It’s Halloween 2023, and we made a list of 15+ movies to watch this year, recommended by our writers! Which films will you stream first?
Halloween 2023 is here, and you know what this means! It’s time to think about which movies to watch this year, whether you’re into scary films, horror-comedy flicks, or unconventional watches! We made a list of 15+ great movies, from recent releases to all-time favorites, selected by our staff writers. They are guaranteed to make for fantastic Halloween watches, and scroll till the end for even more recommendations!
28 DAYS LATER
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Naomie Harris, Megan Burns
28 Days Later (2002) popularized the fast zombie craze of modern-day cinema and terrified moviegoers with its horrific, heart-pounding scenario. Following the aftermath of a deadly viral outbreak in Great Britain, 28 Days Later follows Jim (Cillian Murphy, of Oppenheimer), a bicycle courier who wakes up from a coma in a deserted hospital to discover bustling London life completely obliterated, society in total collapse, not another human soul in sight. It’s only when he is chased through the city at top speed by raging, bloodthirsty, once-human creatures that he realizes the horror in which he finds himself.
A month prior to his awakening, eco-terrorists in Cambridge freed a lab chimp from its cage, unaware it was infected with a highly contagious, aggression-inducing virus called the “Rage virus.” 28 Days Later takes a different approach to zombies by not requiring a bite to turn a person. All it takes is one drop of blood from an infected getting in your eye, mouth, or an open wound, and that’s it: You’re done. Within seconds, you’re a violent, vicious creature aggressively salivating for bloody carnage. Making 28 Days Later more terrifying is its horror within its horror: A military blockade is broadcasting protection as a cover to lure female survivors into sexual slavery so they can repopulate the earth. Making the film captivating is how Director Danny Boyle juxtaposes it all with the beauty of nature—ironic since nature is where such viruses originate.
While there was a sequel, 28 Weeks Later (2007), it was not written by 28 Days Later screenwriter Alex Garland (Ex Machina), was not directed by Danny Boyle, nor did it feature Cillian Murphy. However, Garland, Boyle, and Murphy are teaming back up for another sequel, 28 Years Later. I’m already waiting with my giant bucket o’ popcorn and my safety blanket. (Keeley Brooks)
Director: Jan Švankmajer
Cast: Kristýna Kohoutová
Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” (1865) is one of my all-time favourite stories – a fantastical, whimsical tale that oozes creativity at every turn. Reading it for the first time is like experiencing a lucid dream, a very specific kind of make-believe that isn’t content with conforming to any of the stereotypical “rules” of fantasy. Everything’s slightly off, yet almost always in a charming, likeable way.
So, it only makes sense that one day, someone would take this story and completely flip it on its head, staying true to the source material whilst using that off-kilter atmosphere to craft something genuinely harrowing. Of course, I’m referring to Alice (1988), a surrealist film which combines live-action and stop-motion to create an 86-minute-long nightmare, one you’ll never want to look away from.
At every turn, Jan Švankmajer makes the choice you wouldn’t expect, employing some of the strangest and most horrifying tools in a filmmaker’s arsenal to make something that is creepy on a level that few other films can match. Unlike in other horror films, there’s no sense of escalating tension, no jumpscares to catch you off-guard. Instead, Švankmajer terrifies the audience entirely through his visuals, making every character the most nightmarish version of themselves imaginable. The way everything moves is just so off-putting and spine-tingling, and there are countless interpretations of normally beloved elements of the story that will haunt you for many nights to come.
It’s a perfect example of taking a classic tale that so many love for its whimsy and turning that into one of the most effective pieces of horror animation you will ever see. It’s an overused phrase, but in this case, it definitely fits: there’s truly nothing else quite like it. (Tom Spoors)
Director: Daniel Goldhaber
Cast: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters
Whilst not entirely Halloween-set, Daniel Goldhaber’s 2018 thought-provoking horror Cam is a must-watch this October. The film is a thriller that will get you hooked instantly, and keep you on the edge of your seat for the remaining 90 minutes.
The film is a reflection on what it’s like to live in an ever-evolving digital age, where ones online persona is just as, or perhaps even more, important than their real-life self. Exploring themes of sex-work, AI & profile cloning, Cam stars Madeline Brewer as Alice, an ordinary 20-something living a regular life in the American suburbs. However, in the privacy of her neon-lit pink filming room, Alice transforms into Lola. Lola is a bold and captivating cam-girl who puts on elaborate shows to secure the number 1 spot on her chosen streaming website and uses her charm to secure money from middle-aged men, always under the stage name Lola to avoid the sex work seeping into her real life.
However, everything changes for Lola when one day her privacy is stripped from her, on the dark corners of the internet, Lola sees that a new profile has been created, which is an exact replica of her face, body, and life. In the Black Mirror-esque plot twist, Lola searches high and low to find out who has stolen her identity, but how far will she go to reclaim her following, her top spot on the camming site, and most importantly, her life? (Laney Gibbons)
What if Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet never died, but has actually been walking the Earth for 250 years, as a vampire? And what if he was finally ready to die? That is the premise behind Pablo Larraín’s (Spencer) Venice-premiering new film, which revolves around a former ruler who has decided to stop drinking blood, as he sees no point living in “a country that despises [him]”. But at the same time, the titular “conde” (Jaime Vadell) is still influencing everyone around him, from his wife Lucía (Gloria Münchmeyer) and loyal(ish) servant Fyodor (Alfredo Castro) to his many sons and daughters, who would all benefit from his demise.
But there’s more. When an exorcist nun named Carmencita (Paula Luchsinger) shows up at their house disguised as an accountant – but actually on a mission to exorcise Pinochet, all these dynamics change one more, and we slowly find out what everyone’s motivations really are.
El Conde might not be as funny as you expect it to be, but it’s one of those films that brim with originality, and delivers something you won’t forget any time soon. With gorgeous black and white cinematography, twists you won’t see coming, and characters you’ll like despite their immoral doings, Larraín’s latest works both as a political satire and as a macabre, blood-soaked dream that never ends. (Serena Seghedoni)
THE EXORCIST III
Director: William Peter Blatty
Cast: George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif
Read Also: “Why I Don’t get The Exorcist Hype”
In 1983, novelist William Peter Blatty wrote “Legion” as a sequel to “The Exorcist,” following William Friedkin’s 1973 adaptation, an influential film that changed how Hollywood perceived horror. While Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) poorly attempted to recapture the original’s magic, Blatty got close when helming the adaptation of “Legion,” now known as The Exorcist III.
The Exorcist III centers around Lieutenant William F. Kinderman (George C. Scott), who investigates a series of murders similar to the work of a deceased serial killer, the Gemini. His findings lead to a patient in a psychiatric hospital who resembles Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller), and who claims he’s the Gemini killer.
Blatty takes massive swings in The Exorcist III by playing with distinct genres – film noir and paranormal – to create a unique drama, inspiring fear closer to Friedkin’s movie. The director brings his novelist sensitivities and meticulously structures The Exorcist III like book chapters, each section flowing smoothly between one another and raising philosophical questions of faith.
Your average supernatural film will present a protagonist as an anchor to the possessed victim, using religion to fight evil. That’s not the case in The Exorcist III. Kinderman’s beliefs are much darker and oddly relatable, relying on death, murder, pain, and anger due to what he has seen as a detective. These elements make The Exorcist III unsettling and worthy of praise. Blatty shows us there is evil on earth – supernatural and otherwise – and it is up to us to either stand up to it or let it consume us. In a year where Hollywood gave us yet another lackluster sequel with The Exorcist: Believer, this is the perfect time to give The Exorcist III a fair shot. Chances are it will keep you up at night this Halloween season. (Edgar Ortega)
Director: Duwayne Dunham
Cast: Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, Judith Hoag
Halloween is typically associated with horror movies, and as someone not particularly fond of the genre, I’ve always found it challenging to join in the festivities. To navigate this, I usually spend my time watching other types of spooky films that won’t leave me afraid to go to sleep afterward. One of my favorites, which I revisit almost every year, is the 1998 Disney Channel classic Halloweentown, featuring the iconic Debbie Reynolds. It’s a delightful Halloween movie for kids that’s brimming with nostalgia and enjoyment.
The story unfolds in the mythical Halloweentown, where various Halloween monsters, including werewolves, vampires, and goblins, call home. The film follows the journey of Marnie Piper, a young witch who must unravel the mystery of the town’s disappearing residents. It strikes just the right balance of spookiness, making it a perfect choice for a Halloween-themed tale, while its lighthearted tone is sure to leave you with a smile on your face. You might be curious about the three sequels that followed this classic, but none quite capture the timeless fun of the original. (Tyler Strandberg)
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman
Full Review: Infinity Pool: Movie Review
Infinity Pool is another unfortunate example of a movie that was released way too early in the year and got swept up by the much more forgettable projects that surrounded it – but hidden beneath the film’s sexy and subversive exterior is a rich character study about just how fragile humanity’s concept of morality and self-control actually is.
Brandon Cronenberg follows neatly in his father’s footsteps with this twisted, repulsive body-horror that knows exactly how to get under the audience’s skin by presenting them with the very worst versions of themselves. The story follows a seemingly happy couple on vacation as they find themselves caught up in a deadly accident that presents them with an impossible choice: they either die for their crimes, or they pass that punishment onto a lifelike clone of themselves.
Despite its January release, Infinity Pool is actually the perfect kind of movie to get audiences’ hearts pumping on Halloween. There are almost two different levels of horror to the project: the dark, gory aesthetics, and the more psychological commentary that’s raised by its intellectual narrative. It’s the kind of story that begs to be questioned and interrogated, bringing audiences face-to-face with humanity’s greatest sins and proving that true evil doesn’t just exist in fiction. Even from a technical perspective, Infinity Pool remains an enormous achievement. Between the disgusting practical effects, hallucinatory editing choices, and powerhouse performances from Skarsgård and Goth, Infinity Pool will definitely go down as one of 2023’s strongest horror outings. (Jack Walters)
THE INVISIBLE MAN
Director: Leigh Whannell
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer
Full Review: The Invisible Man: Film Review
Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man is, without a doubt, a modern horror movie masterpiece. Cecelia (Elisabeth Moss, of Us) has just broken free of an abusive relationship when she finds out that her ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, of Emily) has died and left her his massive fortune. She immediately suspects something is off and believes that he might have faked his death. What follows are 120 minutes of pure anxiety as Cecelia attempts to figure out what the hell is going on. This was the last movie I saw before the pandemic and it’s one of the most memorable theater experiences I’ve ever had.
Whannell creates such a tense atmosphere, to the point that audiences are screaming seconds before the jump scare even occurs. All of this chaos is anchored by an extremely committed Elisabeth Moss, who should have at least been in the awards conversation for her best film performance to date. The Invisible Man proves that you can modernize classic horror tales such as the original Universal Monsters and still create something wholly original. If you want some legitimate scares from a more recent film, look no further than The Invisible Man. (Jonathan Vargas)
KNOCK AT THE CABIN
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge
Full Review: Knock at the Cabin: Film Review
What is more terrifying than a hostage situation where four conspiracy theorists warn about the end of the world? The idea that it could all be true. M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological thriller, Knock at the Cabin, puts conspiracy, religious prophecy, and the philosophical trolley dilemma (should one person die to save many?) into a blender to create an original nightmare.
Suspicion and the ongoing question of what is really true haunt partners Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge), as well as their adopted daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui) almost as much as the intruders in their vacation home. This film is a thrilling and mysterious tale, with plenty of Shyamalan’s characteristic storytelling. The stakes are high at every moment in the film; the ending is emotional and frightening. This may not be Shyamalan at his best, but it is a perfect watch for thrills and suspense this Halloween. (Justin Bower)
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris
Perhaps the scariest aspect of Darren Aronofsky’s 2017 fantastical thriller, Mother!, is that its horror lies in the realistic parts of the plot. Mother! prays on the most intimate fears a wife could have about her husband and her place in his life. While the film delves into supernatural/mythological/religious imagery to elicit genuine fear and discomfort from the audience, it’s the human aspects of the film that will linger with you long after your viewing.
Mother! centers around a wife (Jennifer Lawrence), who has rebuilt her poet husband’s (Javier Bardem) home after it burnt down when he was a child. The wife happily spends her days renovating their isolated country home while her husband attempts to write his next poem. The wife has an intensive connection to the house, she sees the home as an almost biological extension of herself, which is why she becomes increasingly unsettled as her husband begins welcoming strangers in to stay however long they like, claiming the company is helping inspire his next poem. While at first it was just one man (Ed Harris), soon his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up and makes it clear they do not plan to leave.
The film stands as an allegory for the unfair expectations that are placed on women, redefines the weight of the term “homemaker” and asks the question “Do men want to be loved or do they want to be worshipped?”. Fair warning: Aronofsky’s answer is full of gore.
The film is a slow burn, full of feminist and societal commentary, that erupts into a horrific catastrophe in its third act that has to be seen in order to be believed. (Hayley Croke)
Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Wes Craven, Tracy Middendorf
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is the perfect spooky Halloween watch. Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is back again, but this time with a twist. Craven is making a movie about Freddy Krueger, which stars final girl Heather Langenkamp reprising her beloved role as Nancy. Freddy Krueger can enter the real world to kill those who have escaped him before, only now, he can invade the film set to complete his murder spree. It’s a movie within a movie. It’s meta-horror at its finest.
This time, Nancy stars as a mother who has to try and flee before Freddy Krueger can capture her or her son again. Sleepless nights await all the cast and crew working on the new Craven/Kruger movie as you never know where Freddy Kruger is lurking. Any fans who love the original Nightmare on Elm Street and haven’t had a chance to catch this instalment yet must do so immediately! Craven’s 1994 version of Freddy Krueger is more terrifying than ever in New Nightmare, so be careful, or you’ll never sleep again! (Bethany Lola)
NO ONE WILL SAVE YOU
Director: Brian Duffield
Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Elizabeth Kaluev, Zack Duhame
Full Review: No one Will Save You: Hulu Film Review
No One Will Save You may only be a few months old, but I can already see it becoming a staple of Halloween for many. On the surface, it sounds like a simple setup: a young woman, Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever), has been isolated from her community following an unknown event from her past. This proves rather troublesome when aliens come down to Earth and invade her home, forcing her to fight them off.
No One Will Save You spends a majority of its time as an alien invasion film that’s standard in concept but remarkable in its direction and pacing. Director Brian Duffield and cinematographer Aaron Morton know how to shoot horror, blocking the aliens in ways that gives them a frightening presence and spine-chilling sound, whether they’re sneaking around or charging to attack. And with how much of the film is spent fending these things off, No One Will Save You proficiently delivers on the chills and thrills.
But it’s everything going on around the spectacle that makes the film really shine. Brynn’s town is so dismissive and even occasionally hostile towards her that she truly feels alone, which culminates in a brilliant, morbid, darkly cathartic ending, the kind that I rarely ever see in this type of story. It paints what the entire story’s been about in a new light that’s both uplifting and nasty.
No One Will Save You is a sci-fi/horror film that draws you in with its suspenseful buildup and chases, but stays with you with a payoff that leaves you conflicted in the best way. It’s great visually and thematically for a spooky season like this. (Joseph Tomastik)
I have gone into every new Scream entry a little worried it might —in the words of Sidney Prescott— ‘eff with the original’. But 9 months from its release I am confident this sixth instalment will remain a favourite of mine. Ghostface takes Manhattan in Scream VI, the most brutal and bloodiest sequel thus far. Our newest survivors now reside in New York City. However, they soon find themselves on the heels of identifying a new killer. With Neve Campbell opting out of this chapter, Melissa Barrera cements herself an exceptional new lead returning as Sam Carpenter, daughter of Billy Loomis: the original Ghostface.
Sam is unlike any other final girl: she’s an incredibly complex and morally grey protagonist. Sam is constantly at odds with her identity because of her relation to Billy and is trying to conceal her inexplicable blood lust. Where Sidney kills in self-defence, unnervingly, Sam unconsciously enjoys it. I find that darkness within her fascinating, and Scream VI doesn’t shy away from exploring Sam’s coldness. It’s tradition to laugh at the silliness of what’s usually a clumsy cinephile in a mask, but Scream VI’s Ghostface is genuinely terrifying. Ruthless, creative, and killing people for killing’s sake, this Ghostface feels like an entity of its own.
Scream VI includes some excellent set-pieces, as directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin utilised the New York setting cunningly. The subway scene teased in the initial trailer is one of the more unnerving sequences as well as two nail-biting minutes in a bodega. Scream VI is tense but immensely fun, and perfect for a popcorn-fuelled movie night. (Isabella Liistro)
Director: Kyle Edward Ball
Cast: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, Jaime Hill
Full Review: Shinamarink: Film Review
A viral sensation that managed to transcend its online word-of-mouth hype to become its own genuinely disquieting phenomenon earlier this year, Skinamarink is singular both as an anomalous theatrical success for a piece of truly experimental horror and, indeed, as a film in its own right, its depiction of two young kids trapped alone in their house in seemingly unending nightfall veering toward the all-out radical. True, reactions varied wildly to director Kyle Edward Ball’s methods—depending on who you ask this is either one of the most dread-inducing films ever made or one of the most tedious and mind-numbing—but opinions were always bound to be split on something so boldly avant-garde.
For my money, Skinamarink is just as scary as its initial festival reputation had made it out to be; maybe even more so. The film’s insistence on bucking convention isn’t just a frivolous curiosity. The isolating nature of the film’s cinematography, often focused on inanimate objects or dark corners of the house and never offering full focus of any people in the frame, combined with its fuzzy, retro look akin to that of a distorted VHS transfer envelops events in a terrifyingly oppressive atmosphere, one that uses the familiar hallmarks of suburban childhood as asphyxiating nightmare fuel (fittingly, it was shot in Ball’s childhood home). Watched under the right conditions, it’s likely to make the viewer feel trapped within its grip toward the latter end of its 100-minute runtime, a length some would argue overextends the film’s goodwill but, in my opinion, is necessary to achieve the film’s sense of an endless, horrifying drone. (Trace Sauveur)
TALK TO ME
Directors: Michael and Danny Philippou
Cast: Sophie Wilde, Ari McCarthy, Hamish Phillips, Kit Erhart-Bruce
Full Review: Talk to Me: Film Review
Talk to Me surprised audiences with a harrowing, personal story about a girl (Sophie Wilde) who tries to communicate with her recently deceased mother through a mystical embalmed hand. The debut for the Philippou brothers, the film tackles weighty themes, feels original, and – as horror movies should – utterly terrifies the audience. It utilizes jump scares effectively without over-relying on them. Instead, the directors find a way to induce a sense of dread, while also leaving the audience emotionally drained and thinking about the nature of love, loss, family, and friendships. Talk to Me carries a certain weight that feels absent from too many horror franchises today. For this writer, it is the most effective horror movie of the year. (Joshua Stevens)
YOU’RE KILLING ME
Directors: Beth Hanna and Jerren Lauder
Cast: McKaley Miller, Anne Heche, Dermot Mulroney, Brice Anthony Heller
You’re Killing Me, directed by Beth Hanna and Jerren Lauder, is a 2023 film that flew under my radar. It centers on Eden Murphy (McKaley Miller), a high schooler who attends a party thrown by a wealthy classmate, Schroder (Brice Anthony Heller) in the hopes of getting a letter of recommendation for college from Schroder’s congressman father (Dermot Mulroney) and gets more than she bargained for.
The premise of You’re Killing Me is incredibility unique, and the writers, for the most part, reward you for taking a chance on the film with a script that is ripe with suspense. Then you have the wonderful performances of McKaley Miller, who fills the lead role of Eden with such heart and electricity, and the late Anne Heche who delivers a brief but memorable turn as Schroder’s mother, Astrid. If you are looking for something more original instead of a franchise release this Halloween, you cannot go wrong with You’re Killing Me. (Branyan Towe)
HALLOWEEN 2023, MORE MOVIES TO WATCH:
- Barbarian (2022)
- Beau Is Afraid (2023)
- Cocaine Bear (2023)
- Crimes of the Future (2022)
- Crimson Peak
- His House (2020)
- Huesera: The Bone Woman (2023)
- King on Screen (2023)
- M3GAN (2023)
- Oldboy ()
- The Pope’s Exorcist (2023)
- Raw (2016)
- Sissy (2022)
- The Shining ()
- Swallowed (2023)
- Terrifier 2 (2022)
- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
- We Have A Ghost (2023)