Horror movies can be an absolute blast for beginners, but kicking off your adventures in the genre with the wrong film can turn you away for good. Horror can be frightening, it can be fun and it can feature some of the most wonderful stories in entertainment.
If you’re looking to get started with the genre, it’s best to kick off with films that aren’t too traumatising and don’t require decades’ worth of horror knowledge. You want something interesting, exciting and short to spark your imagination and kick off a wider exploration in horror.
There’s plenty to choose from, but here are a few picks from our team in celebration of Gizmodo Movie Night and the start of the spookiest month of the year.
The Girl on the Third Floor
The Girl on the Third Floor is a spooky haunted house story about an unfaithful man renovating a mysterious home in the suburbs that seems to have a dark history of its own. There’s not a whole lot of ‘all out’ scares in The Girl on the Third Floor (there are a few gross-out moments), but the way it builds tension and draws you into the house’s terrible little world is masterful.
You’ll want to watch this one behind half-closed eyes as the spooky stuff starts getting spookier and the house starts showing its true colours. By the time the true horror starts happening, you’ll be rapt in this clever, well-told story.
The Girl on the Third Floor is currently streaming on Netflix.
Willy’s Wonderland is an action-horror movie where Nicolas Cage gets to destroy a whole bunch of creepy animatronics. What’s not to love? Fair warning, this movie does get very gory, but the violence here is cartoonish and over-the-top, rather than realistic.
For some it may prove to be too much, but this movie is silly enough that you can laugh at it, too. If you’re in the mood for some mindless, slasher-style entertainment, you’ll find plenty of ridiculousness in Willy’s Wonderland.
Willy’s Wonderland is now streaming on Stan in Australia.
If you like your horror with a touch of vampires, then Daybreakers is the film for you. It stars the always-excellent Ethan Hawke as a reluctant vampire living in a dystopian society where the creatures are now part of the ruling class.
In Daybreakers, vampires who don’t feed on blood become feral, leading to a world filled with dangers around every corner and in which humans are treated like fodder. While more action-heavy than others on this list, Daybreakers is still a terrifying horror film that uses genre tropes to great effect.
Daybreakers is currently streaming on Stan in Australia.
Get Out is a creepy story about a young Black man who goes to meet the family of his white girlfriend and discovers a horrifying secret. At its core, Get Out is about alienation and racist microaggressions, but it uses plenty of classic thriller-horror tropes to ratchet up the tension and terror in the film.
At times, it’s funny — but it’s always creepy, and director Jordan Peele knows exactly how to get under his audience’s skin. This is one horror movie that’ll stay with you for a long time.
Get Out is now streaming on Binge.
Australia makes fantastic horror, and The Babadook might be one of our very best horror films. It follows a mother and son who are slowly and purposefully broken down by the appearance of a mysterious being known as The Babadook.
Strange visions and thoughts plague both mother and son as The Babadook roams, and all the while, a creeping horror grows at the heart of the film. It’s a terrifying story told with pitch-perfect tone, and it’s sure to make you check twice around every dark corner in your home.
Near Dark is hands down one of the best vampire-horror films ever produced, and it’s a real shame it’s often overlooked in favour of The Lost Boys and Fright Night. If you’re looking for a spooky road adventure, plenty of blood and a horrible night out, Near Dark has you covered.
It’s a coming-of-age movie (and a great showcase for Heroes’ Adrian Pasdar), but it’s also part-Western, part-bloody valentine and a great story to boot. Director Kathryn Bigelow showed off her talents early with this debut, and it’ll go down as one of the best modern horrors around.
Near Dark is now streaming on Shudder in Australia.
Gizmodo Movie Night is the biweekly Gizmodo Australia column in which we share movie and TV recommendations to watch over the weekend. With October now in full swing, it’s time to celebrate all the spooky and terrifying entertainment we love.
Stay tuned for the next instalment!