Crikey! It’s been a while. But with Halloween just around the corner it’s about time I shared a few overlooked frightening films, spooky stories, and monstrous movies. Now before I get lost under my own smug alliteration, let’s get cracking!
There’s no better way to start a Halloween movie night than with a traditional ghost story, and The Changeling is a perfect example of one. A composer loses his family in a tragic accident, and moves to a secluded manor house. Whilst there, he is visited by the spectre of a child. An atmospheric slow-burner, the payoff is worth the wait. Whatever you do, don’t go in the attic.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
If you’d rather have something more light-hearted, try this instead. Two hillbillies take a well-earned holiday by a woodland lake. Unfortunately, their plans are ruined by the unfortunate arrival of a bunch of college teens. A wonderful horror subversion, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a trope-playing laugh riot. I’ve posted a scene rather than the trailer below, as it is best to go into this film blind, to experience it all fresh.
Keeping with the rural theme, Jug Face is an interesting, character-driven horror. Living in the middle of the woods, a small commune worships a strange pit in the ground. The pit grants prosperity, growth, peace, but only as long as it gets what it wants in return – sacrifices. Ada learns that she is to be the next sacrifice, and tries to hide it from the rest of her family. Can she escape from what her religion demands?
Disclaimer: don’t watch this film when eating. The inhabitants of a Chesapeake Bay town start falling under strange and deadly afflictions. Could it be tied to the deaths of a pair of environmental researchers? Told in a found footage style, from a series of different accounts, The Bay follows the mould of Jaws – the dangers of nature overlooked by complacent leaders.
This Swiss sci-fi horror knows how to build tension. A skeleton crew keeps a deep-space cargo vessel running. Laura, one of this crew, stays sane through talking with her sister, who lives on the paradise world of Rhea. However, it becomes apparent that there is another being on the ship. The setting is perfect, the isolation and the dark industrial look keeping viewers on the edge.
Noroi: The Curse
This Japanese mockumentary already has a fearsome reputation, but it’s yet to break into the top echelons of horror imports. An investigative reporter looks into a series of strange events – supposedly psychic children, disappearances, deaths. What he discovers leads him to try and stop the manifestation of a terrible demon. Genuinely unsettling, Noroi is a real treat.
Peter Jackson is, of course, best known for his work with the Lord of the Rings films. If you’re a horror fan you’ve probably seen – and loved – his earlier gory works, such as Dead Alive and Bad Taste. One film that is often overlooked, though, is comedy The Frighteners. Teaming up with Robert Zemeckis as Executive Producer, the film has a wonderful cartoonish, chaotic vibe for fans of Ghostbusters or Gremlins.
If you prefer something high-concept in your horror, then try Antiviral. Directed by Brandon Cronenberg, son of the acclaimed body horror master David Cronenberg, Antiviral shows us a world where celebrity culture and genetic engineering have disastrously combined – allowing true fans to infect themselves with the same strains of disease as their idols. It’s a fantastic debut, a terrifying world imagined well – Antiviral is bound to get under your skin.
A low-budget English horror, Lie Still follows John Hare, unemployed and recently single. He moves into an old apartment building, but soon realises that he may not be alone. Extremely low-key, it’s a surprisingly effective film, helped by the suitably dark setting and tapping into genuine fears of what goes bump in the night.
A historical horror, Sauna is a Finnish film set at the end of a war between Russia and Sweden. Whilst negotiating new borders, two brothers come across a village in the middle of some marshlands. There, they are faced to confront the acts they have committed. Bleak yet artistic, with a fantastic and open-ended plot, Sauna is a real gem – not only terrifying, but a great film all round.
Have a Happy Halloween, everyone! And guess what? There are more horror recommendations to come!