Tomorrow is Halloween, the annual event that sees children dress-up as the monsters they truly can be, and collect candy and chocolate from the neighbours, is upon us once more. In addition to being the day where kids go hyper from too much sugar, it’s also apparently the night of the year where the veil between the living and dead is at its thinnest, meaning that the ghosts can cross back over for this one night. This makes it the perfect night to lock the door, turn down the lights and enjoy a horror film or two. The pressure to pick the right one though can be crippling, with so many classics out there to pick from, many may find themselves in a Sophie’s choice style dilemma, but why stick with a classic when there are so many new horror films out there? The last couple of months have seen a plethora of movies sneak onto DVD, just in time to become part of your Halloween viewing. Here’s a our picks from what is currently available.
For the non-horror enthusiast… The Unraveling
If you want to get into the Halloween spirit but aren’t a fan of being completely terrorised, then The Unraveling may be the movie for you. Though it has elements traditional to the genre – people dying en-mass, woods, hockey masks etc., this isn’t strictly a horror film. Director Thomas Jakobsen adds his own unique spin on the scares and tells a story about addiction, the bonds of male friendships, and potentially the worst cold turkey experience ever.
Michael (Zack Gold) is a recovering heroin addict – well he would be if he hadn’t fallen off of the wagon. Struggling to cope with impending fatherhood and financial worries, he succumbs to temptation once more and steals money from the wrong people. The next day he’s kidnapped from work. It’s not what you think… his friends have stolen him away to the wilderness to throw him a belated bachelor party. Michael subsequently finds himself stranded in the middle of nowhere on what is potentially the worst comedown in history. Things then go from bad to nightmarish as his friends start turning up dead. It appears that someone’s come to collect, and Michael is next on their list.
One to watch with the teens… Alone
If you’ve got teenagers and are wanting to share a Halloween flick with them, but don’t want to risk traumatising them too much, then look no further than Alone. Based on a series of graphic novels, the film tells the story of a group of teenagers who awaken to find themselves the only inhabitants of their city, a city which is now surrounded by deadly fog. As they band together to work out what is happening, they find themselves hunted by a mysterious and sinister figure that is intent on destroying them once and for all.
Teenagers (and adults) will find plenty to enjoy with Alone. For one, the main cast are all people their own age, much like The Goonies and Stranger Things. It also deals with some dark and moody topics that aren’t always shown through the eyes of the young. It is in French, with English subtitles, but that technically means that the kids are learning whilst being entertained, which is a win win.
If You’re in the Mood for Dark Laughs… Freehold
If disturbing comedy is more your thing then how about British black comedy, Freehold? Hussein (Mim Shaikh) is a young estate agent. He spends his days selling houses, his nights sat in his pants playing computer games, and is having a great time. What he doesn’t know though is that an old client, Orlan (Javier Botet), with a grudge to settle, has secreted themselves into his house and is systematically trying to ruin Hussein’s life. Orlan’s revenge involves conducting all manner of unspeakable acts – most of which involve his own bodily fluids. As Hussein is slowly driven mad, Orlan kick’s his campaign up a notch. Will either of them survive what Orlan has in store?
Freehold is easily one of the most bizarre stories committed to film this year. Firmly planted somewhere between comedy, horror and thriller, this is a film that takes you through a gauntlet of emotions. You’ll laugh, cower, and have to hold down the vomit, as Orlan’s plan unfolds.
Having Friends Over?… Knucklebones
If your Halloween plans tend to involve getting a load of mates around, tucking into a takeaway and drinking large quantities of alcohol, you’re going to want a film that isn’t very hard to follow. You don’t want to sit in silence, you want a film that has the fun factor to it. One that you can all scream at the TV at – scream as victims are offed, whoop as the villain is dispatched, or vice versa. This year’s offering that is perfect for such an occasion, is Knucklebones. It’s a film that plays to all of the expected conventions of the genre, but sometime that is exactly what you want from a film. Knucklebones may just become the younger generation’s Freddy Krueger, or Killjoy at least.
After attempting suicide, pretty young teen, Neesa (Julin), decides to join her friends for a night of fun in an abandoned warehouse. With rumours of the place being haunted, the group are thrilled when they discover a demon-summoning ritual. They aren’t so thrilled however, when their ritual works and calls forth the deadly Knucklebones (Tom Zembrod).
If You’re Craving Body Horror… Replace
Body horror films were once all the rage, films such at The Thing, The Fly and Rabid demonstrated that for true horror you need look no further than the human body. In recent years the sub-genre has begun to make a resurgence with Starry Eyes and Raw both proving that it isn’t defunct. The latest in the new wave of body horror is the beautifully shot Replace.
Kira (Rebecca Forsythe) wakes up one morning, minus her memories. Even stranger still, her skin seems to be falling off in chunks. After a visit to Doctor Crober (played by From Beyond‘s brilliant Barbara Crampton) she learns of an expensive and experimental cure – replacing her dead skin with new. Desperate and running out of time, Kira takes matters into her own hands in order to prolong her life, stealing the flesh of others to sustain herself.
Replace plays like a twisted fairy-tale, but also has plenty of blood and skin-shedding, enough make even the most hardened horror viewer squirm. Maybe skip the takeaway if you settle on this one.
Witness the Return of an Icon… Cult of Chucky
The eighties was a great era for the horror genre, the rise of VHS saw demand for scares at home increase, and after the likes of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, filmakers were all vying to create the next horror icon. Writer Dom Mancini managed to do just this with a doll, of all things. In 1988 horror audiences were introduced to Charles ‘Chucky’ Lee Ray, the serial killer, whom in a bid to cheat death, was reborn into the body of a Good Guy doll. He has since slashed his way through six stories with a seventh, Cult of Chucky, released just in time for Halloween.
Cult of Chucky reunites Chucky with his first victim, one Andy Barclay (played by the original Andy, Alex Vincent), as well as some other familiar faces (Fiona Douriff and Jennifer Tilly) in what could be seen as the Fast Five of the series. It has everything that horror fans could possibly want – creepy moments, witty quips, and a host of inventive deaths. Fan of the franchise? Then you’ll definitely wanna watch this one.
Let us know in the comments below if you do give any of these a whirl for your Halloween scare.