I wouldn’t call myself a horror movie expert, but, while others pose for pictures in pumpkin patches and have hot drinks of a similar flavour in October, I feel the urge to sprawl out and put on something scary. For me, the act of sprawling out more often than not includes a joint of my current favourite bud (sativas or indicas need not despair, I don’t discriminate—it depends on my mood—but I almost always roll my own). If you’re looking for a freaky night in, grab your favourite method of cannabis consumption, turn off the lights and spin out with one of these creepy titles.
1. 1408 (2007) Will Terrify and Twist Your Mind
I’ll admit, this one got to me. A brash writer who is skeptical of the paranormal is intrigued by a NYC hotel room where it seems guests check in but don’t check out. He finally convinces the manager to let him stay in room 1408 and quickly realizes that his night might not go the way he envisioned.
While not a traditionally scary movie, the fears, emotions and aesthetic make this a creepy watch. Stephen King’s mastery of the genre is on full display, shown through Jon Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson’s depictions of their tormented characters. View the film on Rotten Tomatoes.
2. House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devils Rejects (2005) Will Play with Your Moral Compass
Director Rob Zombie took his first shot at film-making with the gory horror/dark comedy House of 1000 Corpses. Pulling inspiration from slasher classics, this flick follows four friends searching for weird roadside attractions. The group eventually trips into a wormhole with a murderous family.
Gruesome characters doing horrific things make it easy to fear the villains, yet the storytelling in the sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, has you filled with empathy for this sick, twisted clan. (“Free Bird” will never sound the same.)
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Proves That Sometimes You Just Have to Stick with the Original
Remade over the years to varying levels of success, the original installment in this franchise lays the foundation for several nightmare-inducing movies. This is where it all begins, where you’ll learn the origins of the man who murders children in their dreams. Feel the terror as the kids fight to stay awake to avoid the inevitable, then rise up to the challenge for a final battle (well, in eight sequels….).
Even though the barbaric special effects we all clamoured over in the ’80s are not aging well, the jumpscares and suspense help this one hold up to the test of time. View the film on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. Escape Room (2017) Will Still Get You, Even When You Know What’s Coming
Not to be confused with the 2019 release of the same name, this one will have you on the edge of your couch rolling up the next one. Watching a group of friends celebrate a birthday with a night out to a unique escape room sounds like fun, but really, it’s anything but.
From the vibes once they realize they cannot get out of the car, to the sheer terror that unfolds once within, Escape Room hits all the right horror movie buttons. Awaiting the obvious fate of whichever character is about to bite the dust, it leaves you reeling as the plot plays out on screen. Life lesson: Don’t go shoulder deep into anything. View the film on Rotten Tomatoes.
5. Halloween (1978) Celebrates the Slasher Genre
This list just couldn’t go live without this pioneer. Also remade over the years, it was here we were introduced to the stalking, homicidal ways of Michael Myers. Add in that this movie was the breakout film for scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, and you’ll see why Halloween is such a successful franchise.
Halloween plays with elements of tension and anticipation, somehow finding a way to deliver countless slow and methodical jump scares. That white mask will earn a forever place in the dark places of your mind once you’ve screened this gem. View the film on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. Insidious (2010) is the Undisputed Heavyweight Jumpscare Champ
With a similar back story to many other horror movies, a family moves into a new home and all seems well. Eerie circumstances and a freak accident turn things upside down as a previously comatose son is taken over by evil spirits. The family confronts the unknown in absolutely terrifying scenes, as they attempt to save their son.
This movie finds inventive ways to catch you off guard. Cinematic effects, deep storylines and out-of-the-blue imagery will have you shrieking, even when you know something must be coming (like the demon face out of nowhere). View the film on Rotten Tomatoes.
If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that it doesn’t have to be the creepiest or bloodiest movie to make the hair stand up on your forearms. It has to mess with your mind. Relax, unwind, inhale, spin, repeat.