Chilling Choices: Horror Flicks Worth Your Scream

Issue 18: October 11, 2023

With it officially being October there is no better time to dive into some terrifying horror
movies. Growing up on movies like Scream, Event Horizon, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre gave
me a love for all things spooky. Not only do horror movies offer a fun often chilling watch, but
they can serve as deep representations of our basic fears. Horror movies offer symbolism in
sexual inequality and other deeply rooted social issues often deemed too taboo by other genres of
movies. The following is a multi-part series where I will attempt to provide you with horror
movies worth your time, energy, and screams. Bonus note, I am a massive fan of Shudder TV the
streaming service and if you are a horror fan such as myself I can not recommend the streaming
service enough, they do an excellent job of inclusivity and treat their indie movie directors with
respect. (Most of these movies contain graphic, adult content and sometimes possibly traumatic
events, all viewings should only be partaken if comfortable.)

  1. The Witch (2015) Directed and Written by Robert Eggers: An unsettling timepiece of the
    The Witch offers a glimpse into the brutal reality of early 1600s New England. A Puritan
    family is banished from their town and forced to develop their livelihood in a section of ominous
    New England forest. As terrible events unfold, the question of evil and morality is brought to
    light as the family battles hunger, paranoia, and an ancient evil lurking in the woods. The Witch
    plays into themes of religious impurity, and betrayal, and is a haunting, ominous watch worthy of
    a dark room and plenty of popcorn. The movie can be found on HBO Max and Kanopy and can
    be rented on Apple TV and YouTube.
  2. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) Directed and Written by the Chiodo Brothers: A
    goofy yet disturbing cult classic.

    Viewers with Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) beware this 80s cult classic is filled with
    evil, alien clowns that still hold up as horrifying even 34 years later. The movie focuses on a
    group of teens as they battle the otherworldly clowns who slowly envelop their town. While the
    movie doesn’t offer any deep social commentary, the special effects and uneasy tone make the
    movie a chilling watch. Although, I would not recommend any cotton candy or amusement parks
    after seeing the movie. The movie can be found on Pluto, Tubi, AMC+, and Shudder, and can be
    rented on YouTube and Apple TV.
  3. Upgrade (2018) Directed and Written by Leigh Whannell: Futuristic cyberpunk action
    horror, do I need to say anything more?

    While not exactly a direct “horror” movie, the cyberpunk body horror theme of the movie
    provides for a terrifying watch. Though I will warn you, the movie is very graphic. The story
    stars Logan Marshall-Green as he uses a newly acquired cybernetic upgrade to find revenge
    against a group of paramilitary cyber soldiers. The movie offers an incredible synthetic
    soundtrack and a dystopian futuristic world that is very immersive. The story offers a deep
    commentary into humanity’s reliance on technology and is very relevant in the growth of AI, and
    all the possible horrors that could stem from a world completely reliant on technology.
    Marshall-Green gives a fantastic performance in a movie I can not recommend enough to fans of
    futuristic setpieces, with a sprinkle of horror and action. Upgrade can be found on Hulu, HBO
    Max, and Prime Video.
  4. It Follows (2014) Directed and Written by David Robert Mitchell: Good luck walking
    alone anymore.

    It Follows is a delightful indie horror movie that leans into the idea of the horror of the
    unseen. I won’t spoil any major plot points (seriously just watch it blind) but the story centers
    around sexual trauma and the fear of STDs surrounding modern hookup culture. I will warn the
    themes in this movie are very traumatic and while nothing is ever over the top some scenes
    might be hard to process. The HAUNTING synthetic score of the movie does an outstanding job
    of leaving you tense and on edge during the whole movie. The otherworldly feeling of the movie
    does an excellent job of making you feel isolated and makes the movie worth several rewatches
    for small details. A movie I would recommend with friends present, the jumpscares, soundtrack,
    and genuine feeling of terror will have you looking over your shoulder for weeks. It Follows can
    be found on Direct TV and Showtime, and can be rented on the Google Play and Microsoft
  5. REC Directed and Written Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza: A relevant piece
    that can easily be connected to the isolation and horror of COVID-19.
    REC is found horror done to perfection. The movie is a Spanish indie horror movie that is
    filmed entirely in Spanish. The language barrier should not stop you from watching this excellent
    movie, however. It is shot through the perspective of a news crew following a group of
    firefighters into a building where things quickly dive into chaos as a rogue infection spreads
    throughout the building. The film is incredibly scary and the jumpscares are excellently
    well-timed, making the movie a truly terrifying watch in the dark. The isolation of the victims
    provides a true sense of helplessness. The themes of isolation, human morality, and the fear of
    viral infections are all played to perfection and truly make you question the decisions you would
    make in a similar situation. The found-footage style makes the movie feel very human and
    allows for some truly chilling moments. This movie does contain a fair amount of gore and dark
    tones but still provides a very human touch to the horror elements. REC can be found on Prime
    Video and can be rented on YouTube and Amazon Prime.
  6. Sinister (2012) Directed by Scott Derrickson and Co-Written by C. Robert Cargill and
    Derrickson: Easily the scariest movie I have ever seen.

    Do you like Ethan Hawke, mysteries, and terrifying jump scares? Then stop what you are
    doing and watch Sinister. WARNING: This movie is easily the scariest movie on the list and is
    considered one of the scariest movies to hit screens, (also the gore in this movie is minimal but
    what’s not shown on screen will leave you plenty to imagine). The movie is based on nightmares
    by the writer Cargill and it does an excellent job of capturing this nightmare feeling. The story
    follows Ethan Hawke starring as a crime writer who moves to a haunted house filled with hidden
    horrors and a tragic, dark past. Hawke discovers a set of horrifying home movie tapes that
    unravel into a story of sinister demons and ghost children. The main villain Bughuul is a
    terrifying presence and left me with nightmares for weeks. Seriously, this movie is scary, do not
    watch this alone unless you are sure of your bravery. Sinister can sadly only be rented on
    YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Microsoft Store.
  7. Hereditary (2018) Directed and Written by Ari Aster: Telephone Poles, Cults, and Piano
    Strings, what a combination.

    WARNING: This movie is a complete mind trip and features some super graphic
    moments, please do not watch this anywhere near children (I barely could handle it as a young
    adult). Of all the movies listed here, none are quite as sorrowful and bleak as Ari Aster’s
    masterpiece Hereditary. The truly gut-wrenching grief the characters go through is genuinely
    heartbreaking and superbly well-acted by the whole cast. The plot is… complicated but
    surrounds themes of cults, family dynamics, and the handling of grief. The movie deserves
    multiple watches as Aster does an excellent job of hiding small details in every single shot.
    Seriously, I have seen this movie at least ten times and I notice something new every single time.
    Grief and trauma are the central themes of the story and grasp human emotion in a way not many
    films can. There is no true villain to the story other than human nature and how trauma can often
    lead us down dark paths. The family dynamic is exceptionally realistic and can sometimes feel
    “too real” for some viewers such as myself who found the tension between the family to invoke
    truly deep thoughts about how families handle loss. If you like to think and be scared look no
    further than this masterpiece, if you enjoy the film I recommend Aster’s 2019 film Midsommar,
    a folk horror piece that made me audibly gasp and leave the room during my first watch.
    Hereditary can be found on HBO Max, Kanopy, and Direct TV, and rented on Google Play
    Movies and Vudu.