22 Great Horror Films for Halloween
Watching horror films might seem like an odd coping strategy during these difficult times. However, a recent study reports that horror fans have coped well, if not better, than others during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are one of those folks who had Contagion on their "to watch" list, read on.
Here is a list of 20 great horror films to check out. You can re-visit our earlier list of horror classics as well. And let us know if we missed your favourite!
The Invisible Man (2020) Directed by Leigh Whannell. H.G. Wells' classic 1897 novel, The Invisible Man, is re-imagined for the #MeToo generation. Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) is frantic to convince others that her abusive husband (who is supposed to be dead) has turned himself invisible and is now stalking her.
Halloween (2018) Directed by David Gordon Green. Laurie Strode is 40 years wiser and suffering from PTSD when she faces her nemesis, psychopath Michael Myers. If you are that one person who hasn't seen John Carpenter's original Halloween, you are missing out on the best from this venerable franchise.
Train to Busan (2016) Directed by Yeon Sang-ho. A group of passengers face the zombie apocalypse on a train. This fast-paced Korean production was critically well-received and a strong addition to the zombie sub-genre popularized by George Romero's Dead series.
Peninsula (2020) Directed by Yeon Sang-ho. In this much-anticipated sequel to Train to Busan, Marine Captain Jung-Seok is given a mission to retrieve 20 million dollars hidden in an abandoned food truck. The catch? It's in a quarantined peninsula brimming with zombies. This film's Cannes' premier was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Contagion (2011) Directed by Steven Soderbergh. "You're watching what?" some friends asked me. But this film about a pandemic that spreads via respiratory droplets is understated, tightly-crafted, and praised for its scientific accuracy.
Quarantine (2008) Directed by John Erick Dowdle. Angela, a journalist, is doing a piece on firefighters with a cameraman in tow. She follows the crew on an emergency call to an apartment building with horrific results. This American remake of the 2007 Spanish film REC is part of the "found footage" sub-genre of horror films popularized by The Blair Witch Project.
Get Out (2017) Directed by Jordan Peele. This Oscar-winning horror film directed by half of the Key and Peele comedy duo is no laughing matter. If horror films serve as the dark mirror that reflects societal issues, Get Out addresses racism in America head-on.
Us (2019) Directed by Jordan Peele. The Wilsons go on vacation and are confronted by a creepy family of menacing doppelgängers. Although arguably not as politically cogent as his first film, Peele is emerging as a leader in the horror genre.
Hereditary (2018) Directed by Ari Aster. Aster's directorial debut is truly disturbing and takes family dysfunction to the next level. Something is definitely up with Grandma. Aster's use of sound and music is strikingly sinister.
Midsommar (2019) Directed by Ari Aster. A group of friends attend a Swedish pagan festival only to find themselves prisoners in a bizarre cult. This Swedish-USA production is visceral and showcases Aster's signature use of grotesque tableaus. Looking for Swedish cozy? Not a shred of Hygge here.
A Quiet Place (2018) Directed by John Krasinski. In a post-apocalyptic world, a family adapts to living in silence in order to avoid aliens who attack based on sound. Krasinski stars and directs in this stark departure from his best-known role as Jim Halpert in The Office.
Descent (2006) Directed by Neil Marshall. This British production about a group of women trapped in an uncharted cave during a spelunking trip is an intelligent, action-packed hidden gem. Heads up: "something" is in the cave with them.
Crimson Peak (2015 ) Directed by Guillermo del Toro. This gothic romance flourishes with del Toro's unmistakable style and strong performances by Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska who navigate the secrets of a Victorian haunted house.
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are ancient, weary vampires who cling to music, books and art in a changing world. Bibliophiles will relate to the tactile attachment to books and reading.
Insidious (2010) Directed by James Wan. The Lamberts have just moved into a new house when their son falls into a mysterious coma. Shortly after, things start to go bump in the night bringing terrifying visitations. This well-written and fun franchise continues with Insidious: Chapter 2, Insidious: Chapter 3, and Insidious: The Last Key.
It Follows (2014) Directed by David Robert Mitchell. Sexual encounters unleash a murderous entity in this well-reviewed low-budget indie film with stylistic homages to the films of John Carpenter and George Romero.
Pyewacket (2017) Directed by Adam MacDonald. After a terrible fight with her mother, a teenage girl obsessed with the occult summons the demon Pyewacket to kill her. This well-acted and tightly-scripted Canadian film is subtly frightening as it deals sensitively with its teenage subjects.
The Babadook (2014) Directed by Jennifer Kent. A traumatized widow struggles as her young son suffers night terrors, convinced that a menacing storybook character is real. This Australian film received strong critical reviews for its mounting psychological terror.
The Wailing (2016) Directed by Na Hong-jin. In a remote Korean town, a mysterious infection causes people to slaughter their own families. This critically-acclaimed Korean film requires an extra large bucket of popcorn - it runs 2 1/2 hours long.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) Directed by Edgar Wright. This British cult-film is one of the best horror comedies. Shaun (Simon Pegg) gets trapped in a pub during the zombie apocalypse in a biting satire that equally respects the conventions of the horror film.
It (2017) Directed by Andy Muschietti. No list would be complete without this film based on Stephen King's It. Seven children bond over their shared visions of a terrifying entity that manifests as a clown. The story continues in It: Chapter Two (2019) as the children return to the site of their terror as adults.
Still not scared? Here's some more films to check out: