The horror films you should watch this Halloween

31 Oct 2019,
By Rob Slade, Writer at Unite Students

Staying in for Halloween? That doesn’t mean you can’t join in the festivities. You can have an incredible time at home with your flatmates, and what better way to do so than to enjoy (if that’s the right word) a horror movie marathon.

To help you do just that, we’ve pulled together a list of the best horror films for a night in on Halloween. Some of them will make you laugh, some will make you cringe and some will give you a genuine fright. But then, that’s just reflective of the horror genre, right?

Crank up the volume, turn off the lights and draw the curtains. This is going to be a bumpy ride...

A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet Place is a post-apocalyptic horror that is set in a world where dangerous creatures roam the planet, hunting everything and anything that makes a sound. The story follows two parents as they try to keep their children safe against all the odds, with even the crunch of a leaf bringing a flood of terror crashing down upon them.

Original in its premise, the film excels at building tension and having you teetering on the edge of your seat, which is exactly what you want on Halloween! The critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes averages at a lofty 95%, while the audience score is a respectable 82%.

Paranormal Activity (2009)

This is another low-budget film that is shot in a hand-held camera, home video style. It follows Katie and Micah, a young couple who have moved into a new home, where strange happenings begin to take place. Believing she has been followed by evil spirits since childhood, Katie is convinced it is down to the paranormal, but Micah isn’t convinced. That is, until he starts to film everything. That’s when it all starts to go downhill...

Unlike most of the other films in this list, Paranormal Activity had a mixed response from audiences. The critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes sits at around 83%, but public approval drops down to a modest 57%. What you can be sure of, however, is that Paranormal Activity will deliver a few scares. You may even feel those familiar chills run down your neck.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

What. A. Film. Trawl through the internet’s many ‘top 100 films’ lists and sure enough, The Silence of the Lambs will be on them. A brilliant soundtrack, clever plot and fantastic performances from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins result in a tense thriller/horror that will have your eyes glued to the screen.

The story revolves around a trainee FBI agent who has to question psychiatrist, murderer and cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who is serving life behind bars for his crimes, in order to gain useful insights about another serial killer on the loose. What follows is a game of cat and mouse, where Lecter digs into the young agent’s past traumas and opens up on horrifying criminal acts. A critics rating of 96% and an audience score of 95% tells you all you need to know about the quality of this award-winning film.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

First released in the ‘80s, A Nightmare On Elm Street follows a group of teenagers who are terrorised by Freddy Krueger, an evil person (or thing) that wears gloves with knives attached to each finger. To get to his victims, he enters their dreams while they sleep and mercilessly kills them.

The costumes and effects seem quite dated, and are sure to give you a few laughs, but this is a film that was extremely popular at the time. Since the original, there have been sequels, remakes and spin-offs, but none quite touch the original. Perhaps not one for genuine scares, but it’s entertaining all the same.

The Conjuring (2013)

It’s not often you find a horror film that is liked by critics and the public, but with ratings of 85% and 83%, The Conjuring is one of the rare exceptions. The film genuinely feels both creepy and scary, with jumps guaranteed and the hairs sure to stand up on the back of your neck.

It tells the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren, world-renowned paranormal investigators who end up helping a family that are being haunted by a dark presence in their farmhouse, which sits in the middle of nowhere (of course). As they attempt to take on the dark force, the case turns into one of the most terrifying experiences of their life. This is horror as it should be.

The Shining (1980)

Based on a Stephen King novel, directed by the talented Stanley Kubrick and brought to life by a fantastic performance from a younger Jack Nicholson, The Shining is a classic. The story follows a family of three who head to an isolated hotel in the mountains, with the father, an author, acting as a winter caretaker while trying to write a book.

But there’s a sinister presence in the hotel, where the previous caretaker went crazy and murdered his family, and now it seems to be taking hold once again. Expect tension, jumpy moments and some truly iconic horror scenes.

It (2017)

Another one based on a Stephen King creation, It first hit screens as a miniseries in the ‘90s, but has since been remade. The story goes like this: children have started to disappear in a small American town, so a group of young kids investigate.They end up facing off with an evil clown named Pennywise, who has a history of violence and murder.

A critics’ consensus of 86% and an audience score of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes suggests this is a film well-worth figuring into your Halloween plans.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

This is the film that really kicked off the whole hand-held camera style of movie. The premise is simple: three film students head into the forest to film a documentary about the legend of a witch, but go missing, leaving only their footage behind. Cue freaky happenings, shaky camera work and a handful of spine-tingling moments.

The film has achieved an 87% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but only has an audience score of 57%. Watching it today, it probably won’t blow your socks off, but if you’ve never seen it, switch the lights off, pull the curtains and let yourself get sucked in. You’re sure to get a few scares out of this 84-minute film.

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By Rob Slade
Writer at Unite Students