When I follow how much technology has evolved, I realize how old I am. When I was born, big clunky TVs were the hit and you had four TV stations to choose from, PCs were just for nerds, and cell phones didn’t exist yet. I considered myself lucky to have a landline phone and if needed I could use a phone booth. Cars didn’t have parking or steering assistant systems, airbags or ABS. I had a Walkman which used cassettes, and mp3 players that run on bits and bytes had not been invented yet. At that time VHS cassettes were the norm for storing movies, since there was no such thing as hard drives let alone with 1TB storage space. Instead, we had floppy disks with a 512mb storage capacity.
I’m telling you this because at some point technology will evolve even further, and you will feel the same anxiety and sense of overwhelm. My parents before me were in the same situation, since in their time, all the relics I listed above were to them new-fangled luxury items. When I talk to them today about the new technologies coming out, they just shake their heads in disbelief. Blockchain is hard for even me to comprehend, let alone trying to explain it to someone who avoids using the internet. Self-driving cars, social media, AI and many more areas are equally perplexing.
This is where horror movies that focus on technological malfunction gain a foothold.
Computers and the internet are incredible tools, but before trusting them, some time had to pass. That’s why the first social networks failed or got replaced by better ones. The same happened to the AOL and Yahoo search engines. Today, Tesla could be another candidate at risk of facing the same fate. New things need time to be accepted by the masses, people need to be eased one step at a time into accepting these technologies.
Below is my list of the best horror movies that feature technology. In my opinion, some of the very best horror movies in this genre were made during my generation of VHS, chunky TVs, cassettes and the like. There are newer horror movies that revolve around technology too, however, not many of them scared me to the extent that the old ones did. Being a Generation X child, my feelings towards technology will likely differ from yours, so you might have a different opinion on this to me.
My favorite horror movies that use technology
This movie is based on the book written by Stephen King. The story is about a young man in the year 1978 who acquires a 1957 Plymouth Fury. The story relays the love that men can have towards their cars, but this car didn’t have only a custom paint, but also a name. Christine. Arnie, who brought the car in a shabby condition, has to make many repairs until he can drive it. The more and more that Arnie repairs and works on the car, the more his behavior changes and he starts to dress more like a man in the 50s. Arnie’s best friend Dennis, concerned, finds out that the previous owner of Christine had died in this car, and he starts to research the circumstances. While watching the movie, you will find out that Christine is not your usual car.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
This is another one written by Stephen King, in which he is also the movie director. The movie didn’t have much success and King never directed another film after this. When I watched it as a kid, this was scary and funny at the same time. It all begins in 1987, when the Earth passes through the tail of a comet. Perfectly working inanimate machines suddenly become conscious and homicidal. This isn’t just one car like in Christine, but every single machine from a lawnmower, pocket radio, chainsaws to trucks. The only goal of the machines is to work together and kill humans. The movie concentrates on showing us the events unfolding in North Carolina and later focus on a truck stop where a group of survivors seek refuge.
This movie became a great hit in 1982 and was followed by two sequels. In 2015 they made a remake, but believe me when I tell you, this 1982 version will spook the hell out of you. It is set in California where a family’s home is invaded by malevolent ghosts. The contact happens one night while the daughter is innocently watching TV – a hand reaches out from the TV to the young kid. After that incident many more strange and bizarre events happen with the aim of abducting the child. The ghosts succeed, and the parents try to rescue their beloved daughter with the help of a medium.
This is more a science fiction movie than a horror, but imagine being a young kid when computers were totally new and this was your first introduction to them. Well, maybe that’s the reason why I became so crazy about installing the very best anti-virus software on my PC, even though the internet wasn’t even a thing yet, haha. The story isn’t very simple but I will try to summarize it. Kevin Flynn, a software engineer who runs a video arcade, tries to hack the mainframe system of the ENCOM corporation. He doesn’t succeed because the Master Control Program (MCP) of ENCOM blocks them. This MCP is, in reality, an artificial intelligence and has a security program called TRON. When Kevin attempts to hack the system again, the MCP finds a way to put Kevin inside his TRON program, and Kevin now needs to find an escape.
The Ring (2002)
This is a remake of the 1998 Japanese movie. The American version was a box office hit and was followed by sequels, and created a trend of similar remakes from the Asian horror movie market like The Grunch, The Eye, Dark Waters and so on. The story unfolds in a pretty straightforward manner, when teenagers Becca and Katie discuss a legend about a cursed videotape; whoever watches it dies seven days later. Katie confesses that she watched the tape with her friends the previous week. That night, Katie is killed by an unseen force. Katie’s mother, Ruth, discovers Katie’s disfigured body in the closet, with doctors unable to explain the cause of death. At Katie’s funeral, Ruth urges her sister Rachel (a journalist) to investigate her daughter’s death. Rachel discovers that Katie’s friends were also killed in bizarre accidents on the same night. To find out more Rachel and her ex-boyfriend Noah (a video analyst) watch the tape separately, then the true horror begins.
Friend Request (2016)
One of the newer movies in this genre, Friend Request deals with the popularity of Facebook. The plot develops as we follow Laura, a popular student in her college, who has many Facebook friends and a very active social life. One afternoon, Laura receives a friend request from a quiet classmate, Marina. Noticing that Marina has no online friends, Laura accepts and the two begin hanging out. But Laura soon becomes uncomfortable with Marina’s obsessive behavior and sees that her Facebook page is full of dark and disturbing posts. When she tries to cut the cord with Marina by unfriending her, strange things happen around her and her friends die. Laura’s Facebook page is then mysteriously used to post about the macabre way these friends died and as a result, people start to unfriend her. The plot thickens as people continue to die and Laura tries to uncover what is going on.
Lights Out (2016)
A clever movie that uses electricity, light and dark environments as the main scare factor. After closing time in a textile factory, an employee named Esther encounters a silhouette of a woman when the lights are off, but cannot see it when the lights are on. After Esther leaves, her boss Paul also encounters the woman and is killed after she chases him through the factory. A short time later, Paul’s step-daughter Rebecca is called into the school nurse’s office because her little brother Martin had been falling asleep in class and the nurse could not get in touch with their mother Sophie to tell her. Martin avoids sleeping because he sees the same silhouette of a woman that killed his father. Then Rebecca starts to see the woman too. Rebecca and her boyfriend Bret investigate the connection between Sophie and this silhouette, and uncover a scary revelation about their past.
This is just a handful of movies where technology plays a significant role and/or contains some evil force. If you dig deeper, you will find many other movies that have been made on this same topic. If you have any suggestions on good horror movies that use technology, or awful ones to avoid, please share your thoughts in the comments below.