Image credit: History.com
Halloween is here, although we don’t see any trick or treaters in these parts, Halloween is for me an occasion to go through the horror movie archives and pick one or two enjoy on the day.
I’ll admit that the horror genre isn’t for everyone, some would call it an acquired taste. However, horror has a number of subgenres that are more than just about guts and gore. Dotted in the family of horror movies are films even people who don’t watch the genre can enjoy.
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The following recommendations don’t cover all the subgenres but are movies that I think you might like to check out:
And of course no spoilers
If you are a fan of suspense then folk horror might be the horror subgenre for you. The setting is often in an isolated or rural area, the places are can be eerie or breathtakingly beautiful. The stories commonly revolve around an outsider who stumbles on to a community with strange practices and ways. He/she slowly realises that they are in some trouble and have to find a way to escape or even sometimes become a member of that community.
There are a number of really good folk horror movies like Gareth Evans’ Apostle (2018), the original Wicker Man (1973), and Ben Wheatley’s follow up to Kill List, A Field in England (2014). But my pick in this subsection is A24 and Ari Aster’s brilliant Midsommar.
Midsommar is absolutely incredible, it is a feast for the eyes in the way it was shot and edited. But it is, at least for me, one of the most unnerving movies I have ever watched.
Now, those who are familiar with this movie would be very upset if I didn’t mention it’s companion film, Hereditary (2018). If you want a scary double bill for your Halloween these two won’t disappoint.
These movies don’t often have monsters or supernatural creatures. They look more at the emotional, mental and psychological states of characters. The fright, at least for me, comes from seemingly normal people doing the unthinkable. As the story progresses the mind-bending acts escalate.
Examples in this category are iconic films like Silence of the Lambs (1991) and In the Month of Madness (1995). They also include more recent entries like Brad Anderson’s Session 9 (2001), as well as A24’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) and The Lighthouse (2019). As good as those movies are my pick for this subgenre will definitely have to be Kristoffer Nyholm’s The Vanishing (2019),
If you like “based- on a true story” type of movie, then this is definitely one for you.
Movies genres tend to overlap and thriller/horror isn’t technically a subgenre. The films in this grey area offer the rollercoaster of a thriller with some very gruesome or psychologically boggling sequences. An example of this is Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017), it’s not one I rank up there, but if you have never encountered any other movie in the thriller/horror arena then Get Out is a very good example.
The one that I do think highly of however is Jeremy Sauliner’s Green Room (2016),
Patrick Stewart as the villian was a masterstroke, Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole and Imogen Poots were all brilliant as well.
If you aren’t looking to having nightmares for the next few days, comedy horror is an alternative to the other horror subsections. You can kick back and enjoy humour that has an apocalyptic or paranormal backdrop.
Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead is amazing and Simon Pegg is at his very best. I’ll admit Zombies are a bit overplayed, anyone who has trudged through the Walking Dead will testify. But this movie has aged very well in my eyes and is definitely worth a watch for those who aren’t a fan of any other horror subgenre.
It’s impossible to talk about Horror movies without mentioning Slashers. They are among the most famous and in some people’s eyes define what horror is. I’ll admit I am not the biggest slasher fan because it quickly becomes excessive. That doesn’t, however, mean that there are some in the genre I have sort of enjoyed.
It was hard at some point to escape the mention of Sean Cunningham’s Friday the 13th (1980) back when I was in high school. Sometime long ago I finally caved and watched it and it was alright. The one that I would recommend is John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978),
It’s the oldest one of my picks but its nonetheless a very good movie. It’s filled with suspense and is palpably thrilling. After having watched it I can understand why it is regarded by many as the benchmark for modern horror films.