Halloween is finally here and you know what that means — get out your costumes, grab your favorite candy, and start watching the most bone-chilling horror movies you can find. If you’re not into horror movies, I don’t blame you. It’s not an easy genre to stomach and it’s a genre that is rarely done well. There’s also subgenres of horror and the thin line between thriller and horror.
While there are plenty of great classic horror films to watch, many people aren’t fans of practical effects. Effects can seriously date a movie and when it’s obviously dated, it’s hard to stay immersed and fully engaged. It’s a lot to consider, but if you’re either someone who’s enjoyed the genre for some time now or someone who has finally worked up the appetite for the truly gross and disturbing — give these movies a watch (or re-watch).
As a disclaimer, like with any movie list, taste is subjective. Are all of these movies masterpieces? Absolutely not. Are they entertaining in their own way? You know, I’d say so.
The Babadook (2014)
Where to watch it: Amazon Prime
It’s only been six years since this Australian film’s release, but those who watched it in 2014 knew this would be an instant classic. Again, there are different subgenres of horror and this one falls into my personal favorite — psychological. This film follows a single mother who is plagued by the violent death of her husband and battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. The surprise ending (and I say surprise because it’s a very fresh take compared to nearly every horror film) is enough to get you in front of this movie.
Where to watch it: It’s not streaming anywhere for free, but you can rent it from Amazon Prime or Apple TV
Weirdly enough, the reception (from the general public) has been a mixed bag on this one. Some people sat through this without flinching, while others had to turn it off before the halfway mark because they were too scared. Famed horror director and producer James Wan sets the film around a girl who is paralyzed by fear from shocking visions. What she once thought were terrifying nightmares manifest quickly and become frightening realities. With all that being said, it’s an entertaining movie to put on if you want something to watch that checks most of the boxes for a typical horror movie, but you’re not trying to watch it with your mind and spirit invested.
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Where to watch it: Netflix
Speaking of James Wan, let’s talk about his most famous horror franchise to date. The Conjuring series is by far the most well-recognized set of films that Wan has either directed or produced (other than the Insidious films). Like the film before it, The Conjuring 2 is based on very real events that happened and real people who were involved. The story is set in 1977 and follows paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) come out of a self-imposed break to travel to Enfield, a borough in north London. There, they meet Peggy Hodgson, an overwhelmed single mother of four who tells the couple that something evil is in her home. Ed and Lorraine believe her story when the youngest daughter starts to show signs of demonic possession.
Get Out (2017)
Where to watch it: Hulu
Alright, if you’re a non-white person then you already know what kind of scary this is. Jordan Peele’s Get Out takes the subgenre of psychological horror to a whole new level. While the film doesn’t rely on the tried-and-true tenets of the horror genre, Peele’s film has taken horror and brought it to a very real plane of existence that many non-white people experience in America, more specifically — Black Americans. Not only does this film take the classic eeriness of psychological horror to greater lengths, but it defines its horror with the reality that Black Americans face in this country.
Halloween Kills (2021)
Where to watch it: Peacock
The OG 1978 horror baddie is back. You’d think after 12 movies (and the 13th coming next year) that this guy would just get the message, bury the hatchet, and just live out his life the best he can before he dies. I guess being a psychopath means no days off because Michael Myers is back in 2021 and stronger than ever.
The movie is set after Myers escapes from Laurie Strode’s trap to continue his ritual bloodbath. Injured and taken to the hospital, Laurie fights through the pain as she inspires residents of Haddonfield to rise up against Myers. Taking matters into their own hands, the Strode women and other survivors form a vigilante mob to hunt down Michael and end his reign of terror once and for all. If you’re looking for the ultimate slasher film, look no further. Pro tip: don’t eat during this movie.
If you’re not into the horror heavy hitters, here are some spooky season favorites that have the vibe of Halloween without all the blood and gore.
Photo via Universal Pictures