Time to settle in, dim the lights and prepare to cover your eyes: These are the four best horror flicks of the year. (Illustration by Kira Widjaja, Rhode Island School of Design)

The Horror, the Horror: A Halloween Watch List

With Oct. 31 approaching, here are the year’s four best frightening flicks to help you set a macabre mood.

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Time to settle in, dim the lights and prepare to cover your eyes: These are the four best horror flicks of the year. (Illustration by Kira Widjaja, Rhode Island School of Design)

With Oct. 31 approaching, here are the year’s four best frightening flicks to help you set a macabre mood.

It’s that time again, folks. The air is crisp, the leaves are changing colors and pumpkin flavoring has sprinkled its way into most food and beverages. And for those who’ve been counting down to Halloween since the first sweltering day of summer, it’s finally time to engage in some spooky activities.

October is the perfect time to snuggle up with your significant other, friend group or cat — no judging from this self-proclaimed crazy cat lady — to watch a scary movie. Of course, there’s never a wrong time to watch a scary movie, but there’s no denying the appeal of watching a blood-chilling flick on an equally chilly night.

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So, ready to indulge but not sure where to start? I’ve compiled a list of what I believe are the best scary movies released in the United States this year.

1. Marrowbone

The newest film from “The Orphanage” director Sergio G. Sanchez is a successful venture into psychological suspense, made possible by an eerie atmosphere and skilled actors.

Prior to her demise, Sam’s mother makes him promise to be there for his three younger siblings — no matter what. After her passing, the children must hide their situation from the world until Sam turns 21, lest they be separated. But there is something sinister happening within the walls of the antiqued farmhouse.

The creepy flick features Charlie Heaton, who plays Will Byers’ brother, Jonathan, on “Stranger Things,” as well as actress Anya Taylor-Joy, who horror buffs will recognize from the third installment in the “Insidious” series, although her acting chops have improved since then.

Nothing can hinder a movie faster than a one-dimensional plot, consisting solely of hollow characters, an abundance of gruesome images and jump scares. In this respect, “Marrowbone” succeeds by weaving its theme of unconditional familial bonds throughout the film.

2. Ghost Stories

This British film, adapted from Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s stage play, grabs viewers’ attention from the get-go with a startling noise followed by chalk board scratching. The rest of the movie follows suit and serves up authentic scares and spooky situations.

“Ghost Stories” follows supernatural skeptic Philip Goodman as he investigates three unexplained cases (featuring “End of the F***ing World” star Alex Lawther and Martin Freeman, Watson from BBC’s “Sherlock”). Originally, Goodman believes the incidents can be chalked up to troubled individuals, until he starts to witness unexplained phenomena.

The whole “skeptical until it happens to them” shtick isn’t a new one, but after piling on several confusing, dream-like occurrences, the film deposits viewers in an unexpected place, leaving them to connect the dots.

While I didn’t enjoy “Ghost Stories” as much as the other films on this list, the spooky settings (an abandoned asylum and darkened woods) are appealing, and the impactful ending is sure to stick, inspiring rumination long after the credits roll.

3. Hereditary

When I saw multiple articles touting “Hereditary” as the most terrifying movie in years, I thought, “Yeah sure, just like how every new release is the No. 1 movie in America.” But alas, director Ari Aster’s debut film did not disappoint.

After Annie’s mother passes away and her daughter, Charlie, begins to act more abnormal than usual, Annie begins to unravel macabre family secrets. The movie’s pacing creeps along while masterfully building up suspense and developing characters until the extent of the family’s dark past is revealed.

“Hereditary” experiments with the supernatural, cults and disturbing images. But unlike the “Saw” franchise, the carnage (such as decapitation) is used sparingly and is therefore more effective.

Aside from the stellar script and special effects, the film owes much of its success to actors Toni Collette (Annie) and Milly Shapiro (Charlie). Collette demonstrates her acting range by portraying a range of emotions, from heart-wrenching grief to grotesque terror, and Shapiro embodies the creepiest child to grace the big screen since “The Ring”’s Samara.

4. A Quiet Place

John Krasinski’s directorial debut is a welcome addition to the sci-fi thriller genre. Lacking cheap jump scares or gratuitous gore, “A Quiet Place” is an intellectual piece of art.

In a post-apocalyptic world overrun by blind aliens, virtually any noise sends a barrage of extraterrestrials to its source. Fortunately for Lee (Krasinski) and his family, they know American Sign Language, since their daughter Regan is deaf.

The silence itself is an omnipresent character in the film, serving as a testament to the acting skills of Krasinski, his real-life wife Emily Blunt and talented deaf actress Millicent Simmonds. Even from your couch, you’ll find yourself too petrified to even nibble on popcorn, for fear of the creatures’ wrath.

Much like “Marrowbone,” “A Quiet Place” answers the age-old question “How far will you go to protect your family?”

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Erika Skorstad

Champlain College
Professional Writing

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