Fall is upon us, and with fall comes one of the greatest holidays of all time. That’s right, Halloween is fast approaching. If you’re looking to scratch that horror itch that will only continue to grow as cooler weather approaches, then you’ve come to the right place! And yes, all of these films are available to stream.
In no particular order, here are ten great horror films to put you in the spooky mood:
1. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007) dir. Scott Glosserman
Written by: Scott Glosserman, David J. Stieve
If you’re a fan of slasher movies, then this film should be at the top of your “must watch” list. Behind the Mask is a black comedy/horror film in the form of a mockumentary that takes many of the classic slasher movie tropes, and spins them in a creative way to showcase the “art” of murder. In this world, all of the most infamous slashers (from Jason Voorhees to Freddy Krueger) actually exist, and a journalist named Taylor Gentry goes in depth with her two-man camera crew to document the rise of a new slasher, Leslie Vernon. Without giving too much away, this film manages to do a lot with a fairly simple concept. Everything about Leslie is shrouded in mystery, and as the story unfolds, the truth comes to light in the most unsettling and disturbing ways.
2. House on Haunted Hill (1958) dir. William Castle
Written by: Robb White
Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you whether this movie is good or not, but I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that you’ll have a great time watching it. This movie is seriously in a league all its own and should be remembered as a horror classic. When an eccentric millionaire invites five strangers to his haunted house and offers $10,000 to the lone survivor, crazy stuff starts happening. This movie is the perfect combination of fun, and camp, with just a touch of old-school horror. It’s like watching an old episode of Scooby-Doo in live-action (and no, I don’t mean like the already existing live-action Scooby-Doo films). The practical effects alone are enough to make anybody want to tune in.
3. Sleepaway Camp (1983) dir. Robert Hiltzik
Written by: Robert Hiltzik
It’s almost impossible to talk about campy (no pun intended) without mentioning the next film on the list, Sleepaway Camp. Anyone who claims to be a horror film aficionado will already be pretty familiar with this cult classic. After a boating accident in 1975 kills her entire family, Angela goes to live with her aunt Martha, and cousin Ricky. When Aunt Martha decides to send the two off to camp one summer, both Angela and Ricky end up having a hard time fitting in with the other kids. One by one, people all over Camp Arawak start disappearing with little to no explanation. While the camp level is turned up quite a bit, there’s a genuine feeling of horror, and cruelty at every turn in this film. From the camp mean girls, to the pedophilic line chef, everyone at this camp seems to have something monstrous inside of them. Mystery and suspense inevitably give way to one of the most shocking, and memorable horror film endings in history.
4. Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) dir. Mike Flanagan
Written by: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Truth be told, I’m not one for prequels or spin-offs, but with Ouija: Origin of Evil, Mike Flanagan manages to create an incredibly disturbing and emotionally driven horror film that is pretty self-contained. The film takes place in 1967 Los Angeles, where the recently widowed Alice works as a medium with her two daughters. After buying an Ouija board to add to their act, the youngest daughter starts to connect with the spirits in their home, opening up a gateway that won’t be closed easily. Where some horror films, like The Conjuring, or Insidious play up the family dynamics in a heartwarming way, Ouija: Origin of Evil does not shy away from leaning fully into the horror aspect instead to give a truly horrific display of evil, and manipulation. Hope is a common theme in the horror genre that gives audiences a sense of relief from the constant dread, and this movie takes that idea and turns it on its head. If you’re a fan of the demonic, and family-driven flavour of horror, this film is just right for you.
5. Raw (2016) dir. Julia Ducoumau
Written by: Julia Ducoumau
It’s hard to describe Raw succinctly and still do it justice, but at its core, you can expect a slow burn of horror and mystery, as Justine starts to develop a taste for human flesh after a hazing incident gone wrong. Seriously, this film is like watching a train wreck (in the best way possible) where you know something bad is happening, but you can’t seem to look away from the gory details. This film is a vegetarian’s worst nightmare, and it does its job wonderfully. This film is absolutely worth it just for the last 30 seconds alone. Most people can relate to what it’s like being hazed or being part of the new cohort at school, but this film ups the ante in unexpected, and shocking ways.
6. The Thing (1982) dir. John Carpenter
Written by: Bill Lancaster
The creature feature to end all creature features. John Carpenter is a master filmmaker and horror storyteller, with The Thing being one of his most successful, and widely loved films. Isolated in Antarctica, a group of researchers becomes infiltrated by a shape-shifting alien monster escaping pursuit from a Norwegian helicopter. Trust quickly dissolves amongst the group as they try to narrow down which one of them isn’t who they say they are. This film truly is a masterclass in horror and suspense. The practical effects are nothing to balk at either. You’re bound to be both disgusted and intrigued 36 years after the fact.
7. Lake Mungo (2008) dir. Joel Anderson
Written by: Joel Anderson
Where to stream: iTunes
Lake Mungo is one of those films that leaves you feeling truly disturbed days, weeks, even months after seeing it. It’s a personal favourite of mine that utilizes the mockumentary format to tell the story of the Palmer family. After teenage daughter Alice drowns while swimming in the local dam, the family starts to believe her presence hasn’t left their home. When Alice’s double life enters the forefront of the mystery, the family starts digging for more answers, uncovering information that shakes them to their core. Lake Mungo paints a painful picture of what it’s like being haunted by memories after trauma and is a perfect ghost story.
8. Cropsey (2009) dir. Joshua Zeman, Barbara Brancaccio
Written by: Joshua Zeman
Sometimes true horror can’t be written or fictionalized, but instead lies in the real world waiting to be documented. New Yorkers, beware! Many Staten Islanders are familiar with the urban legend of “Cropsey”, a boogeyman-type figure that stalks the streets and kidnaps children after dark. As it turns out, the legend is actually based off of a real man named Andre Rand (currently in prison serving a life sentence) who was convicted for kidnapping two children, and suspected of being a serial killer. Joshua and Barbara grew up on Staten Island thinking nothing more of the legend, but after they dig deeper into the disappearance of a childhood friend, they uncover the truth behind the legend and try to decipher whether Andre Rand is innocent, or hiding something more sinister. Cropsey is a truly harrowing documentary about a man whose origins and actions are shrouded in mystery. Joshua and Barbara search far and wide for answers, but whether or not Rand is innocent, or manipulating the duo for his own ulterior motives, you’ll have to watch the movie and see for yourself.
9. The Boy (2016) dir. William Brent Bell
Written by: Stacey Menear
Movies about creepy dolls can be fairly hit or miss, but similar to Behind the Mask, The Boy utilizes everything you think you know about common tropes within a specific sub-genre and tells a completely fresh story with them. After Greta Evans takes a job as a nanny for the elderly Heelshire couple in the UK, she realizes their son Brahms is an actual doll. After laughing the incident off, Greta starts to notice creepy things going on around the house. Whatever Brahms is planning can’t be good, and Greta soon finds herself fighting for her life. Dreams and reality clash in this truly startling horror film that’ll surely make you think twice about accepting that next babysitting job.
10. Jennifer’s Body (2009) dir. Karyn Kusama
Written by: Diablo Cody
The last film on this list is an exceptional story about love and horror. When popular, selfish girl Jennifer Check is sacrificed by a band for fame and glory in the name of Satan, something goes very wrong, and Jennifer finds herself changed forever. It’s then up to her best friend Anita “Needy” Lesnicki to figure out what’s wrong with her friend and help her before she destroys both of their lives. Fair warning: the most frustrating aspect of this film is how queer bait-y it is – Jennifer and Needy clearly have some unspoken feelings for each other, but nothing ever truly comes of it. However, this film does a lot of things well, and playing around with the demonic possession framework to tell an in-depth story of unrequited feelings between two women, is one of them. This film has the perfect blend of horror and comedy, with just the right amount of romance thrown in. If you haven’t seen it by now, be sure to give it a try.
Be sure to check out all the films on this list, and share the article with your favourite horror film fanatic this October!