Halloween has always struck many cultures such as the Celts, pre-Columbian populations, and Wicca cults to name a few as a time of great spiritual unrest. In Celtic mythology it is said that at the end of October, right before winter would begin to descend, spirits would come into this mortal realm from their eternal sleep and wreak havoc among the living. To modern mortals, the Halloween season has become a season known for poor quality, multi-million dollar budgeted, jump-scare-fest horror movies that don’t deserve the title ‘horror’ unless you are more concerned with the price of the ticket you bought. Nowadays the only way you can discover the true meaning of spook-phoria is if you do a little bit of digging outside the realm of popular movies like the Paranormal Activity franchise, the Final Destination series, and all of the Scream movies. I personally don’t get scared easily, so I have picked these movies based on aesthetic appeal, production quality, and whether or not they are able to actually make me feel a slight shiver.
- The Babadook. It’s probably the best movie I have seen all year, and that compares even to the likes of Interstellar. The Babadook took a different spin on your classic horror film, using unique film techniques to map the perfect descent of a mother and son into the absolute chaos that is themselves. The Babadook was expertly crafted as a horror movie and as a general symbol for the horrifying destructive power of grief.
- American Psycho. By now I am beginning to wish there could be movies tied at the top, since this movie really impressed me. Christian Bale played a severely narcissistic serial killer trying (or rather not trying that hard near the end) to cover up his affinity for gruesome murders. What I loved about this movie more than the charming 1980’s skyscraper aesthetic and the office rivalry between who had the best business card was Christian Bale’s downright convincing role as Patrick Bateman.
- The Silence of the Lambs. A horror movie classic and referred to by at least one person I know as the best movie of all time, this movie was and continues to be an inspiration for other films and shows such as the famous character Dana Scully from The X Files. Inspired by the cases of historical serial killers, Anthony Hopkins played the perfectly terrifying psychopath Hannibal Lecter whose trust and confidence F.B.I agent Clarice Starling must gain to understand the mind of the serial killer she is trying to track down. Overall The Silence of the Lambs is one of my personal favorite movies, and something I would definitely recommend to those seeking a psychological scare.
- The Awakening. Fourth on the list is a recent BBC film that caught my eye on Netflix. A rather boorishly named film, The Awakening completely changed my opinion on ghost stories in general due to its Shyamalan-esque twists and superb acting. Fair warning: don’t watch it expecting a late eighteenth century version of Paranormal Activity because it revolves around the characters’ personalities and how they interact and clash (Also, this isn’t higher on the list because the story line relies on a controversial and most likely false aspect of human behavior, but I will let you watch it and see for yourself, since I do not give out spoilers).
- Kill Bill. A classic marital arts film by Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill isn’t typically considered a horror film, but it is a wildly entertaining movie to watch with friends or by yourself (your choice, do whatever you want). Kill Bill is the story of a woman who tried to escape the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad to start a new life, and after her squad takes her unborn baby and almost kills her, she seeks vengeance.
- The Others. As yet another paranormal film, The Others did not spark any new fears of ghosts for me; however, this movie rests comfortably at the bottom of the list because of its superb lighting and great performance by Nicole Kidman (despite her very poor British accent). The Others takes place almost solely in a wealthy family’s mansion in post WWII Britain, where in the plot of the film, the setting is the most crucially overlooked aspect.
- Tucker and Dale vs Evil. With purposeful bad acting and effects, Tucker and Dale vs Evil was probably one of the most childishly entertaining horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. The story line revolves around two redneck best friends who get caught up in a horrifying turn of events brought on by overly superstitious college-aged kids who believe the two buds are psychotic hillbilly murderers. Tucker and Dale‘s goofy and ironic nature brought it a somewhat substantial cult following on the internet, and as a lighthearted film provides as a decent conclusion to the list.