Halloween 2013 Netflix Recommendations
It’s that time of year again: fangirls are guzzling their pumpkin spice chai in their leggings and North Face jacket. Overnight, the leaves of New England have shifted from their lustrous green to the autumn palette of golden hues. And with the crisp, Fall air comes the longing for some bloodshed.
Once October hits and Halloween looms, everybody loves a good horror movie. So what should be on your Netflix queue (or is it just “List” now?) this Fall as we come upon all hallow’s eve? We are here to tell you! While there are plenty of options out there, including the likes of the classic Evil Dead, here are just a few of our suggestions. Click on the title of each movie to be taken directly to its listing on Netflix.
This goofy movie centers on a pair of hicks that go for a nice fishing vacation in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Strangely enough, no threat really looms for awhile until a group of rabble-rousing college kids with a particularly sinister leader take part in a series of very unfortunate accidents. Gruesome hilarity unfolds alongside an incredibly unlikely romance. Overall, it’s a pretty fun and non-traditional take on the horror genre with a simple hero you root for from beginning to end. Easy to watch even with a group.
In this now well-established horror series, each story is told in the “found footage” style made famous by The Blair Witch Project. There is some semblance of a story arc connecting the movies but the general premise in each is a household haunted by some kind of ghost/demon that grows angrier and progressively more violent. Most of the scenes involve quiet disturbances in the night as the movie builds to an insanely chilling climax. These are always entertaining and good for a few jumps. Be sure to watch this one in the dark.
Despite being a vampire movie, Let the Right One In focuses on the human. Labeled as a “Swedish romantic horror film” it centers on Oscar, an odd boy that is more often than not the target of bullying at school. When a girl even stranger than him appears to him one night, Oscar makes his first real friend…who just so happens to drink human blood for sustenance. It’s a great story and this is definitely not a lighter Halloween flick to watch, particularly when you are contending with subtitles, but the entire run time is worth it just for the ending scene. There’s also a nicely paced side plot line in which a local detective tries to track down a “serial killer” that just moved to town and started “draining the blood” of his victims.
Not to be confused with the abysmal 2013 Stephanie Meyer movie by the same name, this Korean monster flick feels very reminiscent of what I assumed happened in Cloverfield: because of a chemical spill in some body of water, a monster is born and grows larger over time until it starts trashing the city. [Side bar: as it turns out, in Asian culture they call these types of movies “Kaiju” films, with the most famous one being, of course, Godzilla! Clearly Pacific Rim wasn’t just making things up as it went along.] In The Host, our beast hardly gets any larger than your average Snorlax, but it is large enough to kidnap the daughter of a dim-witted snack bar vendor. The whole family – including an award winning archer – bands together to try and rescue the girl despite the apathy of the community. The story becomes more about an unlikely hero being forced to rise to the occasion, making for a more compelling story than your average horror movie. The Host is more artistic than most on this list and has an overall tone that seems to be culturally unique to Korean films. This may or may not alienate some viewers, but we implore you to check it out.
SCIENCE FICTION, APOCALYPTIC
In this reality bending cult classic, a bizarre series of events occurs after a piece of an airplane falls out of the sky and obliterates young Donnie Darko’s bedroom in the middle of the night. Fortunately, a man in a hideous rabbit costume lures him outside beforehand to tell Donnie that the world will end in just under a month. Things get stranger and stranger as Donnie develops apocalyptic visions and random blackouts. The story delves deeper and deeper into science fiction in a very compelling manner, but without giving too much away, I’ll say that it grapples with our understanding of reality and time itself. While Donnie Darko isn’t really your typical Halloween film, it’s a great movie regardless and more than a little spooky.
MURDER, ZOMBIE, GENERAL HORROR
This delightful bit of meta-horror surprised everyone with its wit and humor, despite being what is quite frankly a rather serious horror movie. Cabin in the Woods pokes deliberate fun at the genre while remaining subtly light-hearted. There’s a complicated backstory that unfolds throughout the film, but the basic premise has been seen a countless times before: a stereotypical group of college-aged friends head out to a random cabin in the woods for a weekend of debauchery when all hell breaks lose. It’s just not the kind of hell the viewer might expect. Cabin In the Woods is all-around great watch.
In this campy pseudo-sequel to the more recent Dawn of the Dead (2004), George Romero shows us a post-apocalyptic Pittsburgh with a societal structure reminiscent of…well…modern America: a small number of the fabulously wealthy enjoy a posh lifestyle of indulgence while a majority of people live in the dirty slums contending with the hordes of the undead. As the zombies develop mild intelligence, the main character Riley is tasked with hunting for supplies in neighboring cities with a team of companions using a monstrous bus called Dead Reckoning. This one is sillier than Romero’s average and campy to the extreme, but it’s still quite enjoyable.
Another zombie movie! In modern day Germany, a resurrected army of zombie nazis (not even kidding) attacks a group of twenty-somethings drinking / sexing / partying in a cabin in the snowy woods. The overall plot structure is obviously rather typical but Dead Snow is just so over the top that you can’t help but laugh at many points along the way. Not the best option on here, but any zombie fanatic will likely enjoy, especially for the epic battle scenes throughout and one particularly strange scene involving finger licking. Great to enjoy with your bros.
POST-APOCALYPTIC, ZOMBIE, TELEVISION
Based on the acclaimed comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead is the wildly successful post-apocalyptic zombie television series that runs on AMC. Rick Grimes is our protagonist, a sheriff from Georgia who is shot during active duty and in a coma when the outbreak begins. The opening to the series functions similarly to 28 Days Later with Rick waking up weeks into the outbreak and coming to terms with the state of things. The fourth season of the show is just about to start up this Sunday, but along the way Rick has been reunited with his family and some other survivors and led them to a CDC facility, a farm, a prison, and several other locations all in the hunt for survival. The show thrives on a nice blend between gory zombie action and human-driven stories with a diverse cast. If Breaking Bad wasn’t so goddamn awesome, I’d venture to say this is AMC’s best show.
Perhaps less of a horror movie than a meditation on what makes a monster, Monsters is a tiny film worth your time. It opens several years after a NASA deep space probe crashed in Mexico. From the crash site sprung extra-terrestiral life forms. In the present day, life goes on as the US and Mexican military battle the aliens along the border between the countries. The film follows photo-journalist Andrew who is tasked with escorting his boss’s daughter Samantha from Mexico back to the US. But after their passports and money are stolen, the two are forced to brave the ‘infected zone’ the birthplace of all the aliens. Monsters is an excellent film that knows exactly what to do with with the little resources it has. It’s greatest feature is the chemistry between its leads Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able, who are married in real life. You can enjoy Monsters on a surface level thriller, but it provides avenues for deeper contemplation.
RIC’s NETFLIX PICKS
Can’t decide between a Christmas classic or a Halloween horror?
The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim Burton‘s animated holiday classic, is the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. After opening a portal to Christmas Town, he becomes obsessed with Christmas and hatches a plan to become Santa himself. Through a series of misunderstandings, his plan begins to unravel and Jack must battle the sinister Oogie Boogie to set things right. Interwoven within the struggle is Sally, a rag doll with a crush on Jack.
4.1 out of 5
MURDER, GHOSTS, TELEVISION
What are the three parts to a story?
The beginning, the middle, and the end.
The Harmons, a fractured Boston family, move to Los Angeles in an effort to bring themselves closer together. What they do not know is that the house in which they take residence has a long, gruesome history. Ben (Dylan McDermott), Vivien (Connie Britton), and daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) quickly become entangled in the house’s ghastly past and must rally, as a family, in order to avoid being part of the house’s future…forever.
A tale told in a single season, American Horror Story Season One, a.k.a. American Horror Story: Murder House, gives us a complete narrative from start to finish. In an era when horror stories have become littered with jump scares and played-out cliches, American Horror Story stands above the rest with intelligence and complexity.
Season two, Asylum, aired last year and focused on an insane asylum in the 1960s. Though not up on Netflix just yet, you can fetch it on Amazon Instant for a few dollars an episode. This year’s Coven just began airing on FX and features the war between migrated Salem witches and their New Orleans counterparts. Each season is unrelated to the others and includes a number of the same actors.
Season 1 features supporting roles by Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness), Kate Mara (House of Cards), Alex Breckenridge (Family Guy), Jessica Lange, Denis O’Hare (True Blood), Evan Peters (X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Good Doctor) and Morris Chestnut.
4.2 out of 5
UPDATE 12/11/13: Season two of American Horror Story, a.k.a. Asylum, is now available on Netflix Instant.