Top 10 horror films to stream for Halloween
As autumn arrives, there’s an undeniable chill in the air. The leaves are changing and the daylight is fleeting as darkness begins to take over. The warmth of summer is in the rear-view and holiday cheer seems impossibly far away; we are left stranded in the terrifying in-between.
On the bright side, it’s the perfect time for spooky movies!
I love the horror genre. Not from a sadistic perspective or because I find them particularly scary. You’re as unlikely to find my smiling and salivating at gore as you are to find me hiding under the covers or screaming at a jump-scare.
But when done correctly, horror movies can be the most immersive and exciting film experience available. Nothing captures all five senses – or sometimes six – quite like a psychological thriller or a well-timed twist ending. I can’t get enough of the stuff.
So as we enter the season where horror gets a heightened enthusiasm, let’s count down the best films on the most popular streaming services.
Check these out… IF YOU DARE!!
The Witch (Amazon Prime)
The Witch is the most horrifying movie I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t have many jump-scares and the pace is relatively slow, but that does little in the way of lessening its terror. A beautifully-shot film about the perils of isolation, The Witch has a certain slow-burn haunt that will stick with you well after the credits roll. As an aside, I’d recommend throwing on the subtitles for this one. The entire film is in old English, with lines like: “what went we into this wilderness to find.” But don’t let that deter you! The dialog isn’t overly important, it’s more about the look and feel; a shot-for-shot masterpiece.
Donnie Darko (Netflix)
Donnie Darko has a little bit of everything, elevating it above most of the films in the genre. The scares and the laughs are both there, offering enough surface-level enjoyment for those looking for that sort of thing. For those who prefer more depth and rewatchability, Donnie Darko’s got that by the barrelful. There’s plenty of mystery and perceived-symbolism to keep the fan theories coming, and the film takes on a different meaning with each viewing. Donnie Darko should be a staple in your Halloween movie queue.
The Canal (Amazon Prime)
This is a bit of a deep cut but it’s worth it, I swear. The Canal is a terrifying reimagining of the classic ghost story. A young couple moves into a haunted house and things take a turn for the worse. It may not sound like the most original plot, but it extends far beyond its cliché beginnings. With a powerful performance from lead Rupert Evans, this one finishes strong and commands your attention throughout.
The horror genre is a broad one. The best movies don’t always share the same characteristics, as evident by the diversity of this list. At times, it’s the creepiness that drives a good horror film. Other times, it’s the humor. And sometimes, it’s the deeper message that carries a scary movie outside the confines of a specific genre and into the realm of great movies. That’s how I feel about Donnie Darko and that’s how I feel about Raw. I don’t want to dive into the plot because I went into my first-watch blind and I think it enhanced the experience. I suggest you do the same. Just a heads up… this is a foreign–language but so much of the appeal is visual that it shouldn’t matter too much. Don’t let that stop you from seeing this film.
The Shining (Netflix)
Stephen King has had an insane amount of works adapted to the big screen. In the horror genre alone, Carrie, IT, Pet Sematary, and Children of the Corn come to mind. Well for my money, The Shining stands above them all. Stanley Kubrick has his finger prints all over this one and that’s a good thing. There’re hidden messages about the plight of the Native Americans and a faked moon landing which add a certain aura of mystery beyond the plot. But even the pure filmmaking details are engrossing. Take, for example, the internal office with the external window or the impossible hallway meant to disorient the viewer. I’d highly recommend pairing The Shining with the 2013 documentary, entitled “Room 237,” but that’s expert level stuff. Start with The Shining.
What We Do in the Shadows (Amazon Prime)
Halloween can be fun too! The comedy-horror genre is a vast and rangy one. Shaun of the Dead would certainly be on this list if you could find it on a free streaming service. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is on Netflix and that just barely missed the cut. But I had to include What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary about four vampires living together in New Zealand. Starring Jemaine Clement, one half of the brilliant Flight of the Conchords, this thing reads like an MTV True Life episode and I loved every minute of it. There’s a particularly funny cameo by the amazing Rhys Darby as well. This one is a winner if you’re looking for a break from the scares.
It Follows (Netflix)
Music can do wonders in setting the tone of a movie. In the horror genre, it’s all the more crucial. In fact, if you’re looking for a scary soundtrack to play for trick or treaters on Halloween night, steer clear of your basic Spotify playlist and throw this on the ol’ blue tooth. Shout out to the New York based Disasterpeace. Beyond simply sounding great, It Follows is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in years. It’s become a staple of my October viewing and it should be a staple of yours as well. Read into the STD and/or sexual assault symbolism all you want. At the end of the day, this is just a well done, scary ass movie that you should watch before Halloween. Also, after Halloween and over and over throughout the year.
Carrie (Amazon Prime)
Back to the classics! Carrie – originally released in 1976 – is as scary today as it was back then. A tale of bullying and abuse both at the hands of her classmates and her manipulative mother, the overarching themes are as emotionally heavy as they are layered. The suspense is built not by tense music or dark rooms, but rather by the slow-pushing of a human being to the edge of sanity. You’re waiting for Carrie to snap the entire film, and when she finally does… oh boy. I’m yet to see the Chloe Grace Moretz remake but I heard it was bad. Watch the original.
Rosemary’s Baby (Starz)
Simply put, Mia Farrow turns in one of the best performances in horror movie history. You’ve got Sissy Spacek as Carrie, Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance and Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse. That’s the unholy trinity of timeless horror leads. I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t watched Rosemary’s Baby until a couple years ago. But after watching it once, it became immediately clear why it was so beloved. I’ll be honest… a lot of the old stuff doesn’t hold up in 2018, especially if you hadn’t seen it when you were younger. Without the nostalgia factor, some of these ‘classics’ are just slow-pace snooze-fests. Trust me, I watched Nosferatu in preparation for this blog. But Rosemary’s Baby is every bit as creepy in 2018 as I’m sure it was in 1968. Starz is a bit of a stretch in terms of ‘streaming services’ but I’m throwing it on there anyway.
Creep & Creep 2 (Netflix)
I’ll end with a Netflix twofer to make up for the whole “Starz” thing. Mark Duplass is a weird dude and that plays perfectly in this soon-to-be trilogy. A found-footage film with a twist, Creep was absolutely captivating upon first watch. You’re kept on the edge of your seat throughout the film, wondering – like the main character – whether or not you can trust what’s being presented to you. Creep 2 takes moves the story along cleverly, acting as a true sequel rather than a remake with a couple of changed details. There have been reports that the script for Creep 3 is being worked on as we speak, so we all have that to look forward to. And there’s your list! Watch one, watch all, just make sure you celebrate the holiday with a little spookiness this year.