Chill Movies – Cinematic Inspiration

I had a brief conversation on Twitter recently in which someone asked me for examples of the mood of Chill, particularly in media. I’m something of a cinephile, so I started thinking of movies that I think exemplify Chill, and the overall genre that I think makes me think of the game is “found footage.” Movies like V/H/SBlair WitchParanormal Activity[rec], and even Cloverfield make me think of Chill because they tend to focus on the people and their reactions to the horror. You seldom get a good look at what’s doing all the killing or the spooking. Instead, it’s a quick glimpse, something flickering through your field of vision. Done right, it’s an amazing way to evoke tension, which, when you’re doing a horror story, is what you want.

But, as the fellow I was talking to on Twitter pointed out, that doesn’t show you SAVE, which is an entirely valid point. And I was trying to think of some cinematic examples that draw on the same kind of tension and have some capable protagonists and encapsulates the kind of everyday heroism that I find so compelling about SAVE. I’m…kinda coming up short, actually. Admittedly, I’m looking for something pretty specific, so there aren’t likely to be a lot of examples. But here’s a few (and please note, I’m aware that not all of these are good movies, but I feel they all have some redeeming value):

Mimic (1997)

It’s not Guillermo del Toro’s best work, but I personally think it’s pretty good. Plus, you’ve got a couple of scientists, a cop, and a shoe shine man looking for his lost son (and carrying a straight razor with a rosary hanging off it, looking ready to go if need be). They might not be SAVE, but they sure could have been.

Deliver Us From Evil (2014)

Eric Bana plays a cop who finds himself hunting down some folks possessed by demons. Some genuinely creepy film work and some really good fight choreography, here. Also, I think the movie does a good job of conveying that the Unknown (or the forces of Hell, in this context) know more than you and really just want you to hurt, but at the same time are vulnerable in certain ways. Check out Edgar Ramirez as a really cool priest.

Ghost Ship (2002)

Dark Castle films has this uncanny ability to make knockoffs of older horror movies that aren’t entirely terrible, but lord, they ain’t good. And yet, I find most of them highly watchable, and Ghost Ship is no exception. In this movie, a salvage team gets lured out to a derelict cruise liner and attempts to bring it in to get rich, only to see the supernatural rear its ugly head. Again, the team isn’t a SAVE team, obviously…but it’s not hard to imagine how the story might go.

I’d love some more suggestions! What horror movies do you think work well for Chill?



  1. Decrepit Reeve · · Reply

    I always felt The Ninth Gate would work, if you would change the motive of the main character from greed to saving the world.

  2. Eric Crabtree · · Reply

    Dog Soldiers. Soldiers vs Werewolves. Military tactics vs Pack tactics.

  3. I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who worked for Pacesetter back in the day, and specifically on Chill. He talked about how the original Chill was “gothic”, and the 2nd edition leaned more “slasher” which he felt kind of missed the point of the original. More Universal Monster and less Friday the 13th.

    I mentioned the original novel Dracula — in which the titular character hardly actually appears — but he casts a shadow over the entire book that you simply can’t ignore. I like what you said along those lines in this post.

    1. That’s interesting. I don’t see a lot of slasher influence in 2nd Ed at all. Mind asking your friend what he’s referring to?

  4. Scott Mohnkern · · Reply

    I thought of two excellent examples that give the feeling of chill. They are both TV series.

    The first is Friday the 13th:The series. This is about a group of 3 (or so) individuals that spend their time hunting down and collecting artifacts that are supernaturally evil. I won’t go into detail to avoid spoilers. If you look on the SyFy channel they show episodes occasionally.

    The other is the TV series Poltergeist: The Legacy. This is the same idea, but in this case, its not artifacts, but evil beings.

  5. Chris Jensen Romer · · Reply

    Based on what I have seen so far Quartermass and the Pit seems an excellent fit? The Exorcist might also fit, and X Files obviously…

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