Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching countless episodes of Ghost Adventures, Paranormal Survivors, and a slew of other ghost hunting shows lately, but when my fiancée Marinell and I tuned out Netflix account to the frequency of The Haunting of Hill House, we both damn near fell asleep from unmitigated boredom. From an abundance of unlikeable characters (what is it with this storytelling trend lately?) to slow-slogging shots that are supposed to end with a scream, but don’t, because you see them creeping up in the shadows the whole time, this show is a testament to everything that horror should not be.
Granted, we only made it through episode two. Barely.
It reminded me of when I watched Lars von Trier’s Melancholia and the feeling of fingernail-biting anticipation for when the rogue planet (aptly named for the film’s title) would finally slam into Earth and end these miserable ash-holes so I could go about the rest of my evening in peace.
All that aside, this is not a review of The Haunting of Hill House, nor will it be a long-gestated rant about my absolute hatred of Melancholia. Instead, this blog post is a short reminder that this Halloween season, there are much spookier ways to while away your downtime with thrills, chills, and downright fear, and I’ve included five of my personal favorites for you to choose from.
Now, there are a lot films that didn’t make this relatively minuscule list, and it’s either because they’ll most likely be everyone else’s list this year (The Exorcist and It, of course) or because I haven’t see the film yet. (It and A Quiet Place, for instance –– yeah, I know, I know.) I’ve also steered clear of including any slasher pics (sorry, Michael, Jason, and Freddy) and Universal monsters, even though they’re all the rage since Gillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water made monsters popular again.
(However, if you’ve never watched it and are in the mood for a little black and white classic horror, check out 1931’s Spanish-language Drácula. Bela Lugosi is a legend, no doubt, but Carlos Villarias steals the show, in my humble opinion.)
All right, here we go: five films to watch this Halloween that will shake you to your core more than The Haunting of Hill House:
The Shining – I’ve nothing more to say here. Stanley Kubrick’s loose adaptation of Stephen King’s classic story of a shut-in gone berserk by way of spiritual possession is a must-watch every October for me, usually on the big screen.
Vampyr – Though Carl Theodor Dreyer’s vampire epic is a bit of a silent slog at times, it’s peppered with some of the most spine-tingling moments in horror film history, like shadows that move separate from the bodies that cast them.
Psycho – The best iteration of the Ed Gein mythos and one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest works. (Adapted from the novel by Robert Bloch.) Sure, the shower scene is quite literally killer, but the film in its entirety is a profound meditation on the psychology of a serial killer.
(And only Hitch could get away with a six-minute long trailer! It’s a hoot, though.)
The Witch – Production company A24 has put out hit after hit (Lady Bird and Moonlight being among their most recent winners), and this horror film harrowed me to the core when I watched it last year. If you thought 1999’s Blair Witch Project was scary, you’re in for a real feat of fear with this period witchcraft story.
The Woman in Black – Hammer Films‘s triumphant something back into mainstream horror, this haunted house story beats out The Haunting of Hill House with ease, and like Kill Your Darlings and Swiss Army Man, it helps to break Daniel Radcliffe out of his typecast as Harry Potter and show him as the actor he is. Oh, and spare yourself The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death –– it’s nowhere near as good.
Hope you enjoy a few of these this Halloween. What’s on your must-watch list that is truly terrifying? Let me know in the comments below!