In my opinion, there is simply no time of year that is better than spooky season. Something about October just makes me go absolutely feral. Particularly because I have a deep-rooted and passionate love of horror movies. Nothing really hits the spot like pouring yourself a tall mug of tea, burrowing into a blanket, and watching some group of unfortunate souls meet a grisly end. Listed below are my top recommendations for hosting the perfect Halloween movie night or scaring yourself silly in cozy solitude.
The Ritual (2017)
The Ritual follows a group of men who embark on a strenuous hiking trip in order to commemorate the anniversary of their friend’s death. As personal tensions grow among the hiking party, they are plagued by bizarre and disturbing events. Before they know it, their numbers are dwindling and their personal grudges and vendettas become the least of their worries. Think of The Ritual as a deranged and complex companion to The Blair Witch Project . Lots of spooky imagery, a fascinating monster, and a compelling commentary on the nature of grief make this thrilling, grisly walk in the woods well worth the while.
Wrong Turn (2021)
Equal parts survival suspense, vacation gone wrong, and cult thriller, Wrong Turn is surprisingly successful at dabbling in an eclectic collection of horror tropes to create something entirely original. After embarking on a rigorous hike across an infamous mountain, a group of college students encounter a primitive, violent society that has been unknown for centuries. Wrong Turn was such an unexpected film. By the time the credits rolled, I kind of felt like I’d just watched three different movies, but in a way that made for an extremely fun viewing experience. Gleefully chaotic and surprisingly original, Wrong Turn is a rollicking, guffaw-inducing horror adventure that never ceases to surprise.
The Rental (2020)
If you’ve ever felt a teensy bit uneasy while renting an AirBNB or vacation home, The Rental will make you wanna run for the hills. When a pair of brothers and their significant others check into a beautiful lake house for a weekend getaway, they have no idea that their vacation is about to be sabotaged in more ways than one. After a night of partying gone wrong, a sinister secret is revealed about the house, and paranoia causes the group to spiral. I love having my expectations upended and twisted into something completely new, and I was not disappointed. The Rental takes a basic premise and turns it on its head, introducing unseen twists one after the other. By the time the credits roll, you’ll be spooked, whiplashed, and probably won’t think about planning a vacation anytime soon.
Just based on the title, I knew this movie would be terrifying, but I had absolutely no idea what I was in for. Men follows Harper, a troubled woman who retreats to an isolated house in the countryside to grieve the death of her husband. Over the course of her weekend getaway, a bizarre series of interactions with the town’s locals grow increasingly disturbing. Men’s final act was one of the strangest, most jaw-dropping things I’ve ever witnessed in a horror film, and I mean that as a compliment of the highest degree. Men had very mixed reviews, and I completely understand why. There’s a fine line between originality and full out absurdity, and Men didn’t bother to tiptoe or pull any punches. When it comes to horror, I personally think that weirder is better, and Men fits the bill with a violent gusto.
As Above, So Below (2014)
Think National Treasure but in a treacherous maze of Parisian catacombs that lead to the underworld. What starts off as a found footage adventure chronicling a group of history buffs/treasure seekers quickly descends into a claustrophobic, otherworldly nightmare. The unique combo of the gritty found-footage and extremely bizzare escape sequences hit the sweet spot for me. The setting was delightfully creepy and the fun treasure hunting element successfully distinguished As Above, So Below from many recent found-footage horror efforts. I’ve watched a lot of horror movies, and As Above, So Below was truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Lights Out (2016)
If you’re afraid of the dark, Lights Out will legitimize every prickle of paranoia you’ve ever felt while hurrying to your car in a dark parking lot or walking down a dimly lit hallway. Part ghost story, part creature feature, Lights Out follows a family who is plagued by a mysterious monster that can only be seen in the dark. Lights Out’s clever concept and building sense of unease make for an extremely spine-tingling watch. After watching Lights Out, I never viewed the dark the same way again, meaning that I didn’t want to view it at all. For full impact, watch this film in a questionable, poorly lit location, like a dark alley or shadowy warehouse.
In conclusion, I’m not saying that I’m a horror movie expert, but I am heavily implying it. There’s so much to love about the horror genre, and October is the perfect time to gather a group of brave friends and spread the spooky love.
All Images courtesy of IMDB.com