Horror has consistently been the black sheep of movie genres when it comes to artistic recognition. This is particularly true in the eyes of The Academy – Those 3 Fantastic Horror Movies Unfairly Snubbed At The Oscars
1. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Place in 1939 at the end of the Spanish Civil War, Guillermo del Toro’s carefully crafted chiller sees 12-year old Carlos left at an orphanage where he must adjust to his new life and environment. But when he starts seeing the ghost of a young lad, Carlos begins to uncover the dark, concealed truth of the place.
This is a rare instance of the genre where human drama is set at the vanguard through a classical method of storytelling with multiple subplots and fully-fleshed out characters, and in which high production values and the epic, historic sweep of the movie almost make us forget we’re seeing a horror.
The Devil’s Backbone would appear tailor, if it weren’t for the phantoms. But there’s no discounting the unnatural component here as his dark magic is woven by del Toro through every scene. The existence of the dead is with us constantly, as the manager pushes us to experience events through the eyes of the youthful and we’re often terrified.
It’s a fantastic film, but no better than The Devil’s Backbone.
2. The Conjuring (2013)
James Wan polished narrative of spiritual devotion and demonic possession in a Rhode Island farmhouse in the early-1970s has holy and bile water in its veins.
Investigating topics of labored religion, family, and the battle of good and bad, The Conjuring calls to mind the likes of The Exorcist, and certainly James Wan’s movie owes Friedkin’s a significant debt, particularly in its drawn-out and gruelling exorcism scene in which Lili Taylor’s delicate mother succumbs to physical infestation by a devil witch. Extraordinarily for a modern, mass market film.
The Conjuring is spiritual, expressly championing the power of an Almighty God.
The Conjuring is horror through and through, and is pleased with its jump-panics. But it’s horror of the best type. And a commendable aversion. Everything adds up to a film that can stand the test of time, haunting the cellars of our heads for decades to come. Despite enthusiastic reviews from the critics, not one nomination was received by it from The Academy.
3. The Exorcist (1973)
Possibly the most well-known horror movie ever, and with great reason. Directed by madman William Friedkin and based on William Peter Blatty’s novel, The Exorcist was, in theory, a powerful contender for Oscar success. It was superior to its director’s preceding movie, The French Connection, which won the Best Picture but its unflinching investigation of spiritual beliefs united with imagery and explicit sexual language proved simply too much to stomach for many.
The Exorcist is a masterclass in editing, screenwriting, direction, cinematography, sound design, and operation. Because it’s completely believable absolutely terrifying. In ‘our’ world these characters live, but the grotesque power which arrives to infest their lives is from someplace else completely, someplace not thinkable. It’s a story of good versus evil of sorrow, redemption, and belief, in their purest forms.
Reviews at the time were combined: The mind and the climactic sequences attack the senses with pure cinematic dread.” The New York Times described the movie as “a ball of refined occultist claptrap [that]… creates a new low for grotesque special effects.”
However, The Academy nominated it for no less than 10 Oscars and wasn’t blind to the picture’s many qualities. It won Best Sound Mix: Best Adapted Screenplay, and only two.