Skip it or stream it: Halloween edition


Graphic by Maliah White

With so many Halloween themed films on streaming platforms. How do you know which one to choose? Do you skip it or stream it?

Sydney Lawson, Staff Writer

The horror genre of film has been a staple of Halloween for decades with major film franchises like “Halloween” and “Friday the Thirteenth” dominating merchandise and costume isles since their release. 

As a spooky season fanatic, I wanted to share the films and shows I feel are worth watching and those I feel are unwatchable for the season. Whether you are wanting a thrill, a complex scary story or something with an autumn feel, there’s something for you on this list. 

“The Haunting” Duology

Available for streaming on Netflix. 

Verdict: stream it. 

The Haunting of Hill House and the Haunting of Bly Manor are sister shows created by the same production team and hosting the same actors playing different characters. They both set their premise around a haunted house, but their stories are vastly different.

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” follows Dani (Victoria Pedretti) who raises orphans Miles and Flora Wingrave as a live-in nanny in the intimidating Bly Manor. Dani deals with the ghosts of her past, and she is also forced to deal with the strange supernatural happenings at Bly Manor. 

“The Haunting of Hill House” begins when Crain siblings Steven (Michiel Huisman), Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser), Theo (Kate Siegel) and Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) find out that their sister Nell (Victoria Pedretti) is dead, which forces them to return to the broken down manor they grew up in. They begin to remember all of the sinister events that occurred at the manor when they were kids as they have unexplainable experiences in the home. 

Both shows kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. The captivating narration, enthralling storytelling, beautiful sets and complex characters sets these series apart from other television series in the genre. It is easy for media that tells a haunted house story to fall into similar tropes and calibers of horror, but “The Haunting” duologies are series that can be appreciated outside of the horror genre. 

“There’s Someone Inside Your House”

Available for streaming on Netflix.

Verdict: skip it.

Makani Young (Sydney Park) is looking forward to an exciting, albeit normal, senior year with her friends. This changes when a serial killer descends upon the students wearing a mask of the victim’s faces and exposing their deepest, darkest secrets before they are killed. When the killer begins to target Young and her friends, she fears she may have to finally confront her past mistakes. 

This slasher film caught my attention because it was trending at number six on Netflix’s top ten list. I now have no idea how it got that high. The writing was cringey and stereotypical with unremarkable acting. It was extremely predictable. I was able to guess the culprit halfway through the opening credits. 

“Over the Garden Wall”

Available for streaming on Hulu and HBO Max.

Verdict: stream it.

Brothers Wirt (Elijah Wood) and Greg (Collin Dean) are traveling home through the woods when it occurs to them hey have no idea where they are, where they need to go or how they arrived in the woods in the first place. They embark on a journey to escape while meeting many quirky, curious characters along the way. However, there is something in the woods that doesn’t want to let them leave. 

Watching “Over The Garden Wall” has been one of my favorite Halloween traditions for years. The setting as well as the characters themselves perfectly portray the feeling of autumn. It is comedic and dark at times without being exceptionally frightening. Wirt and Greg meet many intriguing and humorous characters along their way. 

The twist ending shocked me the first time I watched it years ago, and it still brings about the same emotions as it did the first time. Overall, “Over The Garden Wall” is a lighthearted yet eerie cartoon that puts me in the fall spirit. 

“Jennifer’s Body”

Available for streaming on Peacock, Amazon Prime and Tubi.

Verdict: skip it.

Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy (Amanda Seyfried) are high school best friends who couldn’t be more different. When a night at a club ends wrong with Jennifer leaving Needy behind for a boy band, Needy doesn’t expect Jennifer to come back any different. However, when numerous classmates begin to go missing and show up dead shortly after her return, Needy begins to suspect that Jennifer has something to do with it.

After seeing so much about this movie alongside other iconic 2000’s teen flicks, I was excited to add this movie to the Halloween lineup. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Jennifer’s nature is revealed early in the film, so the only suspense comes from waiting for Needy to figure it out. It was extremely slow paced and the acting was sub-par which made it hard to keep my attention. It has been a long time since I have watched a movie that made me feel like I was wasting my time, and sadly, “Jennifer’s Body” fits the bill. 

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

Available for streaming on Netflix.

Verdict: stream it.

A young woman, Lucy (Jessie Buckley), is traveling with her boyfriend, Jake (Jesse Plemons), to meet his parents during the holiday season. On the way over and throughout the visit, the young woman questions if she truly wants to maintain her relationship. As she interacts with the family and explores her boyfriend’s childhood home, she and the viewers are filled with the sense that there is something deeply wrong.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is perhaps the most unsettling film I have ever seen. There is no graphic imagery, monsters, killers or jump scares. Just a carefully crafted, overwhelming sense that something is wrong. A change in the color of a sweater from one frame to the next. A subtle shift in the layout of a room. The longer the film went on, the more disturbed and uncomfortable I became. By the end of the film, I was squirming in my seat but desperate to solve the puzzle the movie created. 

“It Follows”

Available for streaming on Peacock but soon to be available on Netflix.

Verdict: skip it.

When Jay (Maika Monroe) has sex with her boyfriend for the first time, she doesn’t expect him to abandon her completely after. She especially doesn’t expect him to reveal that he gave her a sexually transmitted curse. Unless she gave the paranormal STD to someone else, a figure would slowly hunt her down and kill her. Rather than shifting the curse onto someone else, Jay and her friends work together to find a way to stop it once and for all. 

This film is enjoyable only for the sake of laughing at how ridiculous and poorly written it is. The special effects are hilariously bad, the acting is poor and there is no way to make the plot anything but ridiculous in my opinion. I’m surprised this was categorized as a genuine psychological horror film rather than a horror comedy. I enjoy sitting around with friends and making fun of movies like this, but if that is not something you enjoy, the film has no other purpose.

“Fear Street: 1994”.   

Available for streaming on Netflix.   

Verdict: stream it.

Based on R.L. Stine’s novels, “Fear Street: 1994” is the first installment in the cinematic Fear Street trilogy. Ruby Lane (Kiana Madeira) lives in Shady Side, a town plagued for years by a curse said to possess residents with the spirit of a vengeful witch. When the curse threatens Lane and her friends, they take action into their own hands to stop the curse for good. 

This is one of the few modern films I have seen that comes close to matching the feel of older horror classics with tropes and filmography decisions that are reminiscent of teen coming of age and slasher films from the early 2000’s. 

The film style and horror genre are extremely in line with Stine’s other beloved adaptations such as “Goosebumps” and “The Haunting Hour.” While this film wasn’t exceptionally good in terms of plot or fear factor, it was enjoyable for the sense of the nostalgia it created alone.