The top 5 scary films to kick off Halloween

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Exorcist

“The Exorcist” is a 1973 classic set in the 1950s. A woman and her 12-year old daughter, Regan (Linda Blair, “Savage Streets”), are living in Iraq, to film a movie about student activism. Nearby their residence is an ancient archeological dig. Regan soon experiences a variety of physical symptoms that concern her mother. When consultations with physicians and experts yield nothing, they must resort to other means to figure out exactly what is causing Regan to experience such symptoms..

In terms of horror movies, this one is both a classic and surprising, providing elements of the supernatural to support a conventional horror format. In its time, the movie was groundbreaking. This is the perfect old new movie to break out and watch a horror movie with a twist.

The Shining

Any list of horror movies would be remiss to leave out this next classic. “The Shining” is a perfect psychological horror — a conventional scary movie to watch on a stormy October night. The movie follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson, “The Departed”), an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic, as he begins a new position at the Overlook Hotel. The Overlook is a sketchy location with a history of murder and suicide. As Jack continues working there, he becomes violent and impulsive and suffers from recurring nightmares. All of these bad omens lead to a heinous series of events.

This 1980s movie represents all that is mysterious and thrilling about the horror genre — ”The Shining” is a classic, no fluff, no extras, no external elements. This is a must-watch. The simple it is written will have viewers on the edge of their couches, popcorn in hand, screaming, “Don’t open that door!”

The Silence of the Lambs

“The Silence of the Lambs” stars a young FBI trainee, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster, “Contact”), as she studies the case of famed serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”) in an attempt to apprehend him.

In order to trace his steps, Clarice talks to a series of imprisoned serial killers, seasoned criminals and experts.

Though technically not a horror, this murder mystery is sure to keep viewers hooked. The plot follows and shapes characters realistically, creating a dynamic setting that viewers are excited to follow. It is not quite a horror movie, but all the elements are there — the ominous setting, a shady main character and dark plot.


Those who liked “The Exorcist” must give the “Insidious” series a try. It relies on similar elements of surrealism to craft a plot that combines supernatural events and an ominous setting.

The first “Insidious” movie features a family of five moving into a new home. Soon after their move in, the oldest son falls into a coma and a series of inexplicable events lead the family to move to another house.

Despite the move, sinister events follow. Perhaps the family members have been equipped with newfound superpowers? Or maybe the spirits of the house are following the family members to their new locations? How might these events change the dynamic between the family members? There’s only one way to find out.

This movie has all the tropes of a classic horror, but just like “The Exorcist,” the addition of a supernatural element drives the story forward and ironically, makes the story seem more realistic and three-dimensional.


The “Insidious” series and “Sinister” are actually very similar. In this one, crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke, “Before Sunrise”) moves into a new home with his wife and child. Specifically, a new home where a family was murdered, with the intention to take inspiration from the murder in his writing. As the classic horror trope suggests, the house is haunted and leads to a series of unfathomable events.

For those looking for a predictable, and in turn, relatively relaxing horror movie, the “Sinister” series should be on the list. What it lacks in new and modern elements, it makes up for in the comfort of a classic, semi-realistic plot and great character development.