The ‘Manitoban’ staff’s favourite scary movies

If you're looking for a spooky flick, here's our picks for the best spooks and frights on film

Image by Northern Lights Films

Here is a list of our staff’s favourite scary movies for a delightfully frightful evening. From dark comedies to psychological thrillers to classic horror flicks, gather your friends, hit the lights and enjoy.

The Strangers (2008)

Kaelen Bell, arts and culture reporter

Another in the long list of undeserving Rotten Tomatoes casualties, The Strangers is far better than its 48 per cent score would lead you to believe.

When it was released in 2008, it caught some flak for being “standard” slasher fare that lacked in real genre-busting surprises — which is exactly what makes it so great.

In a crowd of horror movies that sacrifice story and tone for corny surprises and tension-deflating twists, The Strangers is refreshingly simple. There are no long-winded explanations, no political conspiracy, no “it turns out this was a trauma-induced hallucination all along” — I’m looking at you, the great-until-the-end Silent House.

Instead, you get a near perfect horror concept played satisfyingly straight — a relationship on the rocks, an isolated cabin, three psycho freaks in genuinely scary masks and a lot of people standing unnoticed in the dark corners of the room.

Like most good horror movies, there’s some suspension of disbelief required — how do you melt a cellphone in a fireplace without creating noxious smoke in that tiny-ass cabin? Is splitting up really the best idea? But the gradually ratcheting tension will help you forget any slips in logic.

When the day-lit finale comes around — I’ll go to my grave with the opinion that day-time horror is the scariest horror — you’ll also hopefully forget about all the naysayers who couldn’t appreciate The Strangers for what it was.

Grabbers (2012)

Kellie Huynh, design editor

From the director that brought us Robot Overlords, comes the 2012 British-Irish monster flick, Grabbers.

Two Irish cops volunteer at a remote Irish island. After finding bloodless whale carcasses, a turn of events leads them to discover the humble island is under attack — by none other than vampiric alien tentacle monsters that have fallen from the sky.

Partnered with the town drunk and a marine ecologist, the group discover the tentacle monster’s one weakness — alcohol.

In an effort to save the townspeople, they decide to get everyone wasted at the local pub, including themselves. A great battle ensues involving tons of alcohol and construction equipment.

It’s an entertaining flick well suited for any day of the year and any state of mind.

Gaslight (1944)

Grace Paizen, arts and culture editor

An exhilarating psychological thriller, Gaslight is my favourite scary movie. The term “gaslighting” actually came from this film. That should already be enough of an indicator that this film will mess with your head.

Gaslight doesn’t suffer from the sometimes hokey, early 20th century horror film tropes.

The audience experiences a genuine psychological torture along with the main character, Paula, played by Ingrid Bergman.

Bergman gives an incredible performance as the psychologically tortured wife haunted by the sound of footsteps coming from the attic. Her portrayal of a woman conditioned by her husband to believe she is imagining her auditory terror plays as authentic.

Despite the fact that I have seen this movie multiple times, I can only watch it with all the lights on and only if I’m not home alone. Bergman’s screams of terror shake your core. You’ll hear footsteps coming from upstairs for days afterwards, even if you live on the top floor of your apartment.

Even the film’s palette of black and white adds to the experience.

The Descent (2005)

Zachary Sigurdson, arts and culture reporter

For my ultimate scary movie, I can offer The Descent. Written and directed by Neil Marshall, this is his finest film and sadly something he has not been able to match in the past decade.

It is a perfect monster movie. The build up leads to the single greatest jump-scare reveal of all time.

This film made me truly realize for the first time what horror can do.

The nightmares begin long before the monsters appear. The film invests time in the characters, none of which are archetypes waiting to be slaughtered.

The main group dynamic of selfish and traumatized people really draws you in.

The film follows six women exploring an unmapped cave as they struggle to survive against an inhuman threat, the cave and each other.

This movie left me sleepless and unable to walk through a dark room for over a week when I first saw it. Marshall’s direction turns this B-movie schlock into pure nightmare fuel. I strongly suggest to only watch the uncut version.

Give yourself a good scare this Halloween season.

It Follows (2014)

Quincy Houdayer, visual content editor

Sex, death, teenagers and the girl who lived   — all of the elements of a horror film are brought together in David Robert Mitchell’s sophomore release, It Follows.

While the elements are classic, how they are assembled is what separates this film from the pack. Mitchell’s rumination on suburbia, sex and guilt create a final product which is both fresh and chilling.

Maika Monroe shines as the film’s protagonist, drawing the viewer into a world where she is relentlessly pursued by a destructive, shapeshifting evil.

With brilliant practical effects, stunning and evocative cinematography, a sound track that rivals the work of horror music stars Goblin, and an innovative premise, It Follows is a movie that demands to be watched.

I believe this film is best seen in a near-empty, small-town theatre. You leave the theatre, it’s a warm summer night, you feel a breeze coming from behind you and you look down the street. There’s one person walking towards you, far in the distance. You walk faster.