The last three months of the year are always a favorite of mine: the weather cools down, leafs start to change colors, and people start decorating for the plethora of upcoming holidays. Halloween is right around the corner, prompting us to put out the pumpkins and scary decorations. Movies can also help set the proper tone for chilly temperatures and trick or treaters. Here is just a sample of some of my favorite movies to help ring in the Halloween vibe.
It Follows (Dir. David Robert Mitchell)
A group of friends, led by Maika Monroe, discover an entity that slowly hunts you down after sexually contracting it from a partner. It’s an idea that could be laughed off, but It Follows treats the story with respect and brings terror to a personal and intimate level. The fact that someone didn’t title this S.T.Demon frustrates me to no end, but It Follows nonetheless creates an unsettling and terrifying atmosphere that is rarely matched. The entity can take any human form it pleases, but cannot speak or run, opting instead for a slow but determined pace. Even traveling to a different country and then returning will only prolong the amount of time before the entity catches up to you. The visual of different people walking after teenagers is creepy on its own and is only heightened by the incredible score by Disasterpeace. Imagine every horrifying boss you’ve ever fought in a video game, combine their accompanying soundtracks and you’re pretty close to what Disasterpeace delivers. It Follows is surprisingly unique. Not many other horror movies would play into the intensity of an otherwise sexually contracted villain (Again, S.T.Demon was right *there*). But by doing so, Mitchell creates almost a Halloween (1978) for the Urban Outfitters crowd: teenagers hunted down by a mysterious presence to a blood-chilling soundtrack. If you define the Halloween season as eerie and revel in the unknown, It Follows is the perfect cocktail to strike fear in your loved ones.
The House With A Clock In Its Walls (Dir. Eli Roth)
Did you watch Hostel, Cabin Fever, or The Green Inferno and think, “Boy, I can’t wait until this director does something family friendly”? Well, low and behold, Eli Roth did exactly that. Funny thing is it’s actually pretty great. A young Lewis moves in with his eccentric uncle (Jack Black) and discovers that magic runs in his family. Together, they uncover an evil wizard who threatens to take everything away from Lewis. Roth’s House joins the ranks of movies like Hocus Pocus and Goosebumps as a fun, spooky adventure for all ages. House is a 180 from Roth’s normal territory and feels like a genuine attempt to bring younger audiences into the world of horror. It helps that Jack Black and Cate Blanchett bring such heart and humor to the role, ensuring that the otherwise scary nature of magic can find its’ way to families all over.
Green Room (Dir. Jeremy Saulnier)
After witnessing a murder, a touring punk band is trapped inside of a venue ran by violent neo-Nazis. It’s an easy set-up, but the execution is where Saulnier escalates things to a deranged, claustrophobic story of survival. Featuring one of Anton Yelchin’s final performances, Green Room is a blood soaked nightmare made all the better by its’ cast. Joining Yelchin are Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, and Patrick Stewart, who takes a sinister turn as the neo-Nazi leader Darcy. Whereas some horror movies focus on serial killers, creatures, or the supernatural, the main focus on display is a very real setting of a neo-Nazi venue and the lengths people will go to to keep their secrets. More interestingly, Saulnier doesn’t paint them as evil people, but people who protect their own from punishment. Saulnier is not afraid to get the camera directly into the dread and intensity and showing both spirits and bones breaking. It’s the isolation, fear, and dread that these bandmates go through that makes Green Room worthy of any scary movie marathon.
Halloweentown (Dir. Duwayne Dunham)