A not-so-secret fact about me is that I am a horror movie nut. I started with American classics like Psycho, Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street, and I’ve quickly watched as much as I possibly can. I’m happy to say that I’ve delighted in films both good and bad. So this Halloween season, I wanted to give you my top list of the globe’s scariest horror films and snacks that are perfect for munching through them.
Let’s be honest, most horror movie junkies will tell you that B Horror Films are an art unto themselves. So as Fall is fast approaching, and my little spooky heart gets more and more pumped for Halloween, I took great delight in getting to write about how my taste in horror has evolved now that I’m all grown up. Today we’re going to take a look at some internationally acclaimed horror films, the ups, the downs, the jump scares, and what about them makes them worth watching.
Let’s start by saying horror is subjective, and it’s fascinating to me all of the different approaches many countries take with them, especially from an American perspective. Traditionally in the US, horror films tend to be very in your face, full of creepy slashers, excess gore, obvious jump scares, and a music score that is made to take the creepy ambiance up a couple of notches.
Around the world what defines something as “scary” changes. In Japan they value the art of the subtle, turning the everyday into scary through a series of unfortunate what-ifs. In France horror is an art, designed to make you question reality and potentially your sanity.
I could go on, but I think it best to show you. Here are my top 5 picks of horror films for you to watch to help get you into the Halloween Spirit, and how to pair them with snacks to keep you fueled for an all-nighter watching scary stories. These are in no particular order, and I encourage you to space these out with your go-to-spooky-flicks and favorite snacks.
Horror Films and Snacks #5: Evolution (2016) (Made in France, Belgium & Spain)
I didn’t know what to expect from this movie when I saw it pop up on my recommended watch list. And that made me want to watch it even more. The teaser for it was short, maybe 2 sentences? After watching it I understand why they couldn’t write more. What this movie gets at the heart of, is a truly moral dilemma. Where is the line between science and fantasy? What lines are we as humans willing to cross for advancement and, well, evolution?
It sucks you in with its beautifully artistic shots and holds you captive in a series of questions that aren’t for the faint of heart. A true psychological thriller if I’ve ever seen one, this movie had me questioning things long after the credits had finished rolling.
If you like remote picture-esque islands, medical experiments, and the mystery of what might lie beneath the ocean this film is for you.
This movie isn’t the easiest to snack to, but I recommend pairing it with something to munch on. Even if it’s only to keep your mouth filled so you can’t interrupt your friends with an endless series of “What is happening!?”. Keep watching, and you’ll get there. In the spirit of the countries it was filmed by and in, I recommend a rich bottle of wine (or 2, or 3), and some cheese and bread. This is made for quiet watching, so more traditional movie snacks that crunch (hi popcorn) would ruin it.
Horror Films and Snacks #4: Let the Right One In (2008) (Made in Sweden)
Okay, I think this movie is already plenty popular. You’ve probably even heard of it by now, but I’m shocked to know that many of my friends still haven’t made the time to watch it. So dear reader, I encourage you to watch it. If you love creature tales turned on their head then this is the flick to you.
The move sucks you in quickly with an underdog, a 12-year-old boy that is the victim of bullying. It keeps sucking you in with a tale as old as time, an unexpected friendship made with an equally weird girl that for some reason only comes out at night. I know, they aren’t subtle about it. I promise there’s still layers to this film.
The rest of the movie is a wonderfully odd combination of tugging at your heart strings, and making you uncomfortable. An emotional combination that makes for a shockingly good horror movie.
But what snack would fit this bill? What food combo could ramp this movie up? I’ve thought about it long and hard, and what I’ve come up with may sound weird but bear with me. Chocolate and fruit. These are snacks that pretty universally speak to childhood and comfort, and we likely all have our favorites. They’re also wonderfully indulgent and easy to stop and start. You know, in case a scene makes you squeamish.
Horror Films and Snacks #3: Audition (1999) (Made in Japan)
What do horror and feminism have in common? They are known for making a lot of people uncomfortable, and this film pairs the two together beautifully. While Japan is usually known for outlandish fantasy and tech, this film speaks to the beauty and simplicity of a practical marriage. And then flips it on its head.
Takashi Miike is well known for making films that leave the audience scratching their heads, and Audition doesn’t disappoint. It’s a slow burn psychological thriller that is both strange, wonderful, terrifying, and a beautiful commentary on the dynamics between men and women. If you like a horror movie that will make you think as much as it makes you uncomfortable, this is for you.
What snack would I recommend with this? Sake, you’ll need a drink after the film and it can’t hurt to have a few during. A smooth beer and a few pieces of sushi also wouldn’t be amiss here. Yes, the film being from Japan helped me think of this. However, the more I thought about it the more I realized it would really fit the business gentleman air, and the quiet challenge of tradition, while working to keep an air of propriety vibe this film so spectacularly builds.
Horror Films and Snacks #2: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) (Made in the UK)
This film, I actually hadn’t seen this film before writing this blog, but it’s been recommended to me by many horror film forums and friends. I was thrilled and nervous to give it a go. After all, while I know the actors in it, the two line preview on my streaming service was lackluster. However, the director, Yorgos Lanthimos is known for films that unnerve you in unexpected ways, and that is the kind of scare I can really sink my teeth into.
The story, in broad strokes, is about a surgeon and his family being terrorized because of a past mistake he made. That sounds bland on the surface, I know. But it’s psychological horror in the best sense. The slow build and unexpected reactions are what keep you going, keep you guessing, and make you the kind of uncomfortable that horror junkies everywhere crave.
The snacks, well. I have to say, skip the food, bring the drinks. This is a film that will have you wanting a shot or two of your favorite liquor. I recommend setting up a pitcher of sangria, or something stronger, we’re all friends here, to help you navigate the labyrinth of uncomfortable emotions and reactions this film is sure to invoke.
Horror Films and Snacks #1: The Babadook (2014) (Made in Australia and Canada)
Oh the Babadook, for good reason this became hugely popular in America and made for a lot of stellar internet memes and gifs. If you like things that go bump in the night and badass powerful moms, this is the film for you.
The story centers around a young boy and his mother, and of all things a story book. It sounds sweet on the surface, but things quickly turn sinister and uncomfortable. The storybook is oddly dark, featuring a monster. What is first written off as an overactive imagination, quickly turns into something so much more as the mother questions if the son’s book is really coming to life? What is happening in her home?
There’s nothing more terrifying than a mother scared for her child’s safety.
The story isn’t as upfront as that summary makes it sound, so I highly recommend watching it yourself. Or watching it again if you already have. I’m delighted to inform you that the pacing of the movie lends itself to more traditional movie snacks including popcorn, candy, and treats that bring you back to childhood. These are the perfect finger foods to help you set the tone.
Whatever you choose to watch this Fall, I hope it helps inspire your Halloween costume, and brings you to just the right amount of whimsical and scary. Horror movies should be about fun and adventure first, frightened second. There are hundreds to pick from, and I truly hope that you add at least one international classic to your list if only to get a taste for what else is out there. Happy hunting!
Boo! You’ve learned a lot about some scary movies, but now what?
● Send a Halloween snack box for those horror movie buffs in your life.
● Want to read about even more interesting international trends & traditions, check out Unwrapping Canada – Guide to Gift Traditions in Canada.
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