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Monday, August 10, 2020

Stay Home, Watch Horror: 5 Haunted Horror Movies to Stream This Week

The haunted house is a staple of horror for a good reason. Not much is more inherently terrifying than spaces meant to provide security, comfort, or healing being invaded by an unseen, malevolent presence. The often mysterious and intangible nature of the supernatural means fighting them off isn’t as clear cut as staking a vampire in the heart or shooting a werewolf with a silver bullet. Supposing they can be fought at all. Sometimes the only thing the haunted can do is flee. As Shudder’s Host recently demonstrated, leaving isn’t always an option.

This week’s streaming picks belong to haunted habitations. If you need a chill in the peak summer heat, a familiar comfort watch, or something a little under the radar, these five haunted horror movies offer something for all tastes. As always, they’re all available to stream now.

The Awakening – Kanopy, Shudder

Set in 1921, Rebecca Hall stars as paranormal debunker Florence Cathcart. She accepts an invitation from war vet Robert Mallory (Dominic West) to stay at the boarding school where he teaches, to determine if the place is indeed haunted. The more she encounters strange phenomena, the more her skepticism gets shaken. The realization that the hauntings exist comes with frightening reveals about Florence’s past. The Awakening bears a stronger resemblance to The Devil’s Backbone than The Others, in terms of period supernatural movies. There are genuine paranormal frights, but there’s more than meets the eye to this spectral tale.

Fragile – Prime Video, Vudu

Two years before [Rec] made international waves, Jauma Balagueró co-wrote and directed a small Spanish-British chiller set in a closing hospital. Calista Flockhart stars as Amy Nicholls, a new nurse that takes over the night shift at the children’s ward in a hospital scheduled to close. It’s mostly abandoned, and the patients that are left are stuck in a holding pattern until nearby hospitals free up space. That’s bad news for Amy and her young patients, who are tormented and attacked by a ghostly presence that doesn’t want them to leave. There’s an underlying fairy-tale sweetness to this ghost story, mainly as Amy bonds with young orphan Maggie, but Balagueró also brings the scares. 

Insidious – Netflix

Before The Conjuring, James Wan helmed this Leigh Whannell-scripted haunted house story that introduced the unnerving world of “The Further.” The Lambert family has barely moved into their new home when tragedy strikes. Their son Dalton suffers a fright induced fall, and soon after slips into a coma. Shortly after, their home becomes inundated with unnerving paranormal activity. They call in paranormal experts to help save their son. Instead of the traditional haunted house, it’s a person that’s haunted here, and the introduction of astral projection gives a refreshing twist to the subgenre. It’s not just the mythos and creepy look of The Further’s inhabitants that make Insidious so memorable, but plucky heroine Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye).

Paranormal Activity 3 – Hulu, Prime Video

This prequel easily marks a series high point in the Paranormal Activity franchise. Set in 1988, the film follows Katie and Kristi when they were children. When their mother’s boyfriend Dennis notices a strange anomaly on a tape he attempted to make, he decides to rig the house with cameras. Of course, the paranormal activity ramps up at a steady pace, until it explodes in haunting violence. Paranormal Activity 3 chronicles the origins of the sisters’ bond with the demonic Tobi, and the series’ third outing still manages to create innovative new scares. Like the oscillating camera, creating one of most goosebumps-inducing scares of the franchise. Tobi’s mythology and his connection to the girls are expanded in thrilling ways, and it’s refreshing that Dennis marks the first male protagonist of the series to be a genuinely nice guy. I’m looking at you, Micah and Daniel.

We Are Still Here – Prime Video

Following the death of their only son, Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) decide to move to snowy, rural New England. Paul is hoping the change will shake Anne from her deep depression. Instead, Anne becomes convinced Bobby’s spirit inhabits the house. The truth is far more horrific; the house is cursed to awaken every thirty years and demand a sacrifice. Set in 1979, writer/director Ted Geoghegan creates a massive love letter to Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery that permeates just about every detail of this moody haunter. Right down the insanely bloody finish. If standard haunted house movies aren’t for you, try this on for size. For puzzle solvers and Easter egg hunters, read through the house’s history in the end credits. 


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