I am not what I’d call a horror movie fan. I tend to see one or so in theatres a year, a couple at home, and that’s it. I have no particular affection for Freddy or Jason, and think there is only one good Michael Myers movie (the first one, natch).
On the other hand, I’ve devoured Stephen King books, love the X-Files (well the good seasons anyway) and Stranger Things. So I am not entirely immune to a good scare here and there.
Anyway, I offer all that as explanation for this Tuesday List which offers 10 horror films (plus 1, I miscounted at first and could not bring myself to figure out which to cut) you can watch between now and Halloween for your horror jollies!
10 (+1) Horror Movies of the Past Two Years to Fill Your Last Week Before Halloween (in alphabetical order)
1.) 10 Cloverfield Ln- One of the movies on the list that I did not even really consider a horror movie but multiple lists seemed to insist otherwise so I gave in. One thing for sure, John Goodman is incredible, an unnerving powder keg that you know will explode but you never know exactly when or how. . Mary Elizabeth Winstead is smart and flinty as the protagonist as well, letting us see the fear but it never rendering her helpless. And the third act twist, which did not work for some, for me provided a nice note of terror just as you felt the dread drifting away
2.) Gerald’s Game- Before its rushed 10 minutes—a faithful to the novel bit that just cannot work on-screen without a lot more tweaking—the movie is coiling snake, ratcheting up the tension more and more. The best trick of the movie is, however, it makes the common failures of a marriage and the too common victimization of girls and women more frightening then the (literal) boogieman in the dark.
3.) Get Out- An exploration of racism, performative allyship, racial jealousy, and class issues wrapped in a horror shell. That it succeeds on all those levels is but the start of what makes this one a treat.
4.) Green Room- Another “but is this really a horror movie?” for me, it nonetheless is tense as hell and not without a dollop of gore so, again, I’ll cede my own opinions to the list makers. Punk rockers see too much in a Nazi club and find themselves trapped. Patrick Stewart goes against type with incredible results. A movie that has gained, unfortunately, an increased sense of relevance in the months that have followed since its release.
5.) Happy Death Day- This is definitely more a horror-comedy in my opinion but it was too fun to not include. To true horror devotees, I imagine it will disappoint as it is as gore-free as its PG-13 rating would indicate. However, Jessica Rothe is a winning lead who handles the pathos and utter absurdity of her situation equally well, finding pain and laughs where a lesser performance might miss either or both.
6.) I Am Not A Serial Killer- Just your average tale of adolescence: boy worries he might be a sociopath bound to inevitably become a serial killer just as, seemingly, his hometown becomes the hunting ground of one such murderer. Tense but run through with twisted dark humor, the film is a great surprise. It also features Christopher Lloyd doing his best work in, well, forever?
7.) IT- IT is my favorite Stephen King novel, full disclosure. That said, the miniseries has always struck me as, to be honest, hot garbage. Well not hot garbage but not very good and generally not deserving of its nostalgia tinged praise. Anyway, to stop wasting time, I was thrilled by this adaptation. It is not perfect but all the kids are excellent and while the scares might eventually pile so high they deaden, I love the subtext behind each.
8.) The Monster- Zoe Kazan is a bad mom, no doubt about it. She drinks, she uses drugs, and she seems to maybe not care that much about the daughter she is bringing to her ex for possibly the last time as said child has made it clear she’d rather live with dad. Unfortunately, the stony silence of two family members with a possibly damaged forever relationship is not the worst thing the two will encounter on the road this night. A claustrophobic parlor piece of sorts, despite taking place in the middle of the woods, the monster is the catalyst for everything but it is the actresses that wring every bit of life out of the script.
9.) Split- Controversial handling of abuse aside—my quick take: abuse is used too much as a plot device especially the sexual abuse of young women but Shyamalan depicts the results of a trauma in a fairly honest and accurate way—the movie is not just a success for the down on his Shyamalan (completing a comeback that started with The Visit) but is just a plain success. Generally disinterested in some of the pretense of his earlier movies, good and bad, the director just lets go and produces a straight chiller buoyed by two excellent leads.
10.) Train to Busan- I hate zombie fiction. Hate hate hate hate. This is a zombie movie. But is also a father and daughter story. What zombie fiction often gets wrong –its “commentary” on humanity—this does not by focusing on a microcosm, parent-child connection, instead of striving to diagnose society, usually cynically, as a whole. The last scene will make you rip the arms of your chair to get relief from the tense and then leave you with a lump in your throat.
11.) The Witch- Religious paranoia leads to the thing it is most afraid of by trying to ignore and/or blame human failings on sin and weakness. Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme. The Witch takes it and makes it period accurate to the nth degree and just spends every moment building the tension until the end. The ending will make you almost feel elated until you pause to remember all that was lost to get to it and what it means for the character.