Opbomb Read: ~15 mins
It’s Halloween week and some of us may not be heading out trick-or-treating (Seriously, who goes out to Trick-or-Treat in Singapore?). But for the most of us who do not have the mental capacity, energy, or time to brace the scares in Universal Studios Singapore, we might want to consider sitting at home on our couches cowering behind our blankets while watching a horror flick instead. If you have that agenda in mind for the week, we’ve got you covered.
Now, we know that there are countless classic ‘monster’ / ‘slasher’ / downright ‘horror’ flicks we can recommend you go watch (save for one of them featured here), but it’ll take more than one article to cover all of them. So, we’ll take these recommendations one bit at a time per Halloween season. Here are 7 movies we would recommend you watch this Halloween season (1 for each day).
1. Halloween (1978)
Okay, let’s just get the first (and second) recommendations out of the way (Also, not being cheesy, one and two are still great recommendations nonetheless.). What is Halloween without Halloween? There are numerous Halloween movies, but if you ask which one would be worth your time, we would recommend the OG.
The film introduces us to the menacing and iconic villain Micheal Myers – It’s a villain origin movie where we get a glimpse of his psychotic-serial-killer tendencies at a young age (SPOILER ALERT: I mean, which 6-year-old-young mind would think of murdering your own sister with a knife?). The rest of the film follows Samuel (Donald Pleasence), and Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) as they defend themselves against the murderous-knife-wielding-paleface-masked-psycho.
What makes Micheal a menacing ‘slasher-monster’ is that we know him to be a human being, but his antiques and the way he’s virtuously immune to pain and hurt suggests that he’s more than just a run off the mill killer. The cinematography is also meaningful – First person camera views are explored with purpose and helps us feel like Micheal almost in the most voyeuristic way. Like most horror movies, the film concludes in an ambiguous ending; which brings us to…
2. Halloween (2018)
Yes, number two – Halloween 2018! The reason why this movie is on the first parts of the list is that it’s still (as of the day this article is posted) available on the big screen. So, if you are compelled for more of this pale-faced menace, stop reading this now and go to a cinema website and book a weekend screening of Halloween; and then come back here to finish your reading because we still have about 5 more recommendations to share with you.
This Halloween is set 40 years after the first one – both literally and meta-chronically (Wow, 1978 was 40 years ago.). The film once again stars Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie, so you can guarantee that the spirit of the film does not fall far from the original. This time, Laurie is a veteran in defending herself against Micheal. She takes extra steps to be careful and vigilant, almost paranoid even (What can we say when you’re terrorised by a crazed serial killer almost your whole life?), and we get to witness how Micheal still proves to be a villain in every aspect of Laurie’s character.
3. A Quiet Place (2018)
Now that the obvious is out of the way, we would like to recommend something more contemporary in its most recent year. A Quiet Place is not just a horror movie it’s more of a family movie than it is about the creatures that brings in the scares. The film is written, directed, and starred by John Krasinski (known for his comedic role as Jim Halpert in the US version of Sitcom ‘The Office), and co-starred by his wife Emily Blunt. When you know that a comedy actor is directing a horror film, you know that you’re on to something special.
The film sets us up with a family of 5; two parents with three kids. The earth has been invaded by creatures of unknown origin who hunt through sound and we get to observe how this family survives by minimising sound to almost zero in their day to day living. The mother is expecting a child and the father is responsible with protecting everyone else. Also, one of the children is deaf.
What stands out the most in this movie is the sound design. It is designed with the perspective of the characters in mind – So, if we are placed in the situation of the deaf child, all sound is taken out of the film and it still brings us the tensest of scenes. The writing also hits close to the our hearts as, as much as it is a horror movie, it touches on themes of fatherhood, parenthood, and dealing with grief. There are also iconic and tense scenes that may make us consider introducing them into our personal lists of “most memorable horror scenes of all time.”.
4. It Follows (2014)
It Follows is a great movie to watch if we want our buttocks to stay at the edge of our couches. Inferring from the name of the film, the movie is a supernatural horror film that brings forth a creature based on one of the creepiest ideas yet. We know the creature as “It” – A being that just follows the person that holds the curse. This curse is passed down from person to person through sexual intercourse and “It” follows the most recent recipient. When “It” reaches his latest victim, he kills them and moves up the list. “It” can take the shape of anyone and you’ll never know if “It” (The pronoun has become a pun from here on out) is close by.
Right off the bat, we’ll tell you that It Follows is a movie about AIDS and STDs – or at least the very personification of what “It” can represent, but that is up to your own interpretation. What we appreciate about this movie that makes it be on our list is that it mirrors the fear and anxiety some of us may have experienced during our foolish youth. The times where we have sex for the first time and fear of STDs or AIDS. It Follows makes a primal feeling real and relatable – It’s not just about the jumpscares. The anxiety we get from looking through the screen to see if “It” exists is pretty much the same anxiety some of us feel about contracting sexually transmitted diseases; and that is something special a horror movie can do to you.
The movie also has this late 70s to early 80s vibe to it. So, if you like something close to the visual style of Stranger Things, you’ll be right at home with the visual representation of the movie.
5. The Last Exorcism (2010)
What’s a list of horror movie recommendations without one about demon possession? The Last Exorcism is filmed like a documentary. We’re filmmakers Iris and Daniel, and we’re interviewing a pastor that has lost his faith in God because he lost his child, Cotton Marcus. Although Marcus has lost his faith, he still retains his role as a pastor as he believes he is a “healer of souls”. He provides avenues as an emotional channel and psychological advice and treats his role as a pastor as a form of financial service more than it is about faith.
Without spoiling the movie, we have placed this film in our list as it’s a compelling story about faith and belief – Not just in any deity we believe in and worship, but also in honesty with ourselves. Marcus is introduced to this girl who is believed to be possessed and through his encounters with her, he sees a lot of himself and his lost child in her. We also get to explore various themes like psychological distress, and just being honest with ourselves.
We would recommend The Last Exorcism to be just that – a study on the beliefs we can challenge ourselves with and facing our insecurities. However, we may warn you that the conclusion would have been more desirable if it had stopped at one point instead of having the conclusion we see on screen.
6. Kwaidan (1965)
Yes, there are other memorable Japanese horror movies that may come to the mind of the everyday movie-goer (Think the Kayako from Ju On: The Grudge, or Samara from The Ring.). We want to give Kwaidan the slot on our list because it’s basically what movies like The Ring and Ju On are built upon: Pure ghost tales from Japan.
Kwaidan is an anthology film; there’s not much of a continuation of a focused storyline for the entirety of the film, just stories that exist autonomously on their own. It’s a film that showcases classical Japanese ghouls and ghosts – Onryos and Onis and is great for those that would wish to experience how scary classical Japanese tales could be. From the story of a writer who keeps finding a face of a man from a cup of tea to the story of a vengeful spirit that haunts the soul of a blind poet, for a film that was produced more than 50 years ago, it’s one of those that have aged well with its kabuki-like theatrics.
7. Gyo (2012)
Speaking of Japanese horror flicks, for lovers of horror and anime, we can always count on Junji Ito. Junji Ito is pretty much the H.P. Lovecraft of manga. His work captures our minds with horrors that would stimulate our deepest imaginations. And here we have Gyo, one of his works brought to life to moving images.
Gyo is a story about fishes that have gone hostile in the form of a machine that attaches to them to be able to walk on land. Although the quality of the animation does not fully capture Junji Ito’s level of horror and imagination, it is a good entry piece to introduce movie-goers and readers alike to his works. The story is also enough to feed the Halloween crave in you.
So that’s it for this season’s recommendation for horror movies. Remember to watch your back for any form or entity standing behind your couch or in close proximity to you while you savour the scares for the movies above.