Even if Halloween is over, spooky season can live on in your Letterboxd reviews with these horror film recommendations, featuring everything frightful from zombie apocalypses to feline metamorphosis, and absolutely zero jump scares.
Raw (Julia Ducournau, 2016)
This French-Belgian production following a vegetarian starting out at an elite veterinarian college actively challenges the tropes of the body horror gone. Instead of relying on mere blood and gore, Ducournau creates some of the most visceral and disturbing scenes in film history in far more familiar and relatable settings, such as waking up to a nasty rash, or a bikini wax session gone wrong. Reportedly leading to audience members fainting at one screening in Toronto, I can’t think of a better example of a horror film to showcase what the genre is capable of.
Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
Following on from the groundbreaking Get Out, Peele’s second feature film and commentary on racism and classism in the US pays homage to the well developed slasher genre but is essentially a psychological horror on the impacts of unresolved trauma. Accompanied by a healthy dose of 1980s nostalgia, an incredibly well placed soundtrack and a few genuinely funny moments, Us is both entertaining and thought-provoking. In fact, you’ll find yourself delving into the wealth of thematic analysis on the internet to discover all the hidden clues, a hallmark of Peele’s directorial career.
Train to Busan, (Sang-ho Yeon, 2016)
A Korean zombie apocalypse film that has quickly become a modern classic. Whilst it boasts some nail biting action scenes, the strength of the film comes from its core focus, chiefly focused on human relationships. In what is essentially a two hour long answer to the question, “what would happen if there was a zombie outbreak on a train?” the film explores the inherent selfishness of the human condition and the importance of family bonds. You’ll also finish the film having dramatically improved your knowledge of Korean geography. Featuring stellar performances throughout, most impressively so from the nine year old lead, Kim Su-an. And if you don’t cry at the end, you’re a horrible person.
The VVitch (Robert Eggers, 2015)
Featuring one of Anya Taylor-Joy’s first lead roles, this A24 historical piece follows a family of Puritans living in New England in the 1630s. Set amidst the phenomenon of the early modern witch hunt, Eggers creates an intense psychological horror as a tight-knit family, already outcast from their community, grapple with the vanishing of their newborn son. Featuring perhaps one of the most depressing colour schemes in recent cinema, and introducing the A24 Twitter meme, Black Philip, The VVitch demands full concentration from its viewers to piece together the story.
Cat People (1942)
Not to be confused with the viral New Yorker fiction piece, Cat Person, this horror classic seems to start off as just another b&w film about white people naively falling in love. In perhaps one of the most unexpected turns in cinema, the film eventually focuses on the protagonist’s conviction that arousal will cause her to metamorphosize into a cat. Whilst us jaded gen Z-ers may find Cat People nowhere near as scary as contemporary audiences did, pure horror elements such as sound effects, a manipulative marriage and dismissive Freudian psychotherapy provide other avenues for suspense. Drink every time you hear/see a cat.
Image Credit: The Guardian