If you think the summer vacations this year are going to be unusual, then check out a few horror movies set in the summertime to help you feel like you’re in paradise

Summertime is the terror genre’s season of choice, which is hardly surprising. If the idea is to depict the violent alteration of our so-called ‘normal’ lives, then there’s no better time to do it than during that period of the year when, in theory, we’re happier and let our guards down some more. And if it’s hellish vacations you’re looking for, then look no further than the one movie that has done the most to wreck our vacations: “Jaws”. Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece is the principal reason we all still scan the water’s surface for protruding fins before getting to avoid being devoured and also why anything perceived as an anomaly at the beach, is inevitably accompanied by John Williams’ epic “duunnn dunnn… duuuunnnn duun…”. And if it’s fun, frolics, and frights from the water you’re after, then look no further than these two “Piranha” movies; Joe Dante’s, because it is an amazingly suspenseful pic made on a super-low budget, and Alexandre Aja’s, “Piranha 3D” as the most straight up gruesome, carnage-filled tales in the history of the horror genre.

Friday the 13th

But summer terrors are not restricted to monstrous feats of nature. For some time now the slasher genre has been hell bent on convincing us that those warm summer evenings are often accompanied by the very worst stuff of our nightmares. Unquestionably, the movie that set the stage was “Friday the 13th” in which both Pamela Vorhees and her son Jason do justice to what has always been terrifying about summer camp. On that same note, don’t miss “Sleepaway Camp”, which boasts the absolute craziest (and unexpected) ending of the 80s. Another film that deserves its rightful place here is “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, that fun “exploitation” of the hit “Scream”, in which a fisherman settles the score with a particularly irritating group of teenagers. By the way, on the topic of slashers based on the contraindications of holidays, another couple of ‘must sees’ are “A Perfect Getaway” by David Twohy, with a priceless twist halfway through the film, and “Paradise Lost”, about the dangers of getting overly-cosmopolitan while vacationing in paradise.

Would You Kill a Child?

Or, if what you want is real suffering, the terror genre also provides us with several immersive experiences that will stay with you long after the summer vacations have ended. In this sense, the essential starting point might be “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (and also its magnificent and highly underrated remake), a symphony of blood, sweat, and tears to the beat of a chainsaw; “Eden Lake”, where Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly discover that it’s better not to get too uppity with the natives of the places we visit; “Wrong Turn”, the typical weekend away that ends in a fight to the death with a family of cannibals; and then, “Cabin Fever”, to remind us of the consequences of getting infected (sound familiar?) when you don’t have the vaccine at hand. And finally, another masterpiece, “Would You Kill a Child?”, in which Chicho Ibáñez Serrador pays a heartfelt tribute to all those who lament the complications of spending the vacations with the kids. So, you think this summer is going to be a weird one? In context, it mightn’t look so bad after viewing a few of these movies.

Pep Prieto. Journalist and writer. Series critic on ‘El Món a RAC1’ and for the program ‘Àrtic’ on Betevé. Author of the essay ‘Al filo del mañana’, about time-travelling cinema, and ‘Poder absoluto’, about cinema and politics.