There’s truly no better holiday than Halloween – there, we said it. Many may argue this, but hear us out. First of all, there is literally zero pressure or expectations. No pressure to buy great presents like at Christmas. No pressure to not be lonely on Valentine’s Day. No pressure to better yourself with resolutions on New Year’s Eve. Halloween consists merely of dressing up in weird outfits, demanding sweet treats from strangers, and scaring yourself with your movie choices. To be perfectly honest, that is probably our top three favourite things to do all year round.
In honour of the greatest holiday season kicking off, the team at Canstar Blue have handpicked 13 (duh) of their favourite horror movies to scare yourself with this Halloween. Some are scary good, some are scary funny, and some are just scary. Enjoy, if you dare.
13 Best and Scariest Horror Movies
- Hocus Pocus
- Don’t Breathe
- Tucker & Dale vs Evil
- Paranormal Activity
- In the Tall Grass
- When A Stranger Calls
- The Descent
- A Nightmare on Elm Street
- I Know What You Did Last Summer
- From Dusk Till Dawn
- The Loved Ones
- Let the Right One In
Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Hocus Pocus is the definition of Halloween nostalgia. Nothing screams “I miss my childhood!” quite like Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midlar dressed up as evil witches and running amuck, amuck, amuck in Salem. The movie follows a coven of witches (SJP, Midlar, Kathy Najimy) who are determined to remain immortal after the children of their town accidentally resurrect them from the house they lived in 300 years ago. What was once a cinema flop has turned into a Halloween cult classic, with constant replays throughout the month of October (some free to air channels even vow to play it every day for the entire month – love that dedication). Hocus Pocus is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
If you loved A Quiet Place – then you’ll love this OG silent thriller. Don’t Breathe follows three Detroit delinquents; Rocky (Janey Levy), Alex (13 Reasons Why’s Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) who all make a living from robbing houses around their neighbourhood. Rocky wants nothing more than to raise enough money to move herself and her younger sister to California to get away from her abusive mother and her alcoholic boyfriend. After she receives a tip that a blind man in a nearby house is keeping $300,000 in cash, the three decide to rob him – but everyone knows that karma is real and that maybe they shouldn’t have been so confident. Don’t Breathe is available on Netflix.
Tucker & Dale vs Evil
The ol ‘cabin in the woods’ is more often than not a lousy plot – but not when it’s done with the smarts and wit of Tucker & Dale vs Evil. The movie takes camp horror to a whole new level in the classic hillbillies vs attractive college students, only there’s a twist. The hillbillies, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are sweet and innocent and the attractive college students become the (accidental) murderers (of themselves). Keeping up? Basically, a group of teens are convinced Tucker and Dale are on a murder spree when in actual fact, they just want to enjoy a wholesome holiday in the woods. (FYI: This one has come highly regarded from multiple staff at Canstar, so it must be really good.) Stream it on Amazon Prime.
We can’t make it through Halloween without at least re-watching one of the seven million Paranormal Activity’s – and what better one than the original? Paranormal Activity came after the success of The Blair Witch Project and its revival of the low-budget, ‘found-footage’ technique. Written, directed, produced, photographed and edited by the same guy – Oren Peli – Paranormal Activity is the most profitable movie ever made – it had a budget of just $15,000 and racked in an impressive $193.4 million at the box office. The movie follows a couple, Katie and Micah, who are haunted by a supernatural presence in their home and set up a camera to document what is haunting them. Stream it on Stan.
In The Tall Grass
This looks ridiculous. But also, scary. Aka, the Halloween dream team. Released on Netflix on October 4, In the Tall Grass is based off a Novella by father-son combo Stephen King and Joe Hill. It follows brother and sisters Cal and Becky, who are on a road trip so that pregnant Becky can give her baby up for adoption. While stopping on the side of the road, the two hear a young boy calling out for help from a nearby field of tall grass and run in to look for him. But the two are quickly separated, and learn that evil lurks within the tall grass, and that there may be no way out. Stream it on Netflix.
When A Stranger Calls
There are two different kinds of people in this world. One whose ears prick up when they hear the words ‘true story’ uttered in relation to a horror movie, and one who runs for the hills. If you fall into the first category – then we’ve got the movie for you. When A Stranger Calls is based off the 1950 murder of 13-year-old Janett Christman, who was babysitting for a family in their small isolated home on the outskirts of Colombia, Missouri. The police received a phone call that night from a girl screaming uncontrollably, but weren’t able to get an address, and when the parents returned home at 1:35am they found Janett murdered. The story has gone on to inspire the “babysitter and the man upstairs” legend about the babysitter who receives phone calls from a stalker who continuously asks her to “check the children”. Stream in now on Amazon Prime.
Props to the coworker who recommended this – just watching the trailer is going to provide enough trauma for the next few months. The Descent follows Sarah, who, a year after a severe emotional trauma, reluctantly agrees to accompany her friends cave exploring as they try to cheer her up. However, the women quickly learn that a) the only way out is down and b) they are not alone in the dark caves as underground predators (with a taste for humans) inhabit every crevasse. We’d be spewing if we were Sarah. It doesn’t seem like an overly scary concept, but the combination of cave diving and flesh-eater things has got to be up there with one of the worst. Stream it on Stan (if you really want to).
Hereditary looks absolutely terrifying. Some of the staff have said it was fantastic, and some *cough* are too scared to even watch it. The movie stars Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne as the parents of Alex Wolff (he was a lot less scary in The Naked Brothers Band) and 13-year-old Milly Shapiro (she is extremely scary in this). It’s difficult to explain the plot of this one without giving anything away (and trust us, the plot twists are part of what makes the film) – but basically, the family is haunted by a demon after the death of their secretive grandmother. That’s all we have to say. Stream it on Netflix.
A Nightmare On Elm Street (the original)
We’re going to be honest here. This movie may have been forced upon us, at a very young age, to an innocent mind who had previously only watched The Saddle Club. This movie may hold some extremely traumatic memories, but it also is the epitome of horror. We mean, sleep is the best thing ever, and they literally can never sleep or they’ll die. That really is a nightmare. For those living under a rock, A Nightmare On Elm Street is an American slasher in which teens are invaded and killed in their dreams by Freddy Krueger and thus killed in real life as well. Stream on Amazon Prime.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
It would be wrong not to include this Freddie Prince Jr. classic in the list. I Know What You Did Last Summer, which also stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and real-life Mrs. Prince Jr. Sarah Michelle Geller, has long been credited (alongside Scream) with revitalising the slasher genre in the 1990s. The movie follows four young friends who start receiving notes claiming “I know what you did last summer”, and are stalked by a hook-wielding killer exactly one summer after they covered up a fatal car accident. Stream it on Amazon Prime.
From Dusk Till Dawn
This Quentin Tarantino horror movie isn’t scary as such, but has all the elements you need for a great movie; George Clooney in the lead, Tarantino acting alongside, and vampires. From Dusk Till Dawn begins as a crime drama about a pair of murderous brothers on the run who abduct a family and force them across the border into Mexico. But then, the movie has one of the greatest and strangest 180-turns as it morphs into a horror film as the characters try to survive vampire attacks in a biker bar. No, we’re not making this up. Stream it on Stan to see for yourself.
The Loved Ones
Xavier Samuel has been in some questionable movies in his time (that one where he and his friend fell in love with each other’s mums, the entire Twilight Saga), but he is both beautiful and talented so we’re always happy to watch whatever he’s in, with The Loved Ones no exception. The movie follows Samuel’s character Brent, who is struggling to recover from the trauma of accidentally killing his own Dad in a car accident six months ago. He’s going through a rough trot, but after he rejects his classmate Lola’s invitation to the school prom and finds himself the sole guest of a demented fake prom, he realises his life is going to actually get worse. You’ll get a comedy kick at the start of the movie, but will swiftly be reminded why it’s really labelled a horror after Lola and her Dad nail Brent’s feet into the ground so he can literally never leave the party. And you thought your prom was bad. Stream it on Amazon Prime.
Let The Right One In
This is a strange, Swedish, Twilight-esque horror/young love story. If that sounds like your thing, then we’d suggest giving it a watch. Let The Right One In follows a lonely 12-year-old boy, Oskar, living in a small suburb in Stockholm, desperate for even one friend (is there anything scarier than having no friends?). One night he meets Eli, a pale looking quiet girl who has moved in next door. She initially informs him that they can’t be friends, but gradually they form a close relationship. Poor little Oskar will take any friends he can get, so he is a bit oblivious to Eli’s weird behaviour, and the killings that seem to have only started happening since she came to town. Stream it on Stan, with the platform also offering the 2010 American remake starring Chloe Grace Mortez called Let Me In, but we prefer the original.
So there you have it. Don’t tell us you have no reason to get into Halloween this year. Get spooked, get freaky, get amongst it. And if you need to watch something a bit more light-hearted before you turn the lights off and go to bed, check out our guides on the best movies available on Netflix, Stan and Apple TV – it may help you sleep a bit easier.
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