Quickly becoming an icon of modern horror, American actor Jenna Ortega has always held an affinity to the terrifying genre after her appearance in the sequel Insidious: Chapter 2 back in 2013 helped spark her modern career. Ever since then, Ortega has leaped at the chance to appear in various other horror projects, from the TV series Deadtime Stories to the genre reboot Scream.
“I love blood and guts. I love to run for my life,” Ortega told Rotten Tomatoes in a recent interview where the actor discussed her recent appearance in the Ti West movie X, a tribute to old-school horror and pulpy violence. Playing the character of Lorraine, a crewmember of a film production team making a porn film deep in the American countryside, Ortega joins such actors as Brittany Snow, Mia Goth and Kid Cudi.
During the interview, Ortega was asked for her picks for her favourite horror movies of all time, revealing her top choices after much deliberation and fears of a regretful choice.
Choosing an iconic movie of the early slasher sub-genre, Ortega’s first pick goes to the 1980s film Prom Night starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen, a “classic horror” and an “incredibly innovative” movie according to the actor who gushes over the film’s quality. “It was one of the first representations of a story where you really didn’t know who the killer is,” she tells the publication, adding, “the editing and filming and even acting are all really very true to its time. I especially enjoy it”.
Changing modern horror for the better, James Wan’s influential 2010 movie Insidious takes the second spot on Ortega’s list, choosing the film partly because it was one of the first she watched and loved. “There are some shots in that film that stay with me,” the actor states, making reference to the Red-Faced demon of the film, “James Wan obviously knows what he’s doing in the horror department, but watching that as a 12-year-old was traumatizing”.
Taking a detour from the horror mainstream, Ortega’s third choice goes to the insane breakup, body-horror movie Possession by Andrzej Żuławski, starring Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani. “Not only is it hauntingly beautiful, but also unlike anything I’d ever seen before,” the actor rightfully asserts, adding, “I love watching a film and getting some kind of adrenalin out of it — that’s when I feel it’s done its job, when a film inspires you and gives you a bunch of ideas”.
Joining James Wan, Ortega also has a modern love for the director of The Northman and The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers, choosing his first movie The Witch for her fourth spot. Pointing at the cinematography, storyline and performances as three aspects of the film she highly admires, the actor adds, “it’s so high quality and so beautifully done. I think that’s a movie I thought about for weeks after I watched it. It just never gets old”.
Jenna Ortega’s favourite horror films:
- Prom Night (Paul Lynch, 1980)
- Insidious (James Wan, 2010)
- Possession (Andrzej Żuławski, 1981)
- The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015)
- Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
With a strong well-rounded view of the horror landscape, the actor bookends her list with the 1966 Ingmar Bergman movie Persona, an influential release of classic horror. “Oh my god, I’d never seen anything like that before,” Ortega excitedly announced, explaining, “That movie just gave me chills all over… There’s certain shots where the two main characters’ faces are split, and I just… It’s incredible”.