Arguably, the best way to spend the Sunday before Hallowe’en is to watch horror films in bed. As you all know by now, I absolutely adore horror, but I often find new horror films predictable and unsatisfying. There are too many cheap jump scares and CGI isn’t really my thing. Using psychological tension or leaving things to the imagination is much more interesting than modern special effects. So, here are five great contemporary films that are more in the classic vein, though admittedly the first one is more cult than classic. Happy Hallowe’en, my lovelies!May
American psychological horror (2002)
May is a lonely young woman who works as a veterinary nurse and spends her time off with a porcelain doll in a glass display case gifted to her by her mother when she was little. She’s struggling to connect to people and yearns to find the perfect friend. So much so that it pushes her to literally make one. All-round great performances, particularly by Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto and Anna Faris. This was Lucky McKee’s directorial debut, who later went on to make the Suspiria (1977) homage The Woods (2006) and The Woman (2011). It’s categorised as a horror but really it refuses to be defined. It’s funny, disturbing, sad, romantic, happy and wonderfully morbid. This is one for the misfits, and I cannot recommend it enough.The House of the Devil
American horror (2009)
A young girl replies to an ad to babysit at a remote house during a night of a full lunar eclipse. She has a bad feeling about it and rightfully so as it turns out it’s not quite a normal babysitting job. The weird, old man who placed the ad offers her a lot of money and keeps pressing until she accepts. It’s very slow, building tension expertly, and it completely nails the feel and look of low-budget early 80s horror. This is perfect for when you want an atmospheric, low-action retro horror flick. It doesn’t appeal to everyone but if you, like me, enjoy the suspense more than the usually disappointing reveal, this one is for you.Haute Tension (High Tension)
French horror (2003)
A young woman brings along her best friend to her parents’ farm house in the countryside. They arrive late at night and it doesn’t take long until there’s a home invasion. That’s all I’m going to say. I knew next to nothing about this film before watching it which is the best way to watch it. It’s brutal, gory and absolutely pitch black, like good old 70s Giallo horror. Director Alexandre Aja was accused of plagiarising Dean Koontz’s novel Intensity, but I can’t comment on the similarities as I haven’t read the book. Make sure you watch the original uncut version in French, not the English dubbed version.The Town That Dreaded Sundown
American slasher horror (2014)
65 years after Texarcana was terrorised by a masked serial killer nicknamed the Phantom Killer, it looks like he’s back. One young girl makes it her mission to uncover the murderer’s identity as well as the identity of the original Phantom. This film is beautifully shot using a saturated colour palette, and it plays with light and shadows in a really interesting way. The marvellous sound design keeps you on edge throughout. There are some scenes from the original film from 1976 and some recreated scenes from it too. This works because it’s not a remake or a straight-up sequel, but a meta-sequel made with love for its predecessor.The Invitation
American thriller horror (2015)
A man and his girlfriend are invited to a dinner party at his ex wife’s and her new husband’s house. A house which of course, used to be his. He hasn’t seen her or their mutual friends, also attending the party, for a long time and it’s soon revealed why. As the evening progresses, he becomes increasingly convinced that this isn’t just an innocent get-together, that there is in fact a sinister reason why they’re all there. You know that something is wrong right from the very beginning but exactly what it is creeps up on you slowly. This claustrophobic beauty was directed by Karyn Kusama. I love my one location films so maybe I’m biased, but I really enjoyed it.
How about you? What are you watching this Hallowe’en?