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Scary **** That Happens in the 'Burbs: 9 Instances of Suburban Movie Terror

Dark Skies Dimension Films

Did you know that if you live in the suburbs, you're approximately seven times more likely to be menaced by aliens (a la "Dark Skies") or stabbed by a neighbor than you would be if you lived in a major city? It's true! Just ask a Hollywood producer, who, when a writer pitches an idea related to anything creepy, will inevitably counter with, "Yes, and let's make sure we set it in the suburbs! All scary s**t happens in the suburbs!"

It does indeed, oh Hollywood producer person.

Here are nine flicks that slam home that point in all of our faces.

"Arlington Road," (1999)

It's not often that your new neighbor is a domestic terrorist - unless you live in the suburbs, of course. In "Arlington Road," widower Jeff Bridges suspects that neighbor Tim Robbins wants to blow everything up for fun. To add to Bridges's suspicions ("Bridges's Suspicions" - incredible emo band name), Robbins speaks in cryptic tones and veiled witticisms that Bridges can only smirk at in front of him and believe to be a cover for more sinister things behind him. An important lesson for all of us: The next time someone moves next to you and interacts with people like a creep show, he (or she) definitely owns some sort of explosive.

 

"The 'Burbs" (1989)

The least subtle of the "scary **** that happens in the 'Burbs" canon is a film called "The 'Burbs," which makes the implication that the suburbs are safe and boring just by its folksy title before it throws a fastball right by us in the name of bone-collecting new neighbors. (Those damn new neighbors!) Above, we have a clip from the film featuring the character Art Weingartner (Rick Ducommun) telling murderers and psychos to not mess with surburbanites anymore. Bad news, Art: The message never got to Hollywood.

 

"Donnie Darko," (2001)

In "Donnie Darko," we have teenage suburbanite Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) dealing with visions of a sinister bunny rabbit who tells him to do not very nice things to other people. I think we can all agree that the film's overwhelmingly positive reviews would have been quite a bit more negative had the film taken place in New York. After all, "a demonic rabbit in New York City" sounds like a comedic viral video about an evil bunny coming of age in an intimidating metropolis, not a scary movie about people getting shot in the eye with guns.

 

"The Mist," (2007)

Pretty much all movies based on Stephen King books could make this list, but I'm going to give the nod to 2007's "The Mist," for one reason that I think a lot of people will overlook initially: I'm making the list and I wanted to put "The Mist" on it. In the film, aliens attack Thomas Jane and his friends in small Maine town. This one is known for its twist ending, and while I won't ruin it for you, I will say this: It has a twist ending, not unlike this paragraph. Giraffes.

 

"The Watch," (2012)

"The Watch" only came out a couple of months ago, and the plot is pretty cookie-cutter "scary **** in the suburbs" stuff, with a comedic (well, they tried to make it funny) twist: a group of four friends, as part of a suburban "neighborhood watch" team, accidentally discover that aliens have invaded their town. Unfortunately, "The Watch" was universally hailed as a turd sandwich despite the presence of the one of the funniest people in the world, Richard Ayoade.

 

"The Stepford Wives," (1975) (2004)

A successful Manhattanite moves to (gasp!) the quiet, idyllic Stepford, Connecticut and all hell breaks loose. Actually, she suspects that her female friends and neighbors aren't who they seem, and she's right, because this is suburbia, and if something can go wrong, by God, it's gonna go wrong. So many italics. The film was made twice, in 1975 and 2004, and while the 1975 version was well-reviewed and the 2004 version was quite poorly reviewed, the sentiment remains: If you don't live in a city, your wife is a robot.

 

"Dawn of the Dead," (2004)

"Bitch get out the room, BITCH GET OUT THE ROOOOOOOMMM!!!" So famously shouted Romany Malco's character Jay in "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" about the above scene from the 2004 remake, "Dawn of the Dead." Did you notice something? I did. I noticed that he didn't say, "Bitch, get out (of) the high-rise condominium, BITCH GET OUT (OF) THE HIGH-RISE CONDOMINIUM!!!" That's because "Dawn of the Dead" takes place square in the heart of suburbia, where a once-quiet town (shocked face) becomes suddenly overrun with flesh eating zombies.

 

"House at the End of the Street," (2012)

Exactly how many horror/thriller movies are there whose plot is, "Man/Woman/Family moves into suburban house/town that has a dark secret"? Glad you asked: The offical answer is 7,382 (not counting pornos), one of which is the recent Jennifer Lawrence film "House at the End of the Street," where Lawrence's character slowly realizes that the house next door was the sight of a grizzly murder four years prior. Lawrence's character convinces herself that a romantic relationship with the murder's lone survivor is a good thing, and the two ride the Poundtown train all the way to an 11% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

 

"Disturbia," (2007)


"Disturbia" is a real movie, but not a real word. It's a combination of - you guessed it - "disturb" and "suburbia," and just because of that fact alone, it pretty much threw this party for the other guests on this list. The movie stars Shia LeBeouf (whose name is refreshingly still not recognized by the spellchecker), but more importantly David Morse, who was the perfect casting choice to play a murderous neighbor because he typically looks and acts exactly like a murderous neighbor.

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