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The last six months have been like something out of a horror movie. The isolation, anxiety, fear and dread of COVID-19 has left many of us a little estranged, paranoid, with empty pockets, and even grieving. 2020 has been a battle royale for the survival of our dreams, goals, ambitions, and careers; indeed, it is a battle for our very life and wellbeing.

Does any of this sound familiar? It sounds like the plot of a horror movie! And it is undoubtedly sad and unsettling, as well as tragic and heartbreaking. However, there is a silver lining to this coronavirus cloud: It is the time of the season when we can watch scary movies and deal with all the fear and dread of our lives in a cathartic way and in a safe setting. Horror films give us license to explore our fears, nightmares, phobias, and revulsions without having skin in the game, so to speak. We can take that shot of adrenaline and marvel at the concept of survival in the most extreme circumstances and still live to enjoy a bowl of ice cream afterwards!

So, as the mornings grow colder and the leaves change color, as cute orange pumpkins populate the doorsteps of our communities, let’s all take the opportunity to watch a few interesting and enigmatic horror films! Because after all, this “must be the season of the witch, yeah!”

FALLEN

The great Denzel Washington gives one his most electrifying and underrated performances in the chilling noir horror thriller Fallen. Homicide detective John Hobbes is on the hunt for an apparent copycat serial killer when he meets the demonic spirit Azazel. Azazel is able to transfer his soul energy from person to person with a simple touch of the hand or brush of his shoulder, which makes it near impossible for Hobbes to get a bead on the malevolent incubus. What follows is a cat-and-mouse pursuit and a nasty chess match which will leave you breathless. Also, this is horror without all the gore and bloody slayings—just terrific acting and an intricate plot to bend your brain and challenge your emotions.  

With a first-rate cast including John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, Elias Koteas, and the soon-to-be Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini, Fallen ratchets up tension and suspense throughout. 

And has a Rolling Stones song ever been used more effectively than “Time is on my Side” in this movie? I think not! 

JACOB’S LADDER

Audiences had a tough time figuring this one out upon its release because of its genre-bending premise. With a pinch of supernatural thriller, a dash of human drama, and a punch of surreal horror, Jacob’s Ladder struggled to find its core audience. But regardless, this is one intense and unrelenting terror train ride which sheers off the rails at every turn.

The affable mailman and tortured Vietnam vet Jacob Singer is being haunted by demons on the daily. He visits his chiropractor and things get weird; he catches up with his old armies buddies and things get even weirder; and when he confronts “The Ladder” it all goes off the charts weird. Tim Robbins gives one of his most riveting and gut-wrenching performances, and Adrian Lyne’s direction is a thing to behold. 

With a serpentine trajectory, diabolical plot twists, and stunning visuals, Jacob’s Ladder will stay with you long after the final credits have rolled on.

But be forewarned, if you decide to tumble down this dark and trippy rabbit hole, there’s no turning back. Although it is relatively light on blood and guts, it is a genuinely disturbing film, and is filled with emotionally bruising scenes. But just know there is a heart and soul and humanity behind the dread and violence of this film that is virtually impossible to ignore.

CREEP 2

In 2014, indie film icon Mark Duplass and director Patrick Brice crafted a DIY horror film that immediately became a cult classic. Creep took the horror world by storm due to its roiling suspense, egocentric propensity, and dark humor. In Creep, Aaron (Brice) follows the affable Josef (Duplass) around with his video camera as Josef becomes increasingly volatile and unhinged. It’s a funhouse ride to hell and back—and then back to hell again! Creep 2 follows a similar path with Josef taking on greater dimensions of personality and mid-life challenges, as well as more imaginative evildoings and fiendish devilry. This time the videographer in Josef’s spider web is Sara, a young woman with her own rugged curiosity and dark proclivities. The two make quite a pair and the chemistry they share is both compelling and utterly outrageous. 

As far as low-budget indie horror is concerned, Creep and Creep 2 are absolute mainstays and must-see TV for any horror fan.

So, how ‘bout you? Any suggestions for our annual Halloween recommendations? Please share!