Halloween is always a welcome opportunity to celebrate horror movies, and this year has been filled with some great ones.
A satire set in the contemporary art world scene of Los Angeles, where big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce.
A sequel to the 2017 box-office hit sees the original protagonist once again stuck in a Groundhog Day-style time loop—only instead of becoming a better person, she has to figure out who is killing her and her friends over and over again.
The Conjuring cinematic universe expands once again, this time following Father Perez from the hit spin-off Annabelle as he combats the ghostly La Llorana from Mexican folklore.
Of all the ideas to come out of the lucrative cinematic universe of “The Conjuring,” the freakiest one involves a spooky doll. With “Annabelle” and prequel “Annabelle: Creation,” the stationary figure became a gateway for demonic forces seeking the souls of young children.
Unlike the two-hour-plus “Conjuring” movies or the sprawling convent showdowns of “The Nun,” the new movie jams the archetypes of a John Hughes teen comedy into a minimalist haunted-house scenario, relegating family exorcists Ed and Lorraine Warren to supporting characters and focusing on their middle-school daughter Judy (McKenna Grace), her teen babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), and Mary Ellen’s pal Daniela (Katie Sarife).
More William Castle than Val Lewton, the movie embraces the opportunity for spine-tingling apparitions at every turn, from the use of a “grab box” game that turns dangerous to ghostly figures with coins over their eyes roaming the hallways, and a knife-wielding bride that pops up at the most inconvenient moments. As usual, Annabelle herself doesn’t have to move a muscle to generate deep-seated dread, as her frozen gaze always sends the eerie message that she’s in control. —EK
IT: Chapter Two
IT: Chapter Two isn’t quite as great at its predecessor, but for anyone who was craving a dose of Stephen King’s thrilling clown horror, this film is a solid choice. Balancing a bit of heart with its terrifying premise (nothing is scarier than a monster than manifests as your biggest fear), Pennywise returns to haunt the now-adult kids of Derry, 27 years after his first appearance. The cast for the sequel is insane, and even better when you see them with their child counterparts. It 2 may not go down as the best horror film, but it’s a respectable entry into the Stephen King canon.
Release date: April 14
Cast: Jason Woods, Jessica Allain, Mykelti Williamson
Director: Dallas Jackson
Why it’s good: If you have an affection for the classic slasher flicks of years past (particularly the 1980 Canadian favorite Prom Night), here’s a low-key but enjoyable homage that’s packed with all the tragic pranks, hooded killers, red herrings, and (mostly) deserving victims you’d expect. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, plot-wise, but there are enough interesting performances and plot contortions to keep things interesting until the late-arriving mayhem hits the screen. Plus it’s set in South Central Los Angeles, which is pretty unique for a slasher flick.
Where to watch it: Netflix; rent on Amazon
A single mother living in the Irish countryside with her son begins to suspect he may not be her son at all and fears his increasingly disturbing behavior is linked to a mysterious sinkhole in the forest behind their house.
Honestly, this might be the scariest film of the year based on premise alone. Let’s be real—our phones are definitely going to kill us. In Countdown, an app has gone viral and when you download it, it will tell you when you’re going to die. Hilarious, right? The characters have the same reaction—until they determine that there seems to be a bit of truth behind the app when the numbers dial down. But an app can only be so omnipotent, so the leads in the film have to figure out what’s happening before time literally runs out.
What begins as your typical adolescent troubled behavior becomes much more sinister when a young boy begins to show signs, not of hormones and puberty—but rather a terrifying demonic possession
Like a socioeconomic reimagining of Get Out, in Ready or Not, if you marry up, you have to earn it. After marrying the guy she always hoped to end up with, a woman (Samara Weaving) has to survive the night while she is—wait a minute—hunted by her rich board game-business in-laws toting guns and miscellaneous weapons? Cool. Wonderful. Great. Bonus points for the film—it’s essentially a throwback cast for anyone who relishes the late 90s and early 2000s. Adam Brody and Andie MacDowell round out the top-billed cast for the screwed up thriller. Does it sound bananas? Sure. But critics love it, and with the growing economic divide in America, this is the new American Dream. Sorry, we don’t make the rules. Run.