With Halloween falling on a weekend, there’s a good chance people are going to be getting into some scary movie marathons.
While there are some obvious choices, like movies featuring Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger or Ghostface, I thought I’d throw out some underrated picks that might have flown under the radar.
[REC] (R) — This Spanish found-footage movie is one of my favorite scary films of all time.
The premise is simple: A reporter doing a puff piece on emergency responders is unknowingly thrust into a perilous situation when they respond to a call of an attack at an apartment complex. It turns out the call is worse than they thought, and the entire building is placed under quarantine, trapping everyone inside as more attacks occur.
This is a tight 78 minutes, wasting no time for unnecessary subplots or drama. It ramps up the horror and hopelessness well and culminates with one of the most terrifying finales in the genre. While it was remade almost shot-for-shot in the American version, 2008’s “Quarantine,” the newer version doesn’t capture the magic of the original. It’s something horrifically special.
“The Changeling (1980)” (R) — Cited as one of the best horror movies by directors like Guillermo del Toro and Quentin Tarantino, this George C. Scott thriller continues to age well, with some decent scares.
Scott plays a composer who’s still suffering from the grief of losing his wife and daughter in a freak accident. What does he do to deal with that? Of course, he moves into a haunted Victorian mansion.
Dealing with a ghost who wants a murder solved, he runs into several bumps in the night. While many of the frights have been copied many times over in other horror movies, the drama of this remains fresh and Scott sells the horror of the situation with a fantastically stoic, grumpy performance.
Freaky (R) — This 2020 horror-comedy with Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton flew under the radar, mostly thanks to it getting released in theaters at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s worth a watch.
While it’s not scary, it’s a surprisingly fresh, graphically violent send-up of both “Freaky Friday” and “Friday The 13th” (It’s made pretty clear it wanted to be called “Freaky Friday The 13th”), with a high school student and serial killer switching bodies and needing to find out how to switch back. It’s gory and hilarious.
“You’re Next” (R) — “Home Alone” meets “The Strangers” when a family reunion at a sprawling house in Missouri turns deadly, as wealthy relatives get picked off by a group of masked killers.
It goes from horrific to funny to disgustingly violent as more bodies drop. There’s a reason this launched the career of director Adam Wingard (“Godzilla Vs. Kong”). It’s always worth a watch during the spooky season.