BURBS STAFF PICKS: Top 10 Halloween Streams
Welcome to our sixth installment of Sunday Streaming Suggestions! For this one, we decided to give you guys a special Halloween edition with double the picks.
Writers Ralph James, Jack Martin, Evan Linden, Carter Ferryman, and Evan Northrup delivered a lineup of classics to stream this fall:
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020) - Netflix
Netflix’s newest horror series is as chilling as it is confusing—in the best way possible.
Confusing might not be the most enticing word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind. Nearly every episode of this limited series shatters your previous perceptions, throwing you for a loop up until the final credits roll. The show is centered within the confines of the titular Bly Manor—a storied estate in the English countryside that is home to the orphaned Flora and Miles Wingrave. They were looked after by nanny Hannah Grose (T’Nia Miller), chef Owen Sharma (Rahul Kohli), and gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve) up until naive American teacher Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) arrived to fill in the spot of their former governess who mysteriously passed away.
Almost everyone in this show is fighting demons; seeking shelter in the quiet bliss of Bly, running away from something they’d rather forget. Those demons catch up quick, though—and they don’t play fair. No one in the show is safe.
The show is loosely inspired by the 1898 novel The Turn of the Screw, and it’s also the latest addition to the Netflix anthology The Haunting—following up 2018’s The Haunting of Hill House. If you enjoy shows that have you on edge the whole way through, The Haunting of Bly Manor is one to add to your watchlist.
As Above So Below (2014) - Netflix
Wow, this is the first time I’ve recommended a movie for my staff pick. I’m more of a TV guy if you couldn’t tell by now, but I love a gripping film—As Above So Below is one of them.
As Above So Below is the epitome of psychological horror. When explorer/scholar Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) taps her ex-boyfriend George (Ben Feldman) to translate Aramaic engravings for her, she realizes that the key she is looking for is located deep in the catacombs of Paris. After consulting locals, they are directed to a group of explorers who assure the two that they can guide them through the tunnel system in exchange for any treasure they find. As you could imagine, things went downhill as soon as the crew of six embarked down into the catacombs.
As Above So Below gets in your head, almost emitting a tangible sense of claustrophobia and frustration. Fun fact: it was actually filmed inside the real catacombs of Paris. If you’re willing to tolerate a few corny moments for an otherwise intense and horrific movie, this one's for you.
Alien (1979) - HBO Max
Alien, the classic film by Ridley Scott, is not only one of the greatest and most influential science fiction films of all time, but also a testament to the adaptability of the horror genre. The film takes horror to space, where the crew of the Nostromo spaceship encounters a deadly creature that preys on the crew. Alien uses many classic horror tropes; dark, empty corridors, a murderous monster, no way for the hero's to escape, and one of the all time greatest good vs. evil final showdowns between Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and the alien. However, the greatest triumph of Alien is the way it forces you to confront fear of the unknown, leaving you asking, what if there are aliens out there? And what happens when we find them?
Hereditary (2018) - Amazon Prime
Ari Aster is the definition of an auteur, blending classic genre techniques together with his own unique style to create the freshest take on horror since The Blair Witch Project. His directorial debut, Hereditary, is a shocking and unsettling story of a grieving family who starts to experience paranormal activity. Aster doesn’t ignore horror tropes to make Hereditary a unique experience. Instead, he uses them, things like hauntings, seances, and possessions, combined with a strong sense of reality, grief, loss, and insanity, to create a horror experience all the more terrifying because it feels so real. Lastly, Ari Aster brings his movies to life through incredible casting, setting, and cinematography. (P.S., his second film Midsommar is also a must-watch).
The Witch (2015) - Amazon Prime Video
"What went we out into this wilderness to find?" This is a question posed a mere twenty seconds into Roger Egger's directorial debut. A concrete answer to this proposition proves curious at first. Slowly, painfully—however—the line that marks hope and certainty fades and dulls before the eyes of an exiled puritan family.
This A24 feature's official title is The Witch: A New England Folktale—and for valid reason. The period is sometime in the 1630's—the accents are thick, the beards are thicker, and a reliance on Jesus Christ is every European settler's motivational crutch. After being banished from the commune for reasons nebulous, a family of six travels breaks off from the herd—settling their own plot of land and starting a homestead. Rising star Anya Taylor-Joy and company execute a macabre, supposedly fictional story with an unnerving sense of religious darkness.
In search of holy redemption, each member of the family is in search of atonement from the lord. If the village they once called home was a haven for almighty worship, then the lonely property they've built by hand feels like a chapter from Dante's Divine Comedy. Eggers sculpts a wardrobe, setting, and script all perfectly for the time period. Characters speak in Old English as the woods circling their plot of land tightens its vice grip on their faith. You, the viewer, will be longing for the same solution as Egger's unfortunate on-screen subjects—is God ever going to save them?
The Descent (2005) - Amazon Prime Video
What started as a statement geared at the shallow US horror landscape ended as an unlikely classic. Neil Marshall's mid-2000's masterwork is nothing short of terrifying—a blood-curdling reminder of why no one should ever be spelunking (just stay above ground).
Shot on a low budget with an all-female cast, The Descent uses two different fear factors as fuel for its screenplay. The first is gradual, agonizing tension—a facet of horror sorely missed in this movie's era thanks to lifeless pop-outs and acting as stale as saltine crackers. The second is far more evident. In fact, it's what put this film on the map: intense claustrophobia. Cave exploring has never, ever crossed my mind as something that would be fun. Watching The Descent seals the deal for me—the picture's characters find themselves wedged into spaces not intended for a human being. Like the unfortunate souls on-screen, you'll find yourself gasping for air while watching this British horror landmark.
It (2017) - Hulu
While the 2019 sequel to Andrés Muschietti's horror blockbuster is largely forgettable, he set the tone with this adaptation of Stephen King's 1986 novel about a killer clown.
It follows seven children in Derry, Maine, who come together to battle Pennywise (Bill Skårsgard), a shape-shifting clown who appears every 27 years. The film doesn't heavily rely on jump scares and the presence of Pennywise, who has less than 20 minutes of screen time. Rather, the film focuses on the internal fears of the children, who must face the loss of a sibling, an abusive father, and the intense anxiety caused by an overbearing mother. The cast is headlined by charismatic and demanding young actors including Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, and Jaeden Lieberher, all set to be Hollywood mainstays.
There's plenty of comedic moments weaved into the dialogue, but It doesn't stray far from its horror roots. It's an entertaining, often frightening film that services well for spooky season.
Us (2019) - HBO Max, Amazon Prime
Jordan Peele's second horror outing was one of my top movies of 2019. Us follows Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o) and her family (Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex) on vacation as they are stalked and hunted by exact doppelgängers.
The film leans more into horror tropes than Get Out but equally relies on suspense and an imminent "twist". It's a tense, frightening film with a smart, pointed critique on society, all through the genius of Peele. The true standouts of the film are the doppelgängers themselves, as they communicate through bone-chilling, non-verbal sounds. The doppelgängers are monsters but exactly what kind is unclear until the very end of the film.
Us is an engrossing film and a standout amongst modern horror films. Jordan Peele has seamlessly separated himself from his comedic upbringings to assert himself as one of the leaders of one of the most diverse genres in film.
The Shining (1980) - Amazon Prime Video
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, The Shining, is the undisputed gold standard of the thriller genre. I’ve never thought of the film to fall under the same umbrella as other classic horror movies like Halloween. The Shining is much more of a psychological thriller that is masterfully executed by the greatest auteur of the 20th century. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is working on a novel and needs to supplement his writer’s income with a new job that will support his family. Before Jack accepts a winter-keeper job at a high-class hotel, his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) observes some paranormal behavior from their son Danny (Danny Lloyd). The Shining features some of the most grueling, thought-provoking, and disturbing performances in cinematic history, as well as some of the most memorable shots to ever grace the silver screen (shout out to Scatman Crothers and Black women with afros). If you don’t feel like watching the typical bloody slasher film, then give this movie a shot for an unsettling night in.
Psycho (1960) - Peacock Premium and Amazon Prime Video
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is perhaps the most influential film in horror film history. I had heard all the urban legends and had of course seen the infamous shower curtain scene, but I never knew exactly what the movie was, perse. I had thought that the shower curtain scene was the climax, and that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the movie because it had already been spoiled to me thousands of times. I was wrong. I was so wrong. Psycho doesn’t truly begin until the shower curtain scene, and from there on out it is one of the most thrilling rides I’ve ever been a part of as a movie lover. Even if you’re weary of watching black and white movies or pre-2000 films, Psycho has something special for you up its sleeve. Sit back with your loved one, grip their hand as tight as you can, and bask in Hitchcock’s brilliance as he brings this thriller to life.