The fog glistened in the luminescent light of the full moon. He ran breathlessly through the graveyard; his legs burning with the acidic buildup and his breath in the cold night creating a trail behind him for them to follow. He looked back — the dank environment enveloping his senses. I’m almost there he thought, but just as he turned around, the demented creature wrapped its tentacles around him, the razor sharp teeth glowing as the world around him went black. Spooky movies are a staple for the Halloween season because they allow us to experience our worst fears — flesh eating clowns, insane scientists, and terrifying monsters — without any real threat of danger. The adrenaline rushes through our blood, the buttery popcorn morphs into butterflies in our stomachs, and the chills grow into mountains over our skin — all in the safety of our very own bedrooms. These seven movies, rated on their spookiness, are the perfect beginning for your trek into the depths of your subconscious because of their diversity. This list includes classics, laugh-out-loud parodies, and popular trendy movies all for you to relax, jump, learn, laugh, and even cry within the same night.
1. The Shining (1980) 2/5 Ghosts
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…or a bloodthirsty murderer. Jack, an alcoholic writer, is looking for a quiet place to work with his wife Wendy and young son Danny, and finds the perfect location: a secluded hotel built on a Native American burial site where the previous caretaker *cough* killed his entire family *cough*. Jack’s deteriorating psyche and the strange occurrences surrounding the story are enough to leave you a little frazzled, but will still allow you to sleep safely tucked away from the monsters that run rampant in the night. This movie is spooky not because of the jump scares common in recent horror movies, but rather from the acting of Jack Nicholson (Jack) and Shelley Duvall (Wendy). The facial expressions of Jack charging at his wife with an axe in a horrific rage and Wendy fleeing in hysteria at the ghastly sight of her partner’s remains will be sure to linger in the back of your mind long after the credits have rolled.
2. The Conjuring (2017) 4/5 Ghosts
The Conjuring gained traction through its promotion as a true historical story because nothing is more spooky than a REAL LIFE demonologist couple that store possessed artifacts in their own home. To summarize, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren go to help a family who’s being tormented by strange occurrences in their new secluded home. The story is very slowly paced in the beginning — so much so that I almost fell asleep — but once the action picks up, it leaves you with permanent goosebumps. What makes this movie one of the spookiest is the secluded setting, the huge buildup to the finale, and the devolution of one of the main characters; summoning a shocking end that sets the scene for the other upcoming sequels — popular movies like Annabelle and The Nun. However, the true torture of this movie comes from the tension and build-up as a happy nuclear family gets slowly picked apart from the inside out. Be ready a couple of sleepless nights after this film.
3. Get Out (2017) 3/5 Ghosts
Get Out is the perfect example of how meeting the parents is never a good idea. The movie starts out normal, with African American protagonist Chris and his white girlfriend Rose on their way to her parents’ house for the very first time. Chris is then introduced to Rose’s family, who takes a terrifying interest in Chris. In Get Out, everything is not what it seems, and no one is who you think they are. The symbolism of the deer and the chilling motifs of the cameras flashes and the Sunken Place drive the plot and intricately weave in relevant social issues in a seamless manner that will shake the viewers to their core. This movie’s rated high on the spooky factor not for the usual tropes of the horror genre, but rather for the paralyzing reality that it represents and the destruction of the protagonist’s deceivingly normal life. The camera flashes will not only shed light on the racism still present in society, but also on the deceptive nature of many characters in the film. There are plenty of laughs along the way, but not the amount that will detract from the serious tone meant to shake the fringes of what we believe to be a reality based in equality.
4. Murder Party (2007) 1/5 Ghosts
Murder Party is a movie that deserves more of a fan following, as it grips viewers with its twisted gags and comedic shock value. The story follows recluse Christopher, who happens upon an invitation to a murder party and, like any rational loner, decides to attend it rather than fight his cat for a seat on his couch. The adventure that awaits him is more gruesome and demented than meets the eye. As the clock ticks closer to midnight, the bodies start to add up and so do the clues. Will Christopher the hermit break out of his shell and survive? Or will his attempt to socialize be his ultimate demise? Watching this movie upon the recommendation of my roommate, I couldn’t help but notice a sort of parallel to The Breakfast Club in that all the members of the murder party are brought together by a love of art…among other things. This movie will have you laughing hard at the amateur antics of the killers as well as at the satire of horror elements allowing for a more lighter ambiance and tone for those who aren’t interested in the good old Halloween scare
5. A Quiet Place (2018) 4/5 Ghosts
A Quiet Place is a film like no other. A family surviving a post-apocalyptic environment overrun by monsters with enhanced hearing must adapt to and survive a soundless world. This movie shifts the horror genre by featuring little to no noise throughout the film, as anything can set off the monsters to come after the characters. This creates a creepy atmosphere and a sense of panic among the main characters as well as the audience, who is too terrified to even take a breath. The psychological torture of not being able to scream is excruciatingly painful to watch — especially as the mother of the family gets ready to give birth. The plot isn’t necessarily scary, but the high spooky scale is due to the muscle straining suspense and as well as the expert use of the audience’s senses against them. Despite there being no words spoken, a deaf actor and use of ASL make it even more interesting to see the world from a sound-less perspective. To get the full effect of the suspense in this film, I would highly recommend either using headphones or watching it in a theater as this will allow you to focus on the silence more than the noise, reflecting the true intent of the film. The struggles of a pregnant mother, a grieving father, and their two innovative kids will make you cry, laugh, and stifle your screams in a not so quiet place.
6. Scream (1996) 3/5 Ghosts
Scream is more than just a horror flick. It’s a love letter to scary movies and a chilling parody on the cliché horror archetypes that will leave you more haunted than amused. Scream came out in the 90s, shifting the horror genre in a big way and the number of sequels and spinoff series only adds to its wide fanbase. The movie follows main character Sidney Prescott, almost a year after her mother was killed, who is trying to maintain a normal social life after her mother’s tragic departure. However, she’s failing miserably due to a nosy reporter as well as the entire town admiring the killer and their antics. Oh, and there’s also the occasional attempted murders on everyone she holds dear that’s causing a minute distraction as well. The killer, donning an iconic ghost mask, begins to kill off any character they can get their hands on. In a movie where the heroes are helpless and the villain is always one step ahead, the audience is left racing against the clock to draw in as many clues as possible to figure out the killer’s identity before it is too late. An added bonus is that the movie includes many famous actors such as Drew Barrymore, Courteney Cox (Friends), and Skeet Ulrich (Riverdale) before their rises to fame…but you’re going to have to watch the full movie to see who survives and who meets an unfortunate end
7. Night of the Living Dead (1968) 1/5 Ghosts
Night of The Living Dead is a classic zombie movie that made huge strides in horror movie history. The movie came out in 1968 and was revolutionary not only for its explicit gore, but also because of its first ever portrayal of a zombie, its use of horror elements in the documentary style filming that allowed for a lower budget, and its historical critique of America in the 60s. The movie follows a black protagonist and a group of strangers that must survive being trapped in a house surrounded by flesh-eating zombies. The psychological toll on each of the characters as well as the movie’s shocking portrayal of the evil that humans are capable of committing really emphasizes the fact that, as the director George Romero put, “[the real monsters] are us.”