Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 loss at West Ham felt like a mainstream horror movie at times. Going into it you had premonitions of doom knowing in your gut a bit of what might be coming, the entire match was tense, Spurs’ decapitation and death came late and was thoroughly predictable.
I’m not a horror movie aficionado by any stretches, but I’ve seen my fair share of horror films, often through the cracks between my fingers. The genre is HUGE, but what’s striking is how relatively few horror movies are actually, y’know, scary. Not in the vintage slasher film gross-out flick with buckets of fake blood and body parts everywhere sense, but truly, deeply disturbing and frightening. The kind of movie that lingers in the back of your mind for days.
Of course, everyone’s fear threshold is different, and no doubt there are going to be people reading this who are far more versed in the subject than I am. These are just the movies that I’ve seen that have kept me up at night. I’d like to hear your opinions in the comments on what movies I’ve missed, but in honor of Halloween, today’s player ratings theme is to movies (that I’ve seen) that are truly frightening.
5 stars: The Exorcist (1973)
Yes, the effects are dated now that we’re nearly 50 years (!!!) past its release, but The Exorcist still stands out to me as one of the most genuinely frightening movies I’ve ever seen. It’s not that there are buckets of gore, but the effects are such that even 50 years later there’s a real gravitas at play. This film nearly earned an X-rating due to its scary nature, and there were reported heart attacks, fainting, and even a miscarriage from people who watched it in the theater.
No Tottenham players were this good, which is itself scary.
4.5 stars: Hereditary (2018) / Ringu (1998) / Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)
I couldn’t decide. Modern horror movies like to push the envelope, and Hereditary certainly did it for me. Without spoiling it, Hereditary features one of the most shocking and unexpected scenes I’ve ever seen in a scary film, and it doesn’t let up from there. Just utterly, terrifyingly bleak and one of the most disturbing films I’ve seen in recent years. I’m also including the two classics of modern Japanese horror in the past 20 years. Maybe it’s the cultural difference, but Japanese horror just hits different, even accounting for the two Americanized remakes.
Oliver Skipp (Community — 3.5): I’ve been hard on Skippy, probably more so than most because I felt like his early performances weren’t living up to his hype. But yesterday I think was his best match in a Spurs shirt — defensively solid with some good tackles, screened the back line well, and had some very good progressive passes. He’s developing, and still has a lot of space to grow.
4 stars: The Descent (2005)
I have moderate claustrophobia, so a two hour movie about blind creatures stalking people by sound trapped within a cave system by a collapsed tunnel? Nope nope nope nope nope. Relentlessly bleak, and scary as hell. I did not like it (that’s why it’s rated this high).
Cuti Romero (Community — 3.5): Overall very solid again at the back, and it’s nice to have a defender with his level of comfort on the ball. Coped with Michail Antonio quite well for much of the match, who can be a handful. Loved that mazy little run into midfield that set up a half-chance in the second half.
Eric Dier (Community — 3.0): The defense wasn’t really the problem on Sunday, and while Dier had something of a quiet match he was solid positionally, made some important clearances, and passed well.
3.5 stars: The Shining (1980)
There are plenty of slow-burning psychological/supernatural thrillers in the genre, but there aren’t many that are made by Stanley Kubrick and shot like an arthouse film. The Shining is as much a story of one man’s slow descent into madness through isolation as it is about ghosts haunting a gorgeous mountainside hotel. There are scenes in that movie that I still think about and shudder.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 3.5): Made a couple of very nice saves but couldn’t do anything for Antonio’s goal and otherwise didn’t have too much to do.
3 stars: Poltergeist (1982)
True story: when I was 10 I watched Poltergeist (
directed produced by Steven Spielberg) on HBO at a friend’s house on a sleepover. It terrified young me so much I had to call my parents to come get me and had a phobia about watching any movie at night until I was in high school. I didn’t watch it again until I was 30. It’s a classic haunted house story and while I now see the more family-friendly Spielbergian elements, the giant head coming out of the closet and the scene with the guy’s face melting off... it’s a bit much. That movie still scares the hell out of me but probably for different reasons than the rest of you.
Emerson Royal (Community — 3.0): I thought Emerson had a particularly nice defensive match but wasn’t much of an add at all going forward in a match where we could’ve used a little extra something down that flank.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 3.0): Kinda disappointing from Pierre, who couldn’t get his progressive passing going very effectively and was a bit lax with the ball.
Tanguy Ndombele (Community — 3.0): Not his fault, but he really should’ve earned Spurs a penalty after he got his foot stepped on in West Ham’s box. Again was pretty good on the whole but was feasting on scraps a lot of the time.
2.5 stars: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Ahhhh, George Romero. The horror aspects of this film don’t really stand up to the tests of time, especially after Romero’s films basically inspired an entire genre of horror filmmaking (much of it significantly scarier than anything Romero put on film), but Night of the Living Dead is such a pivotal movie that introduced the idea of the shambling zombie so I’m including it here (even if Romero did rip off Richard Matheson’s book “I Am Legend”).
Sergio Reguilon (Community — 3.0): Really sloppy give-away in the lead up to West Ham’s goal and had a tough time with Jarrod Bowen. Not his best match by a long shot, let’s be honest, but he did have some good crosses including the one that Oliver Skipp just missed.
Lucas Moura (Community — 2.5): There are two Lucases: the dribble monster that terrorizes back lines with hops for days on set pieces... and the one who ends up in cul-de-sacs and disappears for large portions of matches. We got the second one on Sunday. I will not understand why Nuno insists on using him as a creative playmaker.
2 stars: Candyman (1992)
This movie just got a remake/sequel by Jordan Peele which I haven’t seen. I adore the original — it’s a unique psychological horror movie through an African-American centric lens that touches on issues of race and class, rare for a horror film. It also has one of the great horror movie soundtracks (by composer Philip Glass no less). But while it’s unsettling at times and gorgeously filmed, I never found it to be all that, y’know, scary.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 2.5): When one of your main sources of offense has a bad game, the hope is that the other can pick up that slack and turn things around. Sonny didn’t on Sunday. Had a couple of good opportunities to score and kind of made a mess of them. A disappointingly passive match.
Harry Kane (Community — 2.0): Was marking Antonio on the set piece that led to the goal and let the West Ham man get in front of him. Could’ve scored but his back post header was straight at Fabianski. A shockingly disinterested performance from Kane, which is starting to become the norm from him this season rather than the exception. He was bad.
Nuno Espirito Santo (Community — 1.5): More of the same from Nuno — flat, dull football that looks like it doesn’t have any ideas on how to progress the ball from the defense to the attack that doesn’t rely on either a fullback or Lucas Moura. These tactics are bleak, and his failure to recognize this and make changes via substitutions is damning.
1 star: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This movie was a phenomenon and benefited greatly from some very, very well executed marketing. The filmed-on-a-shoestring-budget “found footage” conceit was novel to American moviegoers at the time and gave it a touch of realism to the extent that for years afterwards fans would tromp through the rural Maryland woods near Burkittsville looking for supernatural activity. But while the idea was great, in practice I spent the majority of the film just bored out of my mind and annoyed by the constant bickering by the main characters. By the end I was wishing the witch would just hurry up and get them.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad (or unscary) as the Blair Witch Project.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Giovani Lo Celso, Bryan Gil, Steven Bergwijn
Erik Lamela Memorial Shithouse Award
Cuti Romero — Had a fun (and clean) tackle and then a little “extracurricular activity” on Pablo Fornals that unfortunately earned him a yellow card. There were some suggestions that he spit on Fornals, but I watched the replay and I didn’t see it. He just told him to “stay the f—k down” or the Argentine equivalent phrase. It was great.