Horror has always been our outlet for the inexpressible. So what better way to vent your lockdown frustrations than with a good horror movie! What follows is a quick survey of the good horror stuff you’ll find streaming on various services. From goofy to grotesque, there’s something to offer both casual and hard-core fans alike.
“The Lighthouse” (2019; Amazon Prime)
If social distancing has got you down, director Robert Eggers’ unrelenting psychological thriller should provide some much-needed perspective. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson chew the scenery as paranoid lighthouse keepers stranded on a remote island off the New England coast. It’s like putting “The Odd Couple” inside a blender of delicious weirdness and watching the roommates slowly go insane. There are long conversations about regret, sparring sessions with sea birds and enough booze to sink a battleship. Horrifying and humorous in equal measure, “The Lighthouse” is one of 2019’s best films, and gave birth to a million internet memes about Dafoe’s culinary prowess with lobster.
“Captain Kronos — Vampire Hunter” (1974; Hulu)
Those craving something lighter might revisit this forgotten gem from Hammer Film Productions (renowned for monster schlock like “The Brides of Dracula”). Originally conceived as the first in a series of films, it follows fearless vampire hunter Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) and his hunchbacked companion, Professor Hieronymus Grost (John Cater), as they pursue their undead quarry through the countryside. Director Brian Clemens combines swashbuckling sword play with scientific procedural to put a unique spin on the classic vampire story. Janson fascinates in the lead role, boasting an uncanny blend of Michael York charm and Roman Polanski creepiness. Surprisingly spooky and irony free.
“Near Dark” (1987; Criterion Channel)
If you like your vampires bloody disgusting, Kathryn Bigelow’s vampire Western should quench your thirst. This genre mashup delights in the lawless exploits of a band of nomadic vampires. Living out of an RV with blacked-out windows, they have fashioned themselves into an off-kilter, middle-class family unit. Lance Henriksen acts as the de facto father, with mother and children falling in line — united by the burden of their shared bloodlust. Especially exhilarating is the nihilistic villainy of Bill Paxton’s character, who acts as judge, jury and executioner to the hapless mortals. There’s also forbidden love, teenage rebellion and weirdness aplenty.
“We Are What We Are” (2010; Hulu)
Maybe you’re sick of vampires. Try some cannibals, instead! Director Jorge Michel Grau’s 2010 Mexican horror film eavesdrops on the desperate lives of a family reeling from the recent death of their father … and they just happen to be cannibals. Both teenage sons are eager to assume their father’s role as provider, including the abduction and murder of a victim for their yearly cannibalistic ritual. This is a film about toxic masculinity. Boys clamor to prove their manliness, helpless to change the cruel roles assigned them. Naturalistic and haunting, this is a family drama masquerading as a horror film.
“We Are What We Are” (2013; Shudder)
The 2013 American remake of “We Are What We Are” is also a family drama at its core, but more thoroughly examines the Gothic horror elements of its premise. Director Jim Mickle completely changes the dynamic of Grau’s original story by placing the burden of the cannibalistic ritual on two teenage daughters. The result is a story conveyed in hushed whispers and repressed anger instead of surging testosterone. Slow burning and introspective, “We Are What We Are” ponders the limits of religious faith and, more specifically, the subservient roles imposed upon women who must serve both God and man.
“Get Out” (2017; Prime Video)
The genius of Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is that you don’t need to catch the biting satire to enjoy it as an engrossing horror story. This disturbing mashup of “Meet the Parents” and “The Stepford Wives” follows the escalating threat to our Black hero (Daniel Kaluuya) after he travels to a suburban wonderland to meet the parents of his white girlfriend (Allison Williams). Images of brainwashing, murder and the creepiest silent auction ever committed to film will burrow deeply into your subconscious. Peele’s comedic sensibility (honed on Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” sketch show) underscores the absurdity of casual racism and the imprisonment of Black America, both physically and psychologically.
“The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs” (2020; Shudder)
America’s favorite redneck movie aficionado returns for a second season! When Joe Bob Briggs (formerly of TNT’s “Monstervision”) returned to television last year with several holiday specials, he damn near broke the internet. Shudder got the message and immediately gave Briggs a new series. Here, Briggs moderates two films per episode, lending his trademark folksy humor and quick wit at generous intervals. Joining him are Darcy the Mail Girl and various luminaries from horror films both classic and not-so-classic. Perfect Friday-night fare.