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The movie Bret Easton Ellis calls the “perfect horror film”


Literary writer and purveyor of cinema, Bret Easton Ellis is one of the most prolific authors of the late 20th century, releasing such modern classics as Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, and most notably, American Psycho. Often leaning heavily on irony, Ellis’ postmodern novels are raw pieces of work, working with a minimalist style to tell his dark tales of contemporary lost souls. 

His 1991 novel American Psycho stands as his most notable piece of work, helped significantly by the adaptation of the book into a major feature film starring Christian Bale. Directed by Mary Harron, the faithful adaptation of Ellis’ psychological thriller caught the attention of international audiences for its striking representation of the central character and its throughline that criticised the myth of the ‘American Dream’.

Exploring the mind of an all-American psychopath, the protagonist, Patrick Bateman, is an obsessive New York City investment banking executive with a passion only for personal perfection and financial gain. So narcissistic is his inner turmoil that he begins taking out his insecurities on those around him in violent acts of murder. 

Going mad from the intricate game of modern capitalism, Bateman’s insecurities get the better of him, mutating into narcissism as his inner turmoil rears its ugly head through acts of brutal murder. Translated to the audience in a rambling, though coherent, inner monologue, it is never quite clear what Bateman experiences as fantasy and as reality, with his inflated ego and self-evident psychopathic tendencies skewing his perception of life. 

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A drama, psychological thriller and modern horror, Bret Easton Ellis is fond of a slice of terror, with many of his books containing a drizzle of darkness to go alongside their intricate character studies. 

Speaking to Criterion back in 2016, Ellis revealed some of his favourite films of all time, though, most notably, pointed to a classic movie that he considered to be “a perfect horror film”. 

Released by Roman Polanski in 1968, Ellis is referring to the great body horror flick Rosemary’s Baby, starring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes. “A perfect horror film and, except for one bloody mess glimpsed early on and a few sexy scratches from Satan himself, no blood spilled,” the writer comments, adding, “The movie builds dread with its narrative, but amplified by Polanski’s masterful technique, it becomes effortlessly menacing”. 

Gushing over the classic horror movie, Ellis adds, “The movie is still riveting and suspenseful after multiple viewings, maybe because it’s anchored in reality and so beautifully simple—the horror is played out within the realities of a modern marriage in late-’60s Manhattan and the “God is dead” movement. Second only to Chinatown in Polanski’s oeuvre”. 

Take a look at the trailer for the film Bret Easton Ellis called the “perfect horror film,” below.