With the Halloween season upon us, there is no better way to get into the spirit than to watch some spooky movies. To avoid being repetitive, I tapped deep into my memory to arrange a list of underrated horror movies. The best thing about this selection is that gore is kept to a minimum if you’re not a big fan of blood and guts. Aside from the plot, each component (music, framing, editing, etc.) of these films has been combined to become a masterful work of art. This compilation of films is sure to leave you wary, and quite frankly afraid to leave your house. So let’s take a journey through the most mind-boggling, haunting movies you can watch to get into the Halloween spirit.
Little Evil (2017)
For starters, we can begin with a light-hearted and comedic horror film that features Adam Scott as Gary, a newlywed to Samantha (Evangeline Lilly) who has custody of her son Lucas from her former relationship. Gary always knew something was different about Lucas, but he soon realizes his step-son may be the Anti-Christ. This film is sure to make you laugh while giving off those Halloween vibes, and may even cause you to shed a tear.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
The Netflix Original, I’m Thinking of Ending Things falls into the psychological thriller category but emulates the same eerie energy of a horror film. We enter the inner dialogue of Lucy (Jessie Buckley) as she travels with her new boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemmons) to meet his parents on their secluded farm. Prior to their travels, Lucy begins questioning her relationship with Jake, however, she’s too afraid to end things, but these feelings only grow as she becomes more involved in his life. When they arrive at the farmhouse, she is met with Jake’s peculiar parents who exhibit strange behaviors throughout her time there. There is no relief for Lucy as she becomes warier of Jake and his parents. Watch this film if you’re prepared to have your mind boggled and are up to connecting the dots because this movie is loaded with hidden meanings.
What starts as an innocent house-hunting, turns into a nightmare when Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) and Gemma (Imogen Poots) find themselves trapped in a labyrinth of cookie-cutter houses. Every scene manages to become more and more disturbing due to the eerieness of the film. With only each other, the couple attempts to escape, but soon realize there is no way out, leaving them abandoned in this strange neighborhood. Watch this film if you love Jesse Eisenberg or love psychological thrillers because this is one that will certainly boggle your mind.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
This cult classic is directed by the one and only, Tim Burton, otherwise known as the King of all things Halloween. We follow Detective Ichabod Crane, cast as Johnny Depp, as he enters the small town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate mysterious beheadings. As he spends more time in the peculiar town, he discovers the legend of the Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken). Crane becomes more and more fixed on the Horseman until they are face to face in an ultimate standoff
This film follows a young boy, Eli (Charlie Shotwell) with a life-threatening illness as he undergoes treatment in an inpatient facility. After strange things start happening, Eli realizes the dark history of the hospital, uncovering the truth not only about the past patients but also about his parents. Many are reluctant to believe Eli though, claiming his irrational beliefs are side effects of the new medication. In the end, the truth comes out, and things get a little crazy which may be an understatement. The biggest takeaway from this film though is that Eli is one cool kid who should be protected and cherished
Bye Bye Man (2017)
In Bye Bye Man, the absurd is normalized. Three friends decide to purchase a house outside of their college town, but soon they start experiencing weird things going on in their new house. One day, Elliot (Douglas Smith) discovers a nightstand with the phrase, “Don’t say it, don’t think it” scribbled hundreds of times in the drawer, referring to the only other words “Bye Bye Man.” After making this discovery, Elliot and his friends experience horrifying hallucinations and chaos unravels. This is the best film for those moments when you’re craving that classic horror film plot, but with a psychological twist that will keep you on your toes.
Based on the infamous Zodiac Killer, Zodiac portrays the crimes and investigation of the notorious Northern California murders. The cast is packed with talented actors including Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. with each actor enhancing the performance of the others. This film breaks down each of the Zodiac’s murders as we follow the protagonists through their investigation that may or may not lead them closer to uncovering their serial killer.
Shutter Island (2010)
If you’re up for watching Shutter Island, prepare for so many twists and turns you might get nauseous. This classic is based on the 2003 novel by Dennis Lehane and features Leonardo Decaprio as Teddy Daniels and Mark Ruffalo as his new partner, Chuck Aule. The pair venture to Ashecliffe Hospital which serves as an insane asylum and resides on a remote island to investigate the sudden and mysterious disappearance of a patient. Everything Daniels and Aule encounter is strange and doesn’t quite make sense. As Daniels spends more time on the island he discovers that he may not be the person he thought he was.
Directed by the one and only Ari Aster, Hereditary exposes the twisted family history of the Grahams in the most horrifying way. After losing their Grandmother, Peter (Natt Wolff) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro) struggle to cope with the loss and their mother’s unstable emotions. Tensions rise after the family experiences another loss, which starts the unraveling of their lives. Research into her family’s past causes their mother, Annie (Toni Collette) to descend into madness as she attempts to understand family secrets that have followed her to the present. Similarly, Peter begins to go mad due to the overwhelming guilt and evil that follow him.
I couldn’t help but include yet another film by Ari Aster, considering he’s a true horror film genius. Despite coming from the same director, Midsommar contrasts with the dark imagery of Hereditary with a highly saturated color palette. Despite the relationship issues she’s been having and a family loss, Dani (Florence Pugh) travels to Sweden with her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), and his friends for the Midsommar festival, a large celebration for the summer solstice. Upon their arrival, the Americans are immersed in the communal living and foreign customs of the Swedes. Things start to get weird as more days of the festival pass and the true nature of this community is brought into the light.