Are you afraid of the dark?
We’ve rounded up 16 Halloween watches for fattus and fraidy-cats
When you’re 30, existential crises come in an unprecedented variety of shapes and forms. On odd days, it’s waking up with a crick in your neck after doing nothing more strenuous than sleeping for eight hours. On even days, it’s climate change. But today, my sense of doom and dread isn’t about our steady march towards biological decay (Is Gen Z the new generation dread?). Instead I’m wondering: Do I really have the right to call myself a Halloween buff when I don’t have the stomach for Halloween horror movies?
My friends will tell you that Halloween makes up a reasonable chunk of my identity. Just like there are people who put up their Christmas lights in November, and who take pride in having the most raucous Holi party in the mohalla, I’m a Halloween kind of girl. Between my annual murder mystery party and my undying devotion to candy, it’s the exact holiday I would design if given a choice. Costume parties, haunted houses, trick or treating — count me in for all of it.
And yet, if you invite me to watch a horror movie during the spooky season, chances are I’ll politely decline. When it comes to horror movies, I have to admit I’m a fattu. No matter how many times I remind myself that it’s all made up, acted out with scary sound effects and costumes — when a ghost pops up on screen, I am in mortal danger of ruining my good sweatpants.
For the fattus and fraidy cats, this list rounds up Halloween movies and shows with a convenient ratings system so you know just how scary they are. No fear, don’t skip out on the scary movies this year. Choose your own adventure, and enjoy Halloween on your own terms.
If you prefer the undead to the world of the living
Army of the Dead
A Zack Snyder extravaganza, this 2021 Netflix film is the masala zombie apocalypse you never knew you needed. It’s got it all: A heist with a motley crew of experts; a zombie city that they’re infiltrating; a government nuclear strike; and a sprinkling of romance.
Does this movie strictly make sense? Debatable, but this little detail doesn’t lessen the fun of watching it. It’s set in Las Vegas, where zombies have taken over and been quarantined. A heist crew — all rocking scruffy post-apocalyptic outfits — goes in to retrieve 200 million dollars from a vault, braving the zombies who try and eat them.
Despite being a bit gory, this is an action film at heart, and it’s a solid entertainer. And there’s a Huma Qureshi cameo to thrill our little desi hearts (check out her tips to build confidence in your career). Fattu rating: 4/10.
Adapted from the novel series for Netflix, the titular character Geralt of Rivia is a travelling monster-hunter who encounters all kinds of supernatural beasts. The Witcher straddles the line between fantasy and horror, and asks the age-old genre question: What makes a monster?
For fans of Supernatural (back when it was good) this is a grittier take on monster-hunting set in a medieval fantasy world. Geralt himself is a supernatural being who grapples with being seen as a monster, even as the magical fates of kingdoms rest on his shoulders (these 11 fantasy books will add magic to your life).
The series is lavishly mounted and helmed by a pitch-perfect Henry Cavill. The fourth season is set to come out next year, and Cavill will controversially be replaced by Liam Hemsworth — so watch while the witching is good. Fattu rating: 6/10.
All of Us Are Dead
Have your zombie apocalypse with a side of Korean drama in this coming-of-age horror set in a high school. In the very first episode, an outbreak of an infection spreads through the school like wildfire, turning students and teachers into zombies.
For the rest of the season, everyone is trapped inside the school, where it’s kill or be zombified. Students turn into zombies and turn on each other, and the pressure to escape mounts as survivors grow fewer. The zombie crisis affects old feuds and friendships, so the typical K-drama elements remain alive and well even if the students aren’t.
You can binge the season on Netflix. While it has been renewed, the release date of the second season isn’t confirmed yet. Fattu rating: 7/10.
If you can’t stand your nosy neighbours
A family moves into a new house to settle down, but their dream home soon turns into a nightmare. We’ve all seen it before. The Watcher is loosely based on a true story of a New Jersey couple who shifted to suburbia and started receiving threats from the neighbours.
If you can’t stand that one building uncle who’s constantly giving you free advice to eat ghar ka khana instead of ordering Chinese, you’ll get into this show about intrusive neighbours who cross the line from annoying to straight-up scary. Or, if you enjoy Ryan Murphy’s other outings like American Horror Story and Ratched.
The cast highlights include Margo Martindale, and Mia Farrow in an homage to her 1968 horror magnum opus, Rosemary’s Baby. Catch this miniseries on Netflix. Fattu rating: 7/10.
Usually, horror draws us in by portraying ordinary people who fall into terrifying situations. Bates Motel is instead a prequel series to Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), telling the story of a young Norman Bates and his overbearing mother.
In a modern small-town setting, Norman and his mother run the fateful motel where a young woman on the run will eventually be murdered. For now though, Norman is trying to be a normal teenager. His efforts are foiled as his peers and neighbours want nothing to do with this weirdo, and especially, his possessive mother.
A chilling performance by Vera Farmiga drives home how Norman’s descent into madness is precipitated by a series of maternal pushes and shoves. You don’t need to watch the movie to enjoy this psychological horror on Amazon Prime. Fattu rating: 8/10.
Dead to Me
What do you get when you throw ’00s comedy darlings Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini into a psychological thriller? A hilarious, disturbing show about two women playing cat-and-mouse as they develop a close friendship.
Jen has recently lost her husband and meets Judy while grieving. They hit it off, but Jen becomes disturbed when she learns Judy is not being honest about who she is. Is Judy a friend or a villain, and why is she so desperate to infiltrate Jen’s life? The humour never ends even as the tension between the two ramps up.
While this isn’t exactly a horror show, the set-up of a claustrophobic suburban neighbourhood filled with deceitful characters rings true to the genre. Watch it on Netflix. Fattu rating: 2/10.
If you like to think it could happen to you
When a couple suffers from a miscarriage, they try and soothe their grief by adopting a sweet nine-year-old girl from an orphanage in Russia. The parents and two children know their family is about to change forever. But they don’t imagine just how much. This innocent child turns out to be neither innocent, nor really a child.
This 2009 horror-thriller subverts the ‘scary little girl’ by making her the psycho slasher of the story. There’s no supernatural forces at work here, but a cold-blooded killer hiding behind the face of a child. It’s enough to send chills down your spine.
Make it a horror double-feature with the prequel released this year, entitled Orphan: First Kill. You can find both on Amazon Prime. Fattu rating: 8/10.
The White Lotus
With the second season of the acclaimed series now streaming on Prime, it’s a good time to get into The White Lotus. Centred around a dysfunctional group of guests at a luxury hotel, it combines elements of horror with murder-mystery tension.
The ensemble of characters is made up of entitled, infuriating people, who are so casually awful that you can’t quite put your finger on their motivations. It all adds up to whiplash plot twists and dialogue exchanges that will leave you unsure whether to laugh or be afraid.
While there aren’t any jumpscares like in your typical Halloween horror movies, a creeping Lord of the Flies atmosphere lurks under the picturesque surface. A satirical thriller about capitalist excess might not sound like a lot of fun, but this one really is. Come for the stunning resort views, stay for some fantastically lewd comedy bits and Jennifer Coolidge. Fattu rating: 3/10.
If there was ever a meeting you wished were an email, it’s this Zoom call directly from the depths of hell. Filmed during the lockdown, Host takes place entirely as a video call between six friends who decide to hold a virtual seance.
A throwback to the B-movie tradition, this Netflix pick from our list of Halloween horror movies clocks in at under an hour and has no animated effects, yet it doesn’t need big names or graphics to be terrifying. It still packs a punch when a vengeful spirit shows up and the girls start to disappear from the Zoom call — or rather, get picked off one by one.
For those who liked the realistic style of The Blair Witch Project (1999), this update is for you. As if you needed one more reason to dread that upcoming meeting. Fattu rating: 9/10.
If you’re a nostalgic who just wants the Halloween classics
If the sequel release this year didn’t sit right with your soul, watching the original Bhool Bhulaiyaa on Hotstar will make it all better. It’s a cross between a ghost story and a psychological thriller, and manages to pull off both genres with aplomb.
When an NRI couple returns to their ancestral palace in Varanasi, wife Avni opens a mysterious forbidden room. She starts acting strangely, prompting her husband to wonder if there is truth to the superstitions about the cursed palace spirit.
This iconic Bollywood flick features a haveli that is touted as a bhoot bangla, a ghost named Manjulika who dances kathak, and an unhinged performance from Vidya Balan (who sat down with Twinkle Khanna for a candid interview). Grab some popcorn and settle down for the ideal Halloween watch. Fattu rating: 7/10.
The Addams Family
Doo-doo-doo-doo, snap-snap. Yes, that’s the sound of our childhoods spent watching the scary, spooky, and altogether kooky Addams Family.
Although there are animated takes on the Addams family on Amazon Prime, nothing beats the good old live-action film from 1991. Uncle Fester shows up after spending 25 years trapped in the Bermuda Triangle, so the family plans a reunion party. Of course, their idea of a good time involves a lot more black magic than most people, but that’s just part of the fun.
For all its dark humour, The Addams Family has always been a wholesome peek into a loving, if eccentric, family. Talk about relatable. Watch it before the mid-November release of Wednesday on Netflix. Fattu rating: 2/10.
A quintessential addition to any Halloween watchlist, The Purge will never go out of style. Not as long as we all secretly harbour a wish to kill that one person we’ll hold a grudge against until our dying day — provided we wouldn’t get caught.
This dark desire is the premise of The Purge. It’s one night a year when nothing is criminal, police and law enforcement basically don’t exist, and anything goes. The idea is that allowing us to express our worst impulses freely brings down crime for the rest of the year.
For a family living in a wealthy Los Angeles community, the purge shows up on their doorstep with terrifying consequences. Watch this cult classic on Amazon Prime. Fattu rating: 7/10.
If your favourite Halloween activity is a haunted house
The hottest horror movie of the year, Barbarian is on everyone’s lips, and now on Netflix as well to find a place on our list of Halloween horror movies. In the vein of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), a woman stumbles into a house of horrors, and becomes trapped by the other inhabitants.
Travelling to Detroit for a job interview, Tess is dismayed to find that the house where she’s staying has been double-booked. Her room is already occupied by a young man, but she decides to make the best of it. In the words of Julia Roberts: Big mistake. Huge.
This is a pitch-black horror movie, not for the faint of heart or to be watched with kids in the room. In fact, you might find yourself running away from the TV as well. Fattu rating: 9/10.
The Haunting of Bly Manor
Getting a job as an au pair in a literal manor in the English countryside could be the start of a great rom-com. Bly Manor has different ideas, veering sharply into a gothic ghost story.
In England in 1987, a young American woman, played by Netflix scream queen of You fame, Victoria Pedretti, is hired as a nanny for two children by their wealthy uncle. Dani finds the sumptuous house and grounds to be full of disturbing secrets that feed into the legend of a previous inhabitant of Bly manor.
Based on the works of Henry James, The Haunting of Bly Manor is a feast for the eyes – though you might have to cover them with a pillow when the ghosts start showing up. Fattu rating: 8/10.
13B: Fear Has a New Address
This Tamil film, also titled Yavarum Nalam, centres around a family who moves into a new flat, 13B. Husband Manohar is thrilled about this new step — but this is on our list of Halloween horror movies, so he won’t be for long.
The family starts to experience strange yet mundane problems in their new home, such as finding spoiled milk in the fridge. They continue with life as usual — including watching a certain TV serial. Manohar is horrified to see a connection between what’s happening on the serial and what plays out in their real lives.
Although the film was released in 2009, it still holds up today as a scare that stays with you. The next time you find spoiled milk in your fridge, your mind will flash to 13B, and you’ll pray the rest of the movie doesn’t play out in your real life. Find it on Hotstar. Fattu rating: 8/10.
If you want to venture into the unknown
A special mention for the fattus who want to test their mettle against Halloween horror movies, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities is out on Netflix, compiling eight tales by different directors. From gothic horror with Dreams in the Witch House to the demons of Graveyard Rats, this pick-and-mix will expand your horror horizons. Maybe you’re braver than you know.
Check out The Outside, a gruesome body horror about one woman’s quest to be beautiful. Fattu rating: ?/10. Open the cabinet if you dare.