Films To Stream In The UK In October 2021

Horror Christian Bale's Face

Stuck on what to stream this Halloween? Unlike other lists, we’re on hand to recommend a variety of films for every mood this month of horror, from tear-jerkers to trailblazers. Here are our picks for the best films to stream in the UK this month.

The Silver Screen Classic

Vampyr (1932) dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer

A disorientating horror experience, Vampyr was the first sound film from the renowned Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer. Met with a mixed reception upon release, it is rightly considered a classic today. Vampyr follows a lone wanderer (Julian West) who discovers a seriously ill girl living in an inn who has been turned into a horrific vampyr. The impressive technical quality of the available film – the original sound prints were lost years ago – shows Dreyer’s commitment to a foreboding, emotionally heavy story. For its time, the film contains some harrowing imagery, all captured with a disconcerting soft shot focus that lends an uncanny, otherworldly edge to the story. It is a demented alternative to the Universal Monsters films of the same period that came to define horror for the next three decades. Compared to Frankenstein or Dracula, Vampyr offers something far more unforgiving.

Available to stream on BFI Player

The Underrated

Hocus Pocus (1993) dir. Kenny Ortega

Why Disney believed that a Halloween-themed film would suit a July theatrical release remains mystifying, and Hocus Pocus was both a commercial and critical bomb when it was released. However, thanks to annual October TV showings and a rediscovered love for its kitsch style and charismatic leading trio, Hocus Pocus has become a cult classic of light-hearted spooky entertainment. When a curious young boy accidently resurrects a trio of villainous witches (an unforgettable Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy), all kinds of diabolical nonsense ensues. Hocus Pocus is simply a lot of fun; the cinematic equivalent of going out trick or treating with your friends as an eight-year-old on the night of Halloween. Colourful, funny, and charming, it is an essential watch of the spooky season. Keep an eye out too for Doug Jones in one of his earliest film roles. Jones is best known for his collaborations with Guillermo del Toro.

Available to stream on Disney+

The Underseen

Satan’s Little Helper (2004) dir. Jeff Lieberman

Dougie, a young boy who loves to play a video game where he helps the Devil commit evil acts, is tricked by a serial killer dressed as Satan. Dougie brings the man home to his family for dinner… with bloody results. Satan’s Little Helper is the most recent film from Jeff Lieberman, best known for Squirm and Blue Sunshine, and has been unfairly forgotten amidst the slew of horror franchises that have sprung up since the turn of the century. Lieberman’s film is gory, intelligent and satirical, not to mention pretty funny at times. It is a textbook example of how to make a scary film without breaking the bank, proof if it was ever needed that big bucks don’t always equal great movies. Capped off by the entertaining lead duo of Amanda Plummer and Katheryn Winnick, Satan’s Little Helper is an uneven but thrilling blood-soaked adventure.

Available to stream on Shudder

The Foreign Language Gem

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) dir. Ana Lily Amirpour

One of the most incredibly original vampire movies in years, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night upends the expectations of its title and leaves you guessing at every turn. Promoted as “the first Iranian vampire Western,” Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature is at once a feminist romance with a bleak stylistic twist and a homage to both spaghetti westerns and horror movies of old. The film follows The Girl (Sheila Vand) as she stalks the residents of Bad City, a place proliferated by death and social isolation. Amirpour transforms the traditional idea of the vampire as a monster, a seducer, and addict into something fitting for this alienating time and place. More interested in atmosphere and style than narrative, the film is both the product of loneliness and a powerful exploration of its effects that, seven years later, still stands proud as a unique entry in the horror genre. 

Available to stream on BFI Player

The Tearjerker

Let The Right One In (2008) dir. Tomas Alfredson

Let The Right One In is a story so brilliant at its core that even the predictably inferior American remake is pretty good (there’s even a TV series coming too). Tomas Alfredson delivers one of the most defining coming of age stories and vampire flicks of modern times. Twelve-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a boy bullied at school and who lives in the suburbs of Stockholm in the 1980s, befriends a mysterious girl called Eli (Lina Leandersson), a vampire dependent on a human assistant to bring her human blood. The sensational design of the film is matched only by the script and phenomenal leading performances, all coming together to make a film that is as much a portrait of adolescent romance as it is an answer to an age-old question; what happens if a vampire enters your home uninvited? The answer is something you will never be able to un-see.

Available to stream on Shudder

The Feel-Good

Anna And The Apocalypse (2018) dir. John McPhail

A Christmas comedy, a zombie horror, and an uplifting musical? Not a combination you might expect to work well. But Anna And The Apocalypse doesn’t miss a beat, and doesn’t sacrifice detailed characterisation for the sake of motoring its somewhat ridiculous plot along. When a zombie apocalypse threatens the lazy town of Little Haven at Christmas, Anna and her school friends need to sing and dance their way back to their loved ones, fighting off hordes of the undead in the process. It is gloriously funny as well as surprisingly moving, containing moments destined to go down in Halloween folklore (the severed head atop the snowman is an especially nice touch). John McPhail’s film is a screwball, bloodthirsty adventure that sits right up there with established zombie comedies like Shaun Of The Dead and Zombieland, managing to outdo both of these illustrious titles for pathos as well as fun.

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

The Trailblazing

Ganja & Hess (1973) dir. Bill Gunn

Spike Lee claims that Bill Gunn is one of the most underappreciated filmmakers of his era, pointing to Ganja & Hess as just one example of his brilliance (a film Lee would later remake himself). At a time where horror was proliferated by blaxploitation movies like Blacula, Ganja & Hess offered something far more nuanced, using vampirism as an analogy for assimilation into American society. After being turned into a vampire, Dr. Hess Green (Duane Jones) falls in love with a widow named Ganja (Marlene Clark), and the pair try to live ordinary lives as creatures of the night. Gunn’s film is a subversive, intelligent vampire story far more interested in thematic depth and relationships than it is on anything resembling a plot, and it is all the better for it. As both an example of strong representation and as a chilling story in its own right, Ganja & Hess is exceptional.

Available to stream on Shudder

The Transgressive

American Psycho (2000) dir. Mary Harron

A defining example of American horror from the last 25 years, American Psycho is the horrifying result of unchecked, fetishistic male aggression saturated in greed and disgust. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a Wall Street suit in the late 1980s who is prone to homicidal thoughts and actions, particularly against women or just anybody who touches a nerve. He is obsessive, judgmental, and grotesquely violent, yet puts up a charade of normality and fits in perfectly amidst his work colleagues. Mary Harron’s protagonist is completely devoid of empathy and obsessed with a purity that (you could argue) even Bateman knows is unattainable. With a masterstroke ending and a demented performance from Bale, American Psycho has not lost any of its power or necessity in the time since its release. As a portrait of fragile, violent masculinity and personal demons beyond comprehension, Harron’s film is as startling as ever. 

Available to stream on Netflix

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Words by James Hanton

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