Sam’s picks —
Eyes Without a Face (1960)
While it is a tad dated by modern standards, “Eyes Without a Face” is still a haunting, poetic film that isn’t afraid to get gory. The film follows a mad doctor who kidnaps women and surgically removes their faces. His goal is to reconstruct his daughter’s disfigured face — which is covered by a mask — that has since become a pop culture icon. The dreadful atmosphere created by the eerie fog and gothic mansion setting are enough to put anyone in a spooky mood.
It Follows (2014)
The fear of stalking and the inevitability of death are common themes in most horror films, but “It Follows” tackles these ideas head-on with terrifying results. The movie follows a teenage girl who is given a “disease” of sorts after having sex with her boyfriend. The disease comes in the form of a being which can disguise itself as anyone and will stop at nothing to kill you until you pass it on to someone else. The film is a clear allegory for sexually transmitted diseases while also capturing anxiety and paranoia through subtle framing and camera techniques. It will make you scared to stay anywhere by yourself.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Notable for being the only film in the Halloween franchise not to feature Michael Myers, “Season of the Witch” is an underrated good time. A cheesy and at times hilariously dated movie, “Halloween III” creates its scares from the premise and surprisingly shocking death scenes, touching on evil cults and the commodification of the holiday. It is a bizarre film that is charming more than it is spine-tingling, but it works best as a double feature with the equally fun “Trick ‘r Treat.” Both are perfect visualizations of Halloween, capturing the spirit and atmosphere of the season.
Landon’s picks —
The A24 Domestic Horror Trilogy
A family’s biggest fear is the death of a loved one. When A24 released a thematic trilogy with “The Witch,” “It Comes at Night” and “Hereditary,” it combined the deep primal fear of loss in a family with supernatural terror. The process of grief alongside supernatural elements leads to a family dynamic made up of anxiety-driven choices which make you tremble from disbelief. Tears caused by moments of pleading family members are always followed by the terror of realization of the actions that built up to that exact moment and the eventual actions that will proceed. Moments like this can be found in all three of these masterclasses of horror filmmaking.
The Cabin in the Woods
Horror comedies have become a prevalent genre in the last ten years. However, none have been as meta as this soon-to-be cult classic. “The Cabin in the Woods” follows a group of teenagers that go to an isolated cabin with many hidden secrets. The intentionally-cliched plot allows the film to poke fun at horror conventions, creating moments of unexpected gut-busting laughter and thrills.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Laughter ultimately leads to disgust in “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” Years after a heart surgeon makes a fatal mistake on one of his patients, he is faced with a cruel choice that will affect him and his family. The stilted, blunt dialogue mingled with the plot creates a feeling of competition that grows more sinister with every scene. The movie is filmed with the camera positioned in a manner that evokes an ever-present weight on the character’s shoulders. This creates a sense of uneasiness that will make you squirm deeper and deeper into your seat even after the film ends.