Top Five Scariest Moments (New Who)

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John Hussey and Adam James Cuthbert count down their top five scariest moments from New Who.

Adam’s Choices

5. Zombie Hospital

This is when the Doctor, Jack and Rose are surrounded by the advancing Gasmask Zombies in the hospital, their eerie, blood-chilling, nightmare-inducing cries for their elusive “Mummy” filling the room. Such a grotesque spectacle struck fear into my 12-year-old self, casting a vivid impression onto my mind. The sight of the hospital patients ‘awakening’ was physically arresting. Coupled with Doctor Constantine’s disturbing transformation, as the mask grows out of his face, it’s little surprise I couldn’t sleep that night: that’s how scary it was back in 2005. Today, I view the Empty Child as a masterstroke of ‘body horror’: an innocent child, killed in war, resurrected by advanced scientific techniques, only to be perceived as an inhuman monster when his own mother rejects him.

4. The Time Lord Victorious

“We’re not just fighting the Flood, we’re fighting Time itself! AND I’M GONNA WIN!” This is probably an unusual choice, but I found this insight into the darker side of the Doctor’s psyche gripping. It’s an adrenaline-fuelled scene as the Doctor races against time. It’s interesting that if Adelaide hadn’t killed herself, the Doctor would have changed – for the worse. And that’s scary. The scene itself is essentially the Doctor’s catharsis: he can’t let the surviving crew members die, at least of all Adelaide, whose heroism and aptitude he has grown to admire over the course of their adventure. He acts selfishly: their lives don’t matter, except to satisfy his inflated ego, at breaking the Laws of Time. The Doctor is effectively the villain of the story: his decision robs Adelaide of her honourable death in history, and that becomes his downfall.

3. Unveiled

The Library two-parter explores intriguing philosophical notions that I find particularly disconcerting, namely Donna realising the world she’s found herself in is a fabrication. Donna is unable to consciously recollect the real-world: even time, as she perceives it, is being manipulated to suit her whims. It’s only when Ms Evangelista forces her to face the truth – her children are the same as everyone else’s, on a loop – and Donna pulls back on her veil, revealing her ‘true’ face to be horribly disfigured, that Donna’s world begins to collapse. I find these ideas simultaneously absorbing yet disturbing.

2. Silent Night

The Silents are by far the scariest monster in New Who and the highlight of their sheer scariness is the scene where Amy enters the orphanage room alone. The door’s locked. She catches her reflection in the window – suddenly her face is covered with tally marks. The centre of her palm is glowing. She plays the message to herself. She looks up at the ceiling – and the Silents are nesting there, bat-like. It’s truly haunting with a clever use of psychological horror. It’s not unlike Moffat’s earlier use of memory tricks in The Beast Below, when Amy listens to the message from herself, later learning her memory has been erased.

1. Midnight Mimicry

The clincher of Midnight is when the possessed Sky Silvestry starts talking before the Doctor, leaving the Doctor helpless and powerless as the paranoid and rattled humans conspire to murder him, the Midnight Entity within Sky sadistically encouraging them. It’s an unnerving exploration into the unknown (What does the Entity want? Is there some hidden agenda? Just what is it?) as well as illustrating the base darkness within humanity and our capacity for violence and prejudice; our fear of the unknown that unites us. It takes typical human discomfort (no-one likes to be mimicked) and plays it to its extremes – to brilliantly startling effect.

John’s Choices

5. A Silent Encounter

All the way through Series Five we were asking the question of who are the Silence? What do they look like? And what do they want? In the brilliant Series Six opener, The Impossible Astronaut, some of these questions were answered. Inspired by the creepy looking ‘Scream’ painting, Steven Moffat certainly did create another chilling and sinister creature filled with a dark concept. He’s produced gas-mask zombies, clock-work droids and piranhas of the shadows and now we have aliens who cannot be remembered upon looking away. The thought of not remembering the terrible creature you just witnessed as soon as you turn your back is quite frightening; especially when that said creature controls your actions without your conscious awareness.

So for the start of this countdown, I have chosen the first encounter with the Silence in the toilets of the White House. Their creepy crackling sound and empty features are very sinister and scary. Also their powers are shown to extend from just memory replacement into creating bolts of energy which can kill. Also their low, deep echoing voice is enough to send chills down your spine. Their first sentence did give me chills:

The Silence: Joy. Her name was Joy. Your name is Amelia. You will tell the Doctor, what he must know. And what he must never know.

4. Dalek Genocide

Again, like for position four of Part One, this scene isn’t exactly scary, simply dark within nature and content. Many dislike ‘Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks’ but they can’t deny that the resolution to the story is very destructive and chaotic.

The fact that the Doctor’s tone is harsh already shows the scene is not to be taken lightly and his plan for victory isn’t going to be pleasant. Joined by the fact the theatre is shrouded in darkness all helps to create a much darkened atmosphere. With the odds against him, due to being surrounded by the new Human-Hybrid army and confronted with Dalek Thay and Jast, it wasn’t very clear what was going to happen next. Dalek Sec sacrifices himself to save the Doctor, which is truly surprising and yet sets the tone for the cruel and gruesome scenario that soon follows. The Hybrids turn on their masters due to being part Time Lord, and a battle begins in which results in the annihilation of the Cult of Skaro. The way they are destroyed by their own fear, paranoia and quest for supremacy is just shocking. Then comes to the darkest part of all; the genocide of the army. The anger and fury in the Doctor’s voice as he calmly declares only one Dalek is left in existence just shows how much bitter hatred he has for the creatures. I believe this story and resolution really shows the raw power and desperation the Daleks have in order to win and how far the Doctor is willing to go in order to make sure his most hated enemy is no more.

3. Water is Patient

The Flood was a truly brilliant concept. The whole idea about water being a kind of parasite which can control human bodies in order to complete a dark and twisted goal is just very terrifying. Everyone at some point has a fear of drowning, and to see such creatures which create water and manipulate it against you is just an unpleasant thought. It leaves you on the edge of your seat. Their appearance is also shocking; their cracked mouths and white inhuman eyes along with the constant release of water is all there to intimidate and scare.

The scene which is totally freaky is where we are first introduced to the Flood. The way the Doctor and Adelaide Brooke discover Andy Stone pouring the water into Tarak Ital’s mouth is just shocking to watch. The now possessed Tarak helps Andy pursue and corner the Doctor and Adelaide into the airlock, where the creatures simple observe them and crash against the door with force. The other part which freaks me out is where Ed Gold and Yuri Kerenski observe the now transformed Maggie Cain; the face she pulls as she presses herself against the glass is just terrifying. The dark music played during this part goes right through me as it sounds so disturbing, like a faint tribal scream as Maggie watches Ed and Yuri. Also the way Andy stares at the Doctor and Adelaide with that creepy and sinister smile is also disturbing. The black teeth and constant water spillage from the creatures mouth is just frightening. The dialogue between Adelaide and her crew and then her and the Doctor also adds to the fear factor of this scene. It adds to the conclusion that something bad will happen and it can’t be prevented. Not even by the Doctor. It also shows that the Doctor is clueless as to what the creature is, and what it intends to do.

2. She Stole My Voice

One great fear within the mind is losing your identity which signifies who you are as a person. The most common way we show off our qualities is via our voice. If that were to be stolen you wouldn’t be you anymore.

I think ‘Midnight’ really does incorporate identity theft, paranoia and claustrophobia into one nice little thrilling and chilling package which leaves you tense and shaken throughout. You are constantly on the edge of your seat as soon as Sky Silvestry starts copying everyone’s voice; leaning forward with those terrifying wide eyes. The concept is beyond creepy and leaves your mind playing tricks on you. Also I believe it lead to being a very dark story due to the paranoia created by the creature’s presence. By threatening to throw one of their fellow passengers out of the ship even terrifies the Doctor right to the core. This is why I feel the story is so deadly, because the Doctor is helpless. Without the assistance of a companion, the Doctor is trapped on his own with a bunch of scared Humans who over power his authority. The Doctor becomes frightened, which is a rare thing and that signifies that the situation is truly threatening.

The scene that makes it to second place (and runner-up) on the countdown is where the Doctor’s voice is taken. He is left completely helpless as the Midnight Entity slowly establishes power over him and wraps the passengers’ minds around her finger as she convinces them that the Doctor is now the enemy and must be dealt with. Seeing the Doctor having to repeat the words ‘throw him out’ with a face of fear really shows how dark and sinister the situation gets to. The Doctor is nearly killed and he has no way of stopping it.

1. Don’t Blink!

And the countdown comes to its final conclusion, and the winning scene goes to the basement scene from ‘Blink’, which introduces the terrors of Steven Moffat’ other famous creation; The Weeping Angels. This scene just had to come first. It truly did scare me upon its first broadcast. The entire episode as a whole left me wondering and totally on the edge of my seat every time the Angels moved and their creepy theme followed. Also the Doctor’s little speech about blinking really did leave you a little bit tense:

The Doctor: Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead. They are fast. Faster than you can believe. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away and don’t blink. Good luck.

It was at this point both Sally Sparrow and Larry Nightingale realise that neither of them are looking at the Weeping Angel which was stationed in the garden. Upon their synchronised turning, the Angel appears in a demon like pose. Along with the jumpy music and its surprise appearance, it was enough to make me leap out of my skin. It was terrifying to watch upon the first broadcast.

The basement scene where Sally and Larry have to race to unlock the TARDIS door before the Angels get them left me on the edge of my seat in tension and worry, as I screamed for them to move faster as the Angels got nearer and nearer and nearer. The music also helped to create the perfect atmosphere of tension and scares. It got worse when the TARDIS began to fade away and the Angels started to become visible. You naturally assumed that in any moment they were going to attack the now helpless Sally and Larry. This was certainly a deadly scene which helped to generate the popularity of the stone-beings and is very deserving of this top spot on my list.

It is also nice to know that the Angels still retain their power of tension and scares. Upon their latest appearance in ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’, yet another basement scene left me sat on the edge of my seat screaming in worry. Every time Rory’s matches went out, I panicked, knowing too well that the Cherubs would be getting closer and closer.