It’s that time of year again! Skeletons, witches, and pumpkins galore adorn as decor everywhere you look. There is a crispness in the air…or maybe that was a ghostly spirit following you? In any case your resident “Final Girls’ here at GeeklyInc, Nika Howard and Meagan Varney, love sharing with you our picks for top terrifying treats and spooky shows to help get you into the Halloween mood. This year we are breaking our articles into themes to steer you away from boring and bad movies that keep you snoring; towards some true horrifying gems that are sure to scare you to your core. If you have missed our previous articles, you can find them here, with 31 other options to keep you up at night. In our second installment this spooky season, we are bringing you movies from some of the newest directors in the horror scene whose movies you’ll die for…
I will start off by saying apologies for recommending something you’ve probably already heard of, even if you haven’t seen it. If you haven’t heard of this movie you’ve definitely heard of Jordan Peele, one half of comedy sketch duo Key & Peele. Their show rose in popularity as their sketches became part of pop culture, and saw both Key & Peele rise to fame on their formidable comedic talents. Post-show both have successfully branched out from comedy, Peele doing so with his 2017 horror debut, Get Out. The movie has a fairly simple premise – an African-American man spends a weekend away with his Caucasian girlfriend and her family. Seems straightforward enough for a regular story, but not a horror movie. Before long, however, Peele begins to ramp up the conflict between the characters through various purposefully uncomfortable interactions that make you squirm with secondhand embarrassment. Slowly that embarrassment turns to fear, and that’s when the movie terrifies. Great performances by the entire cast and a deft hand at tension building makes the audience feel uncomfortable, disturbed, angry, scared, ICKY. Essentially it does what all good horror movies try to do – it forces the audience to confront their fears of the most prescient issues of today. Peele did that, with aplomb. I highly recommend watching this film with a friend and then taking the time to sit and think and discuss afterward. You will not regret it!
If you enjoyed Peele’s first film Get Out but are looking for a more traditionally structured horror film, his second outing Us is a perfect choice. In Us, a family of four goes on a nice weekend vacation to the matriarch’s family lake house, intending on spending some quality time together (see: mom pushing the “fun” agenda, typical teenaged daughter grumbling, a more subdued younger sibling and a slightly nerdy but self confident dad). Soon after settling in, they come into contact with their doppelgängers, identical in appearance but completely opposite in behavior (plus matching jumpsuits – how fun!). It’s a frightening dichotomy, particularly in how Peele chooses to shoot the confrontation scenes – the good vs. evil characteristics of each set of characters displayed so visually. Peele again takes a seemingly straightforward story and methodically, deftly weaves in the sinister elements that make it a true horror film. In addition to this masterful storytelling, Us provides surprises in the plot that are truly rewarding. Just like with Get Out, I found myself thinking about the ending long after it was finished. In fact I recommend several viewings for maximum understanding and impact. Having seen what he can do with his first two movies, I personally can’t wait to see Peele’s next movie (it’s a remake of Candyman – how blessed are we all). I think once you see them, you will feel the same.
Ari Aster may have secured a place in my horror loving heart with this film. Considering myself a horror aficionado leaves me frequently unsurprised and unscared with films (which is honestly fine because they are all still entertaining), but Hereditary was the first film in years to genuinely scare me and keep me frightened throughout the whole film. I will say this, going in to watch Hereditary I had not watched any previews or trailers other than the short teaser trailer, and think it made a tremendous impact on how much I enjoyed this movie. The more you know about the film, the more suspense is removed when watching the film. That being said, even knowing what this movie is about won’t save you from being scared. The brilliance that Aster has with the way scenes are shot and the raw acting will have you shaking in your shoes. Aster’s films tend to focus on families and how they deal with grief/loss but with a twist and this one is no different. The characters are believable as a family and especially Toni Collete gives a star performance that will terrify you to your core. I recommend watching this one in the dark with no distractions to really immerse yourself into Aster’s craftful masterpiece.
Backpacking through Europe with your friends sounds like a dream, right? How about going off the beaten trail to find the less touristy things and more of the local things? Just be careful what you search for! Midsommar is the delightfully bright, unsettlingly uncomfortable film from A24 studios and Ari Aster that follows the story of Dani as she joins her boyfriend and his friends on a seemingly idyllic European get away after a family tragedy. What starts as a welcoming and wonderful trip turns into something bizarre and terrifying. Aster is a mastermind at being able to take completely mundane situations and scenes and through the use of imagery, music, and creepy cinematography transform the scene into making your skin crawl. In addition Aster does an amazing job at using audio to unsettle the audience. Characters cry out and have truly primal, guttural responses to interactions that make you feel uneasy. In doing this, the actors stop feeling like actors and you the audience start thinking of them as real people. This is a film I highly recommend to watch at any time of day, with anyone because no matter the setting, it’s sure to unsettle you.
When a couple that has been desperate for children are gifted with a miracle baby, it seems their dreams have come true. But always be careful what you wish for because sometimes what appears to be a godsend, might be the start of a nightmare. Brightburn is the story of an extraordinary young boy living a simple life on a farm that suddenly takes a dark turn when he manifests powers. Director David Yarovesky is new to the horror scene with only having directed one other film, The Hive, but feels like a veteran the likes of Wes Craven or Eli Roth. Mixing traditional horror storytelling with a comic book twist, Yarovesky creates a villain who wrecks havoc on everyone and does it in delightfully horrific ways. Be warned if you are squeamish that this is a horror/borderline gore film and is graphic with depictions of violence. However, the story is a twist on a classic and makes you think-”what if?”. Available on streaming and Redbox and I recommend getting your superhero friends together to watch this flick.
You may be familiar with John Krasinski in his more comedic roles, but in 2018 he made us all jump and gasp with his film A Quiet Place. The premise of the film is that there are creatures which have taken over and have run people into the silent shadows. Since there is little dialogue in the film, the actors chemistry is key to make the audience feel the tensions, fears, or anger among the characters during difficult situations. You find yourself gasping and covering your mouth instinctively to stay quiet; feeling immersed in the characters silent reality. With this movie, Kransinski seems to be off on the right path in the horror realm. A Quiet Place 2 is rumored for a 2020 premiere, but few details have been released. I highly recommend but be forewarned, this movie requires suspension of disbelief and does involve a few jump scares.
So that is our second article of the season with our directors to die for picks! Is there one out there you think should have made the cut or that you want us to watch? Comment below and make sure to check out next week’s article to catch a fresh list of horrifically haunting shows to keep you awake and feeling spooky.