Searching for that perfect horror movie to watch this Halloween? We’ve got the answers for you. From creature features to touchstone classics to foreign thrillers, we’ve accumulated the best list the horror genre has to offer in theaters, on demand, and streaming on Netflix. Find out your best options below.
Saw (2004) (James Wan) [Re-release] Rated R [103 min] – With a dead body lying between them, two men wake up in the secure lair of a serial killer who’s been nicknamed “Jigsaw”. The men must follow various rules and objectives if they wish to survive and win the deadly game set for them. Starring Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, and Tobin Bell
In my book, alongside Hostel, Saw is one of the best original torture porn movies that began a new wave of horror. Before the traps became basically a parody of themselves, this low-budget thriller adequately utilized each and every element of the story well. Unfortunately the acting could be up for a few Razzies, but the visual style and the originality makes up for its faults. And this is also a really fun movie to watch in theaters with friends.
Available on VOD
The Babadook (Jennifer Kent) Not Rated [93 min] – A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. Starring Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, and Tim Purcell
When I first watched the trailer for The Babadook, I was very turned off. There are no good horror movies with insufferable child actors. Surprisingly, the film has some generally mild thrills, but was equipped with some pretty calculating storytelling. There isn’t any thing we haven’t seen before, but the tension is built up fairly well. As expected, the child character is an absolute nightmare to endure, and the lead female role I wasn’t too attached to. For a small indie horror, it outshines many of the big studio movies that have not hit their marks this year.
V/H/S: Viral (Many Directors) Rated R [82 min] – Follows fame-obsessed teens who unwittingly become stars of the next internet sensation. Starring Many Actors
If you can, rent this with a group of friends just for the Nacho Vigalando segment, “Gorgeous Vortex.” It’s a hoot. Very fun and hilariously inspired. The rest of the shorts are pretty lackluster and unimaginative compared to the other suspenseful predecessors.
THE REST OF THE MOVIES MENTIONED ARE ON NETFLIX STREAMING
There’s a recent stream of self-aware horror movies, which started with Scream (watch it now). In 2010’s Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (watch it now), we laughed at how hilarious events of horror films can be taken in the wrong context. But it wasn’t until 2012 when Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard was able to infuse horror and meta commentary with The Cabin in the Woods (watch it now) that we could see the genre really shine. And then last year’s Adam Wingard joint, You’re Next (watch it now), really elevated the nu-horror genre to a exciting level.
Freaky Found Footage
Found footage has been really played out lately, but that doesn’t mean this type of filmmaking can’t be used effectively. Take for instance V/H/S (watch it now) and V/H/S/2 (watch it now). Both anthologies are very refreshing for the genre and take horror to very dark places. But if you’re the more slow burn type, Ti West’s The Sacrament (watch it now) is more terrifying socially and culturally than traditional horrors. Of course, there is always The Blair Witch Project (watch it now), if you really need to go back to the movie that started it all. And if you want a more documentary style found footage thriller, The Bay (watch it now) makes for a disgusting time.
Let’s be real for a moment. Nothing beats true classics when it comes to horror movies, especially George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (watch it now). Way before The Walking Dead, Night of the Living Dead is the OG of zombie movies. Two female centric horror classics available on Netflix are Carrie (watch it now) and Rosemary’s Baby (watch it now). Although both were remade within the last year, one as a feature film and the former a four-hour miniseries, the originals still hold up quite well. Although, if more prolific figures in the horror game catch your fancy, you can steer your attention to Silence of the Lambs (watch it now) or Hellraiser (watch it now).
So American horror isn’t your thing? Well there are plenty of foreign horrors that will shock and awe, beginning with Ichi the Killer (watch it now). A truly disturbing piece of cinema, Ichi the Killer will downright haunt you. Another chilling tale of terror is the original Ju-On: The Grudge (watch it now). Don’t let the Michelle Gellar version fool you, the original Japanese movie is absolutely more frightening in its native language. Keeping to Asia we have Bong Joon Ho’s The Host (watch it now) – not the silly Stephanie Meyer tween adaptation. For those who loved Snowpiercer, you might want to check out one of his earlier works.
We move to Austria where a devious duo put to shame the home invasion thriller; we’re talking about Funny Games (watch it now). Heading north to Sweden we come to Trollhunter (watch it now) and Let the Right One In (watch it now). The first a semi-funny, very entertaining found footage creature feature and the later very nuanced take on the vampire.
And for the lulz, B-movie creature features are always great for laughs with a group of friends. Sharknado (watch it now) or Anaconda (watch it now) are two fun choices for background noise at a party.
And there you have it. Happy Halloween!