Seven scream-tastic films for a seriously scary Halloween
Halloween is almost here and with it the child on the doorstep’s favourite question: ‘trick or treat?’ Given the choice we’d treat ourselves to a really scary film, the kind that puts goosebumps on your goosebumps. But which one to choose? Here are 7 rather terrifying films made with the support of National Lottery funding.
The Woman in Black (2012)
Released from his Harry Potter duties, Daniel Radcliffe signed up to star in this gothic, supernatural horror film based on Susan Hill’s 1983 novel of the same name. Daniel plays a recently widowed lawyer who travels to a remote village – always a bad idea in a horror film – where the locals are being tormented by the vengeful spirit of a scorned woman.
Get behind the sofa moment: Try not to jump every time a squawking crow shatters the eerie silence.
There’s something scary about puppets, particularly when they assume a life of their own. This psychological horror film stars Sean Harris as Phillip, a disgraced puppeteer, who returns to his childhood home in Norfolk intent on destroying a hideous puppet called Possum. What could go wrong?
Get behind the sofa moment: When Phillip unzips the bag he carries everywhere.
Little Joe (2019)
Little Joe was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It didn’t win the prize, but one of its stars, Emily Beecham, won the award for best actress. Beecham plays Alice, a horticulturist who breeds a plant that acts as an antidepressant. She nicknames it ‘Little Joe’ after her son (played by a young Kit Connor of Heartstopper fame) and anticipates a world full of Little Joes and their happy owners. Unfortunately, the bloom – or rather its pollen – has a more sinister side. Things won’t be coming up roses.
Get behind the sofa moment: When another plant breeder’s dog gets a sniff of Little Joe and turns decidedly nasty.
St Maud (2019)
Written and directed by Rose Glass, this psychological horror was one of the breakout British films of 2019. Morfydd Clark (Galadriel in The Rings of Power) is Maud, a hospice nurse and recent convert to Catholicism, who becomes convinced she must save the soul of Amanda, a former dancer (played by Jennifer Ehle) who is in her care. Cue all sorts of metaphysical frights as Maud’s quest takes a very dark turn.
Get behind the sofa moment: When Maud’s innocent expression contorts briefly into something utterly terrifying.
Censor is the debut feature film from Welsh director Prano Bailey-Bond. The protagonist is Enid Baines (Niamh Algar), a woman working for the British Board of Film Classification at a time when low-budget horror and exploitation films – the so-called ‘video nasties’ – were all the rage. Somehow, Enid’s day job gets tangled up in her search for Nina, her missing sister.
Get behind the sofa moment: Guillaume Delaunay’s performance as the quasi-mythical BeastMan.
The Power (2021)
Rose Williams plays Val, a young nurse who has to spend the night in a creepy London hospital during a power cut. The patients and the rest of the staff have been relocated, so Val is left to fend for herself in the dark corridors.
Get behind the sofa moment: Every time Val’s candle is blown out by some unknown force.
Martyrs Lane (2021)
Leah (Kiera Thompson) is a 10-year-old girl living in a Victorian vicarage. Her dad Thomas (Steven Cree) is preoccupied with his parishioners and her mother, Sarah, is a real sad sack. When Leah starts to get nightly visits from a young girl with lopsided angel wings (Sienna Sayer) things turn decidedly creepy.
Get behind the sofa moment When Leah tries to touch the mysterious locket worn by her mother.
Originally published 27th October 2022. Updated 30th October 2023.
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