If you’re one of the many folks who’d rather curl up at home than don a costume and schlep all over town in search of scary good fun this Halloween, you’re likely to want some great new scary movies to watch. Look no further — you’ve come to the right place.
We could recommend to you some classics to stream or just point you in the direction of iTunes so you can watch the latest horror releases. But you know what? We think you, the horror fan choosing to stream something spooky on Halloween, deserve a range of movies that subvert expectations of what a horror film can be. You deserve a bevy of unconventional horror movies that will both chill you to the bone and leave you thinking, “I’ve never seen a scary story told like this before.”
From creepy found-footage flicks to monster movies that have atypical monsters, the following films find ways to deviate from the typical slasher, body horror, supernatural, zombie and creature-centric horror movies you know and love.
1. Little Evil
Starring Adam Scott, Little Evil puts a wry, comedic lens on the horror archetype of the “demonic child” (as seen in classics like The Bad Seed or The Omen) and does it to great effect. It follows new stepdad Gary as he tries to connect with his stepson, Lucas, even though Lucas loves to dress like a miniature Angus Young and do weird things like draw with all the lights off or use his sock puppet to communicate with the static-filled TV. Gary begins to slowly get more and more unnerved by Lucas, who always seems to be nearby when truly horrific things happen to people like his teacher at school. Is Lucas just a quirky kid or, as Gary suspects, is there something sinister at work within him? Fully focused on pulling the funny out of this very standard setup, Little Evil will have you laughing while bracing for the scary turns the story takes.
2. The Vault
While The Vault begins as a traditional bank heist movie, it quickly turns into a shocking little horror film, taking you on a twisty, dark ride that you never would have suspected the minute the opening credits finish. In The Vault, sisters Vee and Leah extensively plan a bank heist in order to get their brother out of financial trouble. Midway through their heist, as they attempt to loot the vault in the basement of the bank, the sisters and their team discover that there’s more than money locked away in that vault — and it’s best if it stays that way.
3. The Eyes of My Mother
Are killers born, or are they made? In The Eyes of My Mother, that conversation is given a fresh perspective and done so well it will leave your stomach churning. This gorgeous black-and-white film follows Francisca, the daughter of a female surgeon who taught her about human anatomy to such great lengths that when Francisca is older (and motherless) and faced with threatening forces to her family farm, she takes matters into her own hands. How Francisca deals with predatory men, wayward travelers and even her emotionally distant father is so quietly horrific and treated as if it’s not scary at all that you may want to sleep with the lights on.
4. The Stepford Wives
While a more modern version of The Stepford Wives with Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler and Glenn Close exists, it’s the original version from 1975 that really leans into the unnerving aspects of this story. A twist on the Invasion of the Body Snatchers idea, wherein the people you know and love aren’t exactly who they appear to be, the original Stepford Wives film (released at the height of the second wave of feminism and thus carrying with it deep thematic ties to women’s liberation) follows Joanna Eberhart, who moves to the picturesque town of Stepford and quickly discovers that the housewives she befriends are a little… different — and their husbands may have something to do with it. The scares are subtle but the implications of this story, where men control their wives to horrifying effect, will deeply creep you out.
5. It Follows
It Follows is an art house movie with roots in classic horror movies like Nightmare on Elm Street and Invasion of the Body Snatchers but with a look and feel all its own. With music and stillness its main weapons of shock value, this movie takes the traditional formula of a group of teens forced to fight off an invisible monster and turns it on its head with lots of fun twists.
Hush gets creative in its scares as its focused around a non-hearing female protagonist at the center of a traditional home invasion movie in the vein of The Strangers. The film follows Maddie, a deaf writer living alone in a secluded home in the woods, her closest neighbor a healthy spitting distance away. Over the course of one night, an intruder targets her in her home and despite being differently-abled, Maddie is forced to fight back against her attacker.
7. Creep 2
The found-footage style may feel familiar, but the story that makes up the sequel to the mostly predictable Creep will leave you thoroughly intrigued. Telling the story of an indie filmmaker who answers an ad that leads her out to the woods where a rather strange man lives, Creep 2′s constantly shifting power dynamics and creepy (yeah, I said it), truly unpredictable ending will have you thinking about it long after the credits roll.
8. The Blair Witch Project
It’s a classic and, yes, it’s still unconventional. Nearly 20 years on, the found-footage format of The Blair Witch Project still manages to create a sense of dread that leaves you feeling horrified from beginning to end.
9. The Witch
With heavily accented Old English dialogue and a grim New World setting, The Witch‘s folkloric elements and pervasively ominous vibes only amplify as you watch the story of a family plagued by ill fortune try to survive even as they feel something threateningly supernatural is haunting them.
10. Gerald’s Game
When a kinky afternoon involving a woman handcuffed to the bed and her husband trying to reignite their marriage goes horribly awry, the woman must confront her own past demons in order to free herself in every way possible. Adapted from a Stephen King novella of the same name, Gerald’s Game is as much about psychological horror as it is the various horrors of literally being chained to your bed.
The coming-of-age narrative gets a supremely gory twist in Raw, a French-language film about a college-age woman who attends veterinary school and comes to terms with a very dark secret about herself and the rest of her family after learning that life on a vegetarian diet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
12. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House
The slow pace and the characters’ mannered way of speaking may leave you feeling alienated, but the blend of art house and horror leads to a very unsettling conclusion to a story about a young female nurse who arrives at the potentially haunted home of a famed author.
13. The Invitation
Cults, betrayals among friends and maybe the worst possible ending to a dinner party await you in The Invitation. As you begin to watch, you’ll likely find yourself thinking, “This is a horror movie?” But just you wait, because the action shifts very quickly from unsettling to full-on horrific.
14. The Babadook
On one level, The Babadook tells a very human story of loss and not letting your sadness turn you into a shadow of your former self. On another, very scary level, The Babadook tells the atmospheric, unnerving tale of a mother and son who seem to be haunted by the deeply unsettling children’s storybook monster The Babadook, whose motives are unknown but super-creepy.
A version of this article was originally published in April 2018.