"There are certain RULES that one must abide by in order to survive a horror movie.
First, you can never have sex.
Second, you can never drink or do drugs. BIG NO NO. It's a sin. It's an extension of number 1.
And last, you can never, ever, ever under any circumstances say "I'll be right back," 'Cause you won't be back."
- Randy Meeks, Scream
Summer is well and truly over judging by the constant drenching we're getting whenever we leave the office, which can mean only one thing - the countdown for Halloween begins now.
Be honest, when you think of horror films you generally picture an iconic slasher film villain - enter Freddie Krueger, Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers - stalking you down a dark alleyway. Slashers are associated with the blonde damsel who runs up the stairs instead of out of the house, death by sex or drugs (see Randy's rules above), all culminating in a show-down between the final girl and the seemingly un-killable killer.
But while there are plenty of films on offer from the kings of the horror franchise (specifically Craven and Carpenter), there are some hidden gems just waiting for discovery.
Maika Monroe and Jessica Rothe both make for a pair of fantastic Scream Queens in It Follows and Happy Death Day, respectively, taking the tropes of the genre and giving them a modern spin. In It Follows, teenager Jay has sex and finds out that her sexual partner has 'passed on' something to her. That 'something' involves her being terrorised by a supernatural entity that can take on the form of anybody, and her only escape option is to pass it on to someone else, while in Happy Death Day our heroine is killed repeatedly, reliving the same day over and over again in a Groundhog Day scenario until she can solve the mystery of her murder.
And when talking about modern horror, we'd be remiss not to mention the Oscar-winning master that is Jordan Peele, who followed Get Out with Us earlier this year. If you didn't think the idea of dopplegangers could get any creepier, you were wrong. The film is littered with pop-culture reference easter eggs, the soundtrack and score is haunting (who would have known Luniz's "I Got 5 on It" could sound so sinister?!) and the look of 'The Tethered' presents an effective low budget Halloween party costume option if you're looking for inspiration - you're welcome!
The Supernatural 👻
How can you talk about ghost stories without mentioning J-Horror?! Answer - you absolutely can't. In the early 00's there seemed to be an influx of ghost stories from Japan, which would eventually end up with a slew of Hollywood remakes - some better than others. Hideo Nakata's Ringu and Takashi Shimizu's The Grudge films shaped the future of horror cinema, particularly when it came to a haunting.
Speaking of ground-breakers, there are two films that appear responsible for the continuous trend of the 'found-footage' movie. The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Blair Witch lays claim to the most successful and iconic viral marketing campaign of all time - in fact, some would argue that the film even created the strategy. The marketing was so successful, in fact, that many thought the actors had disappeared in reality - adding to the impact and legacy of the movie. When it comes to Paranormal Activity, (at the time of writing) the film is the most profitable film of all time in terms of return of investment. Made for less that $500k, the film grossed in excess of $89M worldwide, spawning 5 sequels (so far). And it's genuinely scary.
Forget the zombies from TV's The Walking Dead, classic zombies are all the rage for us this year. From the films from the Father of the sub-genre, the legendary George A. Romero - Dawn of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Land of the Dead - to the film that created the zom-rom-com hybrid and the first in Edgar Wright's 'Cornetto Trilogy', Shaun of the Dead, a film that both satirizes the genre, yet becomes an acclaimed addition in its own right.
And, for the die-hard fan there are those zombie films where the zombies aren't technically zombies - but... how many times have you heard The Evil Dead referred to as a zombie film? Technically the Necronomicon / The Book of the Dead harnesses the Kandarian Demon's ability to control those who have already died... but they walk like zombies, so each to their own (technicalities).
Plus this year marked the return of Stephen King to the big screen, with the remake of the book that he claims to have been the only one of his novels that actually scared him - Pet Sematary. If you like a zombie cat in your life, this is the film for you - fluffy Church is the cutest evil cat there ever was, and "sometimes dead [really] is better". The perfect way to pass the time before Doctor Sleep arrives in theatres.
And remember, everyone's entitled to one good scare this Halloween 🎃
Written by: Anna Wilczek