I love Halloween, yet I don’t do horror – it’s a true debacle. I love myself some creepy stories about ghosts, witches and vampires, but I still can’t watch a horror film without having sleepless nights for at least a week. For some reason I still thought it was a good idea to watch The Haunting of Hill House and much to my own surprise, I didn’t have any sleepless nights and I absolutely loved the series. This revelation did got me thinking: for years I’ve claimed that I notoriously don’t like horror, yet I really enjoyed a show which is supposed to be so creepy people fainted and/or threw up while watching it. Maybe, I do like to watch horror films and series, but just not the regular kind with girls crawling out of televisions and gruesome exorcisms.
For those of you that share my feelings about horror movies, but still want to watch something creepy on the creepiest days of all, I’ve listed 5 films to watch on Halloween if you don’t do horror. These will (hopefully) not give you any sleepless night, nor will they (probably) ensue any barfing or fainting, so you can enjoy a creepy Halloween movie night in peace.
One of my personal favourite kinds of horror would definitely be Aesthetic Horror™ and Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak (2015) definitely fits into this category. Set in the Victorian age, the film follows the story of aspiring young writer Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) who falls deeply and blindly in love with the beautiful and mysterious Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). He sweeps her away to his family’s estate subtly called Crimson Peak, where they live together with his cold and distant sister Lucille. Edith soon learns that the house has more than a few skeletons in its closets, ghosts haunting its hallways after dark and secrets hidden away deep in the blood red clay beneath its foundations. Crimson Peak is not as much about horror or gore as it is about creating suspense and together with the intricate details in the costumes and the design of the house itself, it feels like a lush Victorian ghost story that’s perfect for a Halloween movie night.
Over the years director Tim Burton has absolutely perfected the creepy yet heart-warming subgenre Cute Horror™ and Corpse Bride (2005) will always be one of my personal Burton favourites. Young shy groom Victor (Johnny Depp) is practicing his wedding vows in the woods (as you do) and as such resurrects corpse bride Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), who now thinks he has married her. This wasn’t entirely according to plan, but after the two unlikely newlyweds go on a midnight adventure together, Victor isn’t sure which bride he wants to be with. Corpse Bride has enough dancing skeletons, maggots and corpses to fit the Halloween spirit, but is with its beautiful stop motion animation a heart-warming and sweet Burton-classic.
A Quiet Place
When you’re not in the mood for something aesthetically pleasing or cute, there’s always some Post-Apocalyptic Horror™ to fulfill your Halloween needs. My recommendation for the perfect Halloween movie without dancing skeletons, ghosts haunting the hallways or girls creeping out of televisions would be A Quiet Place (2018). John Krasinski took place in the director’s seat, and directed himself and his wife Emily Blunt in a horror movie that is completely silent. As in Completely Silent. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a family lives in constant silence and fear of discovery by bloodthirsty monsters that have ultra-sensitive hearing and will kill everything that makes even the tiniest of sounds. A Quiet Place wouldn’t be the best choice if you plan on snacking your way through Halloween (guilty), but it’s a super suspenseful and fascinating glimpse of what life in such a post-apocalyptic world may look like. A lil’ food for thought on your Halloween movie night.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
When you would rather spend your Halloween night bursting into song every five minutes, let me introduce you to the beauty of Musical Horror™. Blood and musical verses will flow in Tim Burton’s screen adaption of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007). Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) sets up shop in the grim London (no place like London, eh?) of the Victorian age after spending a mere 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The barber operates his attic of horrors from above the meat pie shop (the worst pies in London, eh) of Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) and together they wreak havoc on those who have wronged him in the past. Of course they do so in typical Burton-style and in musical verse, which makes Sweeney Todd a darkly funny sing-along perfect for Halloween.
Last but not least there’s the type of horror without ghosts, monsters or Johnny Depp, but with enough suspense and creepy Nicole Kidman to keep you on the edge of your seat all throughout Halloween: it’s Visionary Horror™. With a title as Stoker (2013) you may expect vampires and Gary Oldman, but nay! Director Chan-wook Park’s film tells the dark family history of the Stokers and the grim events that unfold after India’s (a deeply unsettling Mia Masikowska father mysteriously dies. Her uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her wonderfully creepy mother (Nicole Kidman on fire). But India’s mysterious and charming uncle has dark ulterior motives that threaten to completely destroy her life as she knew it. Stoker may not be your traditional Halloween movie night pick, but it’s a beautifully stylized and gorgeously acted family drama that will nonetheless leave you completely unsettled and bewitched.
Well, my friends, my faithful friends (got the reference there?), those were my ultimate recommendations for a Halloween movie night that will not scare you half to death or leave you with at least a week of sleepless nights. Instead, you can serve your best (veggie) meat pies, put on your best corpse wedding dress (a.k.a. pajamas) and get ready for the creepiest night of the year.
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