Favorite Horror Films – 4 out of 5 Skulls

4  OUT OF 5 SKULLS – terrifying



Check back throughout the month because we will be updating it weekly with a ton more great films for your October.

Beau Is Afraid (2023)

Sure, Beau Is Afraid may not be your typical horror/thriller. However, this movie stuck with me and kept me thinking about it since its release in early 2023. Beau Is Afraid follows titular Beau, played by Joaquin Phoneix. The film follows Beau’s journey to visit his mother, but the journey takes many strange and dark turns. In its 179 minute run time, the movie almost divides itself into chapters. Each chapter reveling something new about Beau. What I find most interesting about Beau Is Afraid is how director, Ari Aster, builds the world for Beau. Beau lives in constant fear and panic, and the world around him lacks that kind of safety that he longs for. Ari Aster artfully unravels Beau’s full life and how each moment, each choice, has landed him to exactly where he is in the film. It’s haunting, brilliant, and cathartic in some ways. I know this film is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s worth your time. – Sarah Knoll

X (2021)

X is a horror film about an adult film production gone awire; a somewhat iffy premise, but it has grown on me since its release last year. X follows a crew traveling to a farm in the 1970’s to make a porno, an observes as the team starts to get the know the owners and the land itself. However the shoot does not go to plan, and without giving too much away, what comes after is a classic slasher film formula, with a twist that makes it worth it in the end. Since the release of X there’s already been a quickly released prequel titled “Pearl”. Yet, by itself, X can stand alone. It’s commentary on sex and horror is not nuanced in any way, but it has some subtle things to say, while giving a nod to those fans engulfed in the horror genre and its tropes.

Ex-Machina (2014)

Now, I know that Ex-Machina is more considered Sci-Fi or even a “thriller” than horror, but I think it crosses over the border into horror just enough to be included in this list. Caleb, played by Downhill Gleeson, finds out that he won a prize to visit the CEO of his company. A man named Nathan who is an alcoholic, and greets Caleb with a bro-like attitude. The true reason for Caleb’s visit though is not to have a sleep over, but to conduct a test of an A.I. named Ava. The film’s commentary on manipulation, sensory, and intelligence are artfully baked into the film’s cinematography and superb screenplay. To some this film actually is scary; as the years have progressed and technology has become more of a necessity, and less of a tool in people’s lives, the reality of A.I. or other intelligence becoming baked into our everyday lives is caving in. Ex-Machina questions what that may look like and the nature vs nurture of technology in a biological world.

The Thing (1982)

Why it’s taken me so long to see this classic John Carpenter flick, I do not know. However, after watching it for the first time only last weekend I can safely understand why John Carpenter has said that this is his favorite film that he’s made. This film (a “remake” of a very different 1951 film) takes place in an isolated research facility in Antartica. It begins with a team of male researchers being bombarded by a Norwegian helicopter attempting to kill a sprinting dog. After dispatching the pilot, the team decides to take the dog in, but unfortunately it reveals itself to be a disguise for something much more evil and sinister. The discomfort and paranoia that the team faces during the film hooks the viewer in and creates a sense of betrayal. The enemy could be behind any corner. There’s a reason why this film stands the test of time, and continues to be a staple within the horror community.


Midnight Mass (2021)

Mike Flannagan’s third limited series, Midnight Mass, is unequivocally his best. Following a priest’s arrival to a dying, island town, and the miraculous yet strange events that happen after, the show does more for its spooks than previous Flanagan projects such as The Haunting of Hill House or The Haunting of Bly Manor does. The worst scares don’t fall on the supernatural as they are more mundane in passing. And perhaps that’s why this story sits with a viewer long after it’s end because it causes one to feel disturbed again by things they haven’t been afraid of since they were young— religious fanaticism, mob mentality, loss of identity, and the fear of the unknown after you die. The dialogue is beautiful. The acting is superb, the hyperbolic expression of Catholicism is perfectly executed. It’s best if one goes in with as little knowledge as possible, because Midnight Mass and it’s overarching theme is something you won’t soon forget.

Coherence (2013)

There’s nothing more I love than a thrilling sci-fi film. Throw in an eerie atmosphere, limited environment, and unique premise, and I’m hooked. 2014’s Coherence does all of this on a low-budget. The film focuses on a group of friends as they get together for a dinner party before a power surge occurs, and the strange heaviness that grows throughout is hard to shake. It’s mind-bending and uneasy. If you like cosmic horror with cleverly constructed plots that’ll keep you guessing, I cannot recommend this film enough.

The Invitation (2015)

A dinner party that goes horribly wrong is the driving premise for 2015’s The Invitation. It’s a psychological thriller that builds up its tension through clever uses of sound, lingering thoughts, and quality characterization. Your heart will flutter from the moment the protagonist arrives at the party, and it won’t slow down until the red flickering light fades to the credits. Best left unspoiled, The Invitation is a super slow-burn with a breathtaking climax that is worth the journey it takes to get there. Fantastic storytelling. Uncomfortable atmosphere. Chilling end. It’s wonderful.

Relic (2020)

Relic follows a mother and daughter who go to their grandmother’s house after being reported that she has gone missing. Once at the house, it is noted that their grandmother has dementia and the state of the house begins to reveal the severity of her diagnosis. When the grandmother returns, she is acting unlike herself, and worried about a creature hiding within the house. This all leaves the viewer to question who is to be believed and can this family survive. Relic beautifully and hauntingly showcases how dementia can affect a family, and the generational effect it can partake on its victims. Through the lens of horror, Relic tells the tale of a family coming together. No matter how gruesome it may be.


The Terror (2019)

The Terror is a horror series with incredible acting, writing, effects, and production. While AMC has hosted many horror tv series, this by far has been the best. The single season series gives an alternative history of what happened to the unsolved mystery of a group of British navy explorers who set out to cross the ice north of Canada. Unfortunately, their ships get stuck in the ice, and it didn’t get any better from there. None of them were ever seen again.

Essentially Master and Commander meets The Thing, the series hypothesizes that the crew, sick, half frozen, and poisoned by rotten food, were then attacked by a beast ancestral to the ice. But the monster isn’t the scariest part. The Terror really conveys the horror that is attempting to cross the ice in an era sailing ship, the disease, backstabbing, and environmental torture. Every character, from the captain, to the doctor, to the stow away, are dynamic and interesting. You will be entranced by the beautiful settings, and disgusted as they turn dark with violence and death.

Ghost Stories (2017)

I nearly skipped over this movie because of its nondescript title, but I’m glad that I gave it a chance because it’s a very smart and underrated UK horror that introduces a couple new ideas to the genre. The film tells the story of a “debunker” aka someone who goes around proving that ghosts aren’t real. One day out of the blue he receives a message from his hero, a past debunker who had gone missing. The message is a challenge and a warning, ghosts are real and if you don’t believe me, go visit these three people. Our debunker star refuses to give up on his life’s work, but as he visits each of these characters and hears more about their stories, things become increasingly creepy. Each of these visits becomes a film of it’s own in many ways, making Ghost Stories almost a horror anthology. Well-acted, and pretty well written considering the heady concept, Ghost Stories is a film that won’t leave your mind. – Henderson

Haunt (2019)

Haunt is a bloody mess of a movie. It’s a Eli Roth produced film about a pop-up haunted house attraction run by a bunch of real sickos that want to create some real scares. Part Saw trap fest and part slasher, its really all just about which of the teens will make it out alive. I came into this one with low expectations, but was surprised by the effects, the background characters, and the complexity of the haunted house itself, which becomes its own character in the film. Give it a chance, but get your popcorn ready, cause this one is a blood-soaked murder party. – Henderson


Raw (2016)

It’s in this French film’s underlying premise that makes Raw an unforgettable act of horror. Mixing together coming-of-age with cannibalism, the thriller is a masterpiece at depicting a more dramatized version of how we view ourselves and the transition of who we, ultimately, are destined to become.

This is one of those movies where audience members were fainting from its gore at film festivals, and it lived up to the hype, building to be one of the best body-horror films of the last decade. It details a young girl’s life as she goes off to college, obtaining an addictive taste to off-menu options. Littered with social commentary and conversation starters, Raw is an exploding feminist, female-body politic piece. If you get queasy quite easily, be weary of watching, but the movie’s lasting impact is worth it. It really is. – Hope

Image result for marianne

Marianne (2019)

Marianne is a super creepy and distinctly French horror series about a tortured horror writer, Emma, who heads back to her hometown after giving up writing scary stories, only to find that the horrible witch she wrote about, Marianne, was not at all a figment of her imagination. While the plotline isn’t completely unique, everything about the series is well executed, from the scares, to the effects, to the acting, hey even the English dub is decent!

What makes the series special though is the monster. Marianne has the power to possess anyone, and uses their bodies to worship Satan, cast spells, and murder anyone in her way. She will not stop until Emma is back at her desk spreading her satanic gospel around the world. As Emma and her friends attempt to take on this entity, everything and everyone becomes a suspect. Marianne’s primary host, an old woman, is the single most terrifying actor in horror I’ve seen this year. Marianne is definitely one of the best French horror series of all time, and a contender for horror fans in any language. – Henderson

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (2019)

If you’re craving something different to feast your eyes on, and your… other senses, may I suggest the Finnish film, Dogs Don’t Wear Pants, which brings in all of the elements that make a good film, shock, awe, Mes en Scene, BDSM, and a Euro-cool soundtrack. Featuring an incredible cast and a unique story, this film hits in all the right places.

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants follows the story of the talented but grieving surgeon, Juha, who forges a bond in the most unlikely place, a dominatrix, Mona. The relationship between Juha and Mona is complex and deep and suffocating, providing a narrative on sex and grief, unlike anything you’ve watched before. The film boasts a stark Finnish landscape that’s brutal and sleek. Through the film, the viewer explores a world with a sexy underbelly that Juha, played by the incredible Pekka Strang, enters on accident, and meets the mysterious Mona, played by the captivating Krista Kosonen. Autoerotic asphyxiation is the main star of this series, and as Juha descends into the depths of BDSM, we journey through the culture with him.

What makes this feature incredible, is its use of European Auteur story-telling, similar to a Chabrolian or Bergman feature, this is a slow burn that fills us with unease the further in we go. Watching the steady surgeon, expertly calculated and patient, lose his trademark characteristics and risk his life and relationships for more of Mona. It’s a domestic drama and thriller that leaves us on the edge of our seat as we try to guess how far Juha will go to escape his grief. Overall, this film has everything, sex, suspense, Scandinavian minimalism, and a narrative that burrows itself into your brain long after the credits role. – Konstantina

The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick’s classic thriller, The Shining, is a must see for any film fan, let alone horror fans. Kubrick masterfully unravels the story of a family of three who move to The Overlook Hotel to essentially be a house-sitter for the winter season. As the family settles in, they notice strange things happening in the hotel and eventually the Hotel gets to them.

Kubrick’s use of cinematography in The Shining is exquisite. From the long drawn out shots of Jack sitting at his desk to the reverse carpet scene with Danny, it’s the small details that really make this movie grand. Jack’s slow descent into madness and how the family pretty much gets engulfed by the possession of the Hotel is what makes this film terrifying to some viewers. The iconic line “Here’s JOHNNY” with Jack Nicholson’s face framed by a broken piece of wood in a door can be recognized even by people who’ve never seen The Shining.

The slow burn the family has into nearly tearing each other apart is what makes The Shining a master of thriller. Each detail is given full attention, making not only for a stunning screenplay and story but also a visual narrative. The Shining is a must see for all. – Sarah

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)

The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a movie about 2 catholic boarding school girls who stay behind during a winter break. Rose the troublesome senior, and Kat the awkward freshman are stuck together in the cold empty school, after meeting for the first time in the headmaster’s office with only a couple nuns to watch over them. However, both of them have more secrets than they are letting on, and the school itself is hiding something even bigger and darker.

This film is a psychological thriller as well as a horror movie, and it lunges forward with a disjointed non-chronological timeline that keeps the viewer off balance. This is one of those scary movies that drills itself into your mind and settles in there. As you ruminate on each one of the characters, you pick up on more that you may have missed, and suddenly become even more terrified. This film also breaks somewhat new horror territory, what happens to the possessed when the demons are gone. I don’t want to give away any more than that. – Henderson

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

J.J. Abrams followed up to the shakey camera P.O.V. monster-flick, Cloverfield with a sequel that is far from the original. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat with suspense and occasionally disgust. The film follows a young woman, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, after a car crash that leaves her kidnapped (or saved?) by a man named Howard, played by John Goodman. Howard claims there has been an alien invasion and they need to stay in his bunker, but he seems a little too comfortable with the situation.

The writing is superb, swinging the audience from feeling safe to the verge of extreme danger. The entire film feels as if you don’t know what will happen next, hacking into those spaces when the audience and the characters feel vulnerable and tearing that all down. Abrams does an excellent job at maneuvering the camera to assert the character’s power or lack there-of. Overall, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a ball of terror and suspense. A good watch for those who aren’t a fan of jump-scares but also want to be shaken to the core. – Sarah

Grave Encounters (2011)

When you’re a diehard horror movie fan, you’re almost like a ghost hunter. You’ve seen a lot of spooky shit, but you’re still searching for something no one has seen yet, that’ll still scare you. If you’re like me, you may have also did some amateur ghost hunting of your own. I think that’s why I like movies about ghost hunters so much. I can 100% verify that there are people this stupid, and there are so many ghost hunter shows on TV, which makes for a very realistic scenario and a good excuse for everyone to have cameras.

Grave Encounters is a movie about one of those ghost hunter groups, that struggling to keep their show from getting cancelled, locks themselves in an abandoned asylum overnight. As the caretaker says, “I don’t know if ghosts exist, but if they do, this would be a good place to go looking for them.” At first, they are begging for ghosts, then they are begging for no more ghosts.

There are so many “found footage” fake documentary style films out there, but this is one that is particularly well done. It feels just like you are watching an episode on cable that went too far, and that makes it feel particularly spooky. The effects aren’t amazing, but they are good enough to give you a scare. When hunters realize they aren’t escaping out the front door, the fear factor ratchets up. Sometimes when you’re horror hunting, you find a real one. This is one of those. – Henderson

Channel Zero (2014 – 2018)

Channel Zero is a horror series inspired by reddit posts, and it’s on the Sci-Fi channel. That sounds absolutely destined for failure, but despite all that its good! Each season is about 3 hours long and tells a riff on a story from an internet creepypasta. Season 1 is about a demented children’s show that captures those that watch and it stars that guy from Parks and Rec (no the other guy, the other other guy). Season 2 follows teens entering a haunted house that’s just a bit too scary and a bit too difficult to leave. Season 3 contains a mysterious family of ghostly cannibals and a city beneath their grasp. Season 4 is the story of a troubled marriage, a new house with a tiny basement door, and the murderous contortionist clown that lives there. All 4 are well acted and contain just the right amount of creepy visual effects. They stray away from bad CGI and almost all of the writing is well done. Each season I thought the quality would decrease but it hasn’t, and it ended up becoming an anthology horror series that is worth your time. – Henderson




The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you’d like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon page, which also allows you to receive sweet perks like free albums and The Alternative merch.