A breezy paranormal romance with a young adult edge…
For a short book Sarah Jayne Harry has managed to deliver a satisfying story with a range of themes with an easy to read writing style. There’s a young adult vibe from the very start as ‘Charlotte’; a paranormal sceptic is dared to spend the night in an abandoned manor house. It’s spooky and descriptive from sight to smell and we even get a harrowing backstory of the place – some elements of this book do go to dark places and this is mentioned beforehand but only for a short while and it’s not exploitative but necessary for plot and eventual resolve. On this night our main character and narrator comes across ‘Lewis’ a ghost which she befriends. This friendship in turn becomes something more.
We also see ‘Charlotte’s’ home life where her over protective and abusive Father casts a shadow over everything while the pressure of succeeding in school is ever present. There are other characters in this story, even if they are smaller parts they contribute to the wider picture. Soon this picture culminates with a choice or suggestion that ‘Lewis’ makes and an ending perfect for the genre. I would have liked to of seen perhaps a little more between ‘Lewis’ and ‘Charlotte’ but for a short read which most will complete in one sitting, it makes for a perfect spooky season experience.
What’s better than one post about spooky season movie recommendations? Two posts about spooky season movie recommendations and because the moment I published part one I realised some worthy contenders were left off that list… so let’s dive in…
I regret forgetting to include this film in part 1 and arguably Final Destination has one of the most original premises there is in horror. In Final Destination there is no murderer running around yielding a knife or wearing a mask, there’s no ancient curse or ghostly apparitions. The killer in Final Destination is real. That killer isn’t a character but the inevitability of death and the plan it has for you. Just what happens if somehow you skip that plan? Well that’s what this film is about in all of it’s early 2000’s glory but even today this one holds up quite well. I’ll happily admit the premonition part of Final Destination shaped my work – the MC dreams his death and so therefore avoids it – this inspired my own story telling as the MC from my debut novel ‘Open Evening’ experiences a similar vision.
Final Destination and the tone it captures is something that has a place in my heart. Yes it’s a little absurd but the concept is both terrifying and wholly original. Those early 2000’s horror flicks make for some great viewing, trust me and this one is perfect for spooky season.
Okay now before you leave I know that Scary Movie is predominantly a comedy but it’s a genius comedy that still holds up rather well-ish today. Those Wayans brothers know how to make a comedy and consider the film a spoof/ meshing of ‘Scream’, ‘I know what you did last summer’ and the plethora of other teen thrillers of the time. The cast is stellar with many familiar faces and some moving onto bigger better heights thereafter (Anna Farris) so if you want something that’ll make you laugh out loud then try Scary Movie – they don’t make them like this any more. Plus even though it’s mainly comedy there are some spooky bits also…
This film ‘effed my shizzle’ up and by that I mean why the hell hadn’t I discovered it beforehand? Well apparently this one released in the mid 2000’s and seemingly passed everyone by. Why? I do not know but the film which is a factual re-telling of how they ‘caught’ the Zodiac killer (google it) is incredibly intricate, chilling and gripping. It focuses on the investigation and one man who moves up from newspaper cartoonist to full on book writer as he deciphers the Zodiac killer’s coding to pretty much solve the case. It’s quite a long watch but well worth it! And did I mention it’s kind of chilling also!
Now some of you may know I love a conspiracy theory, preferably the unsolved one’s and Devil’s Pass is a kind of found footage film that starts off rather well – probably why I’ve included it. Back in the early 1950’s a group nine people skiing out in the remote Russian mountains go missing and their remains are found in rather harrowing circumstances – that’s the true story part. This film does an incredible job of documenting what is now known as the ‘Dylatov Pass’ and those making the film decide to take a trip to the incident site through unpredictable cold weather to find out what happens. I mean would you bother? Predictably things start to go ‘wrong’ and well the film then unfolds. The truth is, I thought the ending to this film was dog shit, but the first three quarters pulled me in and so therefore it’s worth a look. If not just google Dylatov Pass Incident and thank me later.
It Chapter 1 (2017)
Although some will argue this film isn’t a full on horror and more of an extended version of the Goonies and partially I would agree it still makes for some incredible spooky season viewing. I love IT part 1 because of the story it tells between the ‘Loser’s club’ – a group of kids who aren’t popular and don’t have a lot going for them but they find each other. Of course there’s a demon clown running around killing kids also not to mention the wonderful photography and setting of Maine – Stephen King really does know what he’s doing! Although the running time is longer, it has nothing on the book so go check it out. Fun fact: I saw this film 3 times in the cinema. That’ll tell you how good I think it is…
Brendan Fraser is probably a name you haven’t heard of or for at least a very long time and I believe this film might be his best one. The truth is I saw this when I was 10 years old in the cinema and it’s rated in the UK at 12. Somehow I got in with my parents and brother, not only did this film partially terrify me but it also captivated me with gripping action, wonderful characters and a pretty well rounded story. The Mummy strikes the balance between thrilling and chilling with an ancient curse, gun toting action, archaeology adventure and Rachel Weisz. It has a cinematic charm paired with a wonderful musical score that I still listen to today – yeah I have a thing about film music… Trust me this one is perfect for Spooky season!
Well thanks for joining me for another Spooky Season Movie Recommendation post. You know at the very end of the month on Halloween you can expect to see my paranormal romance available for Free!
To be perfectly honest I’ve been neglecting my horror/thriller passion since this year kind of turned into one but now October is upon us and for those like me who enjoy Spooky Season; let’s explore what movies I recommend to celebrate this time of the year…
I’ve been a fan of the Michael Myers Halloween saga for quite some time and it probably stands as my favourite slasher film series up to Halloween H20. Yes there probably are a few ropey sequels in that collection but the first one was also the first ever slasher film and it paved the way. Spooky season would not be the same without that piano tune straddled by the good old mask wearing knife yielding speechless murderer who stalks the leaf fallen neighbourhood of Haddonfield in search of kills. The concept has been emulated many times in cinema but without the same effect.
A few years back some wise folks decided to reboot the franchise but effectively started again by discounting every film that followed the original to pretty decent standards. I thought it was so good upon release I visited the cinema twice to watch this sequel that packs one hell of a kill count. Jamie Lee Curtis deserves an honourable mention as she returns and picks up forty years later albeit hardened by the trauma of the first film’s events.
Fun fact: The town which my debut novel is based takes inspiration from Haddonfield and also the name of the high school I went to called Harlington making the name ‘Haddintgon’ – cool huh?
Every attempt to create a scary film about an evil fish has fallen flat since 1975’s Jaws which holds up incredibly well for today’s standards. The evil fish or great white shark serves as just a side vessel for the story which is really about people being stupid and knowing there is a threat out there so don’t go out there – this sounds incredibly 2020…
The small town trope (which works in near enough every horror setting) or the quiet Island of Amity relies heavily upon seasonal trade in the summer and now a man eating shark could threaten that. The main character is new in town and also the Sherriff, he tries to balance local politics while taking down this threat which looms every so gradually in a film that is perfectly paced, characterised and overall quite scary. The sheer chemistry later on in the film between the three main characters hasn’t been emulated too often in cinema after making things all the more immersive. The shark, which looks kind of fake and was only used sparsely for that reason just heightens the terror. Don’t go into the water – it’s October anyway…
I’m a huge fan of found footage films probably because the concept of reality is heightened with in them. Over the years and since the Blair Witch Project some film makers have gone out of their way to make a film seem real and so comes along ‘Grave Encounters’ which is not only a found footage film but it also ticks a huge amount of horror boxes.
The film is a collection of footage all spliced together in continuity that relays the making of a paranormal investigation show called Grave Encounters. You see behind the scenes shenanigans from a highly likeable team as they put together the last episode of their first series, this one being a ‘lock in’ at a vast but mostly abandoned institution. The setting of this film is harrowingly perfect. Corridors upon corridors lay untouched from the primitive days of mental health care. Wheelchairs and gurneys lay empty, doors are wide open from the hundreds of cells, a bathtub sits unused – trust me they got the location bang on in this one! The first person view of this setting at night is one of nightmares.
You see all the usual stuff that paranormal investigation shows do, they even bring in a physic who is just a guy in shades and a leather jacket. For the purpose of the show, they ask the caretaker to lock them in overnight and that’s when it begins. You’ll have to watch it to find out, but trust me it’s worth a look and it’s terrifyingly awesome.
The Cabin in the Woods
For some this may appear to be an odd choice to include but to me the Cabin in the Woods is an incredible yet wonderfully fun film that turns every trope of the genre on it’s head. We like genre bending here at the Hall of Information and if you didn’t like this film it’s probably because you expected it to just be about a creepy cabin in the woods – that’s been done too many times before and even this film knows that.
Joss Whedon had a lot of involvement in this one, you can tell by the casting and the story telling which starts in one place and takes you to somewhere completely random and unchartered. It’s fun, outrageous and overall unexpected. Give it a try.
The Conjuring Series
Yep, the whole series that falls under the Conjuring umbrella is worth your time. I must start with a fair warning; these films are full of jump scares, but not the cheap jump scares you see in cheap horror, the jump scares in this series normally build to one with purpose and these films are well written, well paced and stand nowhere near the usual hokey-ness of the genre. From the first one all the way through to the creepy ‘Annabelle’ series and even ‘the Nun’; these films are chilling, thrilling and walk the tightrope of paranormal and possessions.
Fascinating Horror Youtube Channel
I might have a problem with being obsessed with true but horrifying tales and although this is not a movie it’s a recommendation because the Fascinating Horror channel over on YouTube is one I cannot get enough of. You can see from the screenshot below how many videos I have steamed into. From bizarre naturally occurring events to man made disasters that have truly chilling outcomes, this is a channel not to be missed. The narration style is clear, concise and well paced. Saying that the subject matter is also very well researched but a little fu**ed up also.
Over to you…
That wraps up just a snippet of stuff I’ve been watching so far but October is a long month so hit me up with any recommendations in the comments below…