Evil Dead Rise
Cabin in the Woods
Joss Whedon’s career hasn’t aged as well as this clever 2012 send-up of, yes, Evil Dead-type stories about kids who blunder into supernaturally dangerous situations while vacationing in the wilderness. Even if you know the big twist is coming (and by now, most horror fans do), Cabin in the Woods is still a hell of a lot of fun.
Speaking of big twists... writer-director Zach Cregger’s surprise hit Barbarian just came out in 2022, so there’s a chance you may not know what’s coming in this tale. Suffice to say it teases you into thinking it’s merely going to be an Airbnb nightmare, and then carves paths to places far more surprising.
Ok, one more big twist movie for this list, courtesy of director James Wan and writer Akela Cooper’s mind-melting 2021 tale of a woman (Annabelle Wallis) whose grasp on reality begins to fragment the more she begins to investigate her bizarre past. Even if you suspect what’s coming—hell, even if you know it’s coming—Malignant is still a shock bomb, all the more notable for embracing its slyly trashy B-movie tendencies.
This Stephen King adaptation tends to be unfairly overlooked, and while it’s not as scary as the It movies (which are also streaming on Max, by the way), it has a lot going for it, including but not limited to its undeniable mid-1980s flair. Corey Haim (pre-Lost Boys) plays a kid who defends his small Maine town from a marauding werewolf, with assists from his badass gas-powered wheelchair as well as his tipsy but well-meaning uncle (a scenery-chomping Gary Busey).
Yes, Chucky’s a killer doll... and yes, he’s gotten much campier over the years—but he’s also fully capable of being scary, and never more so than in the 1988 original film. With Chucky season three arriving in early October, why not mutter your favorite incantation and indulge in some vintage Good Guy terrors first?
A group of women—friends and frenemies—fond of daredevil adventures go spelunking in an unexplored cave system, only to find that relationship tensions and claustrophobia-inducing wrong turns are the least of their concerns once they get deep underground. Neil Marshall’s 2005 release takes a simple concept and makes all the right choices; the results will terrify you while you’re watching, and haunt you long after it ends.
Eyes Without a Face
If the prospect of a movie having subtitles or being black-and-white is an automatic no-go, you’re missing out on—well, a whole lot of really great movies, but in this particular context, it means you won’t get to see 1960's Eyes Without a Face. Georges Franju’s gorgeously melancholy, relentlessly eerie tale follows a doctor’s ghoulish quest to help his daughter find a new face after her own lovely visage was mangled in an accident.
The agonizing and terrifying Hereditary put both filmmaker Ari Aster and indie distributor A24 on the map; it really should have won Toni Collette an Oscar, too, for her turn as a wife, mother, and artist who slowly realizes the legacy her late mother left behind is far darker than she could have ever imagined.
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