It’s the first day of Blogtober! I will be striving to post new content each day during the month of October. Some will be fall/Halloween themed and some will be my usual content, but I hope to bring some entertaining and/or helpful and informative posts each day.
Oh, but the most exciting part about #blogtober? I’ll be doing an October-themed giveaway for each week of the month! I’ll post the giveaway in the first post of each week, and announce the winners at the end of that week. Make sure you are subscribed to my email updates and that you are following me on social media (Facebook and Instagram) so you don’t miss out! Stick around all the way to the bottom of this post to get the deets on the first giveaway!
Like many, I love a good spooky movie, but I can’t stand needless blood, guts, violence, and gore. I’d much rather a story build tension through atmosphere and through what is not shown, leaving much to the imagination (which is sometimes scarier than reality) rather than bombarding my senses with a bunch of cheesy CGI effects. That said, I thought I’d share a handful of my very favorite non-bloody scary movies to watch around Halloween time!
1. The Others
Set on the island of Jersey at the end of World War II, a lone housewife, Grace (Nicole Kidman), deals with the isolation that the war, the absence of her husband, and her special needs photosensitive children have dealt. A devout Catholic, Grace is troubled that her daughter claims to be seeing ghosts in the house, and the problem only intensifies with the arrival of a wandering family looking for housework. I absolutely love the quiet, haunting setting of this movie. Set in a perpetual fog, the house must be kept dark at all times to keep the sunlight from harming the children. Can you imagine living in a home where the blackout drapes must be drawn at all times? Where you must not open a door without the previous one being closed and locked to keep the children from being exposed to any light much stronger than a single candle? The whole vibe of this movie is unsettling and, as the plot unfolds, heartbreaking. One of my all-time favorite spooky movies.
Find The Others on Amazon
2. The Secret Window
I’ve read almost every word that Stephen King has put to the page, but I usually despise his film adaptations, as most of them do a thorough job of butchering the genius of his original stories. The Secret Window is an exception. One of Johnny Depp’s lesser known roles, he nails the character of Mort Rainey, a troubled alcoholic author who is estranged from his wife and living in a remote cabin by the lake. As Rainey is terrorized by an odd stranger – also a writer – claiming one of his stories has been plagiarized, he works to prove that he has not stolen the stranger’s work in his wake of ever-increasing vandalism and murder. This is another slow burn movie with a small cast that creates a creepy atmosphere through subtle, unsettling nuggets that are released one by one as the film goes on. I love Johnny Depp and I love Stephen King, and this one has earned a solid place in my top 5.
Find The Secret Window on Amazon
This is another Stephen King film adaptation that doesn’t suck. In fact, it’s really darn great. 1408 is one of my favorite short stories from King, and seeing it stretched out into a full length feature film gave me doubts at first, but they really nailed it. A divorced writer (are we seeing a theme here?) who visits haunted locations to compile into his books of true ghostly encounters finds himself getting himself in way over his head when he visits the Dolphin Hotel and its notoriously haunted room, 1408. John Cusack does a brilliant job of carrying the plot forward almost totally alone as he tries to survive his night in the room. Everything about this movie – the acting, the soundtrack, the atmosphere – does a fabulous job of creating a scary setting that is absolutely perfect for October movie-watchin’. Don’t forget to enjoy the small role by Samuel L. Jackson as he describes Room 1408 in a way that only he could: “It’s an evil f*cking room.”
Find 1408 on Amazon
4. Poltergeist (1982)
How could I not include Steven Spielberg’s horror gem on this list? I started watching this movie when I was in middle school (yeah, I was a weird kid) and I love it as much now as I did then. A young family’s world is turned upside down when their 5 year-old daughter, Carol Anne, begins talking to some not-so-imaginary friends inside of the static on their television. Things start out innocent enough, even a little fun, but then take a dark turn when Carol Anne is kidnapped to “the other side” by a dark presence, forcing the family to employ a team of paranormal investigators and a talented short-statured clairvoyant to help them save their daughter. This film is an undisputed classic and a must-watch for me every year. It has it all: spirits, classic hauntings, a kidnapping, and one scary-ass clown that will haunt your nightmares. Just stay away from the 2015 remake of this film – it’s garbage.
Find Poltergeist on Amazon
5. A Quiet Place
This is the newest film on this list, released in 2018. It includes many elements that I love in a good scary movie – post-apocalyptic, small cast, and not overdone with cheesy CGI special effects. The world’s population has been reduced to practically nothing when it’s occupied by creatures (aliens?) who have only one hyper-developed sense: their hearing. In order to stay alive, what’s left of the human race must exist in absolute silence in every aspect of their lives – and that includes no talking – in order to hide from the creatures. The silence itself is an effective tension builder, and Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who doesn’t love them?) are an amazing lead couple. Can you imagine living in a world where even the slightest whisper of unintentional sound can bring near instant death?
Find A Quiet Place on Amazon
I find myself drawn to stories that choose to focus on a small core group of people in the face of a global crisis. Sometimes seeing the effects of horrible world events through the perspective of one single family is much more impactful than lots of “big Hollywood” FX and pew pew pew. Back when M. Night Shyamalan was still making movies that don’t suck, Signs does a brilliant job of doing just that. Dealing with the grief over the tragic loss of his wife, a former reverend (Mel Gibson), his two kids, and his brother (Joaquin Phoenix) get pulled into a threatened extra-terrestrial invasion when they discover strange crop circles in their corn field. The family deals with the escalating problem by behaving like anyone in real life would – watching hours of news coverage, talking to locals, and deciding how much to do at home to balance being prepared with being paranoid. There are so many layers of this film that go beyond the plot vehicle of the alien invasion – love, faith, grief – that makes is such a beautiful story. It’s tense and scary, sure, but it will also legit make you cry. Bring tissues.
Oh, and I have to specifically call out the brilliant performances by the child actors – Kieran Culkin and Abigail Breslin – because they really are just that damn good.
Find Signs on Amazon
#blogtober WEEK ONE GIVEAWAY!
For the first week of #blogtober I am giving away this adorable burlap banner! Winners will be chosen Saturday, October 5th and the winner will be contacted via email. Open to U.S. residents only due to shipping constraints. Here is how to enter:
- Make sure you are following me on Instagram AND on Facebook. @ebrowniebites on both networks. I will verify that the selected winner has followed both accounts.
- Leave a comment with a fun suggestion for a Blogtober post!
Winner will be chosen at random from the comments on this post. There will be a new giveaway each week in October, so make sure you have subscribed to our email updates so you don’t miss out!