Halloween is quickly approaching and with it comes the search for the best horror films to ensure that the evening is full of chills and suitably creepy monsters. While there are many excellent films from all around the world, we think that some of the best are from right here at home! This list is all about showcasing some of the best of Canadian horror. From low-budget flicks to major productions and everything in between, we have something for everyone.
Ginger Snaps Trilogy (2000-2004)
The first entry on our list is a trilogy centered on puberty, werewolves and sisters Ginger and Brigitte. These are not the typical teen titles filled with heartthrobs and romance, however, focusing instead on gore and sisterhood in the midst of a difficult high school experience.
The first film in the collection is the titular Ginger Snaps. Released in 2000, the film ran into controversy before it ever debuted due to its school-based violence. However, it’s not a film meant to shock just for the sake of being ‘scary’. The movie has a definite plot: Ginger, ever eager to do the opposite of what is expected of her, sneaks out of the house and is almost immediately attacked by a mysterious ‘wolf’ prowling around the neighborhood. Ginger quickly begins to transform, and there is blood and sisterly conflict as Brigitte balks at her sister’s rising body count. The ending of the film is bleak, but entirely fitting and satisfying.
Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed and Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning were filmed back-to-back, and were both released in 2004. However, this is where the similarities end. The former takes place immediately after the first film ends and sees Brigitte grapple with her newfound need to strike out on her own even as her sister haunts her every move. The latter is a prequel that keeps our two main actresses on as ancestors of the sisters we have come to know and love.
We don’t want to spoil the surprises that the latter two films have to offer, so we’ll leave the details there. Just know that the Ginger Snaps trilogy is a great pick for horror fans and a solid choice for Halloween.
Fans of clever zombie films will appreciate the rather ingenious plot behind Pontypool. The movie centers on Grant Mazzy, a local radio host in the small Ontario town that gives the film its name. As he begins his nighttime broadcast, Grant quickly learns that the evening is anything but average. A virus is sweeping the region, turning anyone who encounters it into a mindless zombie. The tale might sound all too familiar at this point, and that is because the core story is not overly revolutionary. The transmission method of the zombie virus is where the film shines with innovation. Rather than spreading from physical contact, it is the English language itself that fuels the virus’s spread.
Pontypool offers viewers an interesting twist on a classic genre full of twists and dark humour.
The Witch (2015)
The most recent entry to our list is The Witch, which premiered in 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival. Its plot revolves around a motif just as timeless as the enduringly popular genres of werewolf and zombie films: the witch. The story follows a family’s struggle to instill a sense of devout Christianity into their children even in the midst of mysterious circumstances and rising fears of dark forces. Packed full of symbolism and genuinely terrifying twists, The Witch is an excellent addition to the genre and quickly took its place as a classic within it.
Fans of horror that revolves around human nature combined with startlingly supernatural occurrences will find much to love in The Witch.
Black Christmas (1974)
Perhaps the most conventional slasher film in our list, Black Christmas embraces its simple plot and is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. The story centers on a group of sorority sisters who receive increasingly strange and disturbing phone calls that culminate in a deranged killer stalking and attacking them during the holiday season.
Black Christmas is one of the earliest slasher films and influenced John Carpenter’s Halloween, which was released four years after it debuted. It does not necessarily add anything revolutionary to the mix, but then again, it does not need to. The movie is fun to watch and has rightfully garnered a cult following among fans of the genre.
The Brood (1979)
This David Cronenberg title deserves a place beside Children of the Corn as a masterpiece of the scary-children genre. The Brood follows along a group of kids with a penchant for murder and offers plenty of unexpected moments and enjoyably strange twists. The backbone of the plot revolves around a woman receiving unconventional psychiatric care from a mysterious ‘institute’ that seems rather suspicious upon modern viewing. It also weaves in her five-year-old daughter’s plight as she struggles against a group of demons.
The Brood might not be quite as much fun as your favourite online games, but it is an excellent horror film for fans of body horror and psychological horror.
The Changeling (1980)
You knew that it was coming, right? The Changeling has long been heralded as one of the most iconic and chilling horror movies of all time, and for good reason. This terrifying tale initially revolves around the classic ‘haunted house’ trope, but quickly devolves into something much more sinister. John Russell moves into an old mansion following the deaths of his daughter and wife and uncovers a decades-old mystery that features supernatural beings, human monsters and historic societies determined to maintain the status quo at any cost.
The Changeling is a difficult film to sum up because its horror really must be seen for the full effect. It is an excellent horror movie with plenty of scares to keep even the pickiest horror fan engaged.
Are you ready for Halloween 2021? Our film list has something for everyone and is sure to make your night a creepy one.