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It’s almost Halloween. As the nights get longer, the TV can be a great reason (or excuse) to stay inside where it’s warm and safe.
Netflix has lots to offer this spooky season, enough to give anyone nightmares about FOMO. Here’s a word about the criteria for this preview: it’s entirely subjective (the key question was would I watch this in the house by myself without all the lights turned on?). So, Hostel, Paranormal Activity, The Lodgers, Cargo, Saw and more aren’t here. What is here should be more treats than tricks to keep us going until November 1.
It was hard to imagine any film capturing the weird brilliance of Jeff VanderMeer’s eco-horror novel, but Alex Garland’s film comes close. Natalie Portman stars as a woman who joins a secret mission into a landscape being transformed by strange and ominous forces. The eerily beautiful visual effects are mesmerizing in places and the cast sell the creeping natural menaces.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Vlad goes in search of his lost love and causes mayhem in London. Gary Oldman plays the vampire; Winona Ryder’s Mina is the object of his affections. Anthony Hopkins is Van Helsing the vampire hunter, but this film’s key delight or terror is the accent performance by Keanu Reeves.
The ultimate teen horror film based on the book that launched the career of Stephen King. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), a shy social outcast, gets revenge after being humiliated by her classmates at the senior prom.
Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Ron Perlman stars as the demon raised as a defender against monstrosities of the unspeakable eldritch variety. Next year sees a new take on the character from director Neil Marshall (Doomsday, Dog Soldiers) with Stranger Things’ Jim Hopper (David Harbour) in the lead. Unfortunately, Netflix do not have the ghoulishly good sequel, The Golden Army streaming.
Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
This nearly didn’t make the list because of its New Year Eve’s setting. Might it’s a (whisper it) Christmas film? Either way, it’s a classic.
Hannibal (2001 and 2013)
One is the Ridley Scott directed sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. Anthony Hopkins reprises his role as Lecter with Julianne Moore as Starling. The other is the 2013 series about the cat and mouse chase/friendship/doctor-patient bond between Dr Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). Don’t have room for three seasons after gorging on Halloween sweets? The second features some of its most vivid episodes that push the boundaries of gruesomeness. Remember: don’t accept a dinner invitation from this doctor.
The ever-excellent Florence Pugh stars as one half of a sibling pair pretending to be ghost hunters who find themselves in serious trouble with the forces of evil.
Scary Movie (2000)
Fine, none of the franchise are frightening or really horror films. Instead, they are satires of the Scream films and the teen horror wave of the 2000s. Future historians might study them as pop culture time capsules.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)
The much-hyped new take on the teenage witch drops on October 26 just before Halloween. But, will it be spooktacular? Made by the producers of Riverdale, this version offers a much darker approach to the Archie comics character than its 1990s predecessor. A second season is already filming, which suggests Netflix has a lot of faith that this one will cast a spell on audiences.
The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell (2018)
Look, this might seem like a leftfield choice but hear me out. Instagram’s favourite baker, Christine McConnell (220k+ followers), has her own show and the trailer suggests this won’t follow a traditional format. Instead, think a cross between The Addams Family and Sesame Street with plenty of creepy puppets to haunt the sleep of Bake Off devotes. No Scary Berry here.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
A new adaptation of the gothic horror novel by Shirley Jackson is out October 12. Jackson was a master at evoking terror and this haunted house mystery is one of her best. The bar isn’t high here, the series just has to be an improvement on the 1999 film version. With Mike Flanagan of Netflix chillers Gerald’s Game and Hush (also worth checking out) helming, we think it will be.