Whilst the past year itself feeling like a horror movie, it’s hard to tell the difference between a normal day and Halloween. However, this year, Halloween will be different to any other, with parties limited and apple bobbing being more unappealing than ever before, most of us will be sat at home spending hours switching between streaming apps looking for a decent scary movie to fill the time. We have compiled a list (in no particular order) of some movies you may or may not have seen, that we think are worthy enough to give you a socially distanced fright. Let’s just hope there’s not another shortage of toilet paper!
Kicking off this list is the supernatural spanish horror by Rec director Paco Plaza. Set in Madrid 1991, Verónica follows the story of a working class teenage girl who has recently lost her dad and is responsible for taking care of her younger siblings. On the day of a solar eclipse, Veronica and her friends decide to perform a séance, as you can imagine, this has terrifying consequences. Verónica has to be one of the creepiest films on this list, I still can’t get that voice out of my head ‘Veronica’. It’s currently available on Netflix, so go watch it now!
The Shining, a movie that you have either already seen or have quoted without realising, either way, there is no doubting that this film still haunts us today. It’s easy to assume most people have watched this unsettling movie (directed by the visual mastermind Stanley Kubrick), however, I often forget that there’s a whole generation who probably won’t believe that I lived before Google. If you don’t believe me, ask Jeeves. The Shining tells the story of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) who gets a job as a caretaker and moves his family into an isolated hotel, only to find out that being isolated for a long period of time can have an impact on the mind (seem familiar). Don’t be put off by it’s age, this is still one of the best visual horrors ever made. Make some time to appreciate this beauty, whether it’s again or for the first time. The sequel ‘Doctor Sleep’ was released almost 40 years later in 2019 – definitely worth watching. The Shining is available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
One of the most recent movies on the list, Hereditary is absolutely terrifying. From incredible casting to pulchritudinous storytelling (yes, it’s a real word) Ari Aster creates a suffocatingly tense supernatural atmosphere that will keep you feeling anxious throughout. Hereditary introduces the Graham family as they navigate through shocking tragedy. The film starts as they mourn the recent loss of their grandmother. Toni Collette who takes on the role of Annie, gives us an outstanding performance which perfectly encapsulates how haunting grievance can really be. This has to be, without a shadow of a doubt, the best horror movie made in a very long time. You can watch Hereditary now on Netflix.
How can you not watch this iconic movie on the night of Halloween? Despite being the oldest movie on this list, Halloween still packs a powerful punch even 42 years later! Halloween dubbed ‘the godfather‘ of slasher films is the inspiration for many great horror movies that followed. John Carpenter eloquently captures audience’s nerves as they watch Michael Myers rip through the small town of Haddonfield. Who would have thought a man in a William Shatner mask with a small kitchen knife would create so much agonising tension and fear? The older this film gets, the more nostalgic you feel. It is like opening a time capsule with the contents still being in perfect condition. As you hear the beautifully dated yet intense score by John Carpenter, you can’t help but fall in love. If this film was released today, it would be hailed as a great homage to the 80s. The eleventh installment in the series and most recent movie (Halloween 2018) is a direct sequel to the 1978 original. It is a great film and definitely worthy of your time! Halloween (1978) is available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video. The recent sequel (Halloween 2018) is available to watch now on Netflix.
From oldest to the most recent movie on this list, Midsommar (another Ari Aster film) is probably one of the most trepidatious movies of recent times. Okay, it might not be the most ‘scariest’ film, but there is something eeringly unsettling throughout every moment. It’s almost as if your spidey-senses tingle from the moment the movie starts. Your subconscious is telling you to run away but you are strapped in your seat and can’t look away. Midsommar takes you on a journey with a bunch of college students to a beautiful Swedish village to enjoy the Midsummer celebrations. Surrounded by daylight, the group unknowingly celebrate and take part whilst real darkness looms over them. This film has had mixed feedback after Ari Aster’s success with ‘Hereditary’. However, after watching this film, I felt disturbed, moved and unsettled all at the same time. It was an experience that loitered in my mind long after I left the movie theatre. Isn’t this what a good movie does, transport you to another place and leave you feeling mentally disorientated? Midsommar is available to watch now on Amazon Prime Video.
Alien, another classic that needs no introduction. This movie is a perfect example of how to make a timeless quintessential sci-fi horror film. Ridley Scott takes us on a journey into space with the Nostromo crew, who discover a nest of eggs on an alien ship. Alien does a great job in keeping the audience engaged with the characters whilst constantly second guessing them, leaving you feeling isolated and apprehensive. This film has one of the most scariest and uncomfortable moments in cinema history. So whether you’re a film lover or filmmaker and you are still yet to see this movie, grab either your notepad or popcorn and enjoy the trip. Alien is available to watch now on Sky Cinema/Now TV.
It Follows is a supernatural masterpiece, it’s beautifully shot, has a cripplingly good soundtrack and has an atmosphere that lingers in your head long after the credits, (you could say It Follows you). David Robert Mitchell somehow balances telling you everything in the title, while leaving so many things tantalizingly out of reach. An unusual horror set in a parentless world, about youth, young love and the dangers that come with it. This movie is a love letter to 80’s horror, the film deliberately places itself in an unknown time period (an 80’s T.V set then sideswiped by a makeup mirror and smartphone for example). It cleverly toys with tropes that audiences usually expect from horror films, but delivers them in a unique and unfamiliar way. It Follows is available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
The noughties were not really renowned for their ‘scary’ horror movies, with the odd exception, most of the films released around that time failed to do one thing.. scare us. That’s what makes Insidious so special, it started the new decade by setting a standard so high, that future horror films now have to live up to. James Wan (who wrote the original Saw movie) creates a discomforting atmospheric tone which is both agonising and refreshing at the same time. If you are looking for a film that will scare the s*** out of you, look no further. Insidious follows the story of a family who move into a new house seeking a fresh start, yet suffer tragedy as their son mysteriously falls into a coma. Little do they know, this is the least of their worries. There is a particular scene which I personally hail as one of the most all time greatest horror movie scenes ever. If you haven’t seen this film, I recommend giving it a watch, the sequels are not bad either! Insidious is available to watch now on Netflix.
Oops, did I say the noughties didn’t give us any scary horror movies? 1408 is an exception. It is incredibly underrated and a film that not only keeps you on edge but also convolutes the mind as the story unfolds. When I say unfold, I’m not referring to a paper aeroplane here, this movie will have your brain asking for compensation. John Cusack takes on the role of ‘Mike Enslin’ an acclaimed author who is notable for debunking supernatural phenomena, until he visits the Dolphin Hotel, that is. 1408 is beautifully crafted to deliver such an interesting yet psychological nightmare all set in a single room. I have seen this movie so many times (mainly because I didn’t have many DVDs to choose from) and it never gets old. I would highly recommend watching, but please, for the love of your mind, don’t watch this if you’re staying in a hotel. The last thing you need is to be stuck in lockdown in a hotel room after watching this! 1408 is available to purchase on Amazon.
James Wan, you’re smashing it mate. For those who haven’t already seen this, ask your friends what they deem to be the scariest film they’ve ever seen, most of them will say ‘The Conjuring’. The Conjuring, based on true case files, follows the story of the Perron family, who move to an isolated farm house in Rhode Island, only to find that there is some unusual phenomena activity taking place. James Wan yet again, showcases his idiosyncratic talent in creating a horrifying ambience that grabs viewers from their seat and whispers in their ear ‘don’t worry, it’s not going to be ok’. This movie is the first of the franchise to set off a huge universe of horror movies in a variety of franchises (spanning over ten feature films and five short films). Any film that has a narrative which can be extended that wide is clearly something to marvel over (Marvel, get it?). The Conjuring is available to watch now on Netflix.
The final movie on this list and believe me it was hard, is the frantic spanish horror REC. Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza (hey, he directed the film at the top), create this incredibly confined and monstrous atmosphere, told entirely in real time, to which you cannot stop staring in awe from start to finish. Move aside Blair Witch, this is how you make the perfect handheld ‘found footage’ style movie. REC starts with a reporter and her camera operator covering the horrific outbreak of a deadly disease (can’t make it up) when they get trapped in an apartment block. This is not a movie that will make you hide under your covers until daylight or keep the door open while you poop, but it will surely make you feel a constant sense of perturbing jitteriness from the moment you hit play. The sequel REC 2 (2009) is a direct continuation and a must watch, the other sequels however.. don’t bother. REC (2007) is available to rent/buy on Google Play Movies.
I hope you were able to find some gems on this list that you might have not already seen. It was very difficult to choose ten films out of so many greats, however, these are some of the movies that we think are definitely worthy of giving you a scare this halloween. What movies have you seen from this list, what have we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
– Kyriakos Georgiou
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