Halloween is only a few days away and you’re not prepared for it! Sure, you sorted through a bunch of bad costume ideas before deciding on your kick-ass one. And yeah, you freaked yourself out by giving credence to some ridiculous Halloween urban legends, then forcing yourself to stare at creepy Halloween gifs and music videos. That’s all well and good, but Halloween just isn’t the same if you haven’t psyched yourself up by watching some scary movies. To help you decide which ones to watch this weekend, before all the ghouls come out, MERRY JANE presents you with five frightening flicks that are currently streaming on Netflix and perfect to scare up some fun for you and your...BOO!
Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead (2014)
Starring: Vegar Hoel, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Subgenre: Zombie Horror Comedy
Summary: Nazi zombies must be stopped before they eat small Norwegian towns alive.
No disrespect to Dead Snow (2009), which is a zombie flick worth seeing, but it’s perfectly OK to skip it and go straight to the spruced-up sequel, which is one of the most start-to-finish entertaining horror offerings in recent years. Beginning with a quick recap of what happened in the first film, things move along briskly as the stressed-out protagonist (Vegar Hoel in a performance seemingly inspired by the Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell) has to deal with the oncoming onslaught of resurrected Nazi soldiers threatening to overtake civilization.
Compared to its predecessor, this is a whole different beast in terms of tone, going for a comedic angle that works wonders to offset some rather crazy but amazing kills. If you ever wanted to see a beardless Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), from HBO’s Silicon Valley, do battle against a horde of marching dead while accompanied by two nerdy lady assistants (Jocelyn DeBoer and Ingrid Haas), this is your movie.
Starring: Clare Higgins, Sean Chapman, Andrew Robinson, Ashley Laurence
Director: Clive Barker
Subgenre: Supernatural Horror
Summary: A woman feeds her undead lover bodies in order to re-animate him back to human form after he has escaped a hellish dimension.
Author Clive Barker’s adaptation of his novella The Hellbound Heart is a strange experience. It feels at times like a feverish dream within a dream. But, also, if you take out the horrifying monsters and brutal murders, you’re left with what plays like a torrid drama about an ill-advised love affair gone horribly wrong. One could argue that the film is a metaphor for how dangerous infidelity can be or a warning about the dangers of succumbing to forbidden desires. Or maybe it’s simply a terrifying and extreme depiction of BDSM fantasy.
Whatever your interpretation, we can all probably agree that the otherworldly Cenobites are some of the most vividly nightmarish characters ever committed to celluloid, the kind of things that can make it hard to sleep with your lights off.
Here Comes the Devil (2012)
Starring: Francisco Barreiro, Laura Caro
Director: Adrián García Bogliano
Subgenre: Horror Mystery Drama
Summary: Two young siblings go missing during a family road trip. They’re found the next day but there’s obviously something very wrong with them.
Here Comes the Devil opens with an explicit lesbian love scene that will leave some viewers debating its relevance. Regardless of respective opinions, the scene suggests that this film is dealing with sexual themes and overtones, no matter how disturbing those implications can get later on. And events do get disturbing, as a family dealing with a crisis it can’t handle is torn apart by feelings of guilt and shame and is driven to the point of insanity over what appears to be dark forces beyond their control.
This Mexican production helmed by a director with roots in Spain and Argentina is in a foreign tongue, but non-Spanish-speaking viewers will understand they’re seeing a well-crafted piece of work that’s unafraid to let audiences draw their own conclusions with an ending that explains what’s been going without having to overtly say it.
Starry Eyes (2014)
Starring: Alex Essoe, Maria Olsen, Pat Healy
Director: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
Subgenre: Suspense Horror
Summary: An aspiring actress looking for her big break pushes herself to the limit only to end up pursuing a role that could have devastating effects on her mental health—and soul.
Accurately described as a cross between Black Swan and Rosemary’s Baby (with a little bit of Mulholland Drive thrown in there), Starry Eyes is a showcase for lead Alex Essoe as Sarah, the obsessive thespian who will stop at nothing to make it in Hollywood. This type of person has existed for as long as Tinseltown has been around, but rings even truer in these days of ubiquitous 24-7 celebrity worship, where anybody with an Instagram or Snapchat can get “famous” overnight.
Actors in horror films rarely get the credit for their performances in what are often emotionally and physically exhaustive efforts. Essoe is really put through the wringer in a demanding role that could not have been easy to play. Starry Eyes is an underrated movie documenting a descent into madness that might discourage anyone with half-ass dreams of becoming a celebrity.
Last Shift (2014)
Starring: Juliana Harkavy, Hank Stone, Matt Doman
Director: Anthony DiBlasi
Subgenre: Supernatural Horror
Summary: A rookie cop reports for her first night of duty and discovers the only thing worse than violent criminals are the ghosts of violent criminals.
If you’ve passed up this frightful gem in the past, it’s understandable. There’s just something about it on the surface that makes it look like just another generic horror flick. But Last Shift wastes no time in drawing you in and manages to keep your nerves frazzled for its duration. The setup is vaguely reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976): A rookie cop has to keep watch at an abandoned police station on the night before the new HQ opens at a different location in the city. But instead of being forced to fight vengeful gang members, this inexperienced officer (Juliana Harkavy) has to deal with something way more menacing.
Neat camera tricks and edits keep things creepy, setting up several genuine shit-your-pants scares that’ll have you close to dialing 9-1-1 from a sudden heart attack.