By Samuel Still, Asst. News Editor–
It is that time of the year again when jack o’ lanterns dot your neighbors’ front steps and the Spirit Halloween stores set up shop in what used to be a Rite Aid or a Sears or really any foreclosed business. With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, it looks like a big part of Halloween this year will be watching scary movies or shows in the comfort of your own home, so with that in mind here is a list of what to watch to get in the mood for Halloween:
Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Available to stream on Netflix
So, maybe outright scares do not get you in the Halloween spirit. Maybe you require a more psychological movie to get truly scared. If that is the case, then Silence of the Lambs will probably be your best option. Following Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) as she hunts down a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill, this film will unsettle you and stay with you long after its runtime. With a deeply terrifying performance from Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter and enough dead body imagery to keep you awake at night, Silence of the Lambs is worth a viewing before it gets taken off Netflix on Nov. 1.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018) – Available to stream on Netflix
Upon its release, The Haunting of Hill House, which is loosely inspired by the novel of the same name, was met with near universal acclaim for its writing, directing, cinematography, production design and acting. The lives of the Crain family are at the center of this horror series as the show follows them in the past and the present as their experiences in the titular Hill House shape and define who they are as people. A sense of overwhelming dread permeates the series with a few jump scares thrown in to keep you on your toes, and the chances of you forgetting this show anytime soon are slim to none. If you are able to finish The Haunting of Hill House and want more hauntings in your life, then you can also check out the sequel series The Haunting of Bly Manor which is also available to stream on Netflix.
Hush (2016) – Available to stream on Netflix
Hush is a return to form of sorts for the modern slasher genre. The plot centers on Maddie, a deaf woman living alone in her home in the woods, as she becomes the target of a demented killer. Scares abound of course, but where Hush really shines is by using Maddie’s deafness to enhance the horror; she cannot hear the killer meaning she is always in danger of getting caught off guard, and we, the audience, are forced to watch in dread as she fights to survive. This is the perfect film for viewers who want a slasher film that has all the scares without the camp cliches that came to define the genre with films like Friday the 13th (1980) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).
What We Do in the Shadows (2019) – Available to stream on Hulu
If you are averse to scares than an outright horror film or TV series is probably not what you are looking to watch this Halloween. In this case, the TV series What We Do in the Shadows is probably more of what you are looking for. Based on the film of the same name, the show follows a group of vampire roommates living in modern day Staten Island as they are filmed by a documentary crew. The show rarely takes itself seriously and is filled with enough jokes and absurdist scenarios to keep you laughing, but it still maintains a horror atmosphere that makes it a great choice for a Halloween viewing.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Available to stream on HBO Max
It would not be a true list of Halloween movies and shows to watch without the inclusion of a horror classic. Night of the Living Dead helped birth the zombie film genre and is now generally considered to be one of the most iconic horror films ever made. The film’s premise is simple – a group of people becomes trapped in a house and must find a way to survive while a horde of the undead attempts to devour them – and its execution is incredibly well done for the time. If you can handle the look and feel of a black and white film, then Night of the Living Dead will make a great addition to your watchlist.
Hereditary (2018) – Available to stream on Amazon Prime
Chances are you have already seen this film either in theaters when it came out or on streaming or home video after its release, but Hereditary is so good it is definitely worth a rewatch. It has everything we expect from a modern horror movie: an unsettling atmosphere, enough scares to keep you awake during and after viewing and a commentary about some facet of society, in this film’s case it tackles family dynamics and trauma. While it has its scary moments, the film for the most part revels in its unsettling imagery that will mess with your head and keep you wondering what in the world you just watched. The film also features a career-defining performance from Toni Collette that even on its own makes the film worth its two hour runtime. So, if you want to watch a weird, scary family drama this Halloween, Hereditary is a great option for you.