Five Recent Horror Movies to Watch This Halloween
It’s that time of year again to sit down with your significant others and scare the hell out of them by watching a few horror movies. While the usuals (Psycho, The Exorcist, Alien and The Shining) are always welcome, I’ve compiled a list of five horror movies made in the last 10 years that you should experience.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
This is a film that needs to be seen if nothing more than to witness the sheer genius of the plot. The title suggests it’s yet another cliched horror movie with the usual tropes of scantily-clad women wandering off by themselves, backwoods southerners being totally insane and morons reading passages from creepy old books.
Actually, all of those things happen in The Cabin in the Woods and yet they are there for a reason. The characters in this movie are mere guinea pigs in a world set up for them to fail and when a few of them defy the odds, they risk not only destroying the labyrinth they’ve been lured to, but potentially causing bigger problems for everyone else.
The Cabin in the Woods is scary, funny, inventive and meta. It’s one of the most original films released in the past ten years. When was the last time you said that about a horror movie?
It Follows (2014)
Speaking of genius plots. It Follows is another spooky tale featuring familiar visuals but with an entirely new spin on the genre. It Follows centers around Jay (Maika Monroe), a sweet high school girl who finds herself in a deadly predicament after she contracts a sexually-transmitted death sentence after giving herself up to a boy.
But her disease is much worse than your usual “STD” as a ghoulish apparition begins to stalk her wherever she goes. If “it” catches up to her, she’ll die unless she sleeps with someone else thus passing the curse onto them. Of course if they die, it goes right back for her.
The concept of It Follows is brilliant and it’s a cross between Final Destination and something John Carpenter would have made in the ’70s. It’s a slow-paced film, but the creepiness of it mixed with a brilliant ’80s-infused musical score gets under your skin to the point where you might actually think someone is following you. It Follows is the very definition of foreboding.
The Crazies (2010)
George A. Romero movies have been remade before, but when Breck Eisner released his version of The Crazies back in 2010, few thought it would be any good. But the remake, starring Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, is surprisingly well-shot, suspenseful and bleak.
Olyphant plays the sheriff of a small Midwestern town who becomes the center of an unknown plague that has infected the locals and forced them to turn on one another. But even when it appears to be clear who’s good and who’s bad, the line is eventually obliterated leaving no one to trust.
The Crazies is a dour movie, but there’s no time to feel depressed thanks to the terrific pace and creative set pieces (You may never want to use a car wash again) shot by a relatively inexperienced director in Eisner.
You may not have any faith left in humanity afterwards, but The Crazies is still worth a watch.
Let the Right One In (2008)
You don’t often see romantic children vampire movies, but the swedish film Let the Right One In falls into that specific genre.
The film follows Oskar, a 12-year-old boy constantly bullied at school and without any friends. But when he meets a very unique girl named Eli, not only does he fall in love, but he soon realizes what he’ll have to do to have any kind of future with this girl.
Let the Right One In is a slow burn and it relies on atmosphere and mood to captivate viewers. Set in the early ’80s in Stockholm, director Tomas Alfredson takes American audiences to a place they’ve never seen. The cold, snowy landscapes are reminiscent of Kubrick’s The Shining and the violence is mostly suggestive until a shocking ending involving a swimming pool that needs to be seen to be believed.
There was an American remake called Let Me In that was released in 2011 and while it too is creepy and compelling, stick with the original as long as you don’t mind subtitles.
The Babadook (2014)
I wrote about this one recently, but it’s appropriate to bring it up again. The Babadook is the best horror film I’ve ever seen. Period.
Now what does best mean? Is it the scariest movie I’ve ever seen? Perhaps not. But if you’re talking about story, acting, direction and scares, The Babadook is perfect in every facet.
The film follows Amelia and her young son Samuel. After a tragedy rocks the family, Amelia is forced to raise the boy on her own which proves to be quite the challenge as he is a handful.
His constant fear of monsters lead to violent outbreaks in public including school and at Amelia’s sister’s house forcing her to control the boy alone in their house. One of the few things that calms him down is a bedtime story.
But when Amelia grabs an unfamiliar book called The Babadook from the shelf, she quickly realizes it’s not for children and attempts to get rid of it either by simply throwing it in the trash or burning it. But she can’t get rid of The Babadook as it begins to manifest itself into Amelia and Samuel’s world.
Seriously, this film is Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby, Carrie, The Exorcist and The Shining all rolled into one and I don’t just mean the scares. This is a great film about a woman struggling to come to terms with what her life has become and the monster acts as a metaphor for her facing those demons.
Speaking of the monster, it’s unlike anything you’ve seen on film. It’s a mixture of a German expressionistic nightmare crossed with Jack the Ripper and director Jennifer Kent expertly picks and chooses when to reveal parts of it. When it does arrive, it’s often at the edge of the frame resulting in a more terrifying experience because you have no idea exactly where it is or when it might attack.
Essie Davis is extraordinary as the mother and while the ending isn’t particularly happy, you do feel a sense of rehabilitation for this mother and son that is certainly unique, but ultimately appropriate.
If you feel compelled to watch any of the movies I’ve recommended, pick The Babadook first. You won’t regret it. Probably.