It’s the perfect time to watch something a little bit spooky or a lot scary, but how do you know what’s a fun thrilling time, or going to haunt you for the next six months? Emma Clifton presents her scaredy-cat guide to Halloween viewing.
When it comes to picking something to watch, during this 18 months where I have watched more content than ever before, I have found myself becoming drawn increasingly to the horror genre. This is a surprise to everyone – including my bubble – as I am a highly anxious person who is afraid of the dark and had a night light until I was 10 (*cough* 15).
When I was dating in my early 20s, I was forced to watch Saw on date two (later I would learn this is called ‘a red flag’!) and the nightmares lasted for six straight months (the relationship lasted for two weeks). But now? Sign me up for your creepy ghost story, please. I’m no mental health expert – more of a hobbyist – but maybe it’s because the world is so scary that a zombie apocalypse feels like a break? Maybe it’s because we’re all functioning from such a numb place that watching horror is a way to feel something.
A wuss’s guide to Halloween viewing
Haunting of Hill House
I have already written ad nauseam about how this Netflix series is one of my top five TV series of all time (yes, I’ve seen The Wire, so please know this is an INFORMED ranking) but it’s one of the most moving depictions of the ‘ghosts’ that come with grief and trauma as it is about the actual things that go bump in the night. A young family move into a house that turns out to be haunted and after a tragic death, the impact of the house and that summer are still felt by the now grown-up siblings two decades later.
Will I scream out loud? 100% yes. Oooh boy are you in for some jump scares.
Is it gory? No.
Are animals and children safe in this movie? Mostly yes, but there’s a creepy kitten scene which is… unforgettable.
David Fincher is behind the look and feel of this series, which is very Zodiac in its cinematography and pace. It’s about the real-life department of the FBI that invented the term ‘serial killer’ after a new breed of killer starts plaguing America. After a grisly opening scene, the rest of the series is high in dread but low in gore. HOWEVER all the majority of these cases are based on real-life stories and the series revolves around FBI agents interviewing killers about how/why they committed their crimes. If you’re a true crime fan, it’s a must-see but do be aware that the level of detail included here is chilling.
Will I scream out loud? Only at the state of humanity.
Is it gory? The first five minutes, yes. The rest, mostly fine.
Are animals and children safe in this movie? Nope.
A good old-fashioned ghost movie, this flick has everything: a possessed doll, spirits who play hide and seek, a forbidden room, a scary basement and ghosts in a nightgown. But then it turns into a very cool RESEARCH-BASED film where the husband-and-wife ghost hunters have to collect evidence on the haunted house so that the Vatican will allow an exorcism. There’s a research gathering montage! We love it! Fun fact: the doll from this movie is so creepy that I was too scared to include a photo of her in this story, lest she haunt me. I am 36.
Will I scream out loud? YES. Nightgown Ghost is MAD.
Is it gory? No (but I did have my hand covering my eyes for a large part of the movie).
Are animals and children safe in this movie? The family dog knows the house is evil and doesn’t make it 10 minutes into the movie. Children are mostly emotionally damaged.
In this house, we only acknowledge the all-female 2016 Ghostbusters, partly because my husband didn’t grow up with Western movies so he literally doesn’t know the original exists. (Don’t tell him). I will watch Melissa McCarthy in everything and here she is at her deranged best, teaming up with Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig and Chris Hemsworth as the token male. The four women team up to defeat
incels ghosts that are rampaging through New York City and it’s terrific fun, and also allegedly family friendly (if you have older and brave children).
Will I scream out loud? With joy (at Chris Hemsworth).
Is it gory? No, but there’s a tremendous amount of slime.
Are animals and children safe in this movie? There are none! A child-free New York, can you imagine????
An extremely twist-filled and brilliantly acted movie about a family that gets visited by the evil twin version of their own family, who are out for revenge. It’s one of Lupita Nyongo’s most extraordinary roles – which is saying something – and it’s incredibly terrifying. So much so, in fact, that my friend and I had to walk out of the screening of it – but I have since managed to make it through watching it at home.
Will I scream out loud? Christ, yes.
Is it gory? Unbelievably.
Are animals and children safe in this movie? Fuuuuuuuuuuuck no.
OOoh BOY this is a WILD RIDE. I watched this after someone referred to this as ‘the ultimate break-up movie’ and I gotta tell you, that relationship must have been rough because this is one of the most balls-to-the-wall intense movies I’ve ever seen. The lead character’s entire family dies – horribly – and her boringly awful boyfriend grudgingly agrees to let her tag along on his ‘boy’s trip’ to a friend’s commune (!). Everything is fine and beautiful and very floral – my favourite thing – until it’s absolutely not. One of the most chilling things is that almost every scene takes place in broad daylight – the antithesis to most horror films – which makes the brutality that follows even more shocking. This is a good film to watch with your pals because you really need an audience to go on this ride with you.
Will I scream out loud? Hahahaha. Yes.
Is it gory? It’s 10/10 horror.
Are animals and children safe in this movie? Yes. You know who isn’t? THE ELDERLY.
The Invisible Man
One of the best movies I’ve seen in a while, this is more of a thriller with horror elements than it is a full-blown horror movie. The lead character escapes her abusive boyfriend and his chillingly modernist household/holding cell and tries to get her life back, but the fear of him coming back into her life is ever-present. When she’s told he’s died, there’s a sense of relief that she’s finally safe. But as the title might suggest… things take a turn. One of the most gas-lighting relationships you’ll see on-screen, even with the invisible aspect of it, it’s an incredible example of how damaging, insidious and lonely abusive relationships can be.
Will I scream out loud? Yes.
Is it gory? There is a very bad death scene, I cannot lie.
Are animals and children safe in this movie? A teenager is put in danger.
Ready or Not
A simple and excellent premise; after her wedding day, New Bride is asked to take part in the ritual on her wedding night (not as sexy as it sounds) and join the family for a game. Sadly, she picks the ‘hide and seek’ card – and therefore has to escape the surprising fact that the entire family has to now kill her by dawn, or they will die from an old curse. It stars Seth from The OC. It is a great and ridiculous movie.
Will I scream out loud? There’s a lot of scary tension but nothing too bad.
Is it gory? Spectacularly so – but in a such an over-the-top way, it’s not too scary.
Are animals and children safe in this movie? No, but the children are also out to kill her (does that help?)