Young Cole soon regrets remaining awake to spy on his babysitter’s party. The whole slasher gang is here in a genre turned upon its head and thrown into a blender with the splatter film. While genre-defying and self-reflexive parody is a well-known concept (see Little Evil, Tucker and Dave vs Evil and Scream), The Babysitter is a fun, gory ride bringing the vibes of the 80s slasher into the 21st century.
From director of Tucker and Dale vs Evil comes another fun, genre-busting Netflix picture about stepfathering the antichrist. Perhaps not as unique and well polished as Tucker and Dale and not as gory as The Babysitter, Little Evil is manages a few laughs, lovingly poking fun at the conventions and tropes of the ‘evil child’ horror subgenre, but paling somewhat in comparison to others of the sort.
Here cometh a British slasher film very reminiscent of Ben Wheatley’s dark comedy horror, Sightseers. Unsurprisingly, the film is directed by and stars the lead of Sightseers, so tonal similarities between the two films is a expected. Revenge from beyond the womb is at the centre of this movie, pregnant Ruth slashing and stabbing those who previously wronged her. In true slasher form, there is little in the way of overt gore, so it may be the Halloween choice for the less squeamish. There are implications for the horror film here in how many are forced to be playful with their tired trope and conventions. The post-modern reflexive fun ends here.
The prequel to the doll film from the Conjuring film (because no Hollywood movie can exist without having its own shared universe these days, it seems) is not THAT bad. In fact, it builds upon and improves the flawed original. Here, we explore the origins of Annabelle and, it’s about as clichéd as you might expect. The film does scale back some of the more pronounced elements of mainstream horror, and maintains the suspense from the first film by only allowing the doll to move out of frame, lest the whole thing fall towards feelings of campiness. Unfortunately, that integrity is dropped when the film visualises its demonic presence, and while it doesn’t look quite so ridiculous as the Darth Maul figure from Insidious, it is still rather daft. Overall, it’s a perfectly acceptable spooky movie for those not wanting something outside of the box. The question is, ‘what’s in the box?!’ A doll. It’s just a doll.
There was no way Stephen King’s masterful adaptation wasn’t going to make the list. A band of inbetweeners uncover and battle an evil presence that is rearing it rather giant, pasty white head once again. It’s stylish, perfect in its nostalgic vibes, fulfilled by child actors who aren’t completely terrible and envisioned by a superb horror director. If it’s the only King movie you see this year, you wouldn’t be doing yourself a disservice. The problem for Halloween is the accessibility of the film, but the critical and commercial success of this clown-fuelled terror means that, if there’s a cinema showing and you are yet to see it, there’d be no excuses, Georgie. Excluding perhaps being petrified of clowns.
Everyone knows Stephen King’s adaptations can be hit or miss, The Dark Tower, Cell and The Mist series highlighting the recent misses, and IT, , 1922, and finally, Gerald’s Game proving that adapting the horror master’s work is doable. With the aims of refreshing his marriage, Gerald promptly takes his wife to a remote location, handcuffs her to a bed, and suffers a fatal heart attack. The film is a great survival story, a 127 Hours with an underlying back story that adds horrific contexts to Jessie’s predicament. Highly suspenseful and darkly psychological, Gerald’s Game is more unsettling than one might expect, culminating in a shocking moment of almost out-of-nowhere gore. It’s on Netflix, and it’s one of the best horror movies on the list thus far.
Stephen King’s run of solid adaptations doesn’t stop with Pennywise and good old Gerald, this year marking perhaps King’s best and bloodiest streak yet. 1922 tells the story of a man, in 1922, who plots to murder his wife, in 1922. Thomas Jane, star of King’s The Mist, delivers a hauntingly stellar performance as corn farmer Wilf James, manipulating his son in the conspiracy to murder his mother and thus keep his precious farm. A slow-burning psychological horror with expert cinematography, forceful lead role and increasngly suspenseful narrative should put 1922 on any Halloween list this year.
It Comes At Night
Tensions rise alongside suspicion and paranoia in an unforgiving, dead world. This beautifully shot, slow-burning post-apocalyptic vision follows a family of three whose lives are interrupted by the appearance of a stranger in the night. An artsy, bleak and ominous movie, It Comes At Night is perhaps more thriller than horror, but the depressing ambiguity of the conclusion and the unexplained virus that seems to have put humanity back into the dark ages make this an unforgettable film, both visually and narratively. This comes from a very drunk point of view in retrospect, so a second viewing may be on the cards. Nonetheless, while The Road champions the apocalyptic genre, It Comes At Night comes narrowly close.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
This one really surprised me, and it’s a bit of cheat as it’s 2016 release. It’s just that good and that underrated. A father and son mortician duo stay up late into the night to unravel the mystery of a dead girl. The more they poke, the more they prod, and the more they slice and dice, the weirder and creepier the night becomes. Time is not on their side when they become locked in the autopsy basement (is that a usual thing?) of their house, and psychological/supernatural shenanigans ensue. Truly, Jane Doe is a superbly effective suspense horror definitely worth catching this spooky season.
The Film Fanatic