Everyone has their own way of winding down and relaxing. Some enjoy watching sports, others enjoy reality tv shows, and then there are others who enjoy increasing their heart rates with some good suspense and horror. Whenever the question of what makes a good ‘horror’ arises, there is a quote from Stephen King‘s IT that comes to mind: “I am every nightmare you have ever had. I am your worst dream come true. I am everything you ever were afraid of”.
Horrors do not need to be unique, and they do not need to have the best special effects or even acting. All a true horror needs is to reach into the darkest depths of your soul and bring the monsters that lie there out of hiding – even if only for a minute. A good piece of media in this genre is something that sends shivers down the spine with haunting thoughts that remain long after the lights have gone out, and the covers have been drawn.
From Friday The 13th to Scream and even Halloween, there have always been certain staples when it comes to the horror genre, and as great as rewatching the classics can be, some frights just cannot be relived. If this sounds familiar, and perhaps you have been sleeping a little too peacefully lately; we have the cure for you! Get ready to add a few new nightmares to your slumber with five shows that simply must be binged over Halloween.
For lovers of classic horror:
When 14-year-old middle schooler Jake finds a “retro” Good Guy doll named Chucky at a yard sale, he instantly snatches it up. Jake is an aspiring artist, a passion he gets from his late mother, and the piece he is working on is a sculpture crafted entirely out of various doll parts.
After a family dinner goes horribly awry, Jake’s father takes out his anger by smashing the sculpture Jake has been working on. He further forbids his son from having anything more to do with dolls. Upon discovering what his father did, Jake wishes his father dead in a moment of anguish. Thereafter, he decides it is time to get rid of the Chucky doll, but he is too late… as Chucky has also made Jakes wish about his father come true!
Chucky (2021) is based on the Child’s Play film franchise and acts as the sequel to “Cult of Chucky“, the seventh film in the franchise – although there is no need to have watched the previous films to enjoy the show. Growing up, it was almost impossible to ignore the popular culture phenomenon that was Chucky, making it very difficult to watch the Chucky TV show without a certain level of nostalgia and built-up expectation creeping in. Even so, Chucky did not disappoint.
The Chucky TV series never feels like it takes itself too seriously, but it also never feels like a parody. Instead, the show sticks to its roots: it is at times cringy, ridiculous, frightening and always fun. Making the show a lighthearted halloween binge.
For lovers of teen slashers:
I Know What You Did Last Summer (2021)
In this tale, Lennon is home to visit her dad for the first time since starting University abroad. Straight off the bat, things get mysterious when she gets a text message from an unknown number saying “I C U”, just after she almost runs over a dog in her car. While her father seems practically overjoyed to have his daughter home, Lennon is anything but.
When Lennon goes to unpack in her old bedroom, she is greeted by the words “I know what you did last summer” written in lipstick across her bedroom mirror – along with a bloody goat in her closet for good measure. Flashback to “last summer”, it is revealed how Lennon and a few of her friends went on a drive. Here she is seen drunk, behind the wheel, before colliding with what is believed to be a goat. Anyone familiar with horror movies or the ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ franchise, however, already knows that whatever they hit was almost certainly not a ‘goat’.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (2021) is a modern take on one of the staples in the horror genre. Based on a novel and film franchise of the same name, it features a cast of mostly unknown actors portraying an all too well-known story.
There is no justifiable reason why anyone would really enjoy I Know What You Did Last Summer even fractionally as much as this author. In this sense the show overflows with teen angst, often to the point of discomfort; yet it is filled with some pretty satisfying twists and turns that make everything worthwhile in the end. After all, the best twists are those saved for a fun halloween binge.
Where to watch it: Amazon Prime Video
For lovers of thought-provoking & slow-burning horror:
Midnight Mass (2021)
Midnight Mass follow the story of man named Riley, who has been put on parole after serving a four-year sentence for killing a young girl while driving under the influence. During his time behind bars, he lost all connection with his faith, making moving back home to a devout Catholic community hard for him. As such, there is a strong focus on how his second chance is based around reintegrating himself into the community he grew up in and subsequently left.
Almost as soon as Riley arrives home, he is introduced to the new priest: a mysterious yet charismatic man. However, it does not take long for the community to accept the priest as one of their own, a bond severely strengthened as many supernatural events and miracles being to occur in the town.
While Midnight Mass is slower and far more serious in tone than other horrors on this list, it does offer a thought-provoking stroll through a small and isolated community struggling with faith. The overall story and narrative offers a wonderful mix between classics such as Dracula or The Picture of Dorian Gray, with a narrative that stimulates and engages at all the right moments.
Midnight Mass also dives into and explores more than just the apparent monsters too, and does a superb job of uncovering the personal ones hidden within each member of the community as well as the closely held beliefs the community is built upon. It is the perfect show for a halloween binge with a slow burn resulting in a fiery end.
Where to watch it: Netflix
For lovers of true crime:
While True Crime Documentaries are a dime a dozen, it is rare to find a good one produced by and for South Africans. Devilsdorp takes us back in time to 2016 Krugersdorp. After a series of brutal killings, police and the community start to wonder if the town of Krugersdorp might have a serial killer on the loose. However, when police start to investigate what became known in the media as “The Appointment Murders”, they soon realise how the truth was far more bizarre.
Devilsdorp takes viewers through the original killings, unsolved cold cases, and culminates in the discovery of a woman who claims to be a high witch from the church of Satan. The subsequent mysteries that unravel thereafter, are truly mind boggling.
As the court case surrounding the ones responsible for the events in Devilsdorp are currently ongoing, it was both eye-opening and troubling to get the back story behind the case. While the True Crime genre is hardly new, it feels different when everything shown is so close to home.
The whole story is told over four episodes. While there were consistently more unanswered questions for every answer given, the quality of the documentary was excellent. It is a perfect halloween binge, as it will leave viewers speechless.
Where to watch it: Showmax
For lovers of psychological horror:
Squid Games (2021)
Squid Game revolves around a man named Seong Gi-hun. He has a significant gambling problem and, as a result, a heavy amount of debt to pay. As such, when he gets invited to participate in a series of games to stand a chance of winning a large cash prize; it is an offer he cannot refuse.
Shrouded in secrecy, the contest consists of 456 players who are all gathered in a remote facility. Here the rules are explained: they will all participate in six different children’s games, but losing at the games results in your elimination. Unfortunately for the contestants, ‘elimination’ is meant literally with more money added to the prize with each subsequent player’s removal. After all, there can only be one winner.
What we thought:
While Squid Games is not a horror as such, it is by far the most psychologically twisted show currently available to binge for halloween. Throughout the show, viewers will see how greed, fear and the will to survive can and will change the very moral fibre of even the most devout of people. Showcasing just how far people will go when put into a corner.
While the core concept behind Squid Games is simple, the deep dive into humanity and what it means is deliciously complex.
Where to watch it: Netflix
After the year that has been 2021 (or 2020 New Game+), everybody deserves to take some time to lie back and enjoy a few horror themed series to binge over halloween. Which shows will you be watching first? Let us know in the comments below.
As far back as she can remember, Arielle has loved comics, tabletop games and staying indoors. Although she might be terrible at history, she can tell you exactly how Wanda Maximoff and Sabrina Spellman are linked. Ultimately, she works to fund her Stephen King addiction and can pretty much always be found somewhere online.