a very a24 halloween
By Cara Eaton
Although, for many, the best part of Halloween is stumbling out inebriated, all dressed up in a costume you’ve planned for weeks, ready to take on a crowded, sticky party (and who doesn’t love this?), I find the real gift to be the weeks leading up to Halloween itself — during which my greatest delight is curling up with a good horror flick. Luckily, AMC Theatres has helped get me out of my dorm this month and straight to the Southpoint mall by showing some great Halloween-ish films on the big screen. Notably, four of A24’s best — the film distribution company that’s every insufferable film major’s favorite party topic. As an insufferable-film-major-adjacent, I count myself among those who experience an immediate dopamine release in response to anything plastered with A24’s logo. However, if you have limited time and money (especially for AMC’s ludicrously priced snacks), it may be impractical to see all four re-releases. That’s why I have expended my own time and money to help you sift through the good, the bad, the weird, and the downright terrifying.
The films, in order of release, are:
The Witch (2015, dir. Robert Eggers)
If you have ever wondered what you would be doing in a world before indoor plumbing, The Witch offers a terrifying take. Masterfully captures the religiously-tinged hysteria and paranoia surrounding “witches” that really did ensnare communities at this time. It often feels as if Eggers was walking around 1600s New England with a camera and a boom mic. Keep in mind this film does utilize period-accurate language (thee, thou, wouldst) which may weird out your friend who can’t take stuff like that seriously.
PRO TIP: Cancel any plans for forest hikes immediately after viewing.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Girls who agree that Colonial-New-England-core is the vibe this fall.
X (2022, dir. Ti West)
If you can get past seeing Mia Goth in creepy old-person prosthetics doing weird things, you’re ready for X. If not, skip this review.
This one is akin to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), but more sexually charged and glamorous than its predecessor. Consider combining the two for a really fun double feature, although you’ll find a horrifying collective portrait of the rural American South. X is a fun slasher with some deeply interesting things to say about the consequences of sexual repression and the harsh realities of old age, themes that take fresh life in a slightly derivative movie.
PRO TIP: Also watch the prequel, Pearl (2022). It’s about Patrick Bateman if he was a 1910s Texan farm girl who dreams of becoming a movie star.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Those who unabashedly wear denim overalls.
Under the Skin (2013, dir. Jonathan Glazer)
Confusing. But good? Scarlett Johansson is an extraterrestrial who disguises itself as a human female in order to seduce and abduct men! Interesting take on how we view and define humanity, especially from the female perspective. Benefits from the level of artistry and innovation applied to the somewhat simple plotline, in a way that makes the film unceasingly thought-provoking. What is a person? What is a woman? Screw it, I’m just gonna watch Superbad (2007) again.
PRO TIP: Either turn your brain all the way on or all the way off.
RECOMMENDED FOR: ???
Midsommar (2019, dir. Ari Aster)
Midsommar begins with a murder-suicide and doesn’t slow down from there. Perhaps the most disturbing of all four films, Ari Aster takes inspiration from the real-life joys and horrors of traveling abroad and dealing with grief. He takes adorable tunics and flower crowns and twists them into something demented. Watching Midsommar will be either a horrific or cathartic experience for anyone who’s had to deal with a toxic influence in their life, boyfriend-related or otherwise.
(By the way, if you and your boyfriend decide to go as Dani and Christian for Halloween, let me know if you need therapy, and make sure to send some cute photos!)
PRO TIP: Easily scared? Watch with a Swede. They apparently find it pretty funny, as many Swedish film critics saw the film as a black-comedy satire on Swedish culture. RECOMMENDED FOR: Aspiring cult leaders.
There you have it. If you decide to watch any of these movies, let me know what you think (Letterboxd: CaraEaton). I’m not responsible for any permanent emotional scarring, but will happily take credit if you discover a new favorite.