If you want to make an effectively scary movie, it helps to give your horror villains day jobs. It means the fiend could be anyone, perhaps even someone you spill your deepest secrets to - like a priest or a therapist. They could even be someone completely innocuous in your regular routine, like the guy who bags your groceries. We like to think that danger lurks far away from wherever we're living our lives, but the most insidious characters may be right under our noses.
Not every horror or suspense villain needs a 9-to-5 (it would be pretty hard for Leatherface or Michael Myers to run a register at a convenience store), but it helps to give the audience some insight into a villain's backstory without derailing the main plot.
It's also just nice to see someone who’s good at their job. We like a villain who demonstrates competence, who's spent time and effort to hone their skills - even when that same focus inevitably leads to their dark turn.
Being locked in a cell for most of the film doesn’t prevent Dr. Hannibal Lecter from doing the thing he does best: psychoanalyzing whatever individual is brave enough to offer themselves to him on a metaphorical platter. He has several marks of a great psychiatrist - he’s patient, he listens, and he can use his extreme intelligence to predict the future actions of an individual and explain why they may have done something already.
With these skills, Lecter helps FBI Agent Clarise Starling find the elusive Buffalo Bill, but he also takes the opportunity to help Clarise confront her insecurities. Two birds with one stone, that's Dr. Lecter all over.
For the closest shave, you need the best barber, and that is Sweeney Todd, formerly known as Benjamin Barker. The mad barber first proves his worth to Londoners during a shaving contest against a fellow practicioner - the charlatan Pirelli, “Barber of Kings.” Barker demonstrates his expertise with perfect technique and one extremely sharp razor, and easily bests his opponent.
Another sign of Todd's skill is the passion he has for his coveted blades. In the musical’s song "My Friends," he lovingly handles the silver razors he kept hidden in the floor of his former home. It’s these razors he uses to gain a reputation throughout London for his superior shaving abilities.
At first glance, Patrick Bateman seems like the poster child for investment banking. He’s competitive, and regularly vies for power over his colleagues based on the tiniest of slights, including dinner reservations and the best-looking business card. He secures meetings with people he thinks will help him climb the business ladder, like Paul Allen - even though the man is constantly confusing him for another banker. He’s charming and speaks warmly to his colleagues and acquaintances throughout.
Bateman does such a good job of pretending to not be monster that his lawyer doesn’t even believe him when he confesses to numerous transgressions. Unlike many of the villains on this list, Bateman slips easily back into his day job after his string of horrific acts and receives no retribution for them.
This film answers a fascinating question: If Satan had a job, what would it be? A lawyer. Not that lawyers are inherently evil, but the profession requires someone who - no matter which side of the argument they're on - can insist their client isn't guilty as sin
As a lawyer, John Milton (Al Pacino as Satan) gives the film’s protagonist, Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), the opportunity to work at an extremely successful international law firm. He also presents himself as a sort of father figure to his young protégé. From the beginning, he’s persuasive and charismatic, and he makes his new employee believe that he is headed in the “right” direction, whatever that is. It's that charismatic flair that's made "Milton" a highly successful lawyer.