Some of the best romantic comedies of the last few decades are both totally adorable, and totally creepy. How is that possible you ask? It's just as simple as taking a look at their plots in the real world. In fact, there are dozens of romantic comedies that could easily become horror movies given the right circumstances. Take for example, While You Were Sleeping, which turns 20 this year. This romantic comedy finds Sandra Bullock accidentally telling people she is engaged to a man... despite neither of them ever speaking.
While Bullock and her leading men in the film — Bill Pullman and Peter Gallagher — are all ridiculously charming and good looking, and there are many elements that make for a sweet and classic romcom, the premise is just so weird. Bullock plays Lucy, a woman who falls for a man named Peter (Peter Gallagher) without ever speaking to him. She sees him getting mugged and pushed off the train platform, so she saves his life. Unfortunately, Peter falls into a coma and everyone at the hospital and Peter's family all mistake Lucy for Peter's fiancée. And, what's worse, she goes along with it before falling for Peter's brother Jack (Bill Pullman).
It's all so terribly awkward and uncomfortable if you really think about it. In fact, it could easily be turned into a Fatal Attraction or Obsessed-type horror film. But I can't just pick on While You Were Sleeping. These are just a few of the many other romantic comedies Hollywood has produced over the recent years that could easily turn into horror movies, thanks to an already established creep factor.
A man falls for a sentient computer program. This could easily become a horror movie if that computer program manipulated the man, or if it tried to harm him. The dangers of technology, people!
2. Little Black Book
A woman snoops through her new boyfriend’s PalmPilot to find out why his past relationships went badly and to get more information about his past. So she stakes out his exes and even befriends one of them. If that’s not creep enough without a horror movie twist, I’m not sure what is.
An overbearing mother tries at all cost to stop her son’s wedding to a dog-walker/temp of whom she doesn’t approve. She does everything short of actually killing her, though making her eat something that she’s allergic to is almost the same thing. Sure, the temp (played by Jennifer Lopez) fights back, but, seriously, her fiancé’s mother tried to kill her. That’s pretty horrifying, especially if the relationship between mother and son is explored in a more Bates Motel-esque way.
4. My Best Friend’s Wedding
A woman goes to her best friend’s wedding in order to sabotage it because she realizes she’s in love with him. She befriends the bride and then ruins her day, among other things. It would be considered pretty creepy if some other, more violent moments of sabotage were involved.
5. 50 First Dates
A man convinces a woman with short-term memory loss to fall in love with him every day through all kinds of manipulation. Many people consider the film romantic, but think about it this way: at the end of the movie, the couple is married on a boat and the wife is now pregnant. Which means she is trapped with some guy claiming to be her husband and a baby she doesn't remember conceiving. Every. Day. This could easily be turned into a horror movie if the main guy in question was not a good person.
6. What Women Want
A man develops the ability to read women’s minds and uses it to his advantage in work and in love. Not only is the film a bit misogynistic, it’s also scary. It could easily become a horror movie if he used his powers to manipulate women into thinking he was safe so he could then murder them later. Basically it’s What Women Want combined with American Psycho.
7. Groundhog Day
A selfish man is forced to endure the same day over and over again in a time loop and is able to right his past mistakes and find love. This premise has already been made into a creepy-esque story in an episode of The CW series Supernatural, "The Mystery Spot." However, Groundhog Day could become creepy in its own way thanks to the mysterious ways he must have tried and tried to seduce his love interest.
8. Return To Me
A woman tracks down the husband of the woman whose heart she now has transplanted in her body and then they fall in love. Add in some manipulation, the lead character getting some kind of sick pleasure from this man’s pain and from knowing she has the heart of the love of his life, and/or possibly a more gruesome ending, and this is one scary film.
A man convinces a spoiled woman that they have been married for years and has her take care of his household as revenge for being horrible to him before her accident and amnesia. The movie continues with the woman finding out the truth and leaving, but then going back to the man as she has now changed thanks to him. What? No, no, no. The whole premise is insanely creepy.
10. Sleepless In Seattle
A woman stalks a man whose voice she heard over the radio. There’s clearly more to Sleepless in Seattle than just this, but that is clearly where the creepiness factor begins. Meg Ryan’s Annie could have easily turned into a Kathy Bates/Misery-style crazy woman who wanted to have Tom Hanks’ Sam at all costs. This kernel of passion for another person is how horror movies are made.
11. Love Actually
Love Actually has quite a few different story lines, each creepier than the next if you really sit down and think about it. But none is more creepy Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln’s story. Lincoln plays Mark, a man who is deeply in love with his best friend’s new wife Juliet. He takes video of their wedding, but focuses all his attention on her. After she sees this, he goes to their home and quietly confesses his love for her while his best friend is just inside. It’s totally creepy! This kind of stalker-level love could be swiftly turned into a horror movie.
12. High Fidelity
After another break-up, a man goes over his past relationships to see what went wrong with each one and why the women dumped him. The walk down memory lane includes flashbacks that prove the man, John Cusack’s Rob, was horrible to most of these women. It also shows some creepy moments in his past love life, including waiting outside of a woman’s apartment and yelling obscenities at her. Make Rob an even worse person who actually goes after his past loves in violent ways and you have yourself one killer horror film, pun intended.
13. This Means War
Two CIA agents date the same woman and use manipulation, sabotage and counterintelligence to get her to fall for them. That alone is creepy, because they basically stalk her to get information and better their dates. But what if they were violent? What if they would actually kill to be with her and tried to prove it? Or better yet, what if the horror movie twist was that she was a killer herself? Either way, it doesn't take much to push this film into the dangerous horror movie area.
A romance consultant helps unassuming men get the loves of their lives with just a few changes to their style and appearance and with a lot of manipulation of the women. Don't see how this could become a horror movie? Well, remember the guy who takes advantage of Eva Mendes' friend, thanks the "Date Doctor?" Imagine if he turned out to be taking advice from Hitch, but was actually killing women instead of just sleeping them and never calling again.
See? It just takes a few small tweaks or a few tiny personality adjustments to the lead characters to make many romantic comedies absolutely frightening. Oh, what love can do to the mind.
Images: Screenshot/Buena Vista Pictures