Netflix and Thrill: 15 horrors to stream this Halloween
Staying in this Halloween? There's plenty of scares to be had on your laptop – here are 15 horrors to check out across Amazon and Netflix
Horror films to stream on Netflix
Dir. Karyn Kusama
This creepy chamber-piece sees a tight-knit group of friends assemble at a remote home in the Hollywood Hills for a dinner party to celebrate an estranged pal's recent wedding, although the atmosphere that builds throughout the reunion is far from congenial. Director Karyn Kusama develops the tension expertly; you may get an inkling of where it’s all heading (particularly when the terrifying John Carroll Lynch turns up) but it’s toe-curling fun watching it get there.
Dir. Fede Alvarez
This fat-free home-invasion thriller sees three young burglars (Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto) bite off more than they can chew when they break into the home of a blind Iraq war veteran (played by Stephen Lang) who turns out to be less helpless than he first appears. The genius of Fede Alvarez’s film is how our allegiances between the juvenile delinquents and the war vet are constantly shifting, while cinematographer Pedro Luque’s camera makes inventive use of every inch of the creaky house in which the action takes place. A real nail-biter.
Dir. Matt Palmer
Calibre's plot could be written on the end of the .22 bullet that causes all the trouble in this sinewy thriller. It goes like this: two friends go to the woods, do something stupid, pay dearly for it. Like all good genre films, the complexity of the dilemmas the characters face more than compensates for the fat-free setup. Man-versus-nature classic Deliverance is the obvious touchstone, but director Matt Palmer’s stripped-back style shoots for naturalism over John Boorman’s romanticism. Romanian cinematographer Márk Györi, meanwhile, clearly relishes the dark greens and browns of Scotland’s great outdoors, creating crisp wide shots and menacing dissolves, but he’s not afraid to go handheld and in close on the characters in their more panicked moments.
Dir. John Carpenter
One of John Carpenter’s most underrated efforts, this 1983 feature sees the horror master take on Stephen King's paperback shocker about a high school nerd who falls for a vintage Plymouth Fury he finds rusting at a local garage after its original owners came to mysterious ends. Like the hotel in The Shining, this is another King joint in which an everyday inanimate object turns out to be a killer, and in Christine’s case, she also has a killer sense of humour thanks to the ironic choices of rock songs she plays while mowing down her victims.
Dir. James Wan
James Wan is the master of jack-in-the box frighteners, and this tale of a young suburban family being haunted is particularly pants-pooping. The twist here is that it’s not the young couple’s family home that’s been invaded by an evil spirit – they do what nobody ever does in horror movies, and move house as soon as things start to go bump in the night – but their eldest son. The build up is slow, but when the shocks come it’s a deluge.
Dir. Dan O’Bannon
A riotous riff on George Romero that does justice to the zombie master. A bunch of punks have their night partying in a graveyard interrupted when one of their friends accidentally causes the dead to rise. Return of the Living Dead is written and directed by Alien scribe Dan O’Bannon, and much of the film's joy is watching its rag-tag band of characters get spooked as they fire sassy lines at one another.
Dir. Tobe Hooper
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre director Tobe Hooper throws everything at this bonkers sci-fi horror about alien vampires terrorising London. Not all of it sticks, but you’ll never be bored as we follow a British-American space mission as they discover a spaceship full of bloodsuckers and bring three back home for observation, with deadly results. There’s so much to enjoy here, from the cognitive dissidence of seeing seedy 80s Britain be the setting for a slick Hollywood production, to a deliciously camp turn from the at-the-time little-known Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart and an explosive finale that sees most of London up down in flames.
Dir. Mike Flanagan
In this lean, nail-biting thriller, a deaf author living in a remote house in the woods is unaware that a psychopathic killer is trying to break into her house. Director Mike Flanagan milks this simple home invasion setup for all it’s got, and the author proves far more resourceful than she first appears as the intruder tries to take advantage of her disability.
Dir. André Øvredal
Norwegian director André Øvredal is best known for the wry found footage horror Trollhunter, but he’s in a darker mood here in this creepy chamber piece starring Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch as a father-son mortician team who’ve just been handed a Jane Doe who doesn’t appear to have a scratch on her. As the grisly autopsy progresses, this slow-burn creepshow truly terrifies.
Horror films to stream on Amazon Video
Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra
This sickly pleasurable piece of schlock concerns a well-off Connecticut couple with two children who adopt a third: a nine-year old Russian girl called Esther who dresses like a haunted Victorian doll. We know there’s something not quite right with her. But what is it? We won’t ruin the macabre surprise, but even if you’ve guessed it there are still plenty of pleasures here, from Esther’s sadistic war of attrition with her new mother to the deliciously salty dialogue: “I’ll cut your hairless little prick off before you even figure out what it’s for,” is how Esther puts her bratty new brother in line.
Dir. Robert Rodriguez
Along with Scream, this is one of the great high-school horror movies. Both films are from the pen of Kevin Williamson, and trade in the same ironic banter and love of the horror movies they’re cribbing from. In the case of The Faculty – which concerns a school that's been overtaken by water-guzzling pod people and only a group of smart-mouthed misfits can stop them – the chief homage is Invasion of the Body Snatchers with a bit of The Thing thrown in.
Final Destination (or any of its sequels)
Dir. James Wong
The delicious premise of this endlessly inventive horror series is that at the beginning of each film a group of people avoid a disaster (in the original film’s case, a horrific plane crash). God, or the devil, or death, or someone doesn’t take kindly to these plucky kids foiling the natural order of things, and proceeds to kill off the survivors one by one in increasingly outlandish ways. While the premise is simple, the execution of the mousetrap-like setpieces are De Palma-esque in their complexities, and are deployed with bucketfuls of gore and wit.
Dir. Yeon Sang-ho
This one goes out to all the commuters out there. Traveling by train can be a nightmare – but add in the walking dead and you’ve one of the finest horror action movies of recent years. Director Yeon Sang-ho’s background is animation, and he brings a comic book clarity to the zombies on a train action.
Treat yourself to a K-zombie double bill with Sang-ho’s similarly ace Seoul Station, which is also streaming on Amazon Video.
Dir. George A Romero
The granddaddy of all modern horror films, Romero’s gritty, low-budget shocker sees a group of strangers holed up in a remote farmhouse and under siege from walking corpses. It may be almost five decades old, but the blunt force of the filmmaking is as potent as ever, and the ending remains a gut punch no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
Dir. Bob Clark
The set-up of proto-slasher Black Christmas is ingenious: a sorority house is slowly emptying as Christmas approaches, but it’s not because the girls are heading back to their family home for the holidays – it’s because a psychopath in the attic is picking them off one by one. As well as an ace horror to watch near Halloween, this is the perfect film to take some of the sugar out of the festive season and it'll make you think twice before taking your tree out of the loft.
Fancy heading out into the dark this Halloween? Check out our Scottish Halloween film events round-up