place in terms of the genre. There are moody explorations of what it means to be a woman, run-of-the-mill ghost stories, and body horror that will make you shudder every time you look in the mirror. So it’s hard to say what freaked out audiences so much it made them switch back to binge-watching The Office for the 20th time.
Paul Tassi of Forbes managed to get viewing data from Netflix that showed viewers turning off around the 70% mark. The streaming service claims this is how they can tell the audience is too scared to finish the movie, as opposed to just turning it off because they were bored. Netflix believes that if someone sits through most of a horror movie, the only reason they’re not finishing it is because it’s too much for their delicate sensibilities. That theory seems underdeveloped at best, but it’s worth diving into to see what scenes are really affecting viewers.
Out of all the films on the Netflix list, The Conjuring is the closest match for a classically classified horror movie. Despite being considered popcorn fare, The Conjuring is a masterclass in horror by James Wan. The director uses lengthy shots, forced perspective, and good, old-fashioned jump scares to freak the audience out. The scene that probably had the audience giving a collective “nope” combined all three of those techniques.
The scene in question features two of the youngest members of the Perron family freaking out at something watching them in their room, except the audience can’t see what it is. The camera even cuts to the places where the creature is meant to be and we’re shown nothing. That is, until Wan finally reveals a witch on top of a bureau, which is creepy enough, but then he does a big ’70s super-zoom into the witch’s face before she goes HAM on the girls.
Actors: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Joey King, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, + more
Initial Release: 2013
Directed by: James Wan
This anthology of horror films from Mexican filmmakers is the perfect international addition to the slate of movies like V/H/S and XX. Each short offers viewers a different reason to sign off when things get too bloody, or just utterly weird. Every short in this collection goes out of its way to show you something you can’t unsee.
The first “no thank you” moment that comes to mind is in the short Drena, directed by Aaron Soto. In the film, a teenage girl smokes a cigarette she took from a dead body and sees a naked, faceless creature who tells her to drain the blood from her older sister’s vagina.
If viewers managed to make it through the naked faceless creature (which is straight-up nightmare fuel), then the moment where the nameless girl trips and spills menstrual blood all over her face is likely where the audience tuned out.
Actors: Adrian Aguirre, Dulce Alexa, Leslie Arce
Initial Release: 2014
Directed by: Isaac Ezban, Lex Ortega, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Aaron Soto, Jorge Michel Grau, + more