It’s the thirteenth day of spooky season, and if you’re like me, your horror film consumption has been well over its baseline for the past two weeks. You’ve scoured Shudder, Tubi, and a host of other streaming services for that perfect mid-80’s horror film with gooey practical effects and an overwrought synthesizer soundtrack. But soon all those painted montage-style movie posters start to look the same… Now, you’re at a loss for what to watch next to keep the scary vibes going.
If that’s you, then you found the right article! I’m here to get you out of your Halloween film rut. I’m not offering anything close to a comprehensive list or even a particularly deep reflection. (That’s the kind of cinephilic indulgence that got you into this rut in the first place, remember?) Instead, I decided to check what horror movies were streaming on Netflix, the most normie of streaming platforms, and pick three films almost at random. They appear in no particular order. Ready? Here it goes:
Of the three films on the list, RAW is probably the least fun to watch. But, while it’s not as “fun” as the other films here, it is gross, and that’s its own kind of fun, right? The movie stars Garance Marillier as Justine, a young girl from a vegetarian family who goes off to veterinarian school. While at school, she acquires a peculiar taste in meat. Written and directed by Julia Ducournau, the film explores the tensions between family and individual identity, rites of passage, and the particular kinds of vulnerabilities that young people face when they leave home for the first time. With a cannibalistic twist, of course. You will never look at fingers the same way again.
THE STRANGERS (2008)
This movie is outside of my usual wheelhouse. I’m not a huge fan of home invasion films (I don’t hate them, I just don’t love them). But hey, if it’s your cup of tea, Bryan Bertino’s THE STRANGERS is required viewing. The film takes some loose inspiration from the Manson Family murders as well as a series of break-ins that occurred in Bertino’s own neighborhood growing up. The resulting project is something in between a slasher and an edge-of-your-seat thriller. If you don’t remember anything else about the movie, you’ll remember the masks. In any case, it’s an impressive film for a writing and directing debut.
THE CONJURING (2013)
THE CONJURING is one of the greatest exorcism films ever made. I could address possible objections to this thesis, but that would be a waste of time since any reasonable person reading this will agree. In all seriousness, though, my love for the film probably stems from the fact that it came out at a perfect time for me. I wasn’t a huge horror fan in those days, but James Wan’s THE CONJURING triggered an obsession. I saw it at least three times in theaters. It’s beautifully shot, the scares aren’t cheap, it’s well-written and well-acted… what’s not to love? Plus, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are incredibly charming and sympathetic as the Warrens (in spite of the historical Warrens themselves). Say what you will about the plethora of sequels (they range from fine to bad), THE CONJURING is a near-perfect horror flick that rewards multiple rewatches.
There it is. Those are my three picks. Are there more obscure and interesting films out there that would boost your cinephile cred for your thousands of adoring Letterboxd followers? Yes, probably. But the above films are solid, scary, rewatchable movies perfect for the Halloween season. If you’re losing cinematic steam halfway through October, maybe one of these films could give you the jolt you need to get back into it. After all, watching scary movies and celebrating Halloween isn’t about being a cinephile. Even being a cinephile isn’t about being a cinephile. In the end, it’s all about HAVING FUN!