The top picks for scary movies to stream this Halloween

Abby Matthews, Staff Writer

Based on my expert experience, Halloween movies fall into three categories, and the best Halloween movies can only be judged in those three separate categories. There are blood-curdling Halloween movies; these are the horror movies that leave you in fear waiting for a jump scare. They make you stay up all night because you are so scared of what you watch. There are the middle ground, scary-ish movies that are scary, but with some humor thrown into it. Then there are the not-so-scary Halloween movies full of laughs and child-like horror. I am going to list my top five picks from each category and a list of honorable mentions so you have an easy guide for your Halloween movie must watch list this year.
1. “Scream”: “Scream” is a scary movie classic and there is no arguing that it is a must watch for the Halloween season. It is a movie that keeps you guessing with twists and turns that are unexpected if someone has not spoiled it already. There’s an elaborate plot built up with a developed backstory that helps you create a connection with each character. There are jump scares, mystery, unexpected turns, murder, fear and suspense. What’s not to like?
2. “Ready or Not”: “Ready or Not” is a new movie on Netflix, and I love it. It is full of unexpected turns that always left me in awe. I had no idea it would end the way it did either. It constantly had me on my toes. There was suspense, murder and even some somewhat-paranormal action. There was character development not only in the main character but also the other characters that created a great storyline to follow. I also loved the contrast between the pure and impure with the white wedding dress turning red and the contrast between the supposed happiest day of someone’s life to what turned out to be the worst day of their lives.
3. “Truth or Dare”: A kids game turned deadly. The idea that a game that everyone has played as a kid can be deadly makes the whole movie seem so much more real and intense. There is a pretty creepy aspect to the movie that makes you just uncomfortable enough that the movie is that much better. I am not a fan of the paranormal, but this movie plays the supernatural card so well, hiding it behind murder and other demises that it is just a point in the plot rather than the entire story.
4. “The Cabin in the Woods”: This movie is so effective and well done. I love the character development throughout the movie as well as the dialogue. It is spot-on and clever. I love slasher movies, and this movie is full of gory and scary scenes, but it is not unnecessarily violent. This movie does a great job of matching “Scream” in the fact that it kind of makes fun of other horror movies, but it still plays the part of a horror movie so well. It’s full of jump scares and a good plot.
5. “Jennifer’s Body”: This movie is a feminist cult classic, plain and simple. The demonic possession of Jennifer Check is super creepy, and there are genuine jump scares that are placed throughout the movie. There are gory scenes where people are torn apart and eaten with random spurts of gross flesh-eating black bile. The movie is cleverly played out with double meanings, and even though it may not be the scariest movie ever, it is super creepy and suspenseful.
Honorable mentions: “Unfriended”, “It”, “Hush”, “Us”, “The Ritual”, “The Shining”, “The Conjuring”, “Insidious”, “Poltergeist” and “The Babadook”.
1. “The Craft”: I watch “The Craft” year round; I just love it so much. The special effects carry this movie so much further than it could have. They are so realistic, especially for the time. There is a great plot line that creates just an awesome witchy movie. It is a chilling and ominous tale that sneaks in a moral that most teens need in their lives. It’s supposed to warn girls against resentment and revenge, encouraging them to “do unto others as they would have done unto them,” but most importantly it is creepy and kind of horrific. “The Craft” is all about violence and revenge. A generous amount of the characters die graphically and are threatened with a witchy demise.
2. “I Know What You Did Last Summer”: This is another classic horror movie. However, I just do not think that it is quite scary enough to be in the first category. This movie is gory enough to be deemed a horror movie but has an interesting storyline to make it an overall great movie. There are regular scares with the added slasher bits that make you look twice around a corner after watching it. The first time I watched this movie, I did not know what to expect and regularly got scared. I love the ending set up for the prequel and enjoy that each character has a lot of personal screen time. It adds suspense and a deeper connection to the characters. This movie has a somewhat bizarre storyline but it works, and the execution is that much better.
3. “The Silence of the Lambs”: I had some trouble deciding if this movie would be classified as a Halloween-esque movie, but I decided that it was. There is so much just plain wrong and disturbing with this movie, but you love it. There is murder and kidnapping mixed in with a lot of creepy weirdness. The point of view of this movie makes it that much more enjoyable and interesting. We can follow each of the “villains” of the show in different ways, and the twists throughout cause for a lot of imagination. This movie is a classic that I will watch all year round. I love the mystery and detective piece laid out on top of the serial killer and clinically insane characters, showing a contrast that makes you question who is the villain.
4. “Zombieland: Double Tap”: I loved the first “Zombieland”, but I loved this one even more. There is much more excitement in “Double Tap” that makes me enjoy it so much more. I enjoy the new characters introduced and the plot line could have been boring and too similar to the original movie, but it is not. The storyline is exciting and makes you keep watching. There are hilarious moments, there is gore, there are jump scares…what else could you ask for in a movie? The introduction of the new type of zombies was super suspenseful and intense. I love the jump scares placed throughout the movie with spouts of gore along with the placed twists and turns full of humor.
5. “Carrie” (2013): I think that “Carrie” reaches out to a teenage audience, and that is what I love about it. It portrays many aspects of pop culture, and it is guaranteed to scare anyone. I believe that it is a great horror movie classic, but is just not scary enough to be categorized in the first section of movies. “Carrie” has a very strong central character that the audience will end up gravitating toward and feeling a connection to, making the twists that much more nerve-racking. I love the use of supernatural powers on top of cruelty and relatable concepts. There is gore, desperation and unexpected twists with classic and memorable scenes that make this movie a classic.
Honorable mentions: “The Babysitter”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Freaky”, “Friday the 13th”, “Halloween”, “Zombieland”, “Child’s Play” and “Labyrinth”.
Child-like Horror
1. “Coraline”: This is my favorite movie of all time. I watch this as a comfort movie all the time. “Coraline” has such an interesting plot that is just creepy enough to make it a classic horror movie. Tim Burton is my favorite director of all time because he makes the most creative movies ever with lots of emotion and creepiness. There is always a deeper meaning hiding behind the weird and interesting characters and great animation. The parallels between an “ideal” world to the real world create a personal connection every viewer can relate to. I love the character growth throughout the movie, and the adventure interwoven throughout the creepy horror. Although this movie is not necessarily scary, it is creepy and intense.
2. “Corpse Bride”: Like I said, Tim Burton is by far my favorite director, and that carries to all of his pictures. There is drama, there is suspense, there are dead people as the main characters –it is a great movie. The romantic controversy of this movie keeps me intrigued. Now, I am not a big musical movie fan, but I love the songs incorporated throughout. There is a somewhat suspenseful aspect to this movie, but I would not consider it a scary movie other than the fact that over half of the characters are dead, and there are some minute jump scares.
3. “The Nightmare Before Christmas”: This is yet another Tim Burton classic that I love. The main character is Jack Skellington and we follow his journey of self discovery. It is based in Halloweentown and takes a merry detour that still screams Halooween. This movie is just a visual masterpiece, and the more I watch it, the more small, but very necessary, details I see. It has aspects that make it part amusing with a morbid fairy tale filled with ghoulish holiday music and creepy characters. There is so much character development and I just love the storyline.
4. “Paranorman”: Surprise… another Tim Burton movie. This movie is ghoulish, yet funny at the same time with undead founders of Salem and, just as the name suggests, paranormal activity caused by a witch. This movie is engaging and although it is not scary, it is creepy. I think that the main plot of combating a witch’s curse is played out perfectly and matches the target audience well. Norman, the main character, is relatable as a social outcast who sees the dead. I love every single character in this movie and enjoy the plot, filled with unexpected twists and turns and never-ending anticipation and suspense.
5. “Scooby Doo 2 – Monsters Unleashed”: I love the original cartoon Scooby Doo and this movie elevates those cartoons. The live action masterpiece makes the characters and mystery jump out even more. The quality of the animations goes a long way for me. All of the monsters look quite eerie and realistic. There was an overall unexpected ending that makes you rethink who the real villains are. I think that there is a lot kept parallel to the true and original Scooby Doo cartoons, which I appreciate and there are quite a few funny moments thrown in. Although the monsters are not all that scary, there is a lot of suspense and moderate horror that is appropriate for its target audience.
Honorable mentions: “Scooby Doo”, “The Haunted Mansion”, “Goosebumps”, “Edward Scissorhands”, “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf”, “Happy Death Day”, “Ghostbusters”, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”, “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad”, “Beetlejuice”, “The Addams Family”, “Frankenweenie”, “Hocus Pocus” and “Scary Movie”.