It’s the witching hour, my fellow spooky denizens. As the days turn shorter, the air runs crisper, and the feel of magic all around bubbles forth we all crave just a bit of that sometimes scary, sometimes surreal, feeling in our bones. And what better way to lean into the darkness of the night and the coziness of being cuddled up on the couch than with some truly creepy horror flicks? While we all know the big ones, there are some delightful twisted scary movies out there that run just under the radar – and get just under our skin.
If a slow burning of dread is your thing, then 2016’sThe Invitation is inviting you to watch. Capitalizing on that kind of Bad Feeling we all get and can never put our finger on, it uses a seemingly banal dinner party to set up tension between a man, his ex-wife, and her new husband in a way that will have you on the edge of your seat. Running the gambit of paranoia, watch this if you low-key like questioning your own sanity.
William Castle isn’t crowned the king of the ballyhoo horror genre for no reason! With a twisty, zany mystery plot that will keep you guessing, plenty of unexplained murders, and even the first ever “Fright Break” (a 45 second countdown before opening the Final Door to allow the weak of heart to leave), Homicidal is a true ‘60s gem of frights and jumps and gimmicks of the highest order.
A novel concept for a horror movie: it’s heavy on the dialogue and light on the action. But that’s just what makes itso good. By not showing you directly what is going on, you fall into that top tier sense of ominous dread and become scared of the ultimate fear: the fear of the unknown. Set in a radio station during an end of the world type situation, you are kept in the dark as much as the main characters and your fear is heightened by only hearing the horrors of the outside world steadily come closer.
A Hitchcock, yes, but one that often gets overlooked. Less outrightly scary than it is masterfully suspenseful, it features coolly detached sociopaths trying to hide their murder and the body in their apartment while also hosting a dinner party. It is one of the rare tales to take place in real time and, thanks to long shots, looks as though it is made up of one, hour plus continuous shot
If you’re feeling bored and over the done-to-death zombie trend, let me offer up on undead fare that sets itself apart.Exit Humanity is set during the Civil War and not only delivers on the deep-cutting scares and the nightmarish atmosphere, but it is built on an emotionally genuine narrative and a story that pulls you in on a level beyond the cheap thrills.
Similar in style to10 Cloverfield Lane, this ‘trapped in a bunker’ flick capitalizes on the viral outbreak genre of horror and the creepy things scrambling about unseen. Complete with a rocking twist ending, this movie will have you on the edge of your seat. Oh, and it’s by a just pre-Stranger Things Duffer Brothers, so you know it’s good.
If you like your horror to stem from nightmares, then this lucid dream disguised as a movie is for you. Suffering from recurring nightmares following the death of her grandmother, our main character steps into her very own dark dream world to uncover her family’s past. Featuring no end of dark and twisted imagery, this movie is like what would happen if Michel Gondry suddenly snapped and became possessed by a demon. And we love it. Just maybe make sure you have a nice, feel-good sitcom lined up to watch after…
The Possession of Michael King
Moving far beyond cheap jump scares and torture porn tropes,The Possession of Michael King is CREEPY in the best way possible. It follows a filmmaker who, after the death of his wife, goes on a manic search for existence of the supernatural and allows himself to be the subject of experiments for demonic possession, necromancy, satanic rituals and more in an effort to prove the paranormal is a myth. Of course, the exact opposite happens in a superbly scary timeline.
Beyond the Gates
There’s something about nostalgia that lends itself quite well to horror, and this flashback to the ‘80s provides the perfect backdrop for a scary adventure. Featuring two brothers who stumble upon an old ‘interactive VHS board game’ of their father’s, they unwittingly unleash a set of horrors with haunting mysteries and deadly consequences.
Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 8
Twin Peak’s triumphant return last year has sparked quite a debate over whether it is TV or movie fare, but one thing remains unanimously certain: Part 8 is an hour-long nightmare of the highest caliber. Nobody can touch the existential dark dream fodder quite as well as David Lynch and, if you like your horror a little cerebral and surreal, Part 8 stands alone even outside Twin Peaks lore context as excellent spooky viewing.