It’s Halloween — you’ll probably be out getting turnt on candy, or turnt on something more illicit. Yet, if you’re not in a state of sugar comatose or not going too hard on Frat Row, there’s some excellent films you and your friends can stream on either Netflix or Amazon for a spooky movie night. Ranging from Australian psychological horror to Austrian body horror, these films are well-loved cult classics for those who have seen them, and waiting-to-be-discovered gems for those who haven’t. So, if you get some downtime on your fright night, spike your bloody punch or muddy coffee and get to watching.
- “The Babadook” (Netflix):
This horror movie from down under is honestly one of the best films in recent years, full stop, regardless of genre. Debut director Jennifer Kent wisely decides to create a slow-building horror film that relies on the fractured psyche of the main characters, versus cheap jump scares that plague our multiplexes. Starring Essie Davis as an insomniac widow, Amelia, dealing with her rowdy, troubled son Sam, the two begin to be haunted an imaginary monster called the Babadook. Yet, it’s not the horrific imaginings of the Babadook that will haunt the audience, but instead, the slow deterioration between a mother-son bond that can begin to reveal the monsters lurking within all of us.
- “The Witch” (Amazon):
A Puritan horror film doesn’t sound like an easy sell, but with production company A24 (“Moonlight,” “Room,” “Spring Breakers”) and debut director Robert Eggers, “The Witch” is an unsettling film exploring the darker side of religious fervor. Fitting then, that the aptly titled film seems to be a precursor to the Salem Witch Trials. Featuring a missing toddler, a talking goat named Black Philip, a coming-of-age brother with an incestous infatuation of his sister’s developing body and a vengeful father, “The Witch” touches on the insanity of religion and societal structures in 1630s United States, but also seems to be allegorical for the ways religion still clouds rational judgement today, if strayed too far away from the moral lessons in scripture.
- “Under the Skin” (Amazon):
While this isn’t a “horror” film in the traditional sense, “Under the Skin” is nonetheless one of the most eerie film experiences to come out in recent memory. Considered by many a landmark in the convergence of avant-garde cinema and the mainstream (a paradoxical oxymoron if there ever was one), “Under the Skin” relies on striking, endlessly haunting imagery and a vague plot to imprint its terror into your subconscious. Starring Scarlett Johansson, the film seemingly follows an alien (played by Johansson) who abducts men in Scotland, unclothes them and puts them into a dark liquidy substance in which they can never return from. Standing as either a feminist empowerment film or an examination on immigrants in a new world, or both, or neither, “Under the Skin” is beautiful, frightening, enigmatic cinema at its finest. Horror film or not, “Under the Skin” will get under yours.
- “Hush” (Netflix):
Directed by modern horror maestro Mike Flanagan (“Oculus,” “Ouija: Origin of Evil”) — who no one realizes is a modern master already — “Hush” may be his most inventive and subversive film yet, and this is from a director who took the “Ouija” franchise from one of the worst horror films to a horror franchise worth watching with his much-improved sequel. What makes “Hush” so unique is that it willingly does away with sound effects that typically make horror films so scary, but does so with a purpose by having the main character in the film Madison (Kate Siegel) be deaf and basing the horror around the visceral experience of a home invasion. While not necessarily the deepest film on the list, watching the film play with cinematic horror tropes, sights and sounds makes “Hush” a must-watch.. Also, it’s currently sitting at 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
- “Goodnight Mommy” (Amazon):
Austria’s entry for the 2015 Academy Awards, “Goodnight Mommy,” at times, feels more like a Michael Haneke-produced art film ruminating on death and grieving more than it does a traditional horror film. Yet, it’s because of this unordinarily mature style that “Goodnight Mommy” deserves your attention. The film follows identical twins and their off relationship with their mother once it seems that she has gotten a face restructuring procedure. Because of this, the twins begin to think she is an imposter and begin to perform subtle games to begin to see if this person is indeed their mother or not. While this may not sound all that terrifying, in the film’s last third that shifts the focus from the mystery of who the mother is into pure bodily horror, the film shows its true colors of the damaging processes of coping when you’ve lost someone you love. Nothing can quite compare you for the major twist, or the surprisingly heartfelt yet totally ambiguous final shot.