Halloween Essentials, Vol. 3: The supernatural
Justin George | Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Halloween Essentials is a weekly column in the month of October by Scene Writer (and Resident Spooky Boi) Justin George. Celebrate the season with his horror movie recs.
It’s cold outside, the leaves are changing and Halloween is in a few days! This time of year, nothing hits quite as nice as a good supernatural horror film. Ghosts, demons, witches and the living dead populate this list, so beware if you’re afraid of things that go bump in the night. If you don’t like scary stuff, go watch Disney’s “Trick or Treat” or something. I can’t tell you how to live your life.
Supernatural sadomasochists, a cosmic Rubik’s Cube and lethal liaisons. In his directorial debut, Clive Barker pulls no punches and creates a film that is uncompromising in its gore and subject matter alike. This film features amazing practical effects designed by Bob Keen, one of which is arguably the most amazing (and disgusting) sequence I have ever seen. This is not a film made for your family movie night.
Ari Aster’s debut feature is one of my favorite horror movies. It’s a brilliant study of grief, generational trauma and ancestral sin. Seeing this in theaters was an unforgettable experience. This is one of those films that stays with you long after the credits roll. There is nothing “fun” about this film — it’s two incredibly bleak hours. “Hereditary” is not a scary movie; it is utterly horrifying.
“It Follows”- 2014
What’s scarier than an unstoppable demon? An unstoppable demon that gets passed from person to person like chain mail. This modern classic focuses on a group of teenagers who are stalked by a shapeshifting S.T.Demon that follows them and kills them unless they transmit it via sex with another person. “It Follows” is a masterclass in suspense and features one of the scariest supernatural antagonists on this list.
“The Evil Dead”- 1981
Want low-budget grindhouse filmmaking with a splash of physical comedy? Sam Rami’s first feature has you covered. Gallons and gallons of blood flow in this splatter classic starring Bruce Campbell. This masterclass in guerrilla filmmaking showcases what a bunch of kids can do with a 16mm camera, some Karo syrup, food coloring and a cabin in the woods. Equal parts grotesque and comedic, “The Evil Dead” is essential viewing for any horror fanatic.
“The Blair Witch Project”- 1999
Speaking of low-budget horror, this found-footage masterpiece is not for the faint of heart. Despite never appearing on screen, the Blair Witch’s presence permeates the film, creating an oppressive atmosphere that becomes almost unbearable by the time the film enters its finale. Not following any traditional story structure and featuring raw, largely improvised performances, “The Blair Witch Project” feels more real than any other horror film I have ever seen, which makes the film’s final minutes all the more devastating.
“Trick ‘r Treat”- 2007
Few films so accurately capture the feeling of Halloween, and of the few that get it just right, “Trick ‘r Treat” does it the best. This is an anthology film with each of the stories taking place, and overlapping, over the course of one Halloween night as a small town celebrates the holiday. Wholly entertaining and a ton of fun to watch with friends, “Trick ‘r Treat” is a modern Halloween classic.
“A Tale of Two Sisters”- 2003
Kim Jee-woon’s “A Tale of Two Sisters” is one of the best ghost stories I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. This film follows a young woman haunted by her mother’s mysterious death who returns to her family home after a stint at a psychiatric hospital. Her father ignores her and her stepmother instills fear, which makes the woman feel that she needs to protect her younger sister. A study of repression, guilt, grief’s lasting effects and the death of childhood innocence, “A Tale of Two Sisters” is guaranteed to scare the living daylights out of you and ruin your entire day.