Pop Culture

Pop Culture: 5 Scary Movies to Watch after Dark

It’s October. The nights are getting longer, the weather is getting colder, and Halloween is getting nearer. I’ll queue up a scarefest any time of the year, but I know there are those out there who just like to keep their scary movie watching to the spirit of the season. That in mind, here’s a few good scary movie suggestions to get you through to the end of the month. All movies are available on Netflix streaming.

Session 9

When anyone asks for scary movie suggestions, Session 9 is my go-to recommendation. It’s creepy, it’s suspenseful, the setting is amazing, and there are a couple of shots in the film that genuinely scared even a jaded old horror fan like me.

The movie follows a crew of asbestos removers contracted to clean out a crumbling state psychiatric facility under an impossibly tight deadline. One of the workers discovers a series of taped interviews with a former patient ““ the 9 sessions of the title ““ that frames the gradual breakdown of the group.  The movie relies heavily on the horror of the building itself and the weight of its history to provide a background uneasiness that never dissipates as the guys move through it. I made the mistake of once telling someone there was no gore in the movie, which for ¾ of the film is entirely true. And then she cursed me out for the last quarter of the film, which gets a bit graphic.

Watch the trailer:


The Exorcist

I had the opportunity to see The Exorcist in the theater when it was re-released a few years ago.  It was a very intense experience, even with the girls in the back row who screamed at the drop of a hat.  Movies like this that rely on the building of tension before the big, broad terrors are revealed are best watched without any distractions ““ no cell phones, no Angry Birds, no Interweb.  Put them away, grab some popcorn, turn off the lights.

In case you haven’t heard of this movie, the plot claims to be the retelling of a real life exorcism of a DC teenager, which certain elements changed to protect people’s identities. In the movie, Reagan, the child of a recently divorced actress mother, begins to act, well, a little strange. A little strange progresses to full-on vomiting, cursing, graphic masturbating, and demon possession in short order. The Catholic Church gets called in to help the teenager.  Given that there are four sequels, you can judge for yourself how effective you think they were. Like almost every series, the first movie is absolutely the best.

Watch the trailer:


Let the Right One In

I previously chatted up the novel version in my post on “Books with Bite.” It’s incredibly rare to be able to recommend not only a book but the movie adaptations made from it as some of the best entries in their respective genres. Let the Right One In is one of those rare movies that was able to distill was unique in the source material and translate it into a new medium.

This is a vampire film. It is not a vampire film you’ve seen before.  There are no Edwards or Angels here.  Oskar is a desperately unhappy 12-year-old who is the victim of vicious bullying at school. When a strange little girl moves into the next door apartment, the two strike up a tentative friendship. Since the strange little girl happens to be a vampire, the movie has its share of blood, but the real draw is the budding romance between the two children, which is both disturbing and creepily authentic.

I personally prefer the original Swedish film, which is what I recommended here, but you can also watch the English language American remake, Let Me In, which is also streaming on Netflix.

Watch the trailer:



Of all the movies on this list, Audition is the most unapologetically gory. It can be very difficult to watch. Deeply unsettling, full of body trauma, I can’t remember a movie I spent more time shuddering through.

Aoyama is a widower freshly back on the dating scene. A producer friend of his sets up a series of fake movie auditions to help Aoyama find a young, beautiful woman to date ““ I appreciated that part of the set up played on the expectation that men deserve young, beautiful women and manipulating them into relationships is complete copacetic ““ which is where he meets Asami, a former dancer with an implied tragic past.  Beautiful and damaged seems to be what attracts Aoyoma and the two begin dating. Since this is a horror movie, I can safely reveal that this does not work out well for him.

Watch the trailer:

House of the Devil

I’m a sucker for devil movies. I think it’s because I’m an ex-Catholic school girl. I hadn’t heard of this movie before it popped up on my Netflix recommended list and one night with nothing else to do, I threw it on.  The movie is a pitch-perfect homage the Satanic-scare films that were so popular in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It is so exacting in not only the clothing and pacing of the movie, but the actual film quality is so dead on that I had to go look up the release date. I was convinced it was an ’80s film I had just never heard of.  (It was actually released in 2009.)

Broke college student Samantha accepts a last minute babysitting gig on the night of a lunar eclipse. Her clients turn out to be an older couple with no baby who need her to keep an eye on the house and their unseen elderly mother. You know. Until the lunar eclipse occurs. While their desperation to keep her in the house is suspicious, they offer her enough money to solve her pending rent problem, and Sam reluctantly takes the job.

Watch the trailer:

By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

8 replies on “Pop Culture: 5 Scary Movies to Watch after Dark”

Yeah! Let the Right One In! Best modern vampire movie ever made in my opinion. Although may I add my voice to say DO NOT see the English version. It’s not as good as the original, and by god, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to get ahold of the real version, so just do it!

We added The House of the Devil to the queue and watched it tonight. Boyfriend really liked it, but I could barely pay attention. To be honest, as someone sensitive to gore and violence, I didn’t think it was THAT gory, but that might say more about the movies I’ve watched during this particular relationship than anything else.

We both loved Let the Right One In, but are skeptical of Let Me In. I didn’t know it was a book first, so I think I might read that as my Halloween book this year.

I, personally, really loved the book. It unfolds, like the movie, really slowly, but it’s a compelling read. There are some logical differences — Eli’s original male helper has a much larger, much more disturbing role in the story. It makes you look at the relationship between Eli and Oskar differently, or at least what she sees in him. And it provides huge amount of background on Eli that slants her identity in the movie. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll say there’s a particular shot of Eli in the movie that didn’t mean very much to my husband, who hadn’t read the book, but meant a lot to me, as someone who had.

As for the gore thing — my tolerance for gore is so skewed after 20 some odd years of movie watching that I try to err on the conservative side when recommending movies to other people. I wasn’t overly bothered by anything in House of the Devil but I know there are people who would. (Now, Audition made me squirm like a mo-fo when watching it.) I’m sorry you didn’t like it!

Hey, my boyfriend liked it, so the recommendation half worked! I really only like light-hearted scary movies, like Trick or Treat and Drag Me to Hell – really cheesy, campy, goofy, etc., except for my obsession with the Paranormal Activity series (October 21!!!!)

Now I am REALLY excited to read Let the Right One In. It was weird, about I didn’t think of the movie as scary, which is weird because everything is scary to me. I think I got so invested in the story I thought I was supposed to be scared!

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