Tis the spookiest season of them all, and correspondingly, there's a wealth of horror films to check out on various streaming services - from modern hits to classics you really should have seen by now. Daily Info's film guru has picked out some of the best ones to enjoy this October.
For those seeking something new, 2020 has been a good year for new horror and genre releases to streaming platforms. Two Amazon Prime Originals offer something a little different, with The Vast of Night exhibiting craft and prowess on a limited budget, as it sees a duo investigate a strange sound over an American town during the 50s. Meanwhile Get Duked! is an amusing take on The Most Dangerous Game; a quartet of teens find themselves hunted on the Scottish Highlands (Eddie Izzard pops up in a key role).
Netflix has a pair of world cinema picks that are worth watching even if they slide a tad close to our current predicament. The Platform may lead to isolation flashbacks but is an expertly-crafted, high-concept thriller that follows prisoners through a tower where food is distributed via a lift that slowly descends through the hundreds of levels. Meanwhile, #Alive is a South Korean delight that follows one man as he seeks to survive a zombie-filled apocalypse.
Brimming with recent releases, Now TV has some of the best British indies and American genre hits. Sea Fever is a moving watch in which a shipping crew come undone by a lethal infection (perhaps too close to home), whilst A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life is a hilarious, touching road trip movie that is a winningly violent treat. Alongside these are three of the strongest American horrors of the last year, with Jordan Peele’s wonderfully ambitious Us sitting alongside Ready or Not, a meet-the-parents comedy that morphs into something altogether darker, and the gorgeously shot descent into madness that is The Lighthouse.
No horror binge would be complete without one of the sensations of the summer, Shudder’s brisk (it’s under an hour) and terrifying Host. Shot entirely through Zoom, it follows a group of friends whose boredom sees them getting involved in a séance, which of course leads to all kinds of paranormal trouble.
Hidden gems to seek out
Or maybe you want to catch up on a gem you’ve missed (given all we have the time now). Each streaming platform has a few we recommend seeking out. Over on Netflix is a duo of found footage horrors, Creep and its sequel - both are funny, off-kilter watches that morph in front of you into something altogether more horrifying. Or you can check out an earlier work from horror genius Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game, Doctor Sleep, The Haunting of Hill House) with his home invasion thriller Hush.
Over on Now TV you’ll find the mind-bending Daniel Isn’t Real, a work that is simultaneously an intimate drama dealing with your imaginary friend and a chilling cosmic horror. Then there is the wonderfully off-kilter Come to Daddy, a film that begins as an uncomfortable father-son reunion and then becomes something altogether stranger.
Amazon Prime has perhaps the largest library of indie horrors and two of their best offer very different watches. A found footage folk horror that builds to a bloodcurdling finale, Final Prayer (originally titled The Borderlands) follows a team sent in to find out what’s going on in a rural church (hint: it's something that’s not good). And for those looking for something a little less supernatural, Compliance is a queasy thriller that has become more relevant with age, as it explores how far people would go to please an authority figure.
And finally there’s Shudder, a platform dedicated to horror which adds interesting picks most weeks. Recent gems include Brain Damage, the charming story of a boy and the parasitic worm that is slowly taking over his brain.
Modern must watches
Peter Strickland makes some of the most compellingly strange films around, and his most recent (currently on Now TV), In Fabric, is delightfully bonkers; a macabre comedy about a dress with a demonic quality. It sits nicely with horror comedy musical Anna and the Apocalypse, also on the platform, about a group of teenagers trying to survive a zombie outbreak in a sleepy British town.
The laughs continue over on Prime with the delightful What We Do in the Shadows (whose TV spin off is on BBC iPlayer and is also very much worth diving into). The film follows a household of vampires around their day-to-day life and combines the talents of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Closer to home is Alice Lowe’s Prevenge, about a heavily pregnant protagonist who seems compelled to take violent retribution on the people around her by her unborn child.
But if you want something more horrifying, BBC IPlayer has It Follows, a film whose standing grows year-on-year. Maika Monroe plays a teen girl whose first sexual encounter leads to a horrific presence stalking her in an unrelenting fashion. Come for the dreamy cinematography and the fabulous synth soundtrack and stay for the terrifying set pieces. Another horror must watch on Shudder is Revenge, a sweaty, compelling take on a genre that has for so long been stuck in exploitation circles.
Over on Netflix there's Leigh Whannell’s terrific lo-fi sci-fi Upgrade. Preceeding the director’s The Invisible Man (which comes to Now TV at the end of October), the film has balletically staged action sequences wrapped in a narrative of body augmentation. Also on Netflix is Iranian ghost story Under the Shadow, a stately affair that builds to a horrifying finale.
And of course there are many classics out there for horror fans and novices to enjoy. Now TV has an iconic quartet in the form of Alien, Jaws, Psycho, AND Halloween, and experiencing any of these would be an exceptional way to spend the spookiest holiday this year.
For those looking for something family friendly, over on Netflix is the delightful Aardman treat Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit. Certainly not child friendly, but great fun, is the killer doll slasher Child’s Play 2, a kind of demented Toy Story that may prove somewhat traumatic for audiences of any age. And for lovers of both John Carpenter and Stephen King there’s 80s genre gem Christine, following one boy and his relationship with his demonic car.
Shudder has many classic horrors and it is their stranger picks that are worth revisiting. There’s Clive Barker’s iconic Hellraiser (and its exceptional sequel), a film like no other, J-horror’s Ringu, about THAT possessed video tape, and the enduring The Omen, which takes the idea of a terrible toddler to demonic extremes.
Over on Prime you'll find perhaps the greatest haunted house movie: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. As well as this terrifying watch there are two of the most famous found footage films, The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, both of which will likely make you jump out of your skin.