What to watch this Halloween

As Halloween approaches there are a wealth of films out there to mark the spookiest season. It's a daunting task but Daily Info's resident movie fan has their picks for what to see out this year.

Cinematic wonders

The last horror to enter the ring this Halloween is Five Nights at Freddy's, adapting the cult gaming hit, as a security guard has some very bad nights at the titular children's restaurant. There's potential here with a high concept, the director behind indie gem, The Wind (Emma Tammi) and the presence of John Hutcherson and Matthew Lillard in the cast.

Blumhouse have produced both this and The Exorcist: Believer, a direct sequel to the 50 year old original and the start of a proposed sequel. Divisive amongst fans and critics, and coming from the team behind the recent Halloween trilogy, this is a curious piece that's perhaps not quite as good as The Exorcist III (seriously, seek it out) but surely not as rough as any of the other franchise attempts (it's the sixth film with the moniker).

And the final of this grisly quartet is the return of the torture porn titan, Saw X. Jigsaw's back and this time he's taking on con artists with his patent branded of horrifying games. This one has even gained good reviews from the critics. Who would have thought it?

But maybe you want something classic in the cinemas? The Curzon has a trio of re-releases, taking in family friendly spook-a-thon with Hocus Pocus, Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning Get Out, and the original Exorcist. Hocus Pocus is also showing at the Vue, which also has programmed two cult 80s classics Joel Schumacher’s teen vampires The Lost Boys, and John Carpenter’s take on Stephen King’s demonic car flick, Christine.

Phoenix Picturehouse is also showing The Lost Boys. But you can also find the spooky Ealing gem Dead of Night and also, arguably, the greatest horror film ever made: The Shining. Meanwhile the Ultimate Picture House has the beloved Rocky Horror Picture Show, an annual tradition at the venue, a glorious J-Horror double bill (Audition and Ringu) and Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist (absolutely not for the faint hearted).

Finally there’s Rocky Horror Picture Palace at the Tap Social Movement, complete with spooky cocktails and popcorn. Mollie’s (near Abingdon) are turning into a drive-in cinema for one night showing Hocus Pocus and Scream. So why not hunker down in your car and watch a genre classic with one of their tasty meals?

Staying in

But perhaps you’d rather stay at home and use one of the innumerable streaming services to watch one of your spooky watches. In which case we’ve got three recommendations for each of the big ones – something new, something old and something you may not have even heard of.

Up first is Netflix. On the TV side of things they’ve The Fall of the House of Usher, Mike Flanagan’s latest, weaving Edgar Allan Poe’s works into 8 part series that some are calling his best. But for those who only have time for a movie they’ve got Evil Dead Rise, which made a splash earlier this year in the cinemas as the triumphant return of the gore-filled franchise. Alternatively there’s Bull, Paul Andrew Williams’ latest, a supernatural tinged crime thriller, following a vicious mob enforcer a decade after his supposed death as he seeks vengeance. Or you could take in the big October watch, since its release in 1978, and go for the original Halloween.

Over Disney, they’ve snuck out an audacious home/alien invasion narrative in the form of No One Will Save You. This visually inventive film contains only one line of dialogue and a stunning turn from Kaitlyn Dever in the lead role. You can also find Rocky Horror Picture Shows, if you’d prefer to enjoy this from the comfort of your home. And if you want a sprawling, ambitious work that perplexes and enthrals in equal measures, why not go with The Empty Man.

Chalmette fans should head on over to Prime for Bones and All, last year’s romantic horror about a pair fine young cannibals (warning: there will be blood with this one). Next year marks the ten year anniversary of The Babadook, Jennifer Kent’s brilliant work wrapping grief into a monster movie that may be the best horror in recent years. And it’s likely you’ve not seen a horror quite like Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm, a strange, sexy watch with the fresh faced Hugh Grant and Peter Calpadi taking on lead roles.

Paramount Plus is the newest streaming platform seeking dominance and comes with a sizeable collection of horrors. One of the stand outs is Slotherhouse, the surprisingly good tale of a sorority that adopts a cute sloth as their mascot, only to find it brings violence to their doorstep. Another horror with a violent animal in it is the 80s version of Pet Sematary, a powerfully effective watch even amongst all the era trappings. And Significant Other got a tad lost in the platform’s launch but is an effective drama that morphs into something else as its protagonists (cracking turns from Maika Monroe and Jake Lacy) head into the forest.

Nope was, in this writer’s opinion, the best horror film of last year and another gen from Jordan Peele. It can be found on Now, alongside The Fog, which comes from the director Peele most resembles, John Carpenter, and is a spooky treat of a ghost story. But if you want to be properly scared, you should seek put The Harbinger, following friends who find themselves plagued by a presence in their dreams that resembles a plague-mask wearing demon.

And finally there are, of course, a pair of free services to seek films from. The BBC iPlayer has a few doozies of spooky films on there. Host was the first and, arguably, best of the pandemic era horrors, with a group of friends making the mistake of taking part in a Zoom séance. Heck, we were all a bit bored during those lockdowns. Alternatively there’s Don’t Look Now, a wrenchingly impactful take of grief and loss that happens to have one of the greatest endings of any horror film. And a film absolutely worth seeking out is His House, the brilliant tale of a pair of migrants and the horrors they experience in their new home, both natural and, indeed, supernatural.

Channel 4 will be adding even more films in the build up to Halloween but you should make time for The Vigil, a horror steeped in Jewish lore, as a young man must sit vigil over a dead body. Or you can take in Bong Joon-Ho’s crime thriller, Memories of Murder, which dabbles with many genes but takes in horror as proceedings darken. And for those who like there horrors distinctly human, Concrete Plans is a chillingly effective watch that harkens back to the likes of Shallow Graves.

For even more movies check out our cinema column on our what’s on page.

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