Hannah Smith ’26
Halloween is arguably the holiday with the greatest collection of films, almost creating a genre of its own. Since there are so many movies to choose from, let this act as a guide to new horror films you may not have seen so you do not get lost in the abyss that is your watchlist.
To begin with honorable mentions that many of you may have already seen, this would not be a complete list without “Scream.” Whether you watch it once or a thousand times, nothing compares to the meta-masterpiece that introduced the world to one of the greatest killer masks in cinematic history. If you only have 30 minutes to spare, that is more than enough time to watch Robert Pattinson hide in the shadows during the opening scene of “The Batman” and the party scene in “The Karate Kid” where Ralph Macchio is dressed up like a shower. If you are in the mood to make fun of a movie, you should try out “Exam Day” and “House on Haunted Hill” (1959).
However, an often ignored subgenre of horror is horror-comedy. “Shaun of the Dead” follows a group of friends as they try to escape a zombie apocalypse that broke out in their quaint town just outside of London. The characters of this film are truly hilarious and the parody element of zombies as a premise makes for a nonstop good time.
Next up is “What We Do in the Shadows,” a mockumentary about a group of vampires who are trying to figure out how to live as normal members of society in the 21st century. They, of course, only go out at night, hate werewolves, and will only enter a club with an invitation. If you like this movie, you should definitely watch the television series by the same name.
The 90s and early 2000s are famous for their iconic teen movies filled with high schoolers that are well into their twenties. Add some jumpscares into that and you have these next two films. “I Know What You Did Last Summer” is a mixture of “Scream” and “Outer Banks” and it is so much fun. While it does take place around the Fourth of July, the four main characters could work really well for a group costume at this year’s Halloween parties.
Another film with just as much teen angst is “Final Destination.” The only thing I will tell you about this movie is that this is a real quote spoken by a middle-aged mortician that is friends with the high schoolers: “You have to realize that we’re just a mouse that a cat has by the tail. Every single move we make, from the mundane to the monumental, the red light that we stop at or run, the people we have sex with or want with us, the airplanes that we ride or walk out of, it’s all part of death’s sadistic design. Leading to the grave.” And it just gets better from there.
Additionally, Japan boasts its fair share of some of the most horrifying and brilliant movies of all time. One of my personal favorites is “House” (1977). There is no right way to describe this film. It is one of a kind. People have called it experimental comedy horror, but I do not think that does it justice. It is one of the most visually striking horror movies I have seen with one of the most unique plots that I will not even attempt to describe. With that being said, I cannot recommend this enough.
If you are an anime fan, you might like “Perfect Blue.” I will start by saying this is not something you should watch with your parents. It follows a young girl who has decided to step away from her life as a pop idol to become an actress. This film should not be underestimated for that description alone. “Perfect Blue” is a mind-bending representation of paranoia, insomnia, existentialism, celebrity culture, and twisted identity. “Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum” is a Korean found-footage film that also deals with fame and the dangers that comes with it. The film does not show very much of what is causing the horror, but the fear created by the eerie settings and powerful acting performances gives the audience an unrelenting viewing experience.
Moving west, these European films are very strange recommendations, but they are definitely worth a watch, even if it is just to tell people you have watched them. “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” is a silent German film from 1920 and is widely considered the first horror movie in history. Watching it is an insane experience in and of itself; it is almost like a David Lynch film during the German Expressionism movement. So if you want to be completely weirded out and strangely enthralled, I think you would love it. Also, “Suspiria” (1977) is an Italian film that was remade in 2018. Both films have remarkable visuals and tell a twisted story of witchcraft in the confines of a dance company. If that was not appealing enough, both films are spoken in English, so there is no need to worry about reading the subtitles fast enough.
Lastly is an Australian film, “The Babadook,” which I can only describe as a combination of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”, “The Conjuring 2,” and “Insidious.” I will warn you, there is an aggressively annoying little boy in this movie, but it is very effective as a narrative device.
These final films should be talked about far more than they are right now. “Ready or Not” is an incredibly violent reimagining of a children’s game. It is funny, suspenseful, thrilling, and completely unlike anything I have seen before. The main character is also one of the coolest final girls I have seen in any horror movie, of course after any role played by Jamie Lee Curtis. I will not tell you anything about this final film because it needs to be seen with absolutely no prior knowledge going into it. It is called “The Cabin in the Woods” and that is all I will say.