It’s Spooky Season and that means this blog post does not need an intro. Here is a list of horror movies you should watch this October, from a life time horror movie fan with a high fear tolerance (and a film degree).
Available On Netflix
The list is going to start with those currently (Oct 2021) available on Netflix, because most people reading this are going to want the most accessible first. While I haven’t scoured the entire horror section of Netflix, these are ones I can vouch for.
A modern take on the classic zombie scenario. Cell phones, social media, drones (the non-military kind). This isn’t a zombie slaughter film, you won’t find an arsenal big enough to arm an army. Just a guy trapped in his apartment trying to survive. While it might sound boring to see exactly how you would survive in a zombie apocalypse, it’s surprisingly tense and even a little emotional.
Overall, a pretty decent entry into the zombie genre. Nothing spectacular across the board (cinematography, acting, story), but there’s nothing wrong with being just pretty good.
Await Further Instructions
Honestly, this is vaguely reminiscent of the current global pandemic going on. The government supposedly says there’s some deadly virus going around and a family struggles to understand their situation and how they will survive. For better or for worse, you’ll never see the ending coming.
A very peculiar, but entertaining, suspenseful horror. Seemingly more drama/mystery, it strangely fits into a sci-fi/monster movie genre.
A Classic Horror Story
Top 3 on this Netflix list, this movie will have you guessing until the end. A very self-aware Italian horror, it follows a group of travelers who find themselves in the middle of a mysterious forest. The movie seemingly takes part in two halves, the first being very horror-like, and the second being satire in a way. Neither half disappoints, though it does feel disjointed in a way.
Amazing cinematography, some shots are the creepiest I’ve seen despite there being very little “horror” going on. Definitely keeps you guessing, and one of the death’s made my jaw drop (movies rarely do that to me).
Before I Wake
When it came to scary movies about dreams coming true, I always asked why they didn’t show good dreams too. Well, in Before I Wake, a young boy’s dreams take physical form in real life. This means both the pretty, and the dangerous. It’s up to his adoptive family to learn where his power comes from and how to stop it before it goes from dangerous to deadly.
When you have a movie about dreams coming to life, you better invest in good CGI. This movie was nice to look at, with a good story, creepy scares, and great use of its special effects.
I’m sure most everyone has heard of this movie at this point, but it’s worth putting on this list. Some sort of invisible force causes people to throw themselves at death when they look at it…or enslaves them to force others to look. Film (and horror) theory states that the scariest monsters are one’s that we never see, and I believe this is true. Very suspenseful and horrific film that makes you a little hesitant to look out the window.
Well shot, good acting, as expected with a big name like Sandra Bullock in the mix. As someone who’s watched a lot of horror movies, it fell a bit short for me. Maybe my expectations were too high, I don’t know.
Fear Street (Parts 1 – 3)
#1 on this list for me, Fear Street feels like a well thought out horror made by horror movie fans (with some obvious inspiration from the classics). A supposedly cursed town seems to have serial killings a little too frequently while their neighboring city is doing just fine. Is the witches curse real? A group of teens get dragged into the mystery as all the towns killers come back from the grave.
High marks across the board. Extra credit for being (L)GBTQIA+. There’s something about a well thought-out movie that makes every minute feel meaningful. Very memorable.
Do you remember those scary stories of haunted house props being real? or what about the news reports about murders at haunted houses? Well, this movie took that horrific concept and brought it to life. Follow a group of friends through a horror theme park as a murderer stalks them.
Surprisingly good, I expected more cheap scares. It’s hard to tell when they’re really in danger (in a good way).
As a sort of “survival expert”, I found myself extra unnerved by the thought of being faced with a killer and not being able to hear, like at all. Hush is about a deaf woman alone in a secluded home when a murderer comes knocking. While I can’t speak on how well the representation is (I’ve heard it didn’t sit right with at least some of the deaf community), the concept and execution are pretty solid.
Strong cinematography, with a suspenseful atmosphere. Bonus for portraying the deaf woman as strong, smart, and independent.
No One Gets Out Alive
Talk about suspenseful and unnerving. A young immigrant woman down on her luck moves into a cheap apartment complex which might just be the worst mistake of her life. This is easily one of those movies that will have you looking over your shoulder for days.
Great cinematography, there were several times where I said out loud “Oh my god, there’s something there.” Very close to top 3, but I found it was just a little too comfy within the “ghost/haunting” genre for the majority of the movie. Very interesting ending though.
The Babysitter (1 and 2)
Top 3 of this list. A pleasant mix of horror and comedy, The Babysitter follows (you guessed it) a kid and his babysitter, but its not some random psycho on the hunt. This time the babysitter will be doing the slashing as she sets out to perform some ritual sacrifices.
Horror comedies have quickly become one of my favorite types of movies. This movie has all the “final girl” survival we know and love (though this time it’s a young boy) and combines it with some good jokes about the genre and tropes. If you like horror movies but feel like a wimp who can’t handle them, this movie is for you.
What IS that!? The Ritual will have mythology fans pleasantly surprised, and everyone else horrified, as it brings Norse mythology to life. Unnerving to the end, I’ve never seen a monster film maintain its horror factor so well. I didn’t have to think “if I saw this in real life, it’d be scary”, it was scary on screen.
Pretty good marks on all things except maybe acting, though straight men tend to be pretty annoying regardless (and maybe I’m a little biased).
Art, but make it deadly. A group of artists/critics find themselves at the mercy of a…haunting? Cursed collection? An older unknown artist passes and his art is sold despite his last wishes. I suppose you could call it a vengeful spirit.
Good cinematography, even better special effects. I don’t find myself drawn to the acting very often but I gotta say it was pretty strong here. Big bonus for L(G)(B)TQIA+ representation.
Well-known Horror Movies
Maybe this will catch that 5% of the population that haven’t seen these popular films, or maybe this will be a refresher for those who have. These are just my takes on movies that just about everyone has heard of that are worth watching this Halloween.
Whenever I’m asked what my favorite movie is, this comes to mind. A young boy murders his sister and is locked away until a decade (or so) later when he escapes to murder the rest of his family (and anyone else he finds along the way). The first movie was an innovation to the horror genre, with suspense being a major focus. The rest are your typical slasher films, but there’s a reason they’re the pillars of the genre.
I love most things about these films (except 3, we don’t acknowledge her). The first is a little slow for me, with 4 and 5 being my absolute favorites. It takes all the best things about a “final girl” and intensifies them.
Nightmare On Elm Street
The dream demon himself. Nightmares turn deadly as a burned man with knives on a glove terrorizes the teens of Elm Street. Maybe one of the most unique concepts for a horror movie, especially for its time. It’s one of the greats for good reason.
There isn’t a single film in the series I wouldn’t mind watching. They get cheesier as the series goes on but part of Freddy’s appeal is his humor in his torture. Nothing like a good pun to go with your murder.
The birth of self-aware horror movies and smart survivors. Scream follows a series of grizzly murders in the small town of Woodsboro as a ghost faced killer hunts down his (or her) prey.
This series comes straight from the mind of all horror movie fans, even going so far as to say outright “the rules to surviving a horror movie.” Great marks on everything, even for the less popular entries in the series (I’m looking at #3).
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Possibly where my extreme fear of chainsaws comes from. The synopsis is in the name, though the whole wearing people’s faces just didn’t quite fit the title. Gory and distressing, nothing says pure fear than a killer with a chainsaw.
I don’t usually grade sound design but I have to say, what with the chainsaw and all, they did pretty well balancing the sound. The rest of the movie has pretty decent marks, nothing too crazy.
Is this really considered a horror? A poor family cons their way into jobs working for a wealthy family, and things slowly fall apart. What honestly seems like a comedy turns into suspense and then horror. Definitely deserving of all the acclaim and attention it’s garnered.
High marks across the board, especially for story and cinematography. Even if this is the least spookiest on this list, its definitely worth a watch.
Possibly the scariest film on this entire post. A family is tormented by a series of unfortunate events that slowly get worse. The genres given to it seem a little off, but I feel psychological horror is close to describing it accurately. The ending will having your head rolling.
Amazing cinematography and sound design. Very suspenseful with great acting. I don’t think I’d have anything bad to say about it.
Statistically, we all have doppelgangers out there somewhere. Us is about a family who comes face to face with their doppelgangers and unfortunately they’re homicidal. Things only get more dire as more and more doppelgangers join their ranks.
Top tier cinematography and music. This really was a strong entry in the horror genre, made all the better director and lead actors/actresses being POC.
Here is the meat of the post. I think horror fans will still recognize most of these, but they were definitely less widely popular. If you haven’t seen these yet, I highly recommend hunting for them and getting them wherever you can.
Blood Mary, but add some melanin…and some other things. Candyman follows grad student Helen as she researches the myth of the same name, inadvertently bringing it to life. I think movies based on urban legends are always a good time, but this one has a bit of extra kick to it.
The music is haunting (in a good way), and the cinematography is good but a bit dated now. I have not seen the remake yet but I am hopeful.
Genies but make them…well, I guess depending on the genie not much changes. This movie is all about a puzzle box that opens a portal to a dimension of pain and suffering (for pleasure?). The deaths are strange and unique, but can come off as silly sometimes.
A very “camp” movie, especially with its age. Recommend if you want a change from the typical slashers or hauntings.
The Final Girls
If you’re a horror movie fan then you have to know what a “final girl” is. The Final Girls turns the typical slasher on it’s head, transporting several teens into an old slasher flick. They use their knowledge of the movie and the genre to try to survive. Another horror comedy on this list, so far I have not seen a single movie in this genre(s) that is bad.
Not only is the cinematography good, but it’s part of the many clever jokes the movie makes about the genre (same goes for music). A surprisingly heartfelt and enjoyable movie, though pretty light on the “horror”.
Happy Death Day
Groundhog day but with murder. College girl Tree finds herself the target of a baby faced killer…the face being a mask. As if getting stabbed to death wasn’t already a drag, Tree finds herself repeating the same day every time she’s murdered. The last horror comedy on the list, there’s something amazingly suspenseful about Tree’s journey to find her killer.
Great in all regards, though I might be biased. This is the only film that I own a hard copy of. At the very least I know for a fact it’s worth you giving it a shot.
A dinner party gone wrong. A band of masked individuals go on a murder spree during a rich family’s gathering. Unfortunately for them, not all of the dinner guests are helpless. I’d almost consider this more of an action film than horror but there’s plenty of scares and suspense.
While production was pretty alright, I think the part that really makes this movie great is the survivalist hidden among the group. If you ever wished a movie victim would fight back, this is the cure to your woes.
Escape Room (2019)
For those of you who don’t know, an escape room is where you get locked in a room that requires a series of puzzles solved to get out of. That said, the premise of the movie is in the title, but make the escape room extra elaborate and deadly. One of the more unique horror/suspense movies, I love a creative idea (and boy is the movie industry lacking lately).
The special effects and set design are key to making this movie great. They knew what their strengths would be and ran with them. The sequel is good too, though arguably a bit simple and an easy continuation.
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark
You read the books, right? Scary Stories brings our childhood fears to life as it follows the stories from the original books and connects them all with a story-telling vengeful spirit. That basically sums it all up.
They really did the books justice. Very creepy, well shot, good writing. I was skeptical of this but they did not disappoint.
The Invisible Man (2020)
An amazing analogy for an abusive relationship. Cecilia leaves her abusive ex and is later informed that he took his own life. That’s when strange things start happening, and Cecilia soon finds her safety depends on her proving she is being harassed by an invisible man.
The cinematography was key since the focus is on an invisible man being the threat, and thankfully they didn’t miss a beat. You’ll find yourself searching the screen for hints of the invisible man even when he’s not there, but when they want you to know, you’ll know
You’d think being able to outrun something would make it less scary, but that isn’t the case this time. It Follows is about a creature of sorts that takes the guise of random humans as it slowly but surely pursues it’s target. It’s target: Jay, the most recent victim in a line of people tricked into…intimate relations. I’m sure its an analogy for diseases transferred by…intimate relations but that doesn’t detract from the quality of the film…too much.
I’ve grown sick of mentioning the cinematography of films but this one really takes it to a whole new level. Unique movements and shots, it really breathes new life into the horror genre.
Think Mean Girls but with a demonic mean girl. Two best friends find themselves torn apart as one of them becomes the satanic sacrifice for a band wanting to make it big. Jennifer ends up hungering for human flesh while “Needy” looks for a way to end the carnage.
A very enjoyable film, with just a small amount of humor. I’d say its more “camp” than horror comedy. It also (kind of) has LG(B)TQIA+ representation.
Is your favorite horror movie on the list? What are some other suggestions you have for horror movie fans? Leave your answers in the comments!