A Splash of Horror for a Quarantine Halloween


Here are six of Erica Weidner’s favorite Halloween flicks. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Horror was my form of escapism in early quarantine. While everyone else was embroiled in the craziness of “Tiger King,” I was on a quest to scare myself. And I succeeded — multiple times. 

With Halloween this Saturday and Election Day next Tuesday, I think we could all use a little horror and a little escapism to get us through the week. Grab some popcorn (or candy corn) and turn down the lights: Here are some of my favorite horror films.


“Paranormal Activity” (2007)

“Paranormal Activity” was the first horror movie I watched over quarantine, and it remains one of my favorites. The story revolves around Katie, who’s been haunted by some evil presence while she sleeps, and Micah, her boyfriend, who’s more skeptical of her claims. To prove a point, Micah sets up a video camera pointed at their bed at night. “Paranormal Activity” starts with small occurrences that get progressively more serious and sinister. If it feels formulaic, it’s probably because it’s set the tone for horror movies made since.


“The Ring” (2002)

If you’re looking for a horror movie with barely any jumpscares, “The Ring” is for you. The movie centers around a cursed VHS tape — once you’ve watched it, you will die in seven days. Journalist Rachel Keller looks into the tape’s origin after her niece dies, and her investigation puts her at that same risk. “The Ring” is full of suspense, and it works just as well as a mystery as it does a horror movie. It’s also gorgeous, both due to the photogenic Pacific Northwest and cinematography that puts the rest of these movies to shame. 


“Cloverfield” (2008)

Living in New York City makes “Cloverfield” just a little more terrifying. “Cloverfield” is a found footage film, with Hud Platt filming his friend Rob’s going away party on a handheld camera. Halfway through the party, the city plunges into darkness as a horrifying Lovecraftian monster crawls out of the sea. The partygoers work their way uptown through a city of chaos. “Cloverfield” hinges on the fear of not knowing what’s happening — neither the characters nor the audience ever receive an explanation. In any case, “Cloverfield” is a great New York movie, a fantastic horror movie and an impressive movie overall.


“The Mist” (2007)

Based on a Stepehen King story, “The Mist” is an unfortunately overlooked film. David Drayton and his son Billy are on a grocery run when a thick white mist obscures the world outside. A man runs into the store and yells, “Something in the mist took John Lee!” The rest of the movie sees the chaos of a whole town stuck inside a grocery store. “The Mist” is intensely claustrophobic, and if you’ve gone grocery shopping during the coronavirus pandemic, it hits a little too close to home. It’s psychological horror at its finest, and it’s got an ending unlike any movie you’ve ever seen.


“The Blair Witch Project” (1999)

“The Blair Witch Project” is the oldest movie on this list. It’s the father of found footage films and the envy of all low-budget indie movies since. Heather, Mike and Josh set off into the woods to make a documentary about the Blair Witch, a local legend. The trio gets lost and becomes more and more paranoid as strange things happen around them. Partially due to its low budget and production value, “The Blair Witch Project” embodies the idea that, when it comes to horror, less is more. As one of my friends put it, “I’ve never been so spooked by a pile of rocks.” 


“The Conjuring” (2013)

I’ve watched and loved all six movies on this list, but only one of them actually made me double check my closet doors and peak behind my shower curtain. That title goes to “The Conjuring” alone. The Perron family moves into a farmhouse in rural Rhode Island, and a malicious presence immediately makes itself known. The family calls Ed and Lorraine Warren, two paranormal investigators, but they too become involved in the house’s dark secrets. And, never fully addressed, the possessed doll Annabelle looms behind the plot. “The Conjuring” manages the difficult task of being scary from start to finish, and I highly recommend it as the spookiest movie on this list.