1. American Psycho (Ellis 1991 / Harron 2000)
American Psycho, in both its forms, is the first real slasher we get from the villain’s perspective. But is he even a slasher? An expert example of characterization of an unreliable narrator, Ellis’ description of murder in the first person was so vivid that he was actually investigated by police, as they figured writing a killer that well had to be grounded in reality.
2. The Haunting of Hill House (Jackson 1959 / Flannigan 2018)
The extremely popular Netflix miniseries was based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel, though it hardly follows the source material beyond names and location. Both versions are terrifying, its just the way the fear develops that is so different. Shirley Jackson was much more instrumental in the development of the horror genre than most give her credit for, and Hill House is a prime example of the ‘modern gothic’ subgenre.
Clive Barker is another household name and, despite being a white man, he is responsible for breaking down some racial barriers by creating a horror story about black characters where their development is much more than anecdotal. The original cinematic adaptation had the same effect and became one of the first pieces of black horror to have a mainstream audience, which was a pretty big deal. Candyman (1992) ultimately paved part of the way for Jordan Peele’s (of Candyman 2021) massive success as he brings black horror into the spotlight and forces Hollywood critics to shift their perspective around horror movies into acknowledgement of a serious, refined genre.
While The Turning (Sigismondi 2020) was pretty loyal to the Henry James novel, some of the development was lost in the translation from book to film. The limited series, Bly Manor, was another massive success, because of the same reasons Hill House was: Flannigan took liberties that drew out suspense and mystery to match the pace of the novel, which makes for a much more enjoyable horror experience.
5. The Invisible Man (Wells 1897 / Whannell 2020)
H.G. Wells’ novella, like his other works, teeters between sci-fi and horror in a manner that makes its specific designation difficult, but the 2020 film starting Elizabeth Moss is a verified scare. Now, in this age of scientific development, its not at all unrealistic that a tech billionaire could figure out a way to be invisible, so a new take was developed for the modern age. The film is set up more as a thriller from the perspective of a woman being tormented by her invisible, abusive ex, and is less about the horror of the technology itself and more about what would happen if it got into the wrong hands.