Spooktober is reaching its end—but what's waiting for us at the other side is also pretty scary. After all, a looming election, a heated political climate, and an ongoing pandemic is a lot to take in. So here's what we indulged in this month for a reprieve from the outside world.
Haunting of Hill House (2018)
This show is an astounding achievement of cinema. An emotionally compelling drama centered around a fractured family, it's not only deathly frightening but also heartbreaking, as it constantly leaves the audience with a sense of dread and longing for more. Although its successor is not as successful in living up to its name, The Haunting of Hill House is a thrilling ride—and the children’s cast is to die for.
What’s more Halloween than looking into the actual serial killers horror movies are based on? The show follows FBI investigators, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) as they get inside the heads of serial killers. The initially irrelevant clues can help to provide a breakthrough, culminating in a fascinating, dark show built on the tension between fascination and disgust. Though full of cop show tropes—there are many shots of Ford popping a pill or two to manage his panic attacks—the show still does a good job capturing society’s true–crime obsession.
For those who are seeking a combination of the cheesiness of a rom–com with the occasional jump scare, look no further. Scream the television show follows Emma Duvall (Willa Fitzgerald), a popular sixteen–year–old who finds herself at the center of a string of murders. With its fun, snappy dialogue, references to pop culture, and occasional usage of meta–comedy, it’s a fun adaption of the movie that reinvents itself with a heavy dosage of nostalgia.
Stranger Things (2016)
The crowning achievement of Netflix, Stranger Things is the perfect combination of science fiction, '80s nostalgia, and horror. Although it’ll be a while until we get a fourth season, we can still turn to Stranger Things every Halloween as a source of comfort. Consisting of a rag–tag group of kids, a girl with psychic abilities, Winona Ryder’s flawlessness, and characters Steve and Dustin’s adorable bromance, even in its dull moments, Stranger Things manages to have a trick up its sleeve. In its best moments, there’s seldom a moment to breathe.
In the time of quarantine and COVID–19, home is one of the safest places for us to stay. In Hush, this notion is flipped, and the home becomes a terrifying battleground in a woman’s fight for survival. Set in an isolated house deep in the forest, the thriller follows a deaf author who moved to the woods for a life of peace and solitude. When a masked murderer appears in her window, she is instantly thrown into a tense battle of cat–and–mouse, with her disability pitting the odds heavily against her. This film is terrifying because of its stark practicality and the way it taps into a fear of the unknown. By balancing silence with action, the thriller provokes fear from its audience at the perfect moments. Hush is a refreshing take on the classic home–invasion subgenre and is a great viewing experience for anyone seeking deep thrills this spooky season.
Nothing compares to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film, Psycho. It has anything you could ask of a movie: excellent performances by a superb cast, a brilliant script, a delightfully shocking plot twist, and one of the most memorable film scores in history. The elements of Psycho that terrified audiences don’t exactly compare to the frights of horror films today—but as you sit in your basement, observing the black and white tones, retro fashions, and elegantly clever syntax in the dialogue, your heart will race just the same. With each rewatch of Psycho, you'll discover new nuances in the film’s non–conventional structure, and in Anthony Perkins’ unforgettable performance.
Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele’s iconic directorial debut, Get Out, not only serves as a well–made horror movie, but also provides us with a relevant look at the closeted racism that can come from any Democrat–voting, supposedly well–meaning white person. There is an utter sense of dread in virtually every scene, escalating as we enter the latter half of Peele’s movie. It is one of the most well–crafted, unique, and creative horror movies of the current moment. Especially as we enter the 2020 election, it’s worth considering how much of the current electorate would lament on how much they loved Get Out, despite holding more insidious views.
Marketed as a horror–comedy, the Re–Animator ends up being more horrifying than funny, mostly due to the actors’ ability to convey realistic terror, and a scene that portrays sexual assault. Jeffrey Combs has a blast playing a scientist gone mad after discovering the secret to cheating death—at the expense of them turning into gory zombies. The special effects are also a plus: the glowing green serum and tentacle innards of the zombies make for a very compelling film. This movie is an explosive relic of the '80s. Proceed with caution, but you will not regret giving this gem a watch.