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What Scares You? Here’s a Horror Movie for Every Phobia

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Anglophobia (England)

Love Actually (2003)

Hugh Grant dances around. Colin Firth charmingly stutters. Emma Thompson cries in a bedroom. Martin Freeman’s a body-double. Even Rowan Atkinson shows up. If you’re afraid of British people, do not see this movie. It’s scary long before that guy from The Walking Dead shows up with some creepy signs. And, worst of all, it’s guaranteed to get Bill Nighy’s holiday version of “Love Is All Around” stuck in your head. The song? Bad. The accent? Terrifying. –Allison Shoemaker

Anthophobia (Flowers)

The Ruins (2008)

Those poppies in The Wizard of Oz ain’t got a thing on The Ruins. Adapted by Scott B. Smith from his novel of the same name, this so-so movie features the most terrifying flora since Little Shop of Horrors. They make sounds. They eat flesh. They’ll crawl down your fucking throat and get inside your brain. If the movie was better, we’d all have given up gardening. –Allison Shoemaker

Anthropophobia (People)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

People are strange, as Jim Morrison once sang, and ain’t that the truth. In all honesty, everyone suffers from anthropophobia, if only because people will always disappoint us. At some point along the road, we lie, we cheat, we steal, we fail one another. As such, there’s a lack of trust that will forever poison our fabric of society, and that mistrust is more or less the conceit of the iconic sci-fi horror story Invasion of the Body Snatchers. While Don Siegel’s 1956 original is a masterpiece on its own, it’s absolutely no match to Philip Kaufman’s 1978 vicious upgrade, which stars Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, and Jeff Goldblum. Between the practical effects and the sonic atmosphere, this one will make your own skin crawl right off you, which is sort of the point. Who knew aliens were more terrifying as us? –Michael Roffman


Anuptaphobia (Being Single)

The Lobster (2015)

One of 2016’s best movies so far, Yorgos Lanthimos’ English-language debut sees Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz living in a dystopia where single people get turned into an animal of their choosing if they can’t find love. While an exemplary film, The Lobster feels like a bit of a low blow to those bummed about their love lives. Who needs more reasons to feel shitty about romance? –Allison Shoemaker

Aphenphosmphobia (Intimacy)

Nymphomaniac (2014)

Though Lars Von Trier’s two-part treatise on the existential horrors of human sexual desire (and humanity in general) eventually surrenders itself to his most torturous impulses, it’s Charlotte Gainsbourg’s unreal performance that drives the film’s many central horrors home. Each of the film’s chapters (particularly in the film’s second part) paints a new picture of exploitation, manipulation, and horror forced on Gainsbourg’s Joe, simply because of the compulsive sexual appetite with which she happened to be born and the leering world she happened to be born into. It’s a bleak, savage vision of humanity, but the fearful truth somewhere in there, beneath all the agony, makes the film all the more difficult to watch. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer


Apiphobia (Bees)

The Wicker Man (2006)

Honestly, what else did you expect here? One of the many baffling choices Neil LaBute made in his adaptation of the genuinely transgressive 1973 film The Wicker Man was the decision to make Nicolas Cage’s doomed cop allergic to bees, a fact that pays off at the end of the film in a sequence you probably know about as a meme, even if you’ve never seen the film. Taken on its own, though, and if you can get past Cage’s infamous exclamations in fear of the bees, the idea of having an entire hive poured onto your head as you’re bound is pretty awful. Just goes to show you how quickly a strong concept can go wonderfully, horribly wrong. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Aquaphobia (Water)

The Ring (2002)

What, you expected Jaws? Water plays a part in many of The Ring’s scares — a puddle here, a drip there, a well, a torrent — but none are more frightening than that shot of Samara’s water-logged face. When one thinks about The Ring, it’s probably that tape that comes to mind, but try to imagine even one of the most famous scenes from this movie without water. And then imagine getting home from seeing it and realizing that your kitchen sink is dripping. –Allison Shoemaker

Arachnophobia (Spiders)

Arachnophobia (1990)

For many, Arachnophobia was no laughing matter. When the film hit theaters in the Summer of 1990, Frank Marshall’s directorial debut was billed as a horror comedy, namely because the arachnid-driven story leans heavily on genre tropes and campy scares dating back to the monster movies of the ’50s. (That’s without mentioning John Goodman’s pulpy performance as a brazen exterminator who fights the creepy crawlers alongside Jeff Daniels.) So, yeah, there was stuff worth chuckling over, but once the eight-legged freaks travel from the Amazon to the small California town, there’s no joke in the whole book of comedy that can distract those with the titular condition. Because of this stupid film, this Peter Parker-worshipping writer consistently checked his toilet and shower head for over a decade before he (kind of) fell in love with the critters. –Michael Roffman


Astrophobia (Deep Space)

Alien (1979)

Alien could easily have qualified for the xenophobia entry on this list. After all, few movie monsters (extra-terrestrial or otherwise) hold a blowtorch to the original xenomorph in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic. But its acidic blood, elongated skull, and pharyngeal jaws double their terror when placed on a single spaceship that offers little means of escape for the (mostly) human passengers. Suddenly, the inhabitants of the Nostromo aren’t just thinking about the star beast they’re trapped with; they’re thinking of the infinite beyond, the far reaches of deep space. That sends the mind to some darkly philosophical places in a way that a predatory alien — an animal driven by pure instinct — never could. –Dan Caffrey


Autophobia (Solitude)

I Am Legend (2007)

We can talk a lot about how effective the final third of Francis Lawrence’s take on Richard Matheson’s post-apocalyptic novel really is, what with Will Smith channeling his existential crisis through Shrek and all. But the early moments, which see Smith’s lone scientist trawling the abandoned, vampire-infested streets of New York City and living out the kind of fantasy life that could only be adopted by the partially mad, are as effective a vision of the world after the end of the world as you’ll see. Who wouldn’t break down before a mannequin after a few years of that? –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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