Halloween is just around the corner, and there's no better way to prepare than watching horror movies. They’re as essential to the fall season as the trees shedding their leaves and visiting the pumpkin patch.
Staying up late Friday night to watch a horror film with friends can be a good way to ensure you won’t go to bed until Saturday morning, but all the jump scares, eerie sounds and nightmares are part of the fun.
A trip to the theater and renting movies can become costly, but there is plenty of streamable terror available this October.
This Clive Barker debut is based on his novel "The Hellbound Heart." Since its release in 1987, it has become a classic and a must watch. The story follows a resurrected man’s attempt to restore his lifeless corpse through the consumption of fresh human blood.
Along the way, a cursed puzzle box is revealed to hold the key to another dimension where repugnant horrors await. Barker’s on-screen visuals create a dreadful, gruesome atmosphere that isn’t soon forgotten. The concept is refreshingly original, and has since inspired eight more franchise films.
Jennifer Kent, an Australia native, surprised many with this directorial debut. “The Babadook” is an imaginative psychological horror that takes you back to those childhood fears of monsters under the bed.
A single mother battles her son’s fear of a fictional monster from a book. However, they soon realize that perhaps the monster isn’t so fictional after all.
For 2014, this film was a creative break from the teen slasher flicks, and its production quality only heightens the terror. While the film doesn’t reach the level of masterpiece, it’s certainly worth a watch this Halloween.
“It Follows” is another 2014 psychological horror with a creative concept. An evil entity, unseen to others, follows and kills the cursed. There’s only one way to survive: pass the curse onto someone else.
The plot centers on Jay Height’s attempt to get rid of her curse. She learns that her boyfriend, Hugh, foisted the curse onto her when they had sex in his car. That’s right, the curse is transmitted through sex.
Despite its unusual “monster” character, the film was well received at the Cannes International Film Festival. Director David Mitchell includes a good balance of fear and suspense, using few jump scares appropriately and effectively. Few recent horror films have received as much critical acclaim as this one.
“Silence of the Lambs”
Almost everyone is familiar with the infamous cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, and that’s due to this 1991 film. Starring both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, the acting is phenomenally better than many other horror movies. Hopkins even won an Oscar for his role as Dr. Lecter.
Don’t be fooled though, Hannibal’s role in the film is marginal. The plot follows Clarice Starling’s investigation of at-large serial killer, Buffalo Bill. The character is based on many real, iconic serial killers making the film even more unsettling to watch. Considered a masterpiece by many and frighteningly disturbing by all, this Jonathan Demme classic is an absolute must watch.
This 2004 film opens with very little exposition as two men wake up in an unknown room with a dead body. Adam and Gordon quickly realize they are trapped in the room and must escape with the available tools. The serial killer that put them there, however, doesn’t plan for their escape to be easy, painless or necessarily possible.
Adapted from a short film of the same name, “Saw” is a great example of a low budget yielding an original, stirring story line. The atmosphere of the film is incredibly dark coupled with intense desperation.
The film’s mastermind antagonist, Jigsaw, is depicted as one of cinema’s most gruesome killers. Falling asleep after this film is next to impossible.
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A 1630s New England family is devastated by witchcraft, dark magic and demonic possession. The film doesn’t rely on jump scares or intense scenes to scare the audience. In this way, the film is a bit slow with little action.
That being said, witnessing the Puritan family’s slow decay and submission to the forces of evil is horrific to say the least. The director, Robert Eggers, and composer, Mark Korven, combined the on-screen visuals with an unusual film score to create the feeling of a demonic presence throughout. The film focuses on the Puritans’ historical fears of goats, the woods, darkness and Satan to horrific effect.
“Night of the Living Dead”
Anyone familiar with the horror genre will recognize this George A. Romero zombie classic. Before the “Walking Dead,” “World War Z” and “Zombieland” there was a time that the modern zombie was absent from the big screen.
That was until the release of this film in 1968. While the concept of zombies had been around, Romero was the first to introduce them as reanimated, flesh-eating cannibals.
While the horror may not live up to today’s standards, the film still has historic, aesthetic and cultural value. With horror legend George Romero unfortunately passing away this past summer, his spirit continues to scare you this Halloween.
“The Conjuring (2)”
This decade has seen a lack of impressive horror films, but the “Conjuring” series is as close to a contemporary masterpiece as one can get. The stories are based on the accounts of Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators.
The first film follows a family’s battle with a dark presence in their farmhouse. The second shifts to London as Ed and Lorraine try to help a single mother whose home is inhabited by a supernatural spirit.
While the series' storylines aren't revolutionary, the production quality heightens the horror. Director James Wan is a master of suspenseful scenes with the sound and music by Joseph Bishara playing a major role. All in all, these two films are near the top of the horror movie list.
Purportedly inspired by true events, a young couple is terrorized by three, masked strangers at a rural vacation home. The tone of the movie quickly becomes alarming and stressful once the strangers arrive.
Loud noises, strategic camera angles and pure evil turn this film into a viewer’s nightmare. The realistic nature of the film and the strangers’ unsettling appearance compound the horror.
Critics have often disapproved of the extreme sadism and unbelievable characters, but others contend that the bludgeoning horror and extreme suspense contribute to the value of the film. Regardless, you’ll certainly check all your doors after watching this flick.
The newest of the films listed, “Split” is set to be released on HBO three days before Halloween. This film is another success on a long list of M. Night Shyamalan works.
Released earlier this year, “Split” was a huge success at the box office, grossing $138 million in the North America. “X-Men” actor, James McAvoy, plays a kidnapper with dissociative identity disorder.
Three girls must try to escape his 23 distinct personalities before a fearsome, perhaps deadly, 24th emerges. This film is one of the best horror movies released this year, and Shyamalan’s expertise shines through.