Not everyone can jive with horror movies. While there are many who enjoy a dark night of jump scares, blood and gore, there are just as many who would rather kick back with a bowl of popcorn and something less heart-pounding.
The Phoenix recommends the following movies for those looking to snuggle up with friends and watch a spooky film that won’t leave them with nightmares.
“Coraline” is an animated, stop-motion dark fantasy film released in 2009 based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. Directed by Henry Selick, “Coraline” follows Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning), a young girl who finds a door in her new home that leads to a parallel universe much like her own. Complete with near-exact copies of her parents, this world almost absolutely resembles hers — except people have buttons for eyes and are keeping a sinister secret.
“Coraline” is creepy enough to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, but also fantastically mysterious so fear can turn into curiosity. “Coraline” is available to stream on Netflix.
The Cabin in the Woods
“The Cabin in the Woods” was directed by Drew Goddard and stars Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison and Fran Kranz. This 2012 horror comedy follows five college students who retreat to a remote cabin where they’re met with more than they asked for. The students fall victim to two scientists (portrayed by Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins) who intoxicate them with mind-altering drugs. From their control room, the scientists are able to manipulate all the ghoulish events the students encounter.
Though there are jump scares here and there, “The Cabin in the Woods” leans more toward comedy than horror. The lighthearted satire overcomes the horror and makes the film more funny than scary. “The Cabin in the Woods” can be rented or bought on Amazon Prime Video for an evening of less scares and more laughter.
Scary Movie franchise
“Scary Movie” is a series of five horror comedies, released between 2000 and 2013. The franchise creates parodies of traditional horror films adding a comical twist and making each remake different from other scary movies.
The movies consist of exaggerated scenes based on stereotypical horror plots, mocking the premise of most of them. For example, “Scary Movie 2” starts with a parody of “The Exorcist,” in which Meghan Voorhees is possessed by Hugh Kane and two priests have to force him out of her. “Scary Movie 4,” on the other hand, is a spoof on movies such as “Saw,” “War of the Worlds” and “The Village.”
While none of these movies are particularly scary, they’re definitely funny. For those who truly dislike horror, any of these movies would be good to choose for non-spooky, Halloween-themed entertainment. Most of the movies in this franchise can be found to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” produced by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, is another stop-motion fantasy with just as many dark moments as comical twists. This film tells the story of Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon, Danny Elfman), the king of Halloween Town, who stumbles through a portal which takes him to Christmas Town. In awe of this new land, Jack decides the citizens of Halloween Town will take over and celebrate Christmas, which has both humorous and sinister consequences.
Like many Tim Burton movies, “The Nightmare Before Christmas’” ominous production makes a movie which is seemingly made for children just as great for adults. This spooky yet light-hearted film is perfect for all holiday lovers and horror haters and can be found to stream on Hulu or to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
This 1980 film is based on Stephen King’s novel, “The Shining,” and was directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. “The Shining” follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a writer and recovering alcoholic who accepts a job as a caretaker of a hotel. Soon after Jack and his family move in, they discover this job may have given them more than they wanted. Supernatural forces in the hotel take over and Jack’s sanity progressively worsens, putting his family in danger.
This movie is scary. However, this thriller doesn’t just grab viewers’ attention with cheap jump scares. Instead, it takes a toll on the mind with built up terror and psychological suspense. It isn’t a stereotypical horror film, but a classic worth seeing at least once. “The Shining” is currently on Netflix and is also available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
A Quiet Place
“A Quiet Place,” released earlier this year, is a science fiction horror film. Starring John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, this film is about a family struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world while facing creatures with hypersensitive hearing and indestructible skin.
Similar to “The Shining,” this movie doesn’t rely on ghosts or tacky jump scares to keep the viewers’ hearts racing — though there are a few here and there. Rather, the real horror lies in keeping viewers on the edge of their seats with rising tension and amplified suspense. Even big scaredy cats will make it through “A Quiet Place” with minimal post-horror-movie trauma. This film can be found to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video and Vudu.
Over the Garden Wall
Though this isn’t a movie, it’s still worth watching. “Over the Garden Wall,” Cartoon Network’s first mini-series, was released in 2014 and is a great way to spend a fall night.
“Over the Garden Wall” tells the story of two brothers, Wirt and Greg, who find themselves lost in a mysterious forest called the Unknown and need to find their way home. The story is whimsical and childlike, yet eerie in its dark backdrops and villain, the Beast, who haunts and follows the brothers until they can get out of the Unknown. The series is creepy and a bit frightening at times, but also light-hearted and sweet.
The entire series consists of 10 episodes, which can easily be viewed in one day and makes for a perfect Halloween night. All episodes of “Over the Garden Wall” can be streamed on Hulu.