It’s October again (or close enough) so get ready for a whole month of horror-themed content. I begin by easing into it. Not everyone likes being scared after all. As a fan of horror, I cannot tell you how many times my suggestion to watch a horror movie has been voted do by “Is it scary? I don’t like being scared!”
Well… of course all the absolute best “pure” horror movies are scary. They wouldn’t be good if they weren’t. Yet I feel that there is a sub-genre to horror that is rarely talked about. Those films that give the chills but also excite us as audiences. After all, it was films like the original Dawn of the Dead that got people asking: “So what would you do in a zombie apocalypse?”
So if you’re looking to get into the Halloween spirit but still wish to sleep fairly soundly at night, I have some ideas for you. Keep in mind, art is subjective – so if you frighten easily: fair warning.
Seriously, for those that haven’t heard, M. Night’s newest sends two kids to meet their long-lost grandparents. Shot in “found footage” style, The Visit treats its audiences to a mix of jolts and laughs. Sounds like a hard combo to pull off because it is.
What makes The Visit more impressive is that, while balancing these two difficult moods, the film remains fairly grounded and subdued. The films highlighted after this one make no such effort and often reach wacky, near cartoon levels of physical humor. M. Night is able to perfectly capture that level of awkward, tension-relieving laughter that comes when the film’s characters (and audience) realize that the situation is just going from bad to worse.
For those out there getting sick of “found footage” and all its overdone trappings, The Visit has you covered as well; with many scenes intentionally poking fun at the more commonplace jump scares.
Is it creepy: yeah (especially if old people weird you out), but it’s also a lot of fun! Also, there’s very little gore – although it does get kind of gross in certain spots.
Cabin in the Woods
For a long time, the late great Wes Craven‘s Scream was at the top film for meta-horror movie experiences. It still is… but Cabin in the Woods blows it out of the water as a deconstruction of the slasher horror genre. Where Scream merely pointed out where conventions lay, Cabin in the Woods works its entire premise around it.
The film is, you guessed it, about a group of young, attractive college kids renting a cabin in the woods. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that there is a little bit more going on. Soon the kids are up against a family of murderous zombies and things are getting increasingly dangerous and bizarre.
This is a perfect film for anyone who has ever watched a teen horror film and wondered: “Why is everyone acting like a complete idiot? Why would they do that?”
It’s gory for sure, but there’s a lot of comedy interwoven into the horror formula. All the actors perform like they had a blast making this film. Surprisingly (or not) this movie was written by none other than Joss Whedon (The Avengers) and his friend Drew Goddard and serves as their letter to the horror genre.
Wow, Minions has sure grossed a lot of money recently huh? I wonder where the creators ever got that idea for little, semi-evil, funny monsters that run around causing mischief and spouting gibberish?
Oh yeah, these hyper assh*les.
When Gremlins was first conceived, it was intended to be a much darker, more serious horror film. The gremlins weren’t going to be as funny and were going to kill a lot more people. Luckily, none other than Steven Spielberg came along and was like nah, let’s lighten it up. The result is arguably the most fun creature invasion movie of all time.
This film creeped me out as a kid, but since then I have come to view it as one of the most fun horror films I have. It can ever count as a Christmas movie (as much as Die Hard) since it takes place around that holiday. Is there gore? Yeah, but only if you count putting a gremlin in a blender. And oh that theme song:
Evil Dead II/ Army of Darkness
I’m kind of cheating here but they are both films in the same Evil Dead series. While the first and fourth (or remake if you will) films are straight horror, the second and third are something else entirely. Watching Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness is like watching live action cartoons… that are adult-oriented. I mean, just watch this:
Yeah, it’s ridiculous. The first three films can be viewed as Ash (the protagonist)’s descent into madness, as he is thrown into a world of demons and other horrors that defy reason. Don’t watch if you can’t stand dismemberment, but otherwise you may never laugh harder at a horror film. Here’s hoping the upcoming Ash vs. Evil Dead can deliver the same level of zany quality.
Trick ‘R Treat
When Krampus comes out: see it. Take your friends, maybe have a drink or two first, and prepare to have a good time. Why do I say that? Because Krampus is directed by Michael Dougherty, the mastermind behind Trick ‘R Treat.
Trick ‘R Treat may be the definitive Halloween film, since it is all about Halloween! The film is an anthology collection of stories centered around the holiday. The importance of checking your candy: check. The importance of decorating a pumpkin: check. The importance of having a great costume: it’s all there. Every rule of Halloween must be followed, and those that break them suffer dire consequences.
There is nothing more to be said than this film IS Halloween. It’s essential viewing. Not too gory, not too scary, it’s just right. Darn shame it never earned a theatrical release, but there’s hope for the sequel!
There you are, six films to sink your fangs into. In my opinion, they won’t terrify so much as entertain, making them excellent choices for those trying to get into horror this Halloween.