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Learn How To Survive the Holidays With 6 Horror Films About Family

Sometimes going home can be killer.

The Sawyer Family gathers for a meal

Thanksgiving in America can be a tumultuous time. Turkey deep friers are just waiting to burn down the house. Black Friday shoppers are milling outside of big box stores like coupon-loving zombies. Covid is still a thing. But perhaps scariest of all… it means a long night with family. 

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Even the sweetest, most well-adjusted families are prone to fits of chaos during Thanksgiving dinner. Whether it’s the drunk uncle who decides passing the cranberry sauce means it is also time to pass on his favorite Fox News talking point, or the sister-in-law who makes passive aggressive compliments about the side dish you brought, Thanksgiving is all about surviving family. 

So here is a list of six classic (or soon-to-be classic) horror films about surviving the horrors of family. Because we love them, but they might be the death of us.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Obviously we have to start off with the most infamous killer family of them all! The Sawyers love a big family meal after all! Unfortunately for Sally Hardesty and her unwitting friends that stumble upon the Sawyer house, that meal ends up being them. 

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)

Sisters. We love to hate them and hate to love them. No other film captures the petty grievances and pure insanity of being trapped in a house with your best friend and biggest rival quite like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are at the peak of their rivalry as the locked in siblings and the results are both campy and horrifying.

Poltergeist (1982)

Going back to the suburbs can be hell. And sometimes your family’s home in it’s little housing track is literally built on it. Or in the case of Poltergeist, on the burial ground of an old cemetery. And the dead are hellbent on not staying buried. Families are often haunted by old ghosts, but in this haunted house classic, they have to stick together or they won’t survive!

Hellraiser (1987)

Almost every family has the creepy uncle. The skeezy one that drinks too much, or makes the inappropriate joke that makes everyone uncomfortable. Well in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, the uncle just happens to unlock the Lament Configuration, unleash the cenobites on his poor neice, and tries to murder unsuspecting victims in order to absorb their flesh. Plus he makes some pretty gross incestuous comments. F**king Uncles! 

Get Out (2017)

This one goes out to the in-laws. Everyone knows the horror of going to visit your significant other’s family for the first time. In Get Out, Jordan Peele creates a terrifying nightmare of white, liberal, upper-class passive aggression (and aggressive aggression) and the ways it enforces the power structures of white supremacy on Black americans. 

Titane (2021)

And finally, one for our chosen families. Not all of us can (or want) to be with blood relatives this time of year and so it’s important to celebrate the families we make ourselves. In Titane, our murderous lead finds her true home and the kindred spirits she’s been longing for when she poses as the son of Fire Chief Vincent and moves into his world. It’s creepy yes, but heartwarming too. In each other they find the bond they’ve both been missing.

(Image: NBC Universal)

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Brittany Knupper
Brittany is a lifelong Californian (it's a big state, she can't find her way out!) who currently resides in sunny Los Angeles with her gigantic, vaguely cat-shaped companion Gus. If you stumble upon her she might begin proselytizing about Survivor, but give her an iced coffee and she will calm down.

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