Who doesn’t want a boyfriend? They are supportive and funny and cute and have nice big shirts that you can wear when all of your clothes are in the wash.
But it’s not all fun and games and romantic slow-motion walks on the beach with boyfriends. In fact, one of the staples of the horror movie drama is The Scary Boyfriend. Sure, they start out all nice and sensitive, but don’t be fooled, movie-going friend. Any minute now, he is going to emerge from the closet with a giant knife. Here are my picks for the Scariest Movie Boyfriends.
Billy from Scream (1996)
This relentlessly clever movie both upholds and mocks the conventions of horror films as the characters discuss how the misfortunes befalling them are horror movie tropes. Written by Kevin Williamson (who went on to create the uber-talky teen drama Dawson’s Creek) and directed by Wes Craven. The scary boyfriend role? Billy Loomis, as played by Skeet Ulrich. He seems nice enough, if a bit troubled. Oh, no, my naïve friends, he’s not nice at all.
David from Fear (1996)
This movie was pitched as “Fatal Attraction for teens.” Sold! It’s your classic “woman in peril” story: nice upper middle class girl gets involved with mysterious and handsome young man despite the objections of their parents, especially Dad. Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon star in this somewhat dopey and predictable thriller that turned into a cult classic. Go ahead and rent it. You’ll have fun. And listen to your father about that handsome and mysterious guy you brought home whom he just doesn’t trust.
Tom Ripley from The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
I’m going to be honest here: not a fan of this movie. But everyone else seems to be. The movie got rave reviews and lots of award nominations. It was written and directed by Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) and stars Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Damon is the creepy and evil Tom Ripley, a man who assumes people’s identities to live their apparently better lives. It’s a creepy and well-made thriller, but it just fell flat for me. What I loved, loved, loved, however, was the costuming by Ann Roth and Gary Jones—1950s elegance at its finest. I would watch this again just for the wardrobe.
Micah in Paranormal Activity (2007)
This is one of my favorite scary movies ever. I just love it. Presented as if it were “found footage” (like The Blair Witch Project), it’s about a young couple, Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat, who move into a haunted house in San Diego and try to discover what’s going on in the house by setting up cameras. Micah isn’t so much the scary boyfriend, though, as he is kind of an idiot. Dude, the house is haunted. Get out of there! I know real estate is expensive in San Diego, but there have to be other places to live! Looking for a great scary movie? This is the one.
Jack Torrance of The Shining (1980)
This is not Jack Nicholson’s finest performance by a long shot, but it is probably his most memorable. Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a frustrated writer who takes a job as the watchman at an ancient luxury hotel in the Colorado Rockies, and then goes insane and turns into a murderer. A horror masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick, with a great performance by Shelley Duvall as the wife and Danny Lloyd as their young son. Based on a Stephen King novel, the screenplay is by Kubrick and Diane Johnson. Johnson is a highly-regarded comedy of manners novelist whose book “Le Divorce” was adapted into a wonderful movie of the same name. Check out Le Divorce (2003), a Merchant Ivory production starring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts.
Martin Burney in Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)
Patrick Bergin, who plays Julia Roberts’s horrible, horrible husband, seems like the nicest person ever in real life. He grew up in Dublin, briefly studied to be a priest, worked in theater, and became an English teacher and theater actor. He bought an abandoned church in Ireland and turned it into a poetry center to encourage children and teenagers to become writers. And then he went and played Martin Burney, who was incredibly mean and scary to Julia Roberts in this movie. Nobody liked him after that. This is not a great movie, but Patrick Bergin did create one of the great villains in film history.
David Raether is a veteran TV writer and essayist. He worked for 12 years as a television sitcom writer/producer, including a 111-episode run on the ground-breaking ABC comedy “Roseanne.” His essays have been published by Salon.com, The Times of London, and Longforms.org, and have been lauded by The Atlantic Magazine and the BBC World Service. His memoir, Homeless: A Picaresque Memoir from Our Times is awaiting publication.