2017 churned out some great horror movies — Get Out and the remake of It, to name two — but 2018 is in no way slacking. Although there’s no bad time of year to marathon horror, we have arrived at the best time. It’s getting darker earlier, it’s chilly and eerie outside, and, of course, Halloween is right around the corner.
So pop some popcorn and bundle up on the couch: Two Eugene Weekly staffers have got you covered for what terrifying movies and shows you need to be watching this season. But make sure your doors and windows are locked, and you may want to plug in that nightlight at bedtime. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
When family members die, they leave a lot behind — material belongings, debt, grief — and, in the case of Hereditary, pure and absolute terror. The movie stars Toni Collette brilliantly as Annie Graham, a woman dealing with the death of her mother, with whom she had a rocky relationship, to say the least. Annie lives with her husband, played by Gabriel Byrne, and their two children. The film throws the family through the wringer, wielding both psychological horror, through familial trauma and themes of mental illness, and straight-up ghastly supernatural elements. You’ll want to sleep with the lights on after this one. — Meerah Powell
The Haunting of Hill House
Horror thrives in a suffocating atmosphere of compression and brevity, which explains the consistent failure of horror television series: When you stretch out over several episodes, those things that make horror (even gothic horror) effective — pacing, surprise, the suspension of disbelief — are stretched taffy thin, leaving a thread of camp, hackneyed tropes and cheap scares. The fantastic Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House overcomes these deficits in ways at once innovative and old-fashioned. Based on Shirley Jackson’s novel, the series tells the tragedy of the Cain family, whose brief occupation of Hill House left a lifetime of supernatural/psychological scars and death. Directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus and Hush), the show takes its time, building layer after layer of macabre conspiracy, and the payoff is fantastic. The characters are richly developed and totally believable; the narrative weaves its way oh-so-effectively between the Cain’s time at Hill House and the present-day aftermath; and the two timelines reinforce and complicate this ghost story in a feedback loop that tightens into a gallow’s noose of terror. — Rick Levin
The Handmaid’s Tale
The Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale took audiences by storm last year with its first season — directly tied to the book’s plot, its finale corresponding with the end of the story. The show’s second season came out this April, transcending the novel, and proved to be just as chilling as its predecessor. Hosting incredibly strong acting from the likes of Elizabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd and more, the show revolves around a dystopian future where America’s fertility rates have dropped drastically, thus forcing fertile women to become “handmaids” — basically subservient sex slaves in the name of repopulating the earth. If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is. — Meerah Powell
Hold the Dark
The Netflix original movie Hold the Dark, by director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin and Green Room), is not technically a horror film, but who cares? It scared the hell of me. A dark, cultish Northwest crime thriller set in the Alaskan tundra, this neo-noir tragedy starts off with a boy being stolen by a wolf and descends from there into madness. It’s like the best movie Cormac McCarthy never wrote, with a similar feel of Manifest Destiny cannibalizing itself. Like No Country for Old Men and the brilliant FX series Fargo, Saulnier’s film delves with a wry, wicked sensibility into the nihilism that grips us, and it conjures a post-mythology myth that speaks directly to our inability to confront, much less comprehend, the evils of a modern world teetering on the brink of moral, spiritual and economic collapse. — Rick Levin
A Quiet Place
You probably know John Krasinski from The Office as lovable goof Jim Halpert, but he’s as serious as serious gets in this year’s A Quiet Place. In his directorial debut, Krasinski plays the protagonist along with his real-life wife, Emily Blunt, in a film that is, on its surface, a simple monster movie. Lee, Krasinski’s character, and Evelyn, Blunt’s character, live with their three children, trying to survive in a world overrun by blind monsters with hypersensitive hearing. Deeper than that, though, the film is about familial trust and finding the remnants of hope within a hopeless world. — Meerah Powell