The air is turning crisp, the leaves are turning yellow and red, the days are getting shorter, and the nights are growing colder. October is here, and it brings many exciting things along with it: spend the afternoon getting lost in a corn maze, take a haunted hayride with your friends on a moonlit night, or maybe you could go apple picking with your family. There is one last option, of course, but it’s just for the grown-ups: in true spooky season style, you could have a horror movie marathon! Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from doing this any time of year, but doing it in October just feels right. What better time of year to watch scary films, whether it’s a classic like ghostbusters, something about murderous madmen, or cannibals lurking in the jungle.
We’ve put together a list of our top 10 scariest movies of the year. We hope you make it through them…alive.
Wrong Turn 2021
Yes, we know you’ve heard the name Wrong Turn many times before. If you’re a true horror fan, you’ve likely watched all of the earlier iterations already, but the 2021 version feels different and slightly more sophisticated than its earlier counterparts.
Teens, lost in the Appalachian woods, a worried Dad looking for them, with no help from the creepy townspeople: it’s a recipe for nightmares. The performances are all solid and convincing, and the little twist at the end really leaves you with that dark satisfaction that only the goriest of horrors can provide.
In the Earth
At first glance, In the Earth doesn’t look like it’s going to be that much of a horror. A bit grim and gory, certainly…but not horrifying. What emerges from this folk horror is something unlike any film before it: the genuinely terrifying question of what surrounds us in the ether. The cult/folk influences are what give the movie its edge, and the creation of that “can’t get out” feeling is what pushed it over the line and onto our list.
A colleague of a missing scientist sets off into the forest during a worldwide pandemic to track her down. The scientist and his guide find far more than they were bargaining for: a life-changing experience in the worst way.
If you’re “of a certain age” then you probably read the kid’s book series, Goosebumps, as well as its young adult counterpart, Fear Street. While the books were for kids and young adults, I wouldn’t recommend the movies be watched by anyone younger than 16.
The first of the three films kicks off in 1994 in Shady Side, the town where nothing goes right. What unfolds is a repeating tale of terror and bloodshed, which the townsfolk attribute to its most infamous resident witch, Sarah Fier. The three films feed into each other and take place in 1994, 1978, and 1666 respectively, and each informs the events of the previous tale.
Digging deep into Jewish religion and folklore, The Vigil provides a truly unsettling look into how we feel about ourselves when we’re alone and how we connect to religious beliefs and trauma. The film’s main character, Yakov, is a Jewish man who has stepped away from the ultra-conservative Orthodox Jewish community. He is so broke that he agrees to keep vigil (sitting with the body until it can be removed for preparation) over a dead man for payment, as no one else can do the job. Strange things begin happening in the house, and he realizes that he is not the only one watching over the body that night.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do it
I am a massive fan of the entire The Conjuring franchise, and the newest installment is no different. While the story that the production is based on differs a reasonably large amount from the events portrayed in the film. A family is seemingly targeted by an evil spirit: wicked, possessive, and violent acts follow them with no respite. Ed and Lorraine Warren are called in to help them find the source of the issue, and a convoluted tale of hatred and the search for power unfolds.
The second remake on our list, Candyman, has had a modern makeover that is definitely worth a watch. The story follows an artist who seeks inspiration, the woman who loves him, and a killer with a hook for a hand. No one can escape the urban legends of the city, but when urban legends turn out to be the truth, do you still know what’s real?
Last Night in Soho
This weird, through the looking glass film, follows a fashion crazy young woman as she moves to London to make something of herself. She’s obsessed with the 60s, so when she starts dreaming about the decade, it’s hardly a surprise. But are dreams really dreams?
It certainly is odd seeing Ilana Glazer in a non-comedic lead role, but we love it. While this isn’t “officially” a remake, it’s very clear from the plot that it’s a re-imagining of the classic horror, Rosemary’s Baby. It’s a fascinating, modernized look at the classic, with a stellar cast and that unsettling, nightmare feeling that is so essential in a horror movie.
M Night Shyamalan does it again. While this horror is slightly different to the rest on the list, it is nonetheless truly terrifying. A family arrives at a seemingly perfect resort destination and takes a trip to a private beach with a few other (slightly unpleasant) guests. This trip to the beach ends up being more than they bargain for. The film raises questions of ethics and the good of the individual versus the group, with a nice twist at the end.
The Sound of Violence
A previously hearing-impaired woman who was witness to the brutal slaying of her family as a child has a synaesthetic experience which convinces her there’s hope for her condition. Violence is the key here, and as Alexis (the main character) drags other people into her web of lies, it starts to become clear that her path is a dark one.