Horror movies often turn to hulking, relentless slayers kicking down doors or otherworldly monsters slithering through the darkness to instill fear in audiences, and those methods can undoubtedly be effective. However, it's the universal fears and the small, unspoken but widely shared paranoias that connect people across the globe, and some of the best horror movies - or at least some of the most memorable horror movie moments - come as a result of filmmakers capitalizing on the mundane, everyday nightmares you try not to think about.
Whether it's that creeping unease that comes from walking through an empty parking garage by yourself late at night or the almost primal vulnerability all humans feel when they're asleep or bathing, some truly frightening moments from the annals of horror cinema come from exploiting those common trepidations. Then there are the horror movies that make you afraid of everyday activities that never scared you at all beforehand. Here's a look at a few horror flicks that will make you think twice the next time you do basically anything at all during your day.
When it comes to shower scenes in horror movies, very few could ever come close to the shower sequence from Hitchcock's Psycho. However, in the 1990 horror-comedy Arachnophobia, one particular scene manages to blend the pervasive and soul-numbing fear felt by those who suffer from the eponymous phobia with the natural vulnerability that comes with taking a shower.
The story itself follows a group of super-spiders from the Venezuelan rainforest that, through a confluence of circumstances, end up in the small city of Canaima, CA, leaving a swath of exsanguinated corpses for small-town doctor Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels). In one particularly unsettling moment, a young woman named Becky (Cori Wellins) is taking a shower, closing her eyes to the spraying water. Unbeknownst to her, one of the sizable spiders has found its way into her bathroom and is crawling along her shower rod, before jumping onto her face. She freaks the hell out and smacks it away, sending it scampering down the drain. While this might not be the most well-known shower scene in horror, it hits all those primal fear points, and there's no way you won't be checking your shower and eyeing the drain next time you hop in for a rinse.
Set in the super modern Starliner Towers apartment high-rise in Montreal, director David Cronenberg's stomach-churning debut feature Shivers tells the story of a zombie-like outbreak of parasitic worm creatures that infect and take over hosts, turning them into vicious lunatics. In a body horror flick filled with vile, gruesome imagery and intense, unsettling carnal behavior, one scene that stands out amidst the nightmare fuel involves Betts (Barbara Steele) relaxing in a bathtub after a long day.
As she sleepily reclines in the water, one of the disgusting, lumpy, vaguely phallic slug parasites crawls up out of the bathtub drain. With her eyes closed, Betts is completely oblivious to the small creature crawling toward her legs. As the creature enters her body, she thrashes in pain as it devastates her organs, taking her over from the inside. The scene is so memorably disturbing, a terrified woman in a bathtub appears on the cover, and the scenario has been imitated in various horror films since, including, famously, A Nightmare on Elm Street.
You're never more vulnerable than when you're asleep, which is why sinister monsters and vile beasts striking in your sleep is something of a horror staple. However, few movies instill such a menacing, dire fear of slumber as the 1978 sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a formidable remake of the 1956 original classic. The film stars Donald Sutherland as Matthew Bennell, a San Francisco health inspector who begins to notice that some of the people he's closest to are acting cold, distant, and entirely emotionless. He soon discovers that plant-like alien pods are replicating people in their sleep, and the sentient alien duplicates have been disposing of the humans and replacing them in society.
Matthew and a small group of unduplicated humans are then forced to navigate an increasingly alien-controlled city while trying to force themselves to stay awake, all while knowing they can only stave off sleep for so long, and if they close their eyes, it spells almost certain doom. The stressful fear of dozing off plays such a big role in what makes the film terrifying that the tagline on the poster was "Watch out! They get you while you're sleeping!"
In this intense cat-and-mouse thriller, Rachel Nichols plays Angela Bridges, a young, career-driven businesswoman who works in a Manhattan office building and finds herself leaving late on Christmas Eve after everyone else has already headed home to their families. After walking alone to her car - on the P2 level of the parking garage - she finds that her car won't start. The building's late-night security guard, Thomas (Wes Bentley), assists her and invites her to spend Christmas with him - an offer she turns down. She soon finds out, however, that Thomas is a psychopath who's become obsessed with her.
The fight of wills that commences includes Angela getting dosed, escaping handcuffs, being targeted by Thomas's dog, and ultimately fighting for her life - all within the confines of the cavernous yet claustrophobic parking garage. Nearly everyone who's ever walked alone to their car at night in a nearly empty parking structure knows the feeling of increased paranoia that comes with looking over your shoulder at every sound that echoes through the building. P2 plays on that universal phobia in a way that will stick with you for a long time.