I’m back again for another Halloween movie list. Last week was family friendly fun, and I’ll admit, that type of list is not my forte. However, this week is the type of list you’d hear me talk about relentlessly: Halloween movies you might not have heard of. If you’ve exhausted the Friday the 13th and Saw franchises, but you’re tired of wading through streaming services looking for that rare gem only to be met with so many disappointing, formulaic films, this is the list for you. Then again, if you’re a cinephile like me, you may have already watched all of these, but there’s nothing wrong with a rewatch!
As a reminder, Does the Dog Die? is a helpful tool for films if you’re looking for a content or trigger warning, especially this list.
Train To Busan
Train To Busan (2016) dir. Sang-ho Yeon | NR 1h 58m | Audio: Korean
Passengers on a train from Seoul to Busan fight to survive a violent zombie outbreak and make it to an alleged safe zone.
Of all the movies on this list, this is the one I hope you’ve either already watched, heard someone in your life gush about, or at least you choose to watch after reading. It lives up to all the hype there is. South Korea is really dominating the film industry right now and rightfully so. Train To Busan will serve you survival horror while forcing you to care about characters with only snippets of their life story. It’s done beautifully and there is no fat to be trimmed from this movie. At nearly two hours, every minute is in the film for a reason. If you watch this and fall in love with this type of storytelling, I highly recommend Netflix’s Squid Game, and vice versa. You might see a familiar face!
The Taking of Deborah Logan
The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) dir. Adam Robitel | R 1h 30min
A film crew documents the effects of Alzheimers on an elderly woman and her caregiver daughter when the footage and interviews begin to reveal something else may be happening.
The first time I saw this film, I was cleaning my apartment and thought I’d just casually throw a horror film on my laptop in the background while I put away laundry. I found myself holding a shirt, half sitting on my bed with my eyes glued to the screen twenty minutes in and sat like that for the rest of the film. It was like nothing I had thought it would be, and the premise doesn’t give anything away. This film was rereleased in 2019 because like so many phenomenal horror movies it got almost no release in the US. I’m a sucker for a good found footage horror film, having grown up in the time of The Blair Witch phenomena. Finding a found footage horror film that does something different is fantastic, and this is one that will catch you off guard.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2017) dir. André Øvredal | R 1h 26min
A father and son team of coroners investigate the cause of death behind an unknown woman during an autopsy.
This movie will keep you on your toes and terrified for the majority of its run time if you allow it. Don’t take a break and don’t look at your phone. Just sit through the autopsy and be scared out of your mind. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch give excellent performances that make this one-location film feel hopeless and frightening. I would never sit through a rewatch with the lights out, but you should!
The Void (2016) dir. Jeremy Gillespe and Steven Kostanski | NR 1h30min
A police officer and injured patient enter an understaffed hospital only to be surrounded by hooded figures, trapping them inside with people turning into something inhuman.
The box art for The Void is reminiscent of all the cool VHS movies I wanted to rent as an edgy teenager roaming the aisles of my local off-brand movie rental store. That’s what drew me in but in no way was I left wanting. I came for the cult stuff, and The Void delivered. Even the slow parts of the movie are underscored with intense dread. If Eldritch horror is up your alley, this one’s for you.
It Follows (2014) dir. David Robert Mitchell | R 1h 40min
After a sexual encounter, a young woman is followed by a supernatural entity that will never stop.
I’ve only watched It Follows once. I thought it was a dumb teen slasher movie – it certainly looks like one. It was genuinely one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen and I’ve been too scared to watch it again. It was also one of the best, easy-concept, brilliant-execution, horror movies I’ve seen. It feels like catching someone staring at you for too long from across the street stretched out into a two hour movie. This movie will show you a new urban legend and make you look over your shoulder and up at rooftops for the next week.
Metamorphosis (2019) dir. Hong-seon Kim | R 1h 53 | Audio: Korean
A priest’s family becomes possessed by an evil spirit that shape shifts between them, forcing him to perform an exorcism to save them.
This is possibly my most recommended horror film in the past year to anyone I know who loves horror. I can’t believe I don’t hear more about it and that it’s not on more lists. It’s one of the best exorcism films I’ve seen and has a fantastic plot. Having seen The Conjuring, I’d easily choose this movie first. You’ll get a lot more out of your two hours. The suffering of this movie is brilliant in the way it leaves you terrified for this family.
Raw (2016) dir. Julia Ducournau | R 1h 39min | Audio: French
A young woman entering veterinary school develops a taste for flesh after eating meat for the first time.
I think one of the fascinating things about cinema all over the world is how different it is. Censorship can change how images are shown and scripts are written, but the way in which concepts are brought to an audience is drastically different. When I say “this is a French cannibal film,” as an American, it would likely evoke a particular image. Raw is beautiful, while still being quite brutal. The audio is honestly the most graphic part about it. I’d beg you not to eat during this film, but you won’t be able to. This is a coming of age film about young women and sexuality, and cannibalism is a vehicle for that tale. Just be prepared to not want to eat chicken wings or anything similar for a while.
The Empty Man
The Empty Man (2020) dir. David Prior | R 2h 17min
An ex-cop suspects that a missing girl and a series of deaths are linked to a mysterious group trying to summon a supernatural entity.
The Empty Man looks like one of many Slenderman copycat movies that have sprung up in the past decade from the poster and tagline, as well as the fact that you’ve probably never heard of it. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Empty Man barely got a theatrical release due to covid and was unknown until it showed up on HBOMax a few months ago. It’s finally getting some due diligence thanks to Chris Stuckmann who seems to have convinced just enough people to watch this movie that it’s getting some attention now. I wouldn’t have ever given this movie a glance without his review, but let me tell you, I would have been wrong. The Empty Man is a ride from start to finish and being over two hours long, there is not a minute of fat on this movie. It was so surprising and honestly refreshing to see something different in horror. I could sit here and write a love letter to this movie just for the fact that I never knew what was going to happen from one minute to the next, but instead, I want you to go see the movie for yourself.
House (Hausu) (1977) dir. Nobuhiku Ôbayashi | NR 1h 28min | Audio: Japanese
A school girl invites a group of her friends to join her for a summer holiday to her aunt’s house.
House is a horror classic that’s been so sought after that it was added to The Criterion Collection for wide release in 2010. It’s full of absolutely bonkers effects to the point that it feels a little sillier than scary. The backstory to House is that the studio behind it saw the success American theaters were having with Jaws and wanted to release a similar horror film. With that in mind, this is nothing like Jaws and doesn’t touch on it in any way other than it’s a horror movie from the 1970’s. This movie feels like a trip, but decades later, the iconic orange cat logo of House has become synonymous with this weird little piece of movie history. I highly recommend it for a watch party of friends who enjoy weird films. Depending on where you source your film from, there are a few different cuts from over the years.
The Endless (2017) dir. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead | NR 1h 51min
Two brothers who escaped a UFO death cult as children return after receiving a mysterious videotape.
This movie gives you plenty of time to ease into the narrative, decide if the cult is crazy or not, try to reason with yourself and the plot, before things start to unfold. The lore of The Endless that plays out while the brothers unpack their childhood within the cult is much more than the movie is giving at first glance. If you saw something outside of your understanding happening right in front of you, would you believe it? Would you stay?
Hell House LLC
Hell House LLC (2015) dir. Stephen Cognetti | NR 1h 33min
Five years after an unexplained tragedy causes deaths of guests and staff at a haunted house attraction in upstate New York, a documentary crew finds the only survivor and her footage.
Hell House LLC is another found footage film that takes a bit to get into. The acting isn’t superb, but the plot is there. I loved it and was surprised to see that a lot of other film lovers were behind this film as well. I’ve watched a ton of movies like this where nothing happens for an hour and a half and in the end it’s only suspense, knocking on walls, and generic demon stuff happening just off screen. That is not this film. What Hell House LLC does well is that it preys upon a fear we all have: What if something was going wrong or someone was hurting you, but onlookers assumed it was part of the show? It’s a theme that comes up again and again in the film, and the claustrophobia in the location of the haunted house attraction is overwhelming. The film has two sequels, and while the second one isn’t as good, the third is much better and wraps up the story in a surprising twist. If you end up liking this, check out Hell House LLC. II The Abbadon Hotel and Hell House LLC. III Lake of Fire.
Grave Encounters (2011) dir. Colin Minihan, Stuart Ortiz, The Vicious Brothers | NR 1h 32min
A paranormal crew lock themselves inside an abandoned mental hospital to document ghost activity for their reality show. Only their footage is found seven years later.
If you’re a fan of shows like Ghost Adventures (or if you’re aware of these shows and they make you cringe), Grave Encounters will work for you. It opens in a very meta style, giving Zak Bagans energy to the point that it almost feels like a parody. But the thing about these types of movies is that you have to suspend your disbelief and let it happen. Grave Encounters makes so many lists because it’s more than a “trapped with ghosts in an abandoned hospital” movie. I can’t speak for the sequels on this one, but by the end of this film, you’ll know there are fates worse than death.
As Above So Below
As Above So Below (2014) dir. John Erick Dowdle | R 1h33min
A team of explorers travel miles below the streets of Paris into the catacombs and find secrets, memories, and treasures among the dead.
I’ve put these last three found footage movies lumped together as they are often recommended and watched by the same people. They have similar vibes while having vastly different stories. Having said that, As Above So Below deals with themes of christianity, past traumas, claustrophobia, and of course, the plague, being that the whole movie takes place in the catacombs. It spends a lot of time with the plot being smart enough to make you interested and solve the puzzle of what’s happening instead of giving you a ghost story in the dark underground. I’ve never been able to fully get through The Descent (2005) because of the extreme claustrophobia in the movie, but As Above So Below is more about being trapped underground in a maze instead of in a cave, against rocks, unable to breathe. If you like archaeology and ancient scripture lore in movies, this would be an excellent pick.
Creep (2014) dir. Patrick Brice | R 1h 17min
A videographer answers an ad for a one-day job to shoot in a remote town and record the last words of a dying man. When the man’s behavior changes between unhinged and overly friendly, he questions his intentions.
Creep is deeply unsettling. It’s one of those movies where it’s not outright violent or lewd, but it makes you so uncomfortable and even makes your skin crawl at some parts. It’s an absolute cult classic and it will stay with you every day after you watch it. Mark Duplass gives an incredible performance to the point that you completely forget he’s a known actor. I’ve seen him in other films since and thankfully don’t associate it with this. Creep deserves every bit of praise and cult status it has because a good script and great acting make a movie of just two people interacting absolutely terrifying. If you end up enjoying this, I’d recommend the sequel. I’d also recommend making sure all your doors and windows are locked before you start this, because you’ll stop it at least once to check them.
That’s the end of this week, my longest list yet. Next week will be my last list and will be filled with horror comedies just in time for Halloween parties. I hope this list has given you some great ideas for films you might want to watch or rewatch. As I was writing this I was getting excited about rewatching a few of them again this year. In the meantime, get your pumpkins ready for carving! Although, maybe don’t carve them to anything on this list – with all the scares, it might be dangerous.
- Scary Jess 🖤
*Please note: Some of our posts may contain affiliate links which means the Team at Variant Ventures could earn money if you purchase products from our site.*