👻 qmunicate writers share their favourite spoopy Halloween films 💀
The Orphanage (2007)
Jumping out your skin at a horror film is a fun shared experience, but the fear passes and turns to laughter in the blink of an eye. The Orphanage avoids jump scares, focusing instead on psychological torment and disturbing images of long-forgotten children looking for comfort in the arms of a compassionate maternal figure. A harsh seaside setting is mirrored by the titular orphanage, both comforting and familiar, while also possessing that scary intrigue we all had as kids of big buildings with nooks and crannies to explore, all of which you are convinced have their own personal monster waiting for you. There are no cheap scares here – this is a horror film with an emotional punch, a cry for love even after death, and a protagonist who does what every parent would do, even if that means making mistakes along the way. The Orphanage is one of the great modern horror films.
[Scott Wilson – @HeartofFire]
If slasher gore fests or supernatural creature features aren’t really for you, then Brian de Palma’s Carrie is a refreshing alternative. The story of a bullied child unleashing her telekinetic powers on her tormentors after a cruel prank is one that continues to resonate with audiences forty years later. It’s arguably dated, but the film boasts skilful use of suspense, music, cinematography, atmosphere and characterisation. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie turn in career best performances as Carrie and her terrifying mother respectively, and the story, based on Stephen King’s novella, is timeless. Although it plays out like a drama the film’s true horror is in its revelation of strength and how it can stem from anger within vulnerability. When Carrie finally uses her powers to show her peers the cruelty they showed her, the rest of the film is both chilling and intense. It may not have the typical Halloween film tropes but it’s a horror film that’s artistically spellbinding and continues to be of relevance to this day.
This Japanese cult classic is a hyper-psychedelic technicolour nightmare. The plot is typical haunted house movie; the teenage Gorgeous and her six school friends visit her elderly aunt’s mansion – as night falls, mysterious forces pick them off one by one in increasingly weird ways; a severed head bites an ass, a girl gets eaten by a piano. Think Studio Ghibli meets Scooby Doo with buckets of gore and a tonne of hallucinogens. You’ve never seen anything like it.
[Clare Patterson – @clarepttrsn]
The Guest (2014)
Adam Wingard’s follow up to 2013’s You’re Next is a similarly effective genre-bender. Halfway between a Carpenter-era slasher and the better Bourne films, The Guest sees a suspiciously polite Dan Stevens (him off Downton Abbey) turn up on the doorstep of a bereaved family, claiming to be a war buddy of their deceased son. Stevens then sets about ironing out the family’s variety of dysfunctions in a fashion more sinister than endearing – it’s like Uncle Buck if John Candy was an insane supersoldier with cheesegrater abs. As well as being the role for which Stevens had to “beat off” a number of American men, The Guest also features a breakout performance for Maika Monroe before her star turns in the sinister It Follows and the unnecessary and inevitable Independence Day: Resurgence. From its small home invasion beginnings to its OTT Halloween dance finale The Guest wears its tropes on its sleeve, with visual callbacks to everything from Terminator 2 to Carpenter’s Halloween. The soundtrack’s top-notch too, ranging from aggressive synths (Hourglass by Survive) to all-out ham (Stevie B’s Because I Love You). The Guest is perfect for those looking less for spooky scares and more for self-aware pulpy fun.
[Ronan Duff – @DonanRuff]
Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Repeating formulas with tired and generic tropes are annoyingly common in horror films. A group of young adults trapped in an isolated location, hunted by some vaguely creepy antagonist. Yawn. All main characters will have 2D personalities to check each necessary box – the innocent and usually virginal lead, the promiscuous friend (OMG, she had sex – burn the witch!), the jock dickhead boyfriend, the nerdy friend (wears glasses because poor optical standards correlates with intelligence), and the comic relief. These tropes are dull, so when a self-aware film like Cabin in the Woods comes along and pokes fun at these clichés, it’s refreshing and entertaining. I can’t tell you the full brilliant premise of this film because that would ruin it. Just know this is an intelligent, exciting and funny film, with enough gore to keep horror fans satisfied. The characters are likeable and well-written, so you actually care if they survive or not. The story-line is original, filled with twists, and will keep you on your toes. The antagonist payoff is brilliant and equates to a horror geek’s wet dream. Basically, this is not only a great horror, but a great film too which gets better with every viewing.
[Michaela Barton – @lowkeypigeon]