Among other things, All Hallows Eve is everyone’s annual excuse to organise a marathon binge of horror movies, not that you ever need an excuse to perform this ritual. That said, deciding on the perfect movie to watch can be as terrifying an ordeal as the films themselves. Picking just the right scary movie is crucial to ensure to create just the right vibe for your evening, so when putting together our very own list below, we made every effort to strike just the right balance between a hearty dose of dread and a wholesome helping of laughs. So, without further ado, what follows are ten films that are definitely worth adding to your list of must-see movies this spooky season.
Shunji Iwai’s much more grounded take on vampire lore makes this unlike anything else on this list, and the most enjoyable, in this writer’s humble opinion.
The film stars Kevin Zegers as Simon, a seemingly ordinary biology teacher that spends much of his spare time caring for his Alzheimers-ridden mother Helga. But there is far more than meets the eyes to Simon as he believes himself to be a vampire and spends much of his time looking at online sites for suicidal women who would make for easy prey to satisfy his taste for blood. What makes this film all the more fascinating, and shocking, is the fact that rather than Simon’s thirst for blood prompting him to take violent actions, his acts are quite peaceful and always consented. Ultimately, when Simon meets a girl named Laura, things begin to unravel, as she grows obsessed with him to the point where she breaks into his home, putting his secret life in danger of being exposed. And to make matters worse, Renfield (Trevor Morgan), a man who also believes himself to be a vampire, emerges onto the scene who is far more violent than Simon ever dared to be.
In short, Vampire is a bold exploration that twists vampire tropes into terrifying new territory; an exploration that deserves both admiration and undivided attention. We cannot recommend this film enough.
Penned, directed, produced, scored, and edited by Toby Poser, John Adams, and Zelda Adams (The Deeper You Dig) – who also star, alongside Lulu Adams, Hellbender is the sixth feature released under the Wonder Wheel Productions banner, the family-run company founded by Poser and Adams and their children. And as if those weren’t enough super skills already, the family also produced the music for the film providing tracks from their experimental punk band H6LLB6ND6R.
The film tells the coming-of-age tale of 16-year-old Izzy (Adams), who suffers from a rare disease that has kept her cooped up in the confines of a mountaintop home with her mother (Poser) since birth. Hitting adolescence, Izzy’s inquisitive mind starts to question her condition, prompting her to rebel against her confinement and secretly befriend Amber (Lulu Adams), another girl living on the mountain. But Izzy’s newfound happiness is short-lived when she eats a live worm as part of a game that triggers an insatiable and violent craving inside her. In order to make sense of her new urges, Izzy will have to learn the dark secrets of her family’s past and the ancient power of her lineage.
John Swab‘s (Ida Red, Let Me Make You a Martyr) revenge slasher film with no boundaries which focuses on the dissenting morals and perspectives of “lot lizards” and religious cult members is unlike any slasher movie we’ve ever seen.
Candy Land focuses on Remy (Olivia Luccardi – It Follows, “The Deuce”), a seemingly innocent and pious young woman who is cast out of her religious cult. With nowhere to go, she finds acceptance in the underground world of truck stop sex workers a.k.a. “lot lizards,” courtesy of her hosts, Sadie (Sam Quartin – Run With the Hunted, Body Brokers), Riley (Eden Brolin – Arkansas, “Yellowstone”), Liv (Virginia Rand – I Am Fear) and Levi (Owen Campbell – X, Super Dark Times). Under the watchful eye of their matriarch, Nora (Guinevere Turner – American Psycho), and enigmatic local lawman, Sheriff Rex (William Baldwin – Flatliners, Backdraft), Remy navigates between her strained belief system and the lot lizard code to find her true calling in life.
VIRUS: 32 (2022)
Shudder released the brilliantly plotted out and deftly shot zombie thriller Virus :32 from Gustavo Hernandez. Fans of the celebrated director will recall that his 2010 debut feature, The Silent House (La casa muda) premiered out of Cannes’ Directors Fortnight to international acclaim, followed by the 2014 Fantastic Fest premiere of Local God (Dios Local) and 2018 Tribeca premiere of You Shall Not Sleep (No dormirás).
Starring Paula Silva (In the Quarry) and Berlinale Silver Bear winner Daniel Hendler (Lost Embrace), Virus :32 tells the tragic tale of a pandemic that leads to carnage on the streets. The sick become hunters, only able to cool their fever by unscrupulously killing anyone not yet infected. Oblivious to the entire situation, Iris (Silva) and her daughter spend the day at the local sports club where Iris works as a security guard. But when night falls, their fight for survival begins. Their only hope for salvation comes when they discover that, after each attack, the infected seem to be left incapacitated for 32 seconds before striking out again.
Paul Andrew Williams’ (London to Brighton) latest feature, Bull, is a refreshingly different take on the revenge movie which we’re pretty sure will take you completely by surprise. (Read our full review here).
Williams, directing from his own script, delivers an intense and disturbing movie that will long lurk in the audience’s memory, with lead actor Neil Maskell on top terrifying form as Bull, a man who mysteriously returns home after a 10-year absence to seek revenge on those who double-crossed him.
SHE WILL (2022)
Executive produced by horror maestro Dario Argento (Suspiria), Colbert’s inventive and provocative directorial debut took home the Golden Leopard for Best First Film at Locarno Film Festival and also created quite the buzz on the international festival circuit, screening at notable festivals such as the London Film Festival, Sitges, Fantastic Fest and Thessaloniki.
Exuding timeliness with an evocative feminist critique, She Will is a gothic fairy tale revolving around Veronica Ghent (Alice Krige) who, after undergoing a double mastectomy, goes to a healing retreat in rural Scotland with her young nurse Desi (Kota Eberhardt). Here she starts to realize that the process of this surgery stirs up anxieties and questions about her own existence, prompting her to start questioning and confronting past traumas. The two form an unlikely bond as mysterious forces give Veronica the power to fulfill her revenge in her dreams.
Colbert’s narrative is a mesmerising story of a woman who expunges her trauma through dreams and the film serves as a testament to the fact that trauma can blur our experience of reality and time and how meaning and perspective and reality and time are all such fragile constructs that can break at any time.
BLOODY HELL (2021)
Time for some much-needed horror/comedy in this list. Best described as Die Hard meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Bloody Hell puts a whole new spin on the action/comedy/horror formula, following Rex (Ben O’Toole), a man with a mysterious past who ups and leaves the country to escape the living Hell he’s created for himself… As bad luck would have it, he picks a destination that is far worse. In an effort to survive his new predicament, he turns to his personified conscience to help him figure out how to free himself from a deranged family of cannibalistic psychos.
Having grown up on a healthy diet of ’80s horror movies, writer and director Prano Bailey-Bond found fascination in the aforementioned social and political aspects that plagued violent and graphic productions in that particular era. And, on exploring her curiosities surrounding the responsibilities that film censors’ were suddenly burdened with in the ’80s – having to be both objective and subjective in their roles all at once – the filmmaker felt compelled to convey her findings in the form of her very own horror film, Censor.
Penned by Bailey Bond and Anthony Fletcher, the film stars Niamh Algar as Enid, a fastidious film censor who takes pride in her duty to protect unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the mutilations, cannibalism, gang rapes, gore-filled decapitations, and eye-gougings she pores over.
Her scrupulousness is amplified by the guilt she feels for being unable to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. But, when Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that shares mysterious parallels with her clouded childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie piece of work might be tied to her past.
This directorial debut shock horror from CGI effects guru Toby Wilkins set in and around an abandoned gas station rivals classic sci-fi greats with a vicious, parasitic creature infecting its human victims, instilling in them a gourmandizing hunger for human flesh. In a somewhat similar vein to The Thing the unlikely heroes, a couple on a camping vacation, end up in a situation where there’s just no telling who has been infected and who they can still trust.
Given the shoestring budget, Splinter is a highly effective infection-sci-fi-thriller that pays homage to genre classics such as The Thing, The Blob and, to a lesser extent, The Hand whilst adding its own eco-elements to the table making it a very singular and worthwhile piece of work.
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil (2010)
And to finish off, it has to be our ultimate go-to movie every Halloween.
Although it was never going to steal the prize from Deliverance for the hillbilly horror movie of all hillbilly horrors, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil cuts about as close as they come in this comical Texas Chainsaw Massacre inversion.
This gleefully gruesome and hilarious take on the age-old slasher genre finds director Eli Craig bring a long-yearned-for original spin on said horror sub-genre.
Tucker and Dale are the anti-heroes of the century as they play two bumbling hillbillies taking a break at their derelict mountain cabin, being mistaken for murderous backwoods hillbillies by a group of abhorrent college goers. Oh yes, it’s brimming with stereotypical horror characters but all for the sake of comedy and the film never, never, never sets out to take itself seriously.
To cut a long story short, the kids own imaginations end up playing out. Most deaths, if not all of them, are purely by accident and for some reason this seems to make them all the more gruesome than had they been intentional.
If you’re not a fan of the genre then you’ll maybe come out of this finding it pretty thin but, if you fancy a blood soaked horror with jokes that are actually funny then Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is what needs popping into your DVD player this evening and many more to come. Best enjoyed with friends.