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Friday, October 16, 2015

Now Screaming on Netflix Instant

For even the most casual horror fan, there's something about October that makes many crave a good scary movie. The good news: you don't have to brave the screams and giggles of fellow theatergoers to catch a great horror flick. For your October viewer pleasure, we present a selection of horror films that Netflix users can stream in the creepy confines of their living rooms!

For the found footage fan:
Creep (2014)

One of the things I admire most in a genre movie is the ability to do a lot with a little, and Creep does this extremely well, both in story and cast/crew. Starring only the writers and director, Patrick Bryce and Mark Duplass have put together a story that is believable, hilarious, and extremely disconcerting. When a filmmaker (Bryce) answers a Craigslist ad to film a day in the life of Josef (Duplass), his awkward sense of humor continues to escalate until things get downright...well, creepy. Duplass's performance is nothing short of spectacular, and the ending will have you heading towards the locks on your doors and windows.

For the 80s fan looking for something new: 
House of the Devil (2009)

Ti West has come to be known for quiet, suspenseful tales that suddenly blow up into full blown terror, and this is his best thus far. Firmly taking place in the 1980s, the film also utilizes 80s style and music with a modern sensibility for teasing expectations. House of the Devil follows Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), a college student who desperately needs a little cash to pay rent, so she takes an odd babysitter gig that gradually goes from a little weird to life-threateningly apocalyptic. The finale for this one is over-the-top terrifying as things come to a head with the creepy family, led by the phenomenal Tom Noonan.

For the horror-comedy fan:
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

In recent years we've gotten a weird amount of movies that take a look at the zombie genre from the creature's perspective, but whereas that quickly devolves into an endless series of brain-eating gags, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil finds something incredibly funny and clever while looking at the psycho redneck serial killer trope. Tucker and Dale go to their hunting cabin for a weekend retreat, but quickly find themselves pegged as murderous psychopaths by an inept group of college kids who accidentally die gruesome and silly deaths all over their property. For my money, this is the smartest horror-comedy not directed by Edgar Wright.

For the person who still hasn't seen The Babadook:
The Babadook (2014)

Really? You still haven't seen it? The Babadook made nearly all of our top movies of 2014 lists, and won at least one Rexie award. Jennifer Kent's feature directorial debut is extremely smart and frightening, and explores themes of motherhood and postpartum depression in a way that hasn't been dealt with in a horror film prior. The Babadook tells the story of a single mother's struggle to raise an unruly child by herself after the sudden death of her husband, and the literally monstrous consequences of bottling up your fears. Highly recommended!

For those looking for a double-feature:
Hellraiser / Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1987/1988)

Undoubtedly the best Clive Barker adaptation, Hellraiser presents a disturbing family drama laced with betrayal and sadomasochism that comes to a gory boil with the introduction of the demonic Cenobites, including the infamous Pinhead. It's both brutal and patient, and has some fantastic special effects that aren't recognized enough. Even less recognized is how good it's first sequel is; although not helmed by Barker himself and not as tight, Hellbound picks up exactly where the first film leaves off and further explores the universe of the Cenobites in a way that is surprisingly interesting.

For the monster movie hound:
Monsters (2010)

Written and directed by Gareth Edwards, this low budget monster flick was enough to propel him from a visual effects specialist to the director of both Godzilla and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Monsters tells the story of a journalist (Scoot McNairy, pre-Halt and Catch Fire) who reluctantly agrees to bring his boss's daughter back to America from Mexico. The catch? For the last several years, a wide swath of Mexico is dubbed the quarantine zone, where a race of giant alien creatures have taken hold. Monsters is subtle, smart, and scary, and provides a fantastic metaphor for immigration while telling a satisfying story of how the main characters' perspectives on each other change as they venture deeper into dangerous territory.

For those looking for something a little different:
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

Want to get weird looks at work? When someone asks what you did over the weekend, tell them you saw this amazing black and white Iranian vampire western. Ana Lily Amirpour's exquisitely unique film is gorgeously shot and supremely engaging, as it isn't quite like anything you've seen before. Filled with great music that evokes both the spaghetti western and skateboard culture, the real star of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the seductively dreamy performance of it's titular character played by Sheila Vand.

For those looking for a real classic:
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

You can't go wrong here. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is one of the earliest horror films, and watching it, one can instantly see the many ways it has influenced modern horror (and film noir, for that matter). Perhaps most important to the genre is the tendency to use elements of the setting to abstractly represent the mental state of a character or the mood of a scene; there's a reason why the distorted angles and exaggerated sets make this the quintessential German expressionistic film. Also: a pretty fantastic twist, if you're into that sort of thing.
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