A new thrilling list of Halloween movie suggestions
It’s that time of year again. So here’s a few new film suggestions that will make your Halloween a little more thrilling. You’ll find vampires, zombies, aliens and ghosts in this list, and things even more universally frightening, like the passage of time and regret.
Midnight Mass (2021) – From the creators of “The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor” comes another “haunting” series that seems like a cross between “Salem’s Lot” and the Jim Jones massacre . . . but it works. Moving slowly, “Midnight Mass” consistently lures viewers and the townspeople, asking them to put their faith in a priest who has performed miracles. Lots of strange things are happening. Hundreds of dead cats wash up on the beach. A woman’s baby disappears from the womb without explanation. A girl confined to a wheelchair begins to walk again. The film illustrates how a group of people, desperate to believe in something greater than themselves, can easily be led astray, whether that is with religion or politics. It’s an interesting twist on the age-old story of good and evil and how sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the two.
A Quiet Place Part II (2021) – I really liked the first “A Quiet Place” movie. This one also did not disappoint and gives us a glimpse of what happened the first day when a cloud of smoke appeared in the sky from an aircraft or meteor. The townspeople, enjoying an all American, little league baseball game, are interrupted by chaos. Aliens who attack anything that makes a sound have arrived and are lurking about, so the characters must be as quiet as possible or experience their wrath. Things are complicated for one family with a newborn. A deaf girl is the hero of this story that could be symbolic of the disruption and fear the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.
Old (2021) – I love M. Night Shyamalan’s films. I’m always looking for good thrillers with a unique concept and twist ending. “Old” is about a group of vacationers who are taken to an exclusive island where they find a body. They soon realize they are rapidly aging for some reason. “Old” offered an intriguing storyline, but I’m not sure the ending satisfied. Perhaps it would have been better with some elements of “Time Trap” (2017), another surprisingly good movie about time that reminded me a little of “The Goonies.”
Vivarium (2019) – A strange film that seems open to interpretation. When a young couple visits a neighborhood to take a look at a home for sale, they discover they cannot leave, despite desperate attempts to do so, and many weird things unfold, like a nightmare from which one cannot awaken.
United 93 (2006) – I decided to watch this on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 after reading about a person who died in the crash. I believe the film is a fictional dramatization of events from flight 93 pieced together from phone calls the passengers shared, but it was an inspiring movie about Americans who refused to give in to terrorists without a fight.
The Bad Seed (1956) – I have seen many adaptations of this film throughout the years. Practically every creepy kid movie out there is some variation of this film. But I had never watched the original until recently. It featured great performances that have withstood the test of time. I later learned that Patty McCormack, who plays the bad daughter, was nominated for an Oscar for her role. One of the latest versions of this film features Mckenna Grace, who recently appeared in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and the original “Bad Seed” actress, McCormack, as her therapist. It is directed by Rob Lowe.
When a Stranger Calls (1979) – Someone suggested this film to me numerous times, but I had never watched the original until recently. It was entertaining and underscores the need for a good security system in your home and a babysitter who knows how to use a gun. It also features one of the weirdest and most pathetic killers I’ve ever seen in a movie. He seemed like such a loser. I wanted Colleen Dewhurst to punch him and be done with it.
Locke & Key (2020) – I was pulled into this film that reminded me a lot of an adventurous Steven Spielberg tale. Mix in Stephen King influences, whose son, Joe Hill, co-wrote the comic book the film is based on, and you have a darkly intriguing, yet magical haunted house series with interesting characters. It all starts when a well-intentioned mom moves into a family home called the Keyhouse. Just looking at it from the outside, they should have known ghosts were there. The children soon discover a number of mysterious keys throughout the house that once belonged to their ancestors. The keys can be used to unlock various doors in magical ways, but not all doors are harmless.
1BR (2019) – Anyone who has ever lived in an apartment complex knows you can’t always trust you neighbors. But this film takes that idea a step further. The creators of “1BR” have turned that idea into a disturbing scenario, and the main character doesn’t get what she bargained for when she signs the lease on her one-bedroom apartment. For a good deal, I bet there are people in major cities who would be willing to live in a cult if the rent was reasonable and the wifi worked consistently. The director leads us deeper into this story about control and imprisonment.
Ratched (2020) – If you are a fan of “American Horror Story,” you will probably want to watch creator Ryan Murphy’s “Ratched” series starring Sarah Paulson, of AHS fame, who plays nurse Mildred Ratched. You may remember that name from the 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest.” Nurse Ratched is a frightening character that represents control and compliance, submission and surrender. The series is set before the time of “Cukoo”, and Mildred, disguised as a dedicated nurse, is literally a lunatic running the asylum.
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020) – Featuring some of the cast members from “The Haunting of Hill House,” the story is about an au pair hired by a man to look after his niece and nephew at the family country home after they fall into his care. Things get spooky. It’s inspired by of Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.”
The Vanished (2020) – When a couple goes camping, their daughter disappears. They become suspicious of everyone at the campsite. It kept me guessing until the end.
Behind Her Eyes (2021) – Another one that you’ll stick with until it’s over. If you liked “The Skeleton Key,” you will enjoy this series about a love triangle.
Coven of Sisters (2020) One of my top pics from this list. You may enjoy this Spanish thriller featuring a group of teenage girls who are captured and held as witchcraft suspects. One is brave and smart enough to expose the hypocrisy of the lead inquisitor who arrives in town to judge and sentence the sisters. It’s an interesting take on a historic witchcraft period piece that doesn’t follow the typical script.
Deadly Illusions (2021) – This Lifetime-style thriller stars Kristen Davis, of “Sex in the City” fame. She plays a successful author of thriller novels who is offered a $2 million advance to write a new one. So she hires a nanny, and don’t things always go awry when movie characters hire a nanny? The nanny is played by Greer Grammar, daughter of Kelsey Grammar of “Cheers” and “Frazier” fame.
What Lies Below (2020) – Not to be confused with “What Lies Beneath” (the Michelle Phieffer/Harrison Ford movie that I would also recommend if you haven’t seen it), “What Lies Below” is about a teen who joins her mother at the family lake house. There, they meet the mother’s new boyfriend, a handsome nerd who seems too good to be true. The first red flag. He gradually becomes creepier and creepier. Unfortunately, her mother is blinded by love and can’t see what lies ahead or below, which is some pretty weird stuff.
Stowaway (2021) – I like a good space movie. When a crew of three astronauts on a mission to Mars discover they have an extra passenger on board, they must make life and death decisions because they do not have enough oxygen to sustain four people for the duration of the trip.
Things Heard and Seen (2021) – When Catherine moves to upstate New York with her husband, who has landed a teaching job at a local college, things become confusing, and ghosts from the past reveal themselves, proving everything is not what it seems.Army of the Dead (2021) – Practically every type of zombie movie has been made at this point. This was an interesting take on the genre with an ensemble cast who travel to zombie-ridden Las Vegas to recover money from a vault amidst an apocalypse. I kept wondering if and why money still had value because . . . zombies. Maybe the money can buy them freedom from zombies. #Alive (2020) – This South Korean zombie film is about a young man’s struggle for survival while alone in his Seoul apartment during a zombie apocalypse. A virus has turned people into rabid zombies who target the living in this tense and humorous film. I think we can all agree that fast-moving zombies are the worst. The Wind (2018) – Set in the late 19th century on the American frontier in New Mexico, a couple lives in solitude until another couple arrives, and trouble begins. It’s an atmospheric film with supernatural elements in a unique setting and time period. There is something haunting about being all alone in the vast, lonely, unsettled wilderness, much like a good space movie. Cadaver (2020) – The American title of this Norwegian film doesn’t do it justice. Just like the starving characters in the movie are lured to a hotel where a free meal is promised, the audience is also pulled into a dark, post-apocalyptic world where the lines of fantasy and reality are blurred. Hostage House (2021) – When an ambitious realtor and her daughter are held hostage during an open house, they must work together to outsmart their captors.
Level 16 (2018) – A group of girls live in a boarding school, where they are taught to be perfect young women for families that will eventually adopt them. They have limited exposure to the outer world and abide by the rules of the facility or face uncertain consequences. But there is a feminist awakening as the girls begin to question what is happening to them and rebel.
The Hunt (2020) – If you want to see a Mississippi woman outsmart a group of people who are playing a deadly game of cat and mouse, you’ll want to watch this film that features Oscar-winner Hilary Swank and an interesting cast of characters who are dropped into a field and a terrifying situation and left to figure out what is happening. With a “Kill Bill” vibe, the film uses cultural and political stereotypes to make a statement about our politically polarized world and the hate and vitriol of the internet.
Check out The Southern Galaxy’s Film and Television section for more film suggestions.