Cultures Film & TV

Must-Screams This Spooky Season

With the continuation of the Coronavirus pandemic, many have come to the conclusion that Halloween is officially cancelled- but don’t be so hasty! Put the cobwebs back, don’t smash your pumpkins just yet. These must-see films are sure to get you into the spooky spirit, even from the comfort of your own couch. Or bed. Hey, no judgement here.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

This British horror-comedy classic is the first in a series of three collaborations between director Edgar Wright and actors Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Set in early 2000s London, the film follows man-child Shaun (Pegg) and his slothful best friend Ed (Frost). Wearied by his blue-collar lifestyle and failing relationship with his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), Shaun’s world is turned upside down by the sudden infestation of zombies. Now, Shaun must rise to the occasion and serve as the protector of his rag-tag inner group of friends and family. Achieving overwhelmingly universal critical and commercial success upon release, the film has ascended to the status of Halloween classic, combining quintessentially British banter and satire with engaging and dynamic style (featuring Wright’s signature catchy pop soundtrack). This film is essential for anyone looking to scream this Halloween- either out of horror or laughter.

Crimson Peak (2015)

Crimson Peak is Guillermo del Toro’s take on the Victorian Gothic horror. We follow budding writer Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) as she adapts to her new role as the wife of Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), whilst simultaneously working to unveil the mystery surrounding her sister-in-law Lucille Sharpe and the ghoulish visions which plague her. The entire film is steeped in a haunting beauty- from the spectrally graceful leading cast to the decadent and desolate backdrop of Allerdale Hall, created in collaboration with production designer Tom Sanders of Dracula and Braveheart fame. Inspired by classic horrors like The Shining, del Toro puts his own whimsical spin on the genre, making it an unmissable watch this Halloween.

Coraline (2009)

This adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novella is a combination of children’s fantasy and horror, featuring intricate stop-motion animation and an enchanting soundtrack by the prolific French composer Bruno Coulais. The story follows a determined and adventurous young girl, the eponymous Coraline, who in exploring her new home, stumbles across a secret portal to a parallel world where something sinister lurks beneath its glossy exterior. This adaptation gives life to the creepy, strange, and alluring story first penned by Coraline. Fanciful, playful and innovative, this story is bound to stick with you long after viewing- just be sure to sleep with the lights on afterwards.

Shutter Island (2010)

In Martin Scorsese’s 2010 neo-noir thriller Shutter Island, Leonardo DiCaprio takes centre stage as US Marshal Teddy Daniels- accompanied by his new partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo)- who has been appointed to investigate the disappearance of a patient from ‘Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane’ located on the remote Castle Island. What begins as a traditional detective film rapidly descends into a psychological thriller, taking the viewer down a myriad of twists and turns. This flic is a great foray into spine-shuddering examinations of the human psyche, perfectly befitting of the spooky season. A great one to watch with the housemates, the existential questions this film raises are scary enough, yet alone the bleak tone and harrowing stories it tells.

Spirited Away (2001)Studio Ghibli has gained much critical acclaim over the years, notorious for its breathtakingly realistic Japanese landscapes and heart-warming animated tales, but less so for its prime Halloween potential. Still, the fantasy film Spirited Away is choc-a-block full of magical adventures and eery supernaturalism, drawing on Shinto-Buddhist folklore to craft a multitude of spectral creatures who the protagonist Chihiro (voiced by Rumi Hiragi) encounters. The tale depicts a young girl who accidentally stumbles across the spiritual realm of Kami. After her parents are trans-mutated into pigs by a malevolent witch, Chihiro must work in the witch’s bathhouse (frequented by a variety of beasts and critters) to discover the key to transforming her parents back into humans and returning to the earthly realm. An unconventional addition to the Halloween watchlist, this mystical Ghibli classic is a perfect family-friendly choice for a relaxed yet atmospheric spooky season.