There has never been a better year for you to turn off the lights, gather up all your discounted chocolates and sweets, curl up under the duvet, and watch Halloween movies than in 2020. With no option to go out and dress up, this is the perfect opportunity to stay in sans fomo and scare yourself silly or, for those of us less keen on heart attacks, watch Halloween-y movies that are lighter on the horror. Whatever your preference, there’s something for everyone. The Outtake team have each recommended a movie for you to add to your Halloween viewing slate; from Hungarian historical dramas and Iranian vampire flicks, to witchy comedies and old-school slashers, we guarantee you’ll find something to love.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
This sensual black-and-white horror from Iranian-American director Ana Lily Amirpour (The Bad Batch) is a vampire flick like you’ve never seen before. Set in a desolate Iranian ghost town, Bad City, our stylish hero Arash (Arash Marandi, Tehran) is caught up in an act of bloody violence as pimps and debt collectors prey upon his father’s gambling habit. The ensuing story plays out like a Western revenge-thriller, with the mysterious figure of avenging angel, The Girl (Sheila Vand, Snowpiercer) haunting the piece, complete with an appetite for both blood and romance. With a thumping, hypnotic soundtrack and dreamy noirish visuals, this horror will keep you up well into the night. — Sneh Rupra
Death Becomes Her (1992)
Death Becomes Her is the 1992 horror comedy starring Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis. This camp classic follows two frenemies fighting over a meek man but accidentally stumbling upon a mysterious potion granting them eternal youth and beauty. Even with its hilarious performances, the silly body horror and impressive visual effects, Death Becomes Her almost missed me entirely. Routinely referenced in RuPaul’s Drag Race, Death Becomes Her has found new life as a queer classic since its initial release. The two central characters may be completely spiteful, but their outfits are so good it almost relieves them for their very many sins. To put it simply, this movie is completely deranged. Between Meryl’s head being on backwards and the hole through Goldie’s torso, the endless absurdity of Death Becomes Her is what makes it a strange but definite Halloween classic. — Amal Abdi
Let the Right One In (2008)
Let the Right One In is a stylish, fascinating horror that rewrites what’s possible. The attraction and humanity of vampires is turned on its head in favour of a deep emotional bond between its human and monster protagonists. The result is a film that proves as moving as it is gruesome, navigating the frailty of relationships and life itself while refusing to compromise on the slick aesthetic that director Tomas Alfredson became known for. — James Hanton
The Conjuring (2013)
A good horror film should leave you revisiting scenes in your head long after it finishes. The Conjuring is packed full of modern horror moments which are truly heart-stopping… let’s just say you won’t be sleeping with your feet outside the covers anymore after seeing this. Combining the classic tropes of haunted houses, witches, and demonic possession into a single terrifying package, The Conjuring is an example of how even the most overused narrative concepts can be reinvented into something original. Horror power couple Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are just the cherry on top. — Hollie Geraghty
When people talk about the best horror films of all-time, a title that frequently pops up in conversations or official rankings is Ridley Scott’s Alien. And for good reason. The 1979 classic was decades ahead of its time in terms of practical effects, nuanced storytelling, and downright terrifying scares – let us not forget the impact of that jump-scare in the vents and the unsettling design of the Alien itself. Scott’s film defined an era of horror and, over 40 years later, it still holds up as one of the best. Not just as a spooky Halloween classic, but as one of the best films ever made. — Awais Irfan
Both a direct sequel to and a spiritual remake of the seminal horror classic of the same name, 2018’s Halloween sees slasher film icon Michael Myers once again prowling the streets. It’s a testament to how unnerving and sinister something as simple as a guy with a mask and a knife can be. Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her earliest role as the battle-hardened, yet still traumatised survivor of that fateful Halloween night some 40 years ago. She is joined by Judy Greer and Andi Matichak as the next generations of Strodes, who must band together if they want to survive Michael’s homecoming. A triumphant return for a legendary horror franchise that makes the old new – and scary – again. — Stanyo Zhelev
László Nemes’ pre-apocalyptic daylight horror takes place in a Budapest not yet riddled with bullet holes, amidst an empire yet to collapse upon itself. On a primal level, Sunset works as a deeply unsettling, first-person ghost train – characters leer at us from the corners of the screen and mutter obscure pronouncements about murder and the occult; threat is everywhere, especially when the outcome has been predestined by history. Nemes’ now-signature camerawork conjures the immediacy of found-footage with the opulence of New Hollywood. On a deeper level, this is a provocative exercise in postmodern historical discourse – an examination of the question, ‘when does a person ceases to be a person, and become a moment in history?’, and of what it ultimately feels like to succumb to dark forces completely outwith your control. — James Witherspoon
Thanks to some clever marketing, I was completely floored by the twist at the end of the first act. I don’t think I breathed for the rest of that car journey, and I still remember the audience’s reactions as their eyes slowly adjusted to the light and noticed what was in the corner of Peter’s bedroom. So many moments chilled me to the bone but the film’s most powerful element was Toni Colette’s towering performance as Annie Graham. The “I Am Your Mother” dinner scene should have been enough to earn her an Oscar nomination, but sadly it proved once again the Academy’s bias against horror and genre movies. — Stuart Dallas King
With his 2004 cult horror spoof Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, little- known comedian Matthew Holness lovingly but mercilessly skewered the unchecked egotism and cocaine- fuelled lunacy of popular horror authors in the ‘80s. It’s a good thing he got it all out of his system, because when he returned 14 years later with his full-blooded, expressionist nightmare (and feature debut) Possum, I like many fans was stunned all over again. Maybe the secret to getting something right… is doing it all completely wrong the first time?
Holness bobs and weaves around his own pre-emptive criticisms, crafting a relentlessly original, visually striking, mature psychological creature feature with some truly upsetting ideas. Set in a lonely, near post-apocalyptic East Anglian council estate and inspired by the Jimmy Saville scandal, Possum delves into the heart-breaking personal cost of a subject still considered taboo. It’s grim, thought-provoking stuff, and perhaps not one to watch with even the coolest Grandma but, if you’re looking to be truly repulsed this Halloween, Possum will happily jam its dirty, uncomfortably long fingers into your mouth for 90 minutes and refuse to take them out. — Adam Morley
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Written and produced by Joss Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard, this iconic horror-comedy is the perfect movie for non-hardcore and die-hard horror fans alike. The Cabin in the Woods is an outrageously fun and subversive meta-horror, deconstructing every classic genre trope and cliche and making them original again. Without enough gore to satiate the bloodthirsty, a dynamic cast, clever script and laugh-out-loud humour, there’s nothing not to love about this fantastic slice of self-referential satire. It’s best to go into this one with little to no knowledge of what to expect, so just embrace the wild ride and thank me later. — Laura Potier
And for those who may not be huge fans of horror…
Practical Magic (1998)
Not everyone likes being terrified on Halloween. For those seeking a more relaxed evening, consider Griffin Dunne’s 1998 Practical Magic, which was universally panned by critics upon release but has since gathered a cult following. Practical Magic follows the story of the Owens women, witches whose own ancestor cursed them to lose every man who had the misfortune of loving them. Our main protagonists, orphaned sisters Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) are fun-loving, close-knit sisters who seem much like every other young woman, except for their skill in witchcraft and status as the most hated members of the neighbourhood.
They spend much of the film struggling to come to terms with their identities as witches, each finding their own path to happiness and self-acceptance. Along the way they find themselves embroiled in a murder, a haunting and a hilariously awkward romance that seems doomed to fail from the start. Practical Magic offers a little bit of everything in this Halloween delight, with love, revenge, girl power and a little bit of margarita mix to sweeten the deal. Charming and sweet, it’s the perfect alternative for those seeking a little less panic with their popcorn. — Rebecca Barnes
Coraline, Henry Selick’s 2009 dark animation, is a great choice for Halloween. Its button-eyed monsters may have scarred many of those who watched it in childhood, but it still remains one of the spookiest and most impressive animations to emerge in the last couple of decades. It manages to be both delightfully charming and intensely unnerving; you’ll want to curl up under a blanket with a hot cup of tea, but it will also send a chill straight down your spine. If you aren’t in the mood for anything too gruesome, this creepy, cosy animation is a perfect choice. — Megan Whitehouse