‘Tis the season for a Horror movie binge, and that’s what I precisely did! What follows is a list of 13 movies I watched through streaming services. I’ve ranked each of these by how I think they held up, at least against Horror movie standards.
Adapting Stephen King’s novella, this dramatic horror is essentially a more in-depth variation of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” In the farmlands of Nebraska, prior to the Dust Bowl, a man kills his wife to keep his son and land, but faces horrific consequences for his deeds.
The scares in 1922 are minor and used primarily to amp up the tension of the protagonist’s guilt, but they’re done nicely. While this particular story is nothing new, this film made an excellent adaptation of King’s own spin on it.
4 swarms of rats out of 5.
A mixture of historical thriller and supernatural horror, this movie was intriguing. Set in 1905, on an island off the coast of Wales, a man infiltrates a cult to find his kidnapped sister.
Overall, it’s absent of scary moments – mostly dramatic suspense and gore. That doesn’t detract from its intriguing story, however, although I wish the final “reveal” wasn’t so flatly done.
4 false prophets out of 5
Released from a mental institution, a man faces his past as he inherits his wealthy father’s mansion. Unfortunately, the ghosts of his trauma linger there and he must figure out what’s going on.
This “haunted house” film’s main failure was that it was way too predictable. The whole “Is he haunted? Is he crazy? Is it real?” is overdone and easily foreseen these days. I did appreciate the suspense and the twist toward the end, but it fell flat overall.
3 ankle monitors out of 5
A Spanish horror set after the Basque revolution, Errementari is a new take on the “Smith and the Devil” fairy tale. A town becomes suspicious of a blacksmith, who legends say is so cursed even the devil won’t face him.
I rank this film so high because I love the cultural perspective. Demons are treated not only as evil but also with humor and mockery. The film itself is over-the-top, with silly (yet functional) effects, but the overall story and experience were enjoyable.
4 grains of rice out of 5
An artsy sociopath/psychopath thriller, done in black-and-white, this is less horror, and more Silence of the Lambs or We Are What We Are. A girl deals with tragedy on her isolated farm, growing up without guidance and finding new ways to handle her needs.
Although somewhat predictable, I absolutely enjoyed the performance of the lead, Kika Magalhães. There are few scares and some gore, but mostly a lot of tension throughout; not to mention, a strange sympathy for the primary character.
4 shackled victims out of 5
Like The Witch, to which it’s been compared, Hereditary is a slow-burning artistic piece, with beautiful settings, eerie music, and lots of tension. A family is haunted by hidden secrets when their grandmother passes away, and new tragedies occur.
Hereditary doesn’t hold onto scares until the end – it’s full of moments that make you jump, leave you disturbed, and just plain shock you. Bonus, although the ending is predictable, the route there isn’t; they continuously throw in twists that make you keep questioning if you knew what direction the plot was going.
4.5 creepy séances out of 5
An Irish Gothic horror, it’s reminiscent of Guillermo del Toro’s work, with its historical setting, creepy “ghosts,” and beautiful sets and scenery. In 1920’s Ireland, two British twins live in a dilapidated mansion, bound to the property by a set of rules enforced by spirits.
Although similar to Crimson Peak or The Devil’s Backbone, with its supernatural mystery, it falls a bit short of del Toro’s genius. The worst flaws are completely unnecessary characters (and side plot) as well as never fully explaining the enigma.
3.5 rules of the house out of 5
The cliché “we’re fake investigators who encounter real ghosts” (with the “one of us actually is psychic!” trope), Malevolent starts enjoyable. Siblings who scam people, by pretending to bring closure to their ghosts, bite off more than they can chew at an old British foster home.
Creepy atmosphere, decent actors, and an intriguing set provide the right platform for classic horror. Unfortunately, it falters with its reveal, which was predictable and disappointing; also, the mix of “found footage” with conventional techniques doesn’t blend as well as other films.
2.5 psychic scams out of 5
What looked like a potential for an intriguing Lovecraftian story ended up with a spotty script and a dull end. After the loss of his wife, a security guard takes a position at a Bulgarian building, only to learn of the strange routine he must keep.
I enjoyed seeing Robert Englund as the usual (creepy) character, but he was only in it for a minimal amount (despite what the poster suggests). In addition, the “reveal” was unexciting and the movie just sort of ended with a lot of unanswered questions.
2 security feeds out of 5
The Ritual is an intriguing and terrifying take on the “lost in the woods” story. Four friends embark on a hike in Sweden, but are soon haunted not only by their nightmares but by ancient forces in the Nordic forests.
At times, you feel as confused as the characters in the film, as the paranormal happenings mesh with their fears and secrets. Bonus points for a fantastic monster, that’s slowly revealed and disturbing in every aspect.
4 carved runes out of 5
A weird movie, Seven in Heaven felt more like a Twilight Zone episode mixed with the “teenagers at a party” trope. A group of teenagers enter a closet at a party and emerge into a world slightly different from their own.
I think the film started strong, but the last quarter turned into an episode of The Prisoner, with even less explanation or precedent, and that kind of ruined it. Still, if you like those strange sorts of “otherworld experience” stories, give this one a try.
3 nude playing cards out of 5
A mediocre attempt at a Shyamalan “twist,” it begins with a young girl living alone in her house after some sort of global disaster. She tries to deal with daily life, all while being haunted by an unseen force.
The movie started intriguing, with some good effects and scares. Unfortunately, it falters as it changes pace in the middle and moves toward its “reveal” (which is done way too early). Also, those ending special effects were horrific, and not in a good way.
3 jars of marmalade out of 5
Not to be confused with the 2018 film of the same name, this SyFy release felt ridiculously forced. A group of college students decide to reenact Truth or Dare in a house where people died 25 years prior doing the same thing.
The experience was like a bad D&D nerd running a torture porn RPG where the “ghost” just wrote horrific instructions on the wall for the players to follow… and they all died anyway. There was no explanation for the game’s curse, the characters had no depth, and everything was done for shock value rather than any legitimate creepy or scary moments.
2 ridiculous dares out of 5
So, there you have it, my 13 Movies of Halloween for 2018. Some films brought the chills and scares and others fell flat on their face (like a teenager running from a serial killer).
All of these are available online in some form or another, so feel free to take a look and see what you think. Let us know how you enjoyed them (or didn’t) in the comments below!