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The 10 movies that terrified Mark Kermode

If there was ever a film journalist quite as influential as Roger Ebert, the British broadcaster and movie aficionado Mark Kermode certainly comes fairly close. 

Beginning his career in the industry as a print journalist for Manchester’s City Life, followed by roles at Time Out and the NME in London, Kermode is best-known for his work as a film reviewer on the BBC Radio 5 Live show Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review which ran from 2001-2022. Collaborating with the radio presenter Simon Mayo, the pair have created a worldwide fanbase thanks to their feisty chemistry. 

The pair can now be heard on the audio waves on the podcast Kermode & Mayo’s Take where they’re continuing to voice their opinions on modern releases, TV shows and old classics. 

A keen fan of the horror genre, Kermode is vocal about his undying love for the William Friedkin movie The Exorcist, a movie he regularly cites as his favourite film of all time. The critic purposefully left the 1973 flick off his list of ten movies that terrified him, however, opting to go for films that he may not have mentioned before, covering all bases of the genre including silent cinema and foreign releases. 

Whilst the back-end of his top ten includes some modern classics, including Takashi Miike’s Audition and Neill Marshall’s The Descent, it is the top three that include the most surprises. 

At number three Kermode has opted for the Robert Wise movie The Haunting, the classic haunted house chiller film that would inspire Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. “It’s a masterpiece…there’s not a foot out of place,” Kermode stated on the programme, adding, “It’s all about what you don’t see,” as the critic brings the masterful direction of Robert Wise into focus. 

Second on his list is the classic slasher flick The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, directed by Tobe Hooper, a horror movie that tells the story of a cannibalistic family who terrorises a group of young teenagers who stray off the beaten track in rural America.  “It is pure terror,” Kermode states, recalling a day in his youth when he took a girl on a date to watch the movie only for her to walk out, leaving the film critic on his own till the final credits.

The 10 movies that terrified Mark Kermode:

  1. Buried (Rodrigo Cortés, 2010)
  2. Nosferatu (F. W. Murnau, 1922)
  3. The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015)
  4. The Descent (Neil Marshall, 2005)
  5. Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999)
  6. The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014)
  7. Onibaba (Kaneto Shindo, 1964)
  8. The Haunting (Robert Wise, 1963)
  9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)
  10. The Vanishing (George Sluizer, 1988)

Taking the number one spot on the list of movies that terrified Mark Kermode the most is the Dutch psychological thriller The Vanishing, directed by George Sluizer. Calling the movie “the scariest thing, outside of The Exorcist, that I’ve ever seen,” the critic was undoubtedly affected by the eerie crime film though admittedly has a particular fear of claustrophobia, explaining why Buried and The Descent also make the cut.

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