Frankly, I’m a huge chicken when it comes to horror films. So I asked some of my steel-nerved friends to recommend their favourite Halloween Picks for you (some of which are pretty niche, too). Enjoy getting the living crap scared out of you!
My all time favourite horror film is Nightmare on Elm Street. It deserves its place among the classics because Freddy Kruger is such a great villain: who isn’t afraid that his nightmares might become reality?
Even though I have a thick skin when it comes to horror, there have been some films that left me so terrified I had to sleep with the light on, like Stephen King’s It and the Chucky movies – anything involving demonic dolls, clowns or stuffed animals makes my skin crawl.
Another film I thought was really well done is The Conjuring because it is very realistic and does without over the top effects. You feel like the story could have happened.
By now, I have seen so many horror movies, I’m having trouble finding new ones worth watching. Thus, as a true horror movie expert, let me give you the following advice: never ever in a million years watch The Exorcism of Emily Rose while you’re home alone. Bad idea; I had to learn this the hard way. In the movie, the ‘bad spirits’ appear at the witching hour, which is at 3am each night. I woke up at exactly that time for half a week after watching the movie. Verdict: Not recommended for the faint-hearted.
A somewhat unconventional and also slightly weird (well, now that I think about it, the category ‘weird’ probably applies to 99,9% of all horror movies) is the fairly new Knock Knock. The film depicts pure psycho-terror, which keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Besides, you practically keep rooting for the bad guys, i.e. two totally deranged girls, instead of the perfectly nice family dad. These girls are just so insane that you can’t wait to see what new ideas they come up with in order to torture their (almost) innocent victim. Despite the humour, however, the film is so creepy that you start doubting every stranger who ever happens to ring your doorbell.
My all-time favourite horror movies, however are those comprising the Norwegian Cold Prey trilogy. The films contain every cliché that’s typical of a horror movie (minus unnecessarily large amounts of blood and supernatural elements) but at the same time transfer the perfect atmosphere: dark, oppressive and simply disquieting, which is exactly what I’m looking for in a good shocker! The best part? All three instalments are equally worth your ninety minutes of apprehension time.
My number one horror film, and don’t mistake this for praise, is Darkness Falls. It really is horrifying. For three months after watching this film, I was afraid of the dark and had trouble sleeping. I realise that a film where the tooth fairy is the villain doesn’t sound particularly scary, but the way it instrumentalises the obscure really tugged on my nerves. I never saw the film again and I am certainly not planning on it in the future!!!
The Ring was also an outstanding viewing experience for me. It shook me to my core because it has a great cast, an actual story (editor’s note: it’s essentially a cautionary tale about child abuse) and a creepy villain in Samarah. Her strange, unnatural movements send shivers down your spine. The fact that she’s a child makes it worse because as a viewer you do wish for her salvation but she is just plain evil.
Another film that really scared me is one that technically doesn’t classify as a horror film: The Purge. The thought that this might one day become reality terrifies me. The film deals with the question how evil people really are as well as the dangers of a two-class system. Who is to say whether “Purges” might some day become what the gladiator games used to be in ancient Rome…
One of my all time favourite films to watch on Halloween is The Addams Family (& The Addams Family Values). What scares many of of more than any flesh-devouring monster? That’s right, people messing with your family and trying to steal all your money. In these American Gothic comedies from the 90s, based on the original 60s TV show, the eponymous family has to deal with these rather mundane dangers, and they do so quite efficiently and, of course, hilariously. Full of loveable, eccentric characters, the movies are wonderfully spoopy, paying homage to the genre classics, while brilliantly satirizing American society.
Let’s be real – mistaking demonic possession in a twelve-year-old girl for pubescent shenanigans at best or some psychiatric condition at worst is an honest mistake. At least until she turns her head 180 degrees and levitates off her bed, as sweet little Regan famously does in the popular classic The Exorcist. The movie has aged well and the scenes with the possessed girl still manage the tightrope act between genuinely creepy and silly, while some depth is added by the psychological realism of both Regan’s mother and the young priest confronting the guilt and the helplessness of seeing a loved one succumb to sickness and something much more cruel.
Another horror film I find very enjoyable is Let the Right One In. This beautiful tale of two lonely children becoming friends is both chilling and heartwarming. Around the time that some bizarre murders take place in town, Oskar, a twelve-year-old boy who is mercilessly bullied at school, befriends the weird new kid from next-door, Eli – who naturally turns out to be involved in that unpleasant murder business… Adapted from Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 novel, the movie offers a refreshing compromise between the now all-too-common trope of the sympathetic vampire and some uncanny and atmospheric horror.