Seeing as Halloween is now upon us and I’ve committed myself to writing four “Days of Blood” posts, I figured I would devote the fourth and final post to some of the better (and more recent) horror and horror-adjacent titles available to stream on Netflix. Hopefully it will make up for the way I’ve been neglecting my Streaming Saturday recommendations this month.
Before I get started, though, I want to thank everyone for indulging me as I let my horror fandom take control of the blog and the podcast. I’d also like to thank my friends Mike (@IAmMikeWhite) and Tiny (@ObsessiveTiny) for contributing so much content this month. I’d also like to thank my friend Pat (@Patty_Kuhn) for joining us on the Zombie episode of The Obsessive Viewer Podcast.
Finally, I would like to thank John Dugan from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994) and Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) for letting us interview him on the podcast. We had such a great time talking to him and can’t thank him enough. If you’re ever at a convention and have a chance to meet him, I highly recommend it.
So let’s get to the list, shall we? It’s Halloween, so here are some streaming recommendations to make the holiday even better.
First up is a bit unique. The American Scream is a documentary about three families in a small Massachusetts town who are passionate about converting their homes into haunted attractions for Halloween. These people spend all of their free time working toward making the best displays they can.
I loved this documentary. I truly did. It’s from the director of the highly acclaimed (and as of yet unwatched by me, unfortunately) Best Worst Movie. What impressed me the most about The American Scream was that none of it felt artificial. None of it felt like the documentary crew set things up. It just felt like a true depiction of these people and their passion.
That’s another thing about it I loved. The documentary follows three groups of people in the town who live in relatively close proximity but there’s no competition to it. The doc focuses all of its energy on the people and how their passion consumes them (occasionally at the expense of their loved ones). If you have an appreciation for Halloween or if you are yourself passionate about anything at all, you owe it to yourself to watch this documentary.
I wrote about V/H/S/2 in Part I of this series. So I won’t spend much time talking about it here. I just want to reiterate how impressed I was with it. I never got around to writing my Double Feature post about this and its predecessor but it goes without saying that I prefer the sequel over the original.
I think there is a lot of promise in the anthology horror genre. With the recent announcement that Trick ‘R Treat 2 is going to happen and relatively favorable reviews for All Hallows’ Eve, anthology horror could become a more lucrative subgenre.
I just hope someone creates a good modern horror anthology TV series. But that’s just me.
#3 & #4
As soon as I posted my “Found Footage Fest” post, I realized I’d forgotten to include Grave Encounters!
Grave Encounters (2011) is a great found footage movie. It follows a group of paranormal investigators filming a TV series that’s somewhere between the preposterous Ghost Hunters and the douchey Ghost Adventures. The crew of “Grave Encounters” spends a night in an abandoned asylum and then horror ensues.
It’s a pretty standard premise, at first glance. It’s actually a common theme throughout this list. What sets Grave Encounters apart for me is how they are trapped in the asylum. The entities haunting the asylum change doorways, and speed time to deteriorate their food. These distortions of reality really help elevate the tension in an otherwise tired formula.
The sequel to Grave Encounters isn’t as good. But the movie gets some points for originality with me. The sequel opens with a variety of video blog reviews of the original movie. From there, the movie becomes about a new group of paranormal investigators, convinced that the original movie was true, searching the asylum for the crew from the original.
It gets clever points for that. But, at the end of the day, it doesn’t approach the quality of the original. For that reason, it suffers.
The Awakening took me by surprise. The movie is set in post-World War I England at a haunted boarding school run by Dominic West, a vet who’s still reeling from the war. He hires Rebecca Hall, a woman who exposes supernatural hoaxes to uncover the truth of the school.
The movie takes a skeptic’s approach to ghost hunting and ends up playing with themes of catharsis and hidden truths. The third act provides a great wrap up to the story and bizarreness that accompanied it and leads into a satisfying ending.
I watched The innkeepers last year and was really impressed with the style of it. Ti West (who directed one of my favorite segments of the original V/H/S, Second Honeymoon) takes his “slow burn” narrative style and applies it to a creepy ghost story.
Sara Paxton and Pat Healy play the last two employees of an Inn in its final days before closing forever. The pair decides to figure out the hotel’s haunted secrets and uncover a gradual series of fright that builds to an unsettling climax.
The quirky charm of the pair is what sold the movie for me. The movie feels like an indie drama-comedy in the first two acts which helps settle the viewer into a false sense of security before the horror finally strikes. It proves to be highly effective.
I haven’t watched Session 9 in a few years and it still screws with my head. It’s about a group of guys hired to remove asbestos from a psychiatric hospital who, you guessed it, soon find themselves under the spell of malevolent paranormal entities.
It’s a good ghost story that has a ton of great atmosphere. It gets under your skin as it plays its subtle horror to the extreme. I haven’t watched it in a few years because I’m nervous of the effect it will have on me. That’s a sensation I rarely experience.
Okay, so Ghostbusters doesn’t necessarily count as a Shocktober movie in the conventional sense. But I would be remiss if I didn’t include it here. If for some reason you haven’t seen this phenomenal supernatural comedy, now is your chance as it was recently added to Netflix’s streaming catalogue.
I love this movie. I haven’t seen it as many times as seemingly everyone else has, but the few viewings I have under my belt are highly memorable. One of which involved a special theater screening where people in the audience dressed in detail as the characters.
It was a blast to see it on the screen and it’s a fantastic movie. Everyone should see it.
Well, that concludes my 4 Days of Blood (that didn’t end up being consecutive due to work-related issues). You can find the other parts on the Shocktober page.
We have some nice things planned to finish up Shocktober 2013 today. Throughout the day we’ll be posting a total of 3 Adaptations & Remakes posts about three iconic figures in horror movies.
If you don’t feel like checking back, like the blog on Facebook so you’ll know when they post. Not to mention we post some cool content to the Facebook page on occasion.
Have a happy and safe Halloween everyone!
– The Obsessive Viewer Team