By: Laura Janér
Halloween is really just an excuse to put together this list of horror movies, because watching them is a huge amount of fun at any time of the year. Here are some great, and others not so great, recent horror movies to get your adrenaline running high:
Release date: 7 September 2018
Directed by: Corin Hardy
Main cast: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet
Rotten tomatoes rating: 27%
Expectations were reasonably high for this new addition to The Conjuring cinematic universe, but The Nun was severely underwhelming. It’s the kind of movie that tries too hard to be scary, that loses itself in the CGI and the sinister sound effects; ultimately achieving a series of predictable jump scares and a formulaic plot. It was nowhere near as scary or nerve-chilling as its predecessors, and instead felt like a forced and rushed placeholder for whatever comes next in the franchise. It relies solely on jump scares to keep viewers interested, which actually makes it a fun movie to watch with friends, but don’t set your standards for high for this “unholy mess” (Rolling Stone).
Release date: February 26, 2018
Director: Paco Plaza
Main cast: Sandra Escacena, Bruna González, Claudia Placer
Rotten tomatoes rating: 100%
This Spanish horror movie hit streaming services earlier this year, earning the title of “the scariest horror movie ever made”: viewers reported not being able to get through the movie and turning it off halfway through. It is pretty scary as far as demonic possession movies go, but it’s certainly not as terrifying as the media would have us believe – although that’s really more of a subjective judgement, depending on your response to horror movies. One undeniable flaw present in Veronica worth pointing out is its lack of originality, manifested in the tiresome and conventional plot we’ve seen one too many times: teenagers want to communicate with dead person, use Ouija board, summon evil demon instead. Nothing new here. After an overflow of hyperbolic headlines such as “Netflix has a new horror movie so scary people are turning it off!”, Veronica sets itself up for quite some disappointment.
Release date: June 8 2018
Director: Ari Aster
Main cast: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
Rotten tomatoes rating: 89%
A fresh and genuinely terrifying horror piece, Hereditary exceeds any and all expectations. Deemed as “pure emotional terrorism” by the AV Club, this movie unfolds like a true nightmare, evading the conventional roller-coaster ride of cheap jump scares most horror movies deliver as their main source of appeal. Instead, it scares you by providing a constant yet sharpening sense of dread and unease, offering disturbing and upsetting images without any dramatic jolts of sound effects or inane build-ups. Perhaps most notably, Hereditary is more than the sum of its parts, it transcends its own plot in the sense that all the horror is rooted in the emotional toil the characters are going through, in the exploration of the absolute devastation a loss can provoke, in addition to the genetic nature of trauma and mental illness. If you don’t want to take my word for it, perhaps science will convince you: the studio behind Hereditary, A24, performed an experiment in which viewers wore Apple Watches to check their heart rates as they watched, and they recorded speeds of up to 164 beats per minute at the tenser moments of the film. A resting heart rate would be around 60-100.
Release date: June 23, 2015
Director: Patrick Kack-Brice
Main cast: Mark Duplass, Jason Blum
Rotten tomatoes rating: 96%
Creep is found-footage horror done right. It has no foul demons, no unworldly possessions, no menacing zombies or any other supernatural phenomena, but the slow-burning, deeply unsettling filmmaking and story are sure to hypnotize viewers. It’s a small-scale indie, but through its minimal means and a “fantastically unhinged performance” (Village Voice) by Mark Duplass, Creep delivers unnerving plot twists and truly disturbing scares. It’s a true gem in the found-footage subgenre, sure to give you chills and keep you on the edge of your seat. It also has an equally entertaining sequel (Creep 2) for anyone wishing to come back for another taste of this extraordinarily unsettling production. In essence, the title says it all.
Other horror movies to watch:
By: S. McManus
Over The Garden Wall is a classic example of light-hearted modern day cartoons that take a deeper turn as the series progresses, and in a nutshell. While the total run time of this show is less than two hours, I can firmly say that it is one of my favorites and has me itching to re-watch every Halloween. It is a lovely blend of creepy and cute and is absolutely loaded with unexpected turns at every corner. “Addictively weird”, is how a friend of mine would put it.
The story surrounds two step-brothers; Greg - cuteness personified that has me chuckling at the oddest moments - and Wirt, the awkward, melodramatic, yet heroic older brother. (… as well as their pet frog of many names: Kitty, Wirt, Wirt Jr., George Washington, Skippers and Jason Thunderberker …) They find themselves lost in the woods, and encounter many of its strange inhabitants as they try to get home. Each of its mini episodes is a story of its own, which are sewn together near-seamlessly to form a phenomenal conclusion. Perhaps another weird thing about this show is how long ten minutes can seem as you’re watching.
But characters and Patrick McHale’s (former Adventure Time writer and creative director) genius fore-shadowing and build-up a side, what I really love about this show is how well the woods and the Over The Garden Wall world is created. The mood is consistently uneasy and creepy, yet usually un-scary. The protagonists are constantly in the face of danger, but it can be hard to tell a threat from a diplomatic pumpkin cult chief. And, let’s just say, the same could work for a friendly face. The unpredictableness might just be series’ strongest asset. And I simply can’t talk about the mood without mentioning the songs. They fit in perfectly with the old-timey era the show thrives in and add a whole other layer of surrealism to the plot. Are they Broadway-worthy belts? A long-shot from, but to be fair, they make the show all the more charming.
There really isn’t a person I wouldn’t recommend this to, as it has a flair for all ages, and is immediately captivating, no matter what audience. I can’t find it in me to hate a single character, and in my third run of the series, I have only grown to love and appreciate it more deeply.
And so, what are you watching this Halloween?