Halloween: 10 under-appreciated horror films to stream this Spooktober
With the nights drawing in as we approach Halloween, the weather taking a turn and things getting altogether gloomy, it’s all of a sudden official: spooky season is upon us (cue thunderclap).
With that in mind, you now have full permission to ignore the outside world, wrap up tight under something warm and indulge in a few frightful delights while you wait for Halloween to arrive.
To help you out, we’ve whipped up a quick list of underrated horror hits that are all available to stream in the UK on a variety of your favourite platforms. Whether you’re looking for something eerily blood-soaked, hauntingly memorable or even just a light alternative that gently nibbles your funny bone, you’re bound to find it in this round-up of often-overlooked gems.
Read more: Looking back at Bram Stoker's Dracula with Cary Elwes
Under The Shadow - Netflix
Released in 2016, Under The Shadow is the brilliant first feature from British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari and invites us inside a ghost story framed against a host of soberingly real-world issues.
In it, we meet Shideh (Narges Rashidi), a young mother who’s been forced to abandon her budding medical career as the fallout from post-revolutionary Tehran tears families and the city apart. Moving into a new house, it’s not long before her young daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) starts complaining about a nasty spirit known as a Djinn that soon begins to harass the duo at every available opportunity.
As the Djinn’s hauntings intensify, so do the missile strikes outside, leaving Shideh and Dorsa stuck in a terrifyingly precarious situation.
Perfectly blending nail-biting moments of terror with sobering real-world horrors (what happens when the outside world is worse than your haunted house?), Anvari delivers one of the finest indie horrors of recent years. It’s no wonder he’s recently been tapped direct the next Cloverfield movie.
Fresh - Disney+
First impressions aren’t what they seem in this fun and kind of grotesque body-horror frightener. Available on Disney+, Fresh stars Pam & Tommy’s Sebastian Stan as Steve, a guy who effortlessly embodies the perfect boyfriend material for Daisy Edgar-Jones’ Noa, a woman whose past experiences with online dating have left her more than a bit jaded.
After a few successful dates, sparks fly and Noa eventually agrees to join Steve on a weekend away at his remote holiday home… which as all horror fans know, is a totally fine and reasonable decision and not at all a red flag.
Watch a trailer for Fresh
Oh no wait, it definitely is. And when Noa unexpectedly passes out after her first drink, she awakens to find herself chained up in Steve’s basement. Now, she’s met with a completely different guy who has his eyes on more than just her heart; he’s after her calves, rump, ribs… basically anything he can lop off and flog on the black market.
Read more: The greatest horror sequels ever made
Full of twists and turns, much like its title, this one’s probably best enjoyed by going in fresh, with as little information as possible. Darkly funny and disturbingly grotesque in equal measure, it’s not one you’ll forget in a hurry.
Little Shop of Horrors - Prime Video
Tired of hiding behind the sofa? Why not lighten things up with Frank Oz’s 1986 classic Little Shop of Horrors on Prime Video? A colourful, campy musical with plenty of bite, former muppet-man Oz utilised all the skills he learned collaborating with the visionary Jim Henson to tell a charming-yet-deadly story about a mild-mannered florist that stumbles on an unusual alien plant with an unquenchable bloodlust and overly-impressive singing voice.
80s icon Rick Moranis steps into the shoes of awkward plant man Seymour, while singer Levi Stubbs provides the booming voice of sinister shrub Audrey II. Together, they’re joined by a revolving-door list of memorable cameos featuring the likes of Christopher Guest, John Candy, Steve Martin and Bill Murray.
While infamous for its much darker original ending (one that saw Audrey II slurp its way to victory and take over the world), Oz’s theatrical cut keeps things happy-go-lucky while retaining lots of blood and black humour.
Ready or Not - Disney+
Sick of cinema’s severe lack of hide-and-seek-focused movies? If you agreed with this weirdly specific complaint, then you’ll no doubt find lots to like in 2019’s horror comedy Ready or Not. Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and featuring a breakout role from soon-to-be-household-name Samara Weaving (Bill & Ted Face The Music), this weird and wonderful film serves up a perfect slice of pre-Halloween viewing, combining elements of horror, comedy and the supernatural.
Weaving stars as Grace, a bride-to-be who’s due to marry into her fiancé’s close-knit aristocratic family. There’s just one catch: before the duo can tie the not, they must adhere to a years-old tradition and play a parlour game with the in-laws, which in this case turns out to be hide-and-seek.
Well, actually there are two catches, because in this game if you’re found, you’re killed, effectively ruining the wedding and putting a real dampener on the honeymoon. Also featuring Andie MacDowell, Ready or Not’s wild dedication to its sinister elevator pitch makes it one of the most fun horrors of the past few years and definitely worth checking out this autumn.
Dog Soldiers - Film4/All4
A British cult horror known for its grit, gore and creature effects, director Neil Marshall’s werewolf flick Dog Soldiers has since become a much-loved genre classic. It follows a group of hard-as-nails soldiers on a training exercise in the remote Scottish Highlands. Not long into their trek, they find the tattered remains of a previous unit and start getting picked off by ferocious mystery assailants that they quickly come to realise are actually a pack of vicious werewolves.
Read more: Why John Carpenter's Halloween won't die
A much-loved entry into the silver bullet-fearing corner of horror, Marshall’s debut goes all out in its dedication to creating memorable lycanthropes and grizzly death scenes. Few cinematic werewolves strike such a fearsome image than the snarling, looming beasts used in this feature - and if we’re being honest, we’re still wincing at that infamous glue patch-up scene, despite 20 years having passed since it arrived. All in all, if you’re looking for a movie with bullets and bite, Dog Soldiers ticks all the right boxes.
Ginger Snaps - Prime Video via Freevee (with ads)
Speaking of films that fear a full moon, if Dog Soldiers was a testosterone-fuelled werewolf movie, 2000’s Ginger Snaps is its estrogen-filled counterpart. A female coming-of-age tale and one of the more memorable teen horrors of the early noughties, director John Fawcett’s film links visceral horror with bodily cycles as teenager Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) finds herself transformed into a werewolf when she’s suddenly attacked by one after starting her period.
As the usually death-obsessed Ginger begins to experience viscous mood swings and a taste for blood and violence, she’s forced to balance the everyday social pressures of high school with a growing body count, while her sister Bridgett (Emily Perkins) tries to fix her sister’s sinister problem. Available to stream for free (albeit, with a few adverts) on Prime Video, Ginger Snaps is one of the more underrated Halloween films and definitely worth a revisit.
His House - Netflix
One of the more timely entries on this list, His House is available to stream on Netflix and blends startling horror visuals with harrowing real-life experiences. It follows Bol (Sope Dirisu - Gangs of London) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku - Loki), two refugees who embark on a perilous crossing to England while fleeing war-torn Sudan.
While they manage to make it across the Channel in one piece, their young daughter sadly doesn't survive the journey, and not long after they’ve been granted asylum in shabby government housing, the couple starts seeing harrowing visions of the life and culture they’ve been forced to leave behind.
Read more: Why Saw II was the pinnacle of the franchise
Directed by Remi Weekes, this powerful modern-day horror mixes elements of the supernatural with terrifying themes that wouldn’t feel out of place on most newspaper headlines. The end result is something that’ll linger in the mind long after the credits have rolled and you’ve gone to bed.
However, if you’re looking for something that’ll make you think as well as cower behind a cushion, this is a film that’ll do exactly that.
Train to Busan - Film4/All4
Playing as part of Film4’s South Korean film season, the excellent and manic Train To Busan is available to stream for free on All4 for the next few weeks.
Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, it takes audiences onto a crowded commuter train travelling from Seoul to Busan. However, while things seem relatively normal on board at first, we soon discover that a zombie apocalypse is sweeping the globe just outside the doors of its packed carriages.
Watch a trailer for Train To Busan
It’s not long before the chaos spills over into the train itself after one of its passengers starts displaying worrying symptoms that are never welcome on train journeys — mainly a taste for human flesh and a feverish disregard for the personal space of fellow passengers.
With an American remake looming but yet to secure an arrival time, now’s the perfect opportunity to revisit Sang-ho’s original and find out what all the fuss is about.
Life - Now with a Sky Cinema Membership
Written by Deadpool scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and starring Mr. Pool himself, Ryan Reynolds, alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson, Life is an alien thriller that’s unafraid to explore the bleakness of science fiction horror.
When the crew of the International Space Station stumble upon a new single-cell life form, the question of whether we’re alone in the universe is suddenly answered. However, it turns out we might have been better off alone as this quickly evolving specimen wastes no time growing in size and slowly picking off every creature it comes into contact with.
Spewing up something devoid of empathy or an easy solution to fix the craziness it's conjured up, Life refuses to shy away from delivering a disturbing story that lingers awkwardly in the memory. Odds are, you may have seen this one lurking on various streaming platforms during a late-night scrolling session. Give it a whirl this October and you won’t be disappointed.
The Clovehitch Killer - Prime Video
With Dahmer sending serial killer stories to the top of the streaming charts, you’ll no doubt be looking for something new to fill the void once you’ve finished watching Evan Peters’ grizzly Netflix hit.
Thankfully, there are some similar releases out there that deliver just as many nail-biting moments of psychotic suspense and morbid obsession without any of the real-life trauma that typically accompany true crime projects.
The Clovehitch Killer on Amazon Prime is a great example of this. After a kid’s search for a fictional Kentucky serial killer hits a little too close to home, we’re met with a compelling mystery, a taught thriller and an uncomfortable family drama. It’s one of those films that flew largely under the radar after its 2018 release.
However, with a solid 79% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s well overdue a revisit. It’s also one that counts Stephen King among its fanbase, with the acclaimed author labelling it “unbearably suspenseful” and not one for “the faint of heart.”