October means many things: Colorful leaves, pumpkin-flavored everything, and, of course, Halloween. If you’re looking for a cheap thrill to get you in the mood but would prefer not to visit a haunted house, we’ve picked out some of the best horror movies on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, Peacock, and IMDb TV. Turn off the lights, turn on the TV, and settle in for a spooky Halloween marathon.
Before he turned gothic horror into mainstream hits with The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, filmmaker Mike Flanagan co-wrote and directed this 2016 home-intruder thriller starring Hill House actress Kate Siegel, who also co-wrote the script with Flanagan. The film follows a deaf-mute novelist (Siegel) who finds herself pursued by a murderous stalker while staying at her remote house in the woods. Critically praised for its nearly dialogue-free story and creative use of sound, Hush is widely regarded as a modern horror masterpiece of cinema.
Train to Busan
What’s scarier than snakes on a plane? The fees to check a bag these days, for one, but also zombies on a train. That’s the scenario Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) and his daughter Su-an (Kim Su-an) face when they board a train to Busan at the exact moment a zombie outbreak occurs. Now they, and some other survivors, must navigate train cars crawling with the undead as the train speeds toward safety. Zombies may seem like a dead horse at this point, but Train to Busan injects some fresh blood into the concept, offering a claustrophobic, pulse-pounding survival story.
The worst thing you can do in a horror movie — outside of maybe splitting up or stumbling into the basement — is to have sex. Nothing draws the attention of a movie monster like the sound of young people in the throes of passion. For Jay (Maika Monroe), a night with her shady boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary), has life-threatening consequences, as Hugh reveals that he has passed on to her a curse, which entails a shapeshifting creature that will pursue her, slowly but unstoppably, until it catches her or she passes the curse on to someone else. With the help of her friends, Jay struggles to stay on the move and find the origin of the curse. It Follows takes a simple concept — it’s creepy to have a stranger staring at you — and builds a great horror movie around it. Director David Robert Mitchell employs a number of techniques to heighten the terror, manipulating the camera to keep audiences guessing as to whether anyone in the background of any scene could be the creature.
Jordan Peele wrote and directed this 2019 film about a family whose beach vacation is interrupted by a group of murderous doppelgängers. The film casts Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex as the family who finds themselves battling twisted reflections of themselves, with Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker playing supporting roles. Widely praised for its cast’s dual performances and Peele’s expert handling of the sociopolitical themes that lurk beneath the story’s home-invasion tale, Us was a critical and commercial hit when it arrived in theaters.
Remaking a classic film is always an audacious move, but Luca Guadagnino sticks the landing with his take on Dario Argento’s delirious Suspiria. Set in Berlin during the Cold War, the film follows Susie (Dakota Johnson), a new student at the prestigious Markos dance school. A gifted dancer, Susie impresses the school’s artistic director, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), but little does she know, she’ll be lucky to make it to graduation. A student has gone missing, and rumors abound that the Markos troupe is a front for a coven of witches who have need of young bodies. Suspiria is a gorgeous film, full of striking images and deft camera movement, and like the Markos school, that beauty hides grotesque horror.
The Cabin in the Woods
It’s best to go into a viewing of The Cabin in the Woods knowing as little as possible, as the twists and turns of director and co-writer Drew Goddard’s 2011 film really are something special. It doesn’t spoil anything to reveal that the film follows a group of college friends who decide to vacation at a remote cabin the woods. As one might expect, given the movie’s presence on this list, things don’t go as planned, and the friends soon find themselves fighting for their lives. Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, and Jesse Williams star in the film, with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford playing supporting roles.
For Annie Graham (Toni Collette), her mother’s death is sad, but what comes after is a nightmare. As Annie tries to move on via a support group, she processes her mother’s strange behavior throughout her life and the impact it’s had on her. Trauma seeps down through the generations, however, and the shadow Annie’s mother cast could swallow her entire family. Hereditary is a complicated horror movie, a blend of paranoid possession story and intense family drama. It’s a film that won’t just frighten you, but emotionally batter you in the process.
Ti West’s The Innkeepers begins in a strangely relaxed fashion for a horror movie, introducing the viewer to Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn. It is the last night before the hotel closes down forever, and with business at a crawl, that the two are free to spend their night talking and goofing off. It could be the start of any slacker-comedy, and the casual opening helps define the characters before the movie kicks into gear, as Claire and Luke decide to spend their last night on the job investigating the inn’s resident ghost, a woman who killed herself after being left at the altar. From here, the film plays out in typical ghost story fashion; the duo use sound equipment to detect paranormal activity, a psychic shows up and warns them of danger, objects move on their own. West’s firm direction and careful pacing elevate the film above its formula, however, making for an eerie tale.
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives In the House
Osgood Perkins’ haunted house film begins in darkness, with crackly narration as a woman dresses in white drifts into frame. From there, the camera wanders through a house at night, a small circle of dull light revealing the interior. The story proper doesn’t begin until roughly four minutes in, but I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is far more concerned with atmosphere than plot, and that droning intro establishes a tone of pure dread. The film follows Lily (Ruth Wilson), a young nurse assigned to take care of elderly author Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss). Lily is a bundle of nerves, and Iris’ house, full of foreboding doorways and oppressive shadows, wreak havoc on her mind, as do the strange noises she hears at night. This is a slowly paced film, one that gently cranks up the tension, rather than offering a series of bloody climaxes. It’s the cinematic equivalent of the climb at the start of a roller coaster, stretched out for an hour and a half.
An adaptation of a Stephen King novella, Gerald’s Game follows a couple’s romantic getaway as it goes horribly wrong. Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald Burlingame (Bruce Greenwood) spend the weekend at a remote lake house, hoping to rekindle their relationship. Gerald wants to spice up their evening with some bondage, handcuffing Jessie to the bed. So far, so good. Gerald gets a little too rough, however, and in the middle of an argument, he dies of a heart attack, leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed with no help for miles. As dehydration sets in, she begins to see visions of Gerald, taunting her, and must think of a way out. With its limited setting and cast, Gerald’s Game is a taut, constricting thriller built around an outstanding performance from Gugino.
This classic, franchise-spawning horror movie opens on Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) solving an ornate puzzle box. When he completes it, hooked chains appear and rend him to bits. Frank’s brother (Andrew Robinson) later moves into his house, along with his wife, Julia (Clare Higgins); and daughter, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence). After Larry cuts his hand during the move, the spilled blood resurrects Frank, who sets about consuming people in order to restore his body. If Kirsty is to survive and send Frank back to Hell, she must use the puzzle box and strike a deal with its nightmarish owners. Hellraiser is a gruesome work of body horror. Despite the gory special effects, however, it’s a methodical film, unfolding in a slow but unrelenting fashion.
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