by Howard Gorman
Broadly speaking, horror emanates from two places: There’s the horror of the unknown, the incomprehensible; and then there’s the horror of the familiar and comfortable becoming alien and threatening. For this writer, the latter of the two is especially perturbing as being betrayed by anyone is one thing; but when you’re betrayed by someone you thought was your best friend, the fallout is always going to be mortifying.
When it comes down to it, we’re all social creatures who depend on one another so our ability to assess just how trustworthy people are is essentially a survival mechanism. And if any specific movie genre has that particular knack of seducing us into assessing people’s trustworthiness it’s the horror genre.
With this in mind, what follows is a selection of ten of the most shocking examples of betrayal and backstabbing in cinema’s sordid history guaranteed to hardwire the paranoid android in all of us…
Larry Fessenden’s eco-terror flick is deceptively straightforward and all the better for it. Following firmly in the footsteps of Creepshow 2’s “The Raft” segment, Beneath revolves around a group of keening horny teenagers as they head out on a canoe trip across a lake to celebrate high school graduation only to end up tormented by a menacing flesh-hungry catfish.
Everything kicks off with a number of beats that feel frustratingly familiar but the simplicity of this setup serves as the perfect springboard for some great terminal velocity tension as the so-called friends turn on one another. Running out of options, a desert island balloon debate ensues as the group resort to drastic dog-eat-dog decisions, dredging up all kinds of bad blood in the process.
Many people wrote this one off as just another dime-a-dozen proto-creature feature when it first came out but the narcissism at play exposes just how perverse, nasty and mean-spirited us humans can be when faced with a common threat. Rather than banding together, a survival of the fittest instinct kicks in and it’s not long before the real truth floats up to the surface: it’s not the blood-lusting catfish we should be worried about at all. It’s the motley crew of victims who are the real monster here.