A Horror Renaissance: Six New Movies for the Halloween Season

Move over Michael Meyers, there’s some new kids in town.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years you may have missed that we’re in the midst of a horror movie renaissance, and there are some soon-to-be-classics just waiting to be watched. Butter up some popcorn, turn the lights down low, and get ready to make this Halloween a frightening treat that you won’t soon forget.

Here’s a look at five newish horror movies that are guaranteed to set your spine atingle.

Under The Skin (2014)

Currently streaming on Amazon Prime, this slow-burning masterpiece—starring Scarlett Johansson in a restrained and unsettling performance—is guaranteed to leave you creeped the fuck out, disoriented, and shedding your skin for more.

Scarlett JohanssonUnder The Skin follows an otherworldly woman as she seduces lonely men in the Scottish countryside. It’s more of an “experience” than a linear story, but don’t let that deter you. Top to bottom, this movie is a masterclass in pacing, cinematography, direction, and mood. And, for my money, Under The Skin has one of the best soundtracks in recent years; just listen to the hauntingly gorgeous “Love” or the chilling “Death.”

You may remember director Jonathan Glazer’s previous film Birth from 2004, a masterpiece in it’s own right, but Under The Skin truly takes the cake. Under The Skin is unlike any other film you’ve ever seen. One crucial set piece is so original and breathtaking in it’s simplicity and effectiveness that Netflix’s Stranger Things ripped it off.

If a mystifying amalgamation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Eyes Wide Shut, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers sounds like like your cup of tea, then Under The Skin is just the thing for you.

Green Room (2015)

Green RoomGreen Room is the story of a down-on-their-luck punk band that’s forced to take a gig at a neo-Nazi/skinhead bar in the backwoods of Oregon. After their set is over, they stumble across an incident that they weren’t supposed to see and—from there on out—they’re in a desperate fight to save their lives. Along the way, they encounter a cringe-inducing barrage of machetes, shotguns, fire extinguishers, and pit bulls. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but once the shit hits the fan, Green Room relentlessly races to it’s final disquieting conclusion.

Starring Star Trek veteran’s Patrick Stewart (in a performance that may give Hannibal Lecter the chills) and the late Anton Yelchin, Green Room is a horrifying, action-packed thriller that’s definitely not for the feint of heart.

Train to Busan (2016)

Train to Busan is a sensationally unique horror-thriller from South Korea that follows a group of passengers as they try to outrun a countrywide viral outbreak that’s turning people into blood-thirsty zombies. It’s an amped-up Murder on the Orient Express meets 28 Days Later with paranoia and betrayal in spades.

Though Train to Busan does get a little sappy in its final moments, the majority of this film is pure perfection. Like 10 Cloverfield Lane, this film takes some of its best queues from Hitchcock. It invites us to slowly learn about each character’s motivations and then pits them against each other.

Writer and director Sang-ho Yeon hit it out of the park with Train to Busan and lead actor Gong Yoo deftly carries the film. The real star though is Kim Su-an who delivers one of the best performances from a child in film history. Yeah, she’s that good.

Ex Machina (2015)

With an utterly brilliant and thought-provoking script from writer and director Alex Garland, Ex Machina forges new ground and carves out a top spot amongst the best existential thrillers of all time. I’d pigeon this one somewhere between Blade RunnerBirdman, and The Trial with a dash of deranged prisoner.Ex Machina Dance Scene

Ex Machina focuses on three characters: the uber-intelligent psychotic tech billionaire (an outstanding Oscar Isaac), the up-and-coming programer (Domhnall Gleeson), and the sexy femme fatale who just happens to be a robot (a near-perfect Alicia Vikander).

What does it mean to be human? How do we quantify intelligence? Could robots experience emotions? These are just a few of the questions that Ex Machina explores in a souped-up haunted house that’s disguised as the Turing Test.

Ex Machina is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

From J.J. Abrahm’s Bad Robot Productions comes 10 Cloverfield Lane, a Hitchcockian thriller that’s ever-so-loosely connected to 2008’s Cloverfield.

10_cloverfield_lane_paramount_winstead-0-0Anchored by three magnetic performances—the enchanting Mary Elizabeth Winstead, mega-creep John Goodman, and the heartwarming John Gallagher—10 Cloverfield Lane surpasses Cloverfield by a country mile. The script, the acting, and the camera work oozes with a level of professionalism rarely seen from a first-time director (Dan Trachtenberg).

I don’t want to give too much away on this one, but it’s better to see this movie without knowing anything about it. Skip the trailer, don’t read any reviews, you’ll have a better time.

Attack the Block (2011)

For those of you who fell in love with the derivative pastiche of horror, sci-fi, and 80s nostalgia that was Netflix’s Stranger Things, I’d highly recommend checking out the infinitely more inventive and original, Attack the Block.

Attack the Block follows a small gang of teenage hoodlums—led by the silent, resilient, and self-sacrificing Moses (a breakthrough performance by The Force Awakens‘ star John Boyega)—as they fend off an alien invasion in the projects of South London.Attack the Block

Written and directed by Joe Cornish (Ant-man), Attack the Block subverts your expectations and leaves you asking, “What makes a hero?”

Honorable Mentions

What We Do in the Shadows, It Follows, The Witch, The Babadook, The Innkeepers, Don’t Breath, Honeymoon, Creep, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Housebound, and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.