Halloween is all about getting spooked, right? Sure, we all remember trooping around the cold, dark night scaring our neighbours while trick or treating when we were kids, but the sad truth is, we’d look a bit silly doing it now that we’re all grown up.
So, what could we do instead? Well, we could gather up some friends and do a spot of apple bobbing (could be a choking hazard), or, try carving pumpkins into creepy Jack O’lanterns with a sharp knife (sounds a bit dangerous), or build a big inferno-esque bonfire in our back garden (sounds really dangerous). Decisions, decisions.
Well, there’s one other thing that’s 100% safe, fun for
the whole family all of your adult chums and is bound to get your pulses racing.
‘What is it?’ I hear you asking.
Why, a bloody good ol’ horror flick, that’s what! And better yet, one that you and your buddies have never seen before. Sharing that nail-biting experience with your besties, with a slice of pizza in one hand and and an ice-cold beer in the other, is – in our opinion – what Halloween is truly all about. Sharing is caring, and all that jazz.
Luckily for you, we’ve done the legwork, taken one for the team and scrutinized enough horror movies over the past few weeks to give even Count Dracula the heebie jeebies. Further still, we’ve decided to focus on Netflix horror flicks, mainly because everyone and their werehound have access to the uber-popular streaming service. That said, if you don’t subscribe to ’flix, then you can always go the old-school route and rent most of these bad boys from your nearest rental store (do they even still exist?).
Before we get into it though, we’d like to emphasize that this is not necessarily a “best of” list so to speak, but instead more of a selection of recommendations of newish horror movies that have landed on the service over the last few years. So don’t expect to see any of those 80s or 90s horror classics which we wrote about recently. Instead, we’ve decided to focus on some more modern, lesser known flicks that’ll whet your devilish appetite and have you and your friends reaching for the safety of the dark side of the pillow.
With all that out of the way, let’s get straight to the horrific action and dig into some choice horror gems for all you gore hounds to get your dastardly claws into this Halloween…
10) Blair Witch (2016)
A sequel to one of the 90’s most popular found footage chillers was as inevitable as a Sean Bean death scene. Thankfully, Adam Wingard’s follow-up (which completely ignores the awful Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 sequel) isn’t actually as bad as the bloody writing on the wall suggests.
Our very own Matt Donato declared Blair Witch “a respectful and uniquely haunting chapter,” that “brings a jolt of energy to a legendary franchise.” You can read his full, in-depth review here.
The plot focuses on an inquisitive brother who heads out in search of his long lost sister who disappeared while investigating the titular Blair Witch. He ropes in some tech savvy friends and teams up with a couple of locals to help track her down in the cursed Burkittsville woods where the original horror classic took place.
Though it doesn’t exactly rewrite the found footage genre rulebook, it does add some welcome mythos to the mysterious curse of the dreaded Maryland woods. It’s a tense, chilling, well paced rollercoaster thrill ride that does justice to the creepy source material it’s based upon. Simply put, this is a fairly underrated horror flick that’s definitely worth a look.
9) Train To Busan (2016)
A horror movie list just wouldn’t be complete without a good ol’ fashioned zombie film, and luckily for us, South Korean director Sang-ho Yeon’s Train To Busan fits the bill nicely. Part 28 Days Later, part World War Z and with a dash of Shaun Of The Dead, Yeon’s outbreak thriller doles out the horrific action at a satisfying clip.
Still, what’s truly special about Train To Busan, is that it’s a zombie movie with a beating heart hidden within its rotting ribcage, and a brain between its zombified ears. Whether it’s the fraught relationship between a father and daughter, or a loving married couple who’re expecting a little ’un, the overall characterization is well written and terrifically acted, with some touching emotional poignancy, too.
If you’re into the shuffling menace, do yourself a favour and check this one out.
8) The Void (2016)
These days, 80’s style body horror shockers like The Thing are few and far between. Luckily, newish Canadian writer-directors Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie channel their inner John Carpenter in 2016’s criminally underrated The Void, which delicately mixes in some healthy dollops of twisted Hellraiser writing and potent Silent Hill imagery for good measure, too.
Nefarious cults, hellish abominations, batshit crazy doctors and secretive private investigators take centre stage in this unsettling Lovecraftian tale of otherworldly terror and skin-crawling dread. Boasting one of the most eye-catching posters ever (I mean, look at it), and some of the most jaw-droppingly awesome practical visual effects this side of the millennium, The Void stands out as an overlooked, undervalued piece of horror filmmaking that cements the Canadian filmmakers as ones to watch for the future.
7) Gerald’s Game (2017)
Stephen King adaptations very much remain the du jour with both 1922 and It making waves in horror aficionado’s imaginations this year alone. Still, newly fangled Netflix feature Gerald’s Game is yet another triumph to add to the list for the uber popular author, as this is a marvelously adapted survival horror thriller, by American director Mike Flanagan, that hides a taut, psychological bite.
A couple’s romantic getaway is brought to a screeching halt when a husband (Bruce Greenwood) has an impromptu heart attack atop his restrained lover (Carla Gugino) during some raunchy sexy time. Alone, handcuffed to the bed in an isolated holiday home with her dead husband lying nearby, her mind begins to slowly unravel and soon succumbs to the dark voices hidden within the depths of her subconscious.
With terrific central performances from Gugino and Greenwood, some distinctly nuanced characterization, along with a brutal, grizzly finale, this is a suspenseful survival horror flick with a beating heart and a decent twist to boot.
6) You’re Next (2011)
Director Adam Wingard makes another entry on this list with the anarchic home invasion slasher You’re Next. Sure, it’s a little over over six years old, but it’s still very much a high watermark in the creatively ailing slasher sub-genre. It’s arguably one of the most fresh and rewarding modern entries into it as well.
When a family reunion comes under fire from a gang of cold blooded masked murderers, the only thing that escalates faster than the guest’s heart rates is the film’s mighty body count, which it delivers with blood splatteringly reckless abandon.
Bold, visceral, with a tongue-in-cheek attitude and a wondrously inventive central twist, You’re Next is nerve shredding stuff that forks out some clever cat-and-mouse slasher action that’s bound to get your blood pumping.
5) Hush (2016)
Before adapting the aforementioned Gerald’s Game, director Mike Flanagan turned heads with a horror thriller with a simple, eerie premise. A deaf, voiceless author is tasked with fending off a maniacal killer from her remote cottage in the middle of nowhere.
The true strength of Hush is in its smart and slick execution. What it lacks in snappy dialogue (the script is pretty much threadbare due to the heroine’s condition), it makes up for by having a great atmosphere, top-notch acting, clever cinematography and some ample pacing.
Kate Siegel shines brightly as resourceful protagonist Maddie, as she goes one-on-one with an unstoppable killer with a penchant for defenseless girls. This is a modern classic that should be on every horror aficionado’s radar.
4) The Invitation (2015)
Karyn Kasama’s slow burning chiller is very much an invitation worth RSVP’ing to. Focusing on a reunion dinner party with a group of familiar out of touch friends, The Invitation keeps its cards close to its chest before wildly unspooling in its tense, balls-to-the-wall finale.
Logan Marshall-Green’s sardonic turn as the cynical misanthropic Will is a highlight, while Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi’s script takes some nice twists and turns that’ll keep you glued to the edge of your seat. Add to this some clever, suspenseful sleight of hand delivered by the director and writers that’ll pull the rug from under you when you least suspect it, and you’re left with an unnerving, thrilling, demented flick that’ll stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
3) The Babadook (2014)
In her directorial debut, Australian director Jennifer Kent paints a detailed portrait of an exhausted single mother on the brink of breakdown as she struggles with her son’s growing obsession with an imaginary creature he believes is haunting them. The sense of tension is a slow burn, but its beauty lies assuredly within its narrative depth and subtle, poetic storytelling.
Though it may not be as terrifying as the rest of the entries on this list, it’s a provocative story that embraces real life issues, while crafting a memorable psychological horror experience that has the potential to get right under your skin like a devilishly sharp splinter. Additionally, it’s very well acted, capably made and hauntingly shot with some thoughtfully delivered mise-en-scéne.
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how the Babadook critter just looks creepy AF. Seriously.
2) It Follows (2014)
Make no mistake, It Follows is up there with the best psychological horror movies to come out from the last decade. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, this eerie supernatural tale focuses on a deadly curse that can only be passed on through sex. Once cursed, the victim is relentlessly pursued by a bloodthirsty entity that only they alone can see, while taking on the appearance of, well, anyone.
It’s a bold setup, ripe with sexual metaphor and hidden depth. Not only is it thoroughly thought provoking, but it’s a creepy visual and conceptual nightmare that’s rich with original ideas. Suspenseful, memorable and simply downright spooky, It Follows is a wonderfully crafted piece of filmmaking that subverts a central horror trope and builds upon it in lots of intelligent, meaningful ways.
1) Creep (2015)
Another found footage horror gem, this modern cautionary tale comes from the mind of American writer-director-actor Patrick Brice, in his directorial debut no less.
Likeable videographer Aaron (Patrick Brice) answers a Craigslist advert to film the unusually chirpy and jovial Josef (Mark Duplass) for a “normal” day-in-the-life documentary, but soon gets dragged into an ominous and deeply disturbing spider’s web of demented lunacy.
What really sets Creep apart from the myriad of found footage fodder is its exceptionally strong writing, gritty realism and surprisingly humorous synergy between the two leads. The acting is superb, with a heavy, impactful climax that will burn itself into your mind’s eye like a glowing hot poker. A sequel was just released, too, so now’s as good a time as any to check out one of the coolest and most original horror movies to come out in a long, long while.