Best Horror Movies to Watch this Halloween

I adore horror movies, which most of my readers are probably well aware of by now. The tingle of fear is such a delight, and despite the tendency for formula, horrors can have incredibly nuanced symbolism and personifications of life. I’m always on the lookout for great movies to watch in October, but there are a handful of flicks that I keep coming back to over and over because they hold such powerful messages. If you’re looking for something that has a deeper psychological message to analyze, here are some that I heartily recommend.

The Sixth Sense (1999, IMDB link)

A boy who sees ghosts. A psychologist who wants to help troubled children. This is one of the most powerful illustrations of facing the shadow parts of ourselves  and helping them heal. I often use this movie as an example of how to approach and transform the things that we fear within ourselves. So often, what seems to be scary and horrific is really just a wounded part of us that is desperately looking for healing.

The Babadook (2014, IMDB link)

A little boy finds a story book with a very real and very nightmarish character in it. Not a movie for the faint of heart. This movie takes a very real-life horror (grief, child abuse, and depression) and turns it into a mythology and monster story. There are some really emotionally intense scenes, so fair warning. However, I absolutely loved this movie and its message. Once again, the things that we fear within ourselves, the traumas that we can’t bring ourselves to face, are the monsters that become stronger and more terrible the longer they are suppressed. But their power is taken away when we face our shadows with compassion.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012, IMDB link)

A group of friends head up for a weekend of fun, only to find their horrors brought to life. A really fun horror movie that makes fun of horror movies while also philosophizing about fear and human nature. It’s possibly the most explicit that a movie has ever come to demonstrating the way that horror symbolizes the things within us. Which of the items would you have chosen?

The Awakening (2011, IMDB link)

A skeptic sets out to disprove the existence of ghosts at a haunted boarding school. This is one of those really underrated movies, I think. Beautifully acted and a poignant illustration of childhood trauma and memory repression. It’s not an untypical person-sets-out-to-disprove-ghosts movies, but it’s one that I think gives hints that the creators seemed to realize there was a deeper meaning to what they were doing.

1408 (2007, IMDB link)

A man finds himself trapped in the hotel room from hell. Stephen King is generally a genius. I almost want to put down The Shining for its brilliant depiction of the horrors of family dynamics and living with an abusive father. However, I choose this one because I actually rewatch it more often than The Shining. This is another beautiful and creepy metaphor for the way that suppressed grief haunts us.

Haunter (2013, IMDB link)

A girl stuck in a time loop, haunted and haunting, as she struggles to unravel the truth. Trauma is probably the realest horror we encounter, so it makes sense that it creates some powerful symbolism both for the way that it affects us and the way that families can inundate themselves in denial.

So there you have it, a mixture of old and newer movies, of well-known and more obscure titles to bring your October evenings to a delightfully horrific mentality. What are your favorite scares to watch over and over?