Finding new good, unique horror films can be a challenge amidst the dumb schlock, so I compiled a list of some of the best of what’s out there. For those of you worried about just how scary these movies might be, I’ve taken the liberty to order them from from least scary to utterly terrifying. Granted, it’s a little subjective but I think everyone can find something to add to their lists this year (or when you’re looking for a little extra creepiness any time of the year).
1) Extraordinary Tales
Some of the best Halloween films are animated, and that doesn’t mean they’re short on creepy imagery. For the Edgar Allen Poe fans, this is a must watch. From The Tell-Tale Heart, to The Pit and the Pendulum, to the well-loved The Masque of the Red Death, the movie presents five of the horror master’s best stories. Every entry has a different art style, and with narrators like Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Lee, and Bela Lugosi, this spooky anthology will get you in the spirit of the season.
If you like just a little creepy mixed in with your funny, then this New Zealand film is for you. Kylie is forced to live with her mother and step-father after repeated theft charges, but she comes to find that her childhood home is a little weird than she remembers. Flickering lights, odd noises, and tales of childhood ghosts. This movie does have a happy ending, though there are enough little scares along the way to get that adrenaline pumping.
3) A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
This may technically be a vampire flick, but its more arthouse than horror. This Iranian-American production is a black-and-white Western that follows The Girl, a vampire who punishes men around the town who hurt others. She meets Arash, a poor and heartbroken boy who she falls in love with and convinces to leave town. Deeply atmospheric, more unsettling than terrifying, and at times a little weird, it’s definitely worth adding to include something more in-terror-national to the line-up.
4) Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Want the feel of a slasher movie without the terrifying, unstoppable villain to plague your nightmares? Tucker and Dale vs. Evil delivers. Featuring beloved sci-fi and voice actor Alan Tudyk and cult favorite Tyler Labine, the film follows two brothers who go to their summer house and save a young woman. Her friends think she’s been kidnapped and try to save her, only to die in a series of unlikely accidents that continue to implicate the brothers. The movie escalates with gorey deaths and wacky mishaps, supplying the audience with plenty of laughs, gasps and maybe a scream or two.
5) Ava’s Possession
Another horror comedy, this is one leans more dark and disturbing that the others, but it’s still very manageable. Ava has been possessed by a demon who has, basically, ruined her life. She’s not alone, however, as this is a fairly frequent occurrence in this world, and there is a support group that can help survivors rid themselves of their demon for good. A horror-satirical look at alcoholism and other addictions, Ava’s Possession is shockingly sincere and well-written. There are several twists and turns in the story as well as cool aesthetics and cinematography that will have you hooked.
Based off the indie novel Pontypool Changes Everything, this film follows the morning routine of radio DJ Grant Mazzy in the middle of snowy Ontario. However, it is the morning before the zombie apocalypse and soon, Mazzy, his manager, and a technical assistant are trapped in the studio. The infection is the most interesting — it’s not bodily fluids or an physical illness but something much more easily spread. There’s quite a bit of blood and gore, but the ingeniousness of it all is too good to pass up.
7) Session 9
Nothing screams creepy like an abandoned mental asylum, especially one that still houses some of the old records. An asbestos removal crew comes in to clean up the building, one of the workers finds tapes documenting a patient with dissociative identity disorder. However, something take a hold of one of the workers, and the rest of the crew is taken down one by one. The kind of movie that embodies both the look and feel of fall, Session 9 is a smart psychological thriller that will keep audiences on edge. One of the few asylum movies I would recommend, if only because it doesn’t totally exploit the mentally ill as cheap scares.
8) Dead Silence
Ever since I saw that ventriloquist dummy from Goosebumps, I have terrified of the stupid things. Those eyes, that mouth, the way they sit there and stare into your soul like they know when you’ll let your guard down just long enough to strike. This is the film that basically proves that feeling right. The film follows Jaime, a man accused of murdering his wife after a mysterious dummy turns up at the apartment. It leads him on a dark path to Mary Shaw, a famous ventriloquist who rips out the tongue of anyone who screams in her presence. Bound to send shivers up your spine if you hate dolls, urban legends, and the ghosts of old women looking for vengeance.
9) The Witch
What do you get when you mix seventeenth century zealotry with the daunting Northeastern wilderness? The Witch, a darkly atmospheric film that focuses on a family of settlers living on the edge of the woods. Crops die, misfortune falls, and mysterious figures in the wood steal the family’s youngest member. Combining paranoia, creepy imagery, and awful suspense, the ending that will have you either screaming in shock and running out the door. Must be the season of the witch, indeed.
10) The Babadook
This film is not for the faint of heart, as it starts to hit you within the first fifteen minutes. Starring Australia’s Essie Davis, best known as the titular character in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, the film looks at grief, loss, and death. The titular monster plagues a mother and her son in the wake of the husband’s death through the use of a storybook. From the terrible croaking, to its appearance around every corner, to that terrifying face, the Babadook is bound to become a classic monster within the next few years. Definitely don’t watch this alone in the dark, unless you’re extra brave.