If you’re hoping for a spooky weekend of frights, you could either head out for a ghost hunting session at your local haunted house, or stay inside and watch Netflix instead. If you’ve decided to go for the latter, then check out my top picks! I’m a bit of a horror aficionado, and all of these titles are ones I’ve enjoyed and enthusiastically recommended in the past! I have two categories here – TV shows and movies. Let me know if you have recommendations of your own in the comments!
(All of these are live on UK Netflix at the time of writing.)
There’s one huge, high-profile show that everyone’s going to be talking about this Halloween, and that’s Stranger Things 2. It’s so huge that it even has its own Topshop collaboration. Set in ’80s America, it’s a huge nostalgia trip for anyone who grew up on a diet of movies like Stand By Me, ET, and The Goonies. It takes those ingredients and adds a major creep factor with a parallel world inhabited by monsters, ala Silent Hill, and even throws in some real world conspiracy theories that turned out to be true… That’s right, MK Ultra was a real thing, and so was the US government experimenting with psychics for use in warfare. If that doesn’t creep you out I don’t know what will…
American Horror Story is one of my favourite shows, but it’s not for everyone, and some of the seasons can be hit or miss. Every season (seven in total) is a stand alone tale centred around a particular theme or concept – the first season, entitled Murder House, was set in a haunted mansion in LA with some dark history and an army of resident ghosts with their own stories to tell. The following year’s show, Asylum, touched on the real life tragic treatment of mental patients in New York in the ’50s and ’60s, weaving in some kooky supernatural themes and a heroic female reporter hell bent on uncovering her story – if it’s the last thing she does. Roanoke is last year’s series and is a mockumentary staged like a ghost hunting show about a couple who move into an isolated rural estate, only to find that the locals are less than welcoming. The shows share a core cast of stellar actors, and everyone will have their favourite seasons.
Dexter is an older show now, but if you’ve never seen it before it’s definitely well worth a Halloween watch – the earlier seasons are incredibly strong, although it goes off the rails long before it finishes. Don’t let the mediocre ending put you off, though – this is a thrill ride full of dark twists as we follow a serial killer who is determined to use his powers for good. The twist? He’s also part of the team who investigate homicides in his kill zone – and his sister is a cop, too!
If the only thing that will soothe your dark soul this Halloween is being left with a feeling that your world has been turned upside down and life is just a cruel joke full of misery and disappointment, why not try Black Mirror? Each episode can be watched individually and each one posits a near future in which technology poses ethical and moral quandaries – that almost always lead to the main character having to suffer through some kind of ordeal or another. If you could stay in touch with your loved one after they died, would you do it? Would they really be the same person, or just a ghost in a machine? Or, what if social media ranking actually meant something, and those likes translated into a status that actually gave you privileges? Sounds great – until you wonder what happens to the people who don’t quite manage to make a good impression… Each episode of Black Mirror is an absolute masterpiece, and will have you thinking over the repercussions for days after. Some of the concepts are still lingering in my mind years after I watched them…
A single, hardworking mum, a troubled child, a creepy house, a mysterious book that can’t be thrown away… The Babadook is a classic haunting story with a monster that is utterly creepy and relentless.
Found footage movies might feel like they’ve had their day, but Creep manages to use the format to create an unsettling story that feels like it could happen to anyone. There’s nothing supernatural here – humans are scary enough as it is…
Spanish thriller The Invisible Guest is subtitled, but don’t let that put you off. The whole movie is a locked door mystery, as a famous and wealthy businessman is found in a hotel room with his dead mistress. Did he kill her? This is a story of twists and betrayals, and as good as any Hollywood thriller!
Teen movie It Follows features a curse which works like a STI – it can only be transmitted by having sex with someone, and once that person has the curse, they have to pass it on, or they die. How do they die? You’ll have to wait and see, but suffice to say this is genuinely scary and tense, and the monster is one of the best inventions in modern horror, in my opinion!
Let’s go visit grandma and grandpa! M. Night Shymalan’s horror The Visit sees two kids go off to stay with their estranged grandparents, only to uncover some dark secrets. Like every good Shymalan movie, there’s a twist – but even if you guess it, you won’t spoil the suspense!
If you need a break from all this misery and despair, try a couple of comedies with Halloween themes. Tucker and Dale vs Evil is a parody of teen slasher movies and is done absolutely perfectly, while Zombieland takes the zombie movie idea and turns it into a road buddy flick with a dark sense of humour.
Honourable mentions go to Mama, The Abyss, Hush, The Omen, Cabin in the Woods, and The Woman in Black. And, I’ll do another post soon with true crime recommendations!