The genre that terrorises, tantalises, and torments audiences, horror provides us with a physical manifestation of our worst fears (and leaves us with a few new ones). It’s a visceral experience, making horror a polarising genre amongst film fans.
Thrill-seeking horror buffs are constantly seeking their next scare, but not all of us enjoy being scared senseless of our own volition. If you identify as part of the latter category, Halloween is the perfect time to find that extra ounce of courage to delve into the frightening flicks you’ve been avoiding.
In recent years, the scope of the genre has broadened greatly. Directors search for ways to provide their distinctive stamp on horror to stand out against the cult classics in the back-catalogue. With compelling storytelling, commanding performances, and masterful cinematography, contemporary horror has become more critically mainstream whilst also redefining what being scared is all about. From the absurd to the strikingly realistic, there’s nothing quite like a fear-filled Halloween movie marathon! So dip into the following 10 spine-tingling contemporary horror films that promise to give you nightmares until Christmas.
When husband and wife duo Mike Flannagan and Kate Siegel join forces, the results tend to be terror-inducing. In this 2016 slasher, deaf author Maddie (Siegel) is stalked in her own home by a masked killer who targets her as his next victim. Its tension is at times intolerable, making it an absolute must-watch. If you enjoy Flannagan’s fresh take on horror, be sure to check out his other projects if you dare.
When a stranger enters the small village of Goksung, a mysterious disease breaks out into the community. The affliction causes the infected inhabitants to violently kill their families, leading to a manhunt for the stranger. The Wailing is an intelligent thriller that puts a unique spin on classic tropes, making for a hideously captivating motion picture.
Stephen King’s hit novel was brought to the big screen with hair-raising results. A malicious shape-shifting monster, mostly taking the form of Pennywise the clown, clambers out of the sewers every 27 years, hell-bent on terrorizing the town’s children. The film is a chilling portrait of the fears that spawn from wild childhood imaginations and the threat they possess when they come true.
Inspired by the 1977 film with the same name, Suspiria follows dancer Susie Bannion as she enrols in a Berlin dance school that is run by witches. Susie sees suspiciously swift success at the academy, evoking sinister accusations from a fellow student. The secrets of the studio’s underground chambers are investigated by a psychotherapist, played by master of disguise, Tilda Swinton. This supernatural sensation is a far cry from Guadagnino’s other features but is just as blindingly brilliant.
The death of the Graham family matriarch leaves the remaining family members haunted by the secret of their alarming ancestry. Ari Aster came in strong with his directorial debut, delivering one of the best horror movies of the 21st century. It’s wildly unsettling, and Toni Collette blesses us with one of the performances of her career.
Halloween follows on from the 1978 film, with the original actors (Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle) reprising their roles. Forty years after being locked up for his killing spree in Haddonfield, masked menace Michael Myers manages to escape imprisonment. He makes his sinister return to the town in search of the sole survivor who evaded him on, you guessed it, Halloween, but this time she’s prepared…
As a child, Adelaide Wilson underwent a traumatising experience in a house of mirrors that still haunts her in the present day. Her fears prove founded in truth when a group of masked strangers turn up to torment her family. The twist: they are each doppelgängers of the Wilson family. In the follow up to Get Out, Peele showcases yet again how horror can be used as a tool to provide powerful social commentary.
Titular character Maud is a hospice nurse with a mission sent from God to save the soul of her new patient. As you can probably expect, the tale takes a sinister turn as Maud teeters the line between spiritual ascension and menacing madness. Rose Glass challenges the parameters of reality, providing a disturbing picture packed with unnerving shots that will linger in your mind for a long time.
If you enjoyed Hereditary, look no further for your Ari Aster fix than Midsommar. His sophomore outing takes a young couple and their friends on a Swedish getaway after the traumatic death of Dani’s family. Their scenic trip turns deadly as they find themselves in the midst of a murdering cult. The entire film is shot in daylight, making it the most accurate portrayal of a waking nightmare of all time.
Director Rob Savage took the most mundane aspect of Covid quarantine (Zoom) and turned it into the setting of an unnerving sequence of events, taking place in the houses that we couldn’t leave. An online séance proves just as threatening as physical ones, clearly showing that your antivirus software provides no protection against a demonic presence. Host is an hour-long feast of jump-scares that will have you declining all future zoom requests.
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