With Halloween just around the corner and the window for the perfect horror movie atmosphere closing, here are three masterpieces that are worth a visit this season. On this list, each item is rated based on personal enjoyment as well as how scary it is. These horror movies span the horror gap, ranging from movies to watch with the whole family to ones where an exorcism might be required after viewing. Reader, beware.
“The Sixth Sense” (1999)
A child psychologist is tasked with helping a young boy who can see and talk to the dead.
Personal Rating 4½ Fear Factor: 2
After movies like The Last Airbender (2010) and Old (2021) the public at large has started to forget that M. Night Shyamalan used to be a superstar. “The Sixth Sense” was his breakthrough, getting him comparisons to Spielberg with a movie so iconic that it has stood the test of time when it comes to real estate in the public consciousness. What often is overlooked when discussing the more bombastic elements of the plot is the human element that makes this movie such a classic. 11-year-old Haley Joel Osment led a performance so good that it makes sense why Shyamalan said he wouldn’t do the movie without him. This film omits the usual terror and replaces it with a vibe of general unease that permeates the whole movie. This is a horror movie that remembers that it can be something more. It might not be the scariest DVD on the shelf, but it is an emotional, gripping, and incredibly written classic that warrants the label and every award it was nominated for.
A masked killer terrorizes the local public as the small town tries to find the culprit.
Personal Rating 5 Fear Factor 3½
In the pantheon of horror movie villains there is a holy trinity that all others bow to: Jason Voorhees, Michael Meyers, and, after the release of “Scream,” the Ghostface killer. Yes, the classic Spirit Halloween mask also has its own feature film. It is almost unbelievable how ahead of its time this movie is. Equal parts humor and tension combine to make this the perfect movie to put on at the yearly Halloween party. It is only fitting that a movie made to pay homage to classic horror ended up becoming just as iconic (and perhaps better) than the movies it parodied. It manages to be an excellently paced thriller while also dissecting and poking fun at the rules of surviving in horror. Rules like: never have sex, never do drugs, and never say “I’ll be right back.” Upgrading from the general creepiness of “The Sixth Sense” and graduating to genuine slasher horror is the natural progression of one’s horror education. This is a movie best watched with a group of friends, or maybe, just maybe, that special someone you’ve been wanting to get a little closer to. Just don’t get too frisky, that would just be tempting fate.
A tragedy befalls the Graham family, setting in motion events that start unraveling them bit by bit.
Personal Rating 4 Fear Factor 5
For readers who have made it this far, presented to you here is the horror movie ace in the hole, the coup de grâce for those who feel like they need a little something extra this season. For those brave viewers who have seen Halloween, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and remain hungry for something a little stronger. From writer, director, and psychopath Ari Aster comes an instant Halloween classic. This is a movie that takes already terrible situations and twists them into something even more unbearable. It is more than just horror; it is dread on film. It never shies away from violent and disturbing imagery, with sequences so shocking that involuntary gasps were commonplace in the theater. A horrifying family drama that contains not only the demonic happenings suspected in a movie like this, but the dissolution of a family that is so uncomfortably real that instead of a screen, it feels like you are eavesdropping through a window. It contains a performance by Toni Collete that is so haunting, it not only should have won her the Oscar, but it should have gotten her raptured. This is less of a movie and more of something that you actively experience. Everybody remembers their first time watching it. Maybe this season, if you dare, it is your turn.