It occurred to me as I was watching The Woman in Black that there is something very romantic about fear. We do like to cuddle up during the spine-chilling moments, girls bury their noses in their boyfriends necks and couples clutch hands, stroke one another’s hair or limbs and offer soothing kisses as they seek to reassure and protect. There is no other cinematic experience that makes us so spontaneously touchy feely. And of course, they do say fear is a great aphrodisiac.
So that got me thinking – which would be the best ghost films to watch snuggled up with your loved one on Valentines Night? Roughly speaking my selection criteria is that these films are gentle horror, with elements which would appeal to a couple, a few nice cuddling-encouraging scares and nothing too depressing. Here are my top 5 suggestions. (Please note: I am not including Ghost in this list because that is primarily a romance, not a ghost story. The point of this post is to snaffle out scary films for couples to enjoy on Valentines night). The films in this list are not placed in order of how good I think they are but how suitable they are for Valentines Day viewing.
No. 5: The Sixth Sense, 1999
Plus points: A gentle horror with a good few jumpy moments and a strong story line. There’s a cute kid. A couple with (serious) marital problems and a weepy ending. The jumps will get you snuggling, the touching story will leave you misty-eyed, the ending will send you off to bed with a warm fuzzy feeling.
Minus points: You’ve both seen it already. Repeatedly. Come on…everybody has. But at least you can smooch through it without losing the plot.
No. 4: The Devil’s Backbone, 2001
Plus points: It’s a foreign language film set during the Spanish Civil War, so you can feel intellectual watching it. This isn’t just horror, it’s education. There’s a good strong story-line about an abandoned boy and a group of hard-done-by youngsters in a haunted orphanage. There are some fantastic spooky moments and some very visually clever scenes. It will leave you feeling happier for having watched it.
Minus points: This is, in my opinion, the least cosy horror film on this list – it has a harder edge to it than the others and a bleaker outlook. You also need to concentrate on this film, so no kissy-kissy!
No. 3: Haunted, 1995
Plus points: This has a good romantic sub-plot and some sexy scenes that make it particularly suitable for Valentine’s Day. There’s an interesting plot with plenty of mystery and suspense. A solid, entertaining film with a satisfying ending; this is an old school ghost story that manages to avoid being clichéd.
Minus points: Perhaps not the most memorable film but it’s certainly worth seeing, especially on Valentine’s Day.
No. 2: The Orphanage, 2007
Plus points: Foreign language, with a loving couple, lost children and secret histories. This film has everything: tension, suspense, flash point scares, a good story, a strong mystery element, gorgeous cinematography, sympathetic characters and excellent acting. This is complex film, original and fresh. It’s poignant without being maudlin, brutal without being cruel.
Minus point: I’ve tried to avoid films with too much gore and while there isn’t much in this, there is one scene that is particularly nasty.
No. 1: The Others, 2001
Plus points: A strong story and a brooding sense of suspense. This is a film that both tugs on the heart-strings and chills you. There is no gore whatsoever relying entirely upon suspense and mysterious element that keeps you guessing until the end. The acting is excellent, especially from the two young children. This is a new perspective on the classic type ghost story.
Minus point: As with The Sixth Sense, the only minus point with this film is that you’ve probably seen it before but it’s so poignantly perfect – a story of forlorn love and isolation – that it is a must see on Valentine’s Day.