What’s With All These Travel Horror Movies, Anyway?

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  11.03.08 | 11:33 AM ET

imageWhen Eli Ellison and I first started working on our list of 13 Great Travel Horror Movies, I thought we’d stumbled onto a tiny film niche, a sub-sub-genre. Then we started brainstorming, Googling and asking friends and family for suggestions. To my surprise, our list of candidates—much like a B-movie monster—just kept getting bigger and scarier.

So why are there nearly as many murdered travelers in the horror back catalog as there are frightened baby-sitters? In retrospect, I’m not sure why I was caught off guard by the volume. Plunging a character into unfamiliar surroundings, filled with strange people, is the simplest way to set up a horror story. Horror works best when it builds on our existing fears: isolation, darkness, the unknown. Those elements are tough to put into play if a character is safe, at home, surrounded by family; ordinary horror flicks have to work extra hard to strip that safety away before the killing can start, but in a travel horror film, the victims are usually teed up and ready to be terrorized from the beginning.

It’s no coincidence that some of the movies on our travel list are also some of the best horror movies of all time. Travel really does offer the perfect horror scenario. After all, to paraphrase something I once wrote about finding true love overseas: If your next-door neighbor were a serial killer, wouldn’t you have noticed by now?


Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.


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