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Hair-Raising Films to Put You in the Halloween Spirit

'Brightburn' still
Jackson A. Dunn stars as Brandon Breyer/Brightburn in “Brightburn” (2019), directed by David Yarovesky.

With Halloween around the corner, here is a diverse selection of horror movies — ranging from a nostalgic film featuring a haunted-house to a perplexing and bone-chilling psychological thriller — to get you in the spooky mood.

“Monster House” (2006)

To ease into the spookiness of Halloween night, “Monster House” is the perfect film for an evening charged with childhood nostalgia. Directed by Gil Kenan, the movie explores the adventure of a trio of teens convinced that a malevolent force lives inside of the dilapidated house down their street. In order to save the children of the town, the group sets out to put an end to the house’s horror before Halloween comes around. With voice-acting from notable people such as Mitchel Musso, Kevin James, and Nick Cannon, the film is certainly not short of star talent. From the charming animation to its twinkling, eerie orchestral soundtracks, “Monster House” is sure to capture your full attention from start to finish.

“Brightburn” (2019)

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Ever wondered what would have happened if Superman had not been one of the good guys the world could count on? Brightburn brings to life the antithesis of one of America’s most beloved superheroes, putting an eerie twist on the well-known origin story. The film is produced by James Gunn — who is notable for his contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a producer and director — and written by his relatives Brian and Mark Gunn.

The beginning of “Brightburn” is nearly identical to that of “Superman.” A mysterious spacecraft crashes in a small town in which farmer couple Kyle (David Denman) and Tori Breyer (Elizabeth Banks) find a baby and choose to raise him as their own. Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) grows to be a smart child, and is intensely bullied by and alienated from his peers. As time progresses, Brandon comes to discover his array of developing superhuman abilities, such as heat vision and super strength. However, rather than using his new-found powers for the greater good, Brandon opts to reject societal standards and terrorize and destroy all of humanity on his path to “take the world.”

“Sinister” (2012)

“Sinister” is a true, down-to-the-bone, classic horror film. While this film employs some of the most overly saturated visuals and the most overused scare tactics ever, “Sinister” undoubtedly still manages to scare the bejesus out of you. Directed by Scott Derrickson — who also directs the “Doctor Strange” Marvel series — the film follows the story of a once-renowned but now struggling author who moves his family into a home in which the past residents were murdered. With the hopes of finding inspiration, writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) looks into the murders, but soon realizes he might have bitten off more than he could chew. It becomes apparent that there is a malicious, supernatural force at work within the household, and that his family will become the next set of victims.

“Hereditary” (2018)

This psychological horror film shows that sometimes what you inherit from your family isn’t always desirable. “Hereditary,” one of A24’s more successful films, focuses on the drama that arises within a family from the passing of Annie’s (Toni Collette) mother. Shortly after her mother’s death, an accident caused by her son (Alex Wolff) results in the death of her young daughter, Charlie (Milly Shapiro). Despite Charlie’s death, her presence is still felt in the house and starts to terrorize them. In search for answers, Annie discovers that her deceased, tight-lipped mother was the leader of a cult who worshipped the demon king Paimon, who is in search of a male host.

“mother!” (2017)

“mother!” is one of the most petrifying psychological-horror movies of this decade, and is not for the faint of heart. The film depicts the story of a couple living in a countryside home. mother (Jennifer Lawrence) is the wife of Him (Javier Bardem), who is an accomplished poet. Their serene life together becomes compromised by the appearance of a man who is a fan of Him’s work. Per Him’s request, mother reluctantly agrees to let him stay. More people arrive at the house, asking to stay, eventually rioting in cult-like masses. While at times the action can be disorienting and disquieting to observe, it is crucial to keep in mind the loose theme that weaves this dream-like movie together: The film, as stated by Jennifer Lawrence, is said to be a religious allegory, with her character representing Mother Earth, Him representing God, and other characters symbolizing biblical figures. Rarely does anyone feel indifferent about the film, as critics are split into those who love it and others who would consider it the worst movie of the century. With that being said, it is a definite must-see for anyone in search of an unconventionally fearful experience.

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