Or from behind a cushion… or behind the sofa…
You’d have had to of been living under a rock not to notice that Halloween is on the horizon, bringing with it the cultural obligation to watch something on the scary end of the spectrum – however wimpy your personal brand might be for those other 364 days of the year.
But if you’ve been turned off horror thanks to the gory, momentarily shocking but instantly forgettable offerings that seem to have defined the genre in the past decade or so (does anyone really want to sit through another Paranormal Activity off-shoot?) then prepare for a reappraisal. Call it the Get Out effect, call it the rise of prestige horror, call it whatever you want: in recent years, horror has had a renaissance, balancing an amped up scare factor with great performances (see Anya Taylor Joy’s breakout role in The Witch, or Toni Collette’s turn in this 2018’s Hereditary, which has already generated awards buzz – a rarity for horror performances) and strikingly original plots. The watershed moment? Get Out‘s clutch of Academy Award nominations – and eventual Oscar win – earlier this year.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting horror titles around right now, along with a few indelible cult classics (that will also inevitably double up as last-minute costume inspiration) and a nostalgic Netflix reboot to throw into the mix, too. Stream at your peril…
Scroll for what we’re watching this Halloween:
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
If there’s currently a Riverdale shaped hole in your viewing schedule (no judgement here), steel yourself for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix’s reboot of the ’90s teen classic. Don’t expect much of the cosy comedy and talking cats that characterized the Melissa Joan Hart show, though: it’s been reimagined as a dark coming of age story, with horror classics like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist cited as influences. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Kiernan Shipka (aka Mad Men‘s Sally Draper) stars, plus it’s set in the town along from Archie and co, leaving the door open for a crossover episode further down the line…
Ahead of Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino’s re-make, which will arrive in cinemas next month, it’s the perfect time to revisit the original 1977 Suspiria, the cult, a technicolour horror film from Dario Argento. It follows Jessica Bannon’s Suzy (the role taken by Dakota Johnson in the 2018 version) as she joins a prestigious dance school in Munich; soon, it becomes clear that academy is a smokescreen for something far more sinister. It’s glossy, gory and spectacularly ’70s (including, inevitably, a prog rock soundtrack): no wonder, then, that its nightmarish aesthetic has been cited as the inspiration by fashion designers from Louis Vuitton to Rodarte.
If you haven’t already caught Get Out, consider this your Halloween homework. Blazing a trail for socially conscious horror, Jordan Peele’s film broke box office records (it’s currently the highest grossing original feature from a first-time director) and picked up an Oscar earlier this year. And it achieved all this while providing razor-sharp (read: uncomfortably prescient) comment on the fraught racial politics of Trump’s America and skewering white liberalism: ‘My dad would have voted for Obama for a third term if he could!’ Allison Williams’ Rose tells her boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) ahead of an ill-fated trip to meet the in-laws. By turns terrifying and darkly comic, it doesn’t seem pre-emptive to brand Get Out a modern horror classic.
Anya Taylor Joy established herself as this generation’s scream queen with a breakout role in period horror The Witch. Her eerie performance, playing a sixteenth-century teenager seduced by the supernatural as she’s ousted from her paranoid, puritanical New England community, was the toast of the Sundance Film Festival on its release in 2015. Once you’ve got your ears around the ye olde American accents, this is a chilling, ambiguous slow-burner. Plus, you’ll never be able to look at a goat in the same way again (if you know, you know…)
A Quiet Place
It’s been described as the most nerve-shreddingly tense film of 2018, but A Quiet Place is – for the most part – a horror movie with no screaming: set in a post-apocalyptic world, the Abbott family (headed up by real-life husband and wife duo John Krasinski and Emily Blunt; Krasinski also directs) are terrorised by shadowy creatures that will kill you if you make a sound. Cue an hour and a half of near silence and total suspense. Maybe don’t stock up on crunchy snacks for this one…
Light as a feather, stiff as a board… The Craft is the ’90s classic that never seems to get old. Bristling with teen angst – and female rage, making it supremely on brand for 2018 – it’s the classic high school movie gone goth: Sarah (Robin Tunney) moves to a new school for a fresh start, where she falls in with three outsiders (Neve Campbell, Rachel True and Fairuza Balk) who decide that she might just be what their coven has been missing. Revenge is exacted, ‘Manon’ is invoked, and brown lipstick is worn – The Craft‘s twisted sisterhood is just as compelling as when you first sneaked a VHS copy into your sleepover bag.
Billed as this year’s most frightening film (which is no mean feat), Hereditary has already garnered comparisons to classics like The Exorcist and The Shining. A terrifyingly claustrophobic rendering of a family grappling with their demons, in both the metaphorical and the most literal of senses, it follows Toni Collette’s Annie as she attempts to deal with the toxic legacy of her abusive mother – whose noxious influence seems to have turned her own young daughter against her, and into the arms of supernatural forces. In a genre flooded with lazy, gore-soaked franchises, Hereditary is a compelling standout.
Words: Katie Rosseinsky
This article originally appeared on Grazia.