It’s almost that time of the year when things slow down in nature—it's darker, colder, and everything is going underground. We tell ourselves that we’ll take time to relax, we won't overwork ourselves, and we'll do our best not to overdo it on exhausting social obligations.
If and when that downtime ever comes, it’s a great moment to unwind with horror (everybody knows it's the most relaxing film genre) we aim to binge old favorites and new movies that we haven’t got around to yet. Sometimes these films even help us get into the spirit of the holidays.
They don’t necessarily need to be festive either! While of course there are perennial seasonal favorites like Black Christmas, Gremlins, and even Krampus, there are also plenty of films that capture the essence of this season without actually being about Christmas.
We rounded up some films that’ll help you slow down and enjoy the wintry months.
All Through the House
It’s exactly what it sounds like. All Through the House is a slasher about a serial killer that goes around dressed as Santa Claus, causing terror during the holidays. Viewers are introduced to a university student named Rachel who is invited by a mysterious hermit Mrs. Garrett while visiting family for the holidays. The killer begins its reign of terror and soon Rachel finds herself right in the center of it all, complete with a shocking truth that changes everything. It’s a fun one, particularly for those who don’t want a film to take itself too seriously.
I Trapped the Devil
Similarly to All Through the House, I Trapped the Devil unfolds during Christmas. Matt and Karen visit his brother Steve, only to discover that he’s living under slightly creepy, strange conditions. Kind of like The Sixth Sense, Steve reveals that he suffers from visions of the dead—particularly those of his wife Sarah. He also receives mysterious phone calls that wreak havoc on his sanity. As the title suggests, Steve has trapped a man in his basement who he believes is the devil. Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie without suspicion and a series of twists. I Trapped the Devil is worth it for the fun devil premise alone.
Fear Street Trilogy
Now for one (actually a series of films) that isn’t actually based around the holidays.
Fear Street taps into the spirit of it though, and perhaps it’s due to the way it was shot—in 1994, 1978, and 1666 respectively—or that it’s based on the nostalgic series by R.L. Stine that many of us that grew up with in the 90s (and even received volumes of for Christmas). Whatever the reason, this trilogy makes for great viewing—especially when binged. About a curse that extends across a cast of memorable characters as they attempt to undo it at all costs, Fear Street is brimming with horror tropes—and better yet, it treats them right.
The Advent Calendar
File this one under high concept. In the vein of films like Happy Death Day and Ouija, The Advent Calendar uses the eponymously named device—often viewed as a source of positivity and rejuvenation—and turns it into a wild ride full of scares and unbelievable frights.
Eva is gifted an advent calendar for her birthday by her friend Sophie. Instead of it being the usual treats you get upon opening each chamber, she instead is given increasingly fearful frights that eventually threaten her own existence. It’s a premise that could easily fall flat but, thankfully, it nails the landing!
There’s just something about a cabin in the woods. Scare Me doesn’t happen during the holidays, but it’s a situation that many of us find ourselves in during the holidays—especially when snowed in and perhaps without any electricity.
That’s precisely what happens to both Fred and Fanny, the former an aspiring writer and the latter a bestselling one. They have the same idea; go write in a cabin in the woods. Things turn south when the power goes out and they decide to tell each other scary stories. They egg each other on until the tales become more and more severe, and things start to get, well, a little nuts. It’s a fun one to watch with a fire going.
We’ve all had this fear. You’re stranded in the middle of nowhere with potential danger in sight. A few coworkers are at a holiday party. On the way home, they end up stuck in an ATM with a killer keeping watch. The only thing that protects them is that lock and the bulletproof glass. Worse, they can see the menacing man watching them. ATM is pure anxiety and will likely make it so that you never ever use an ATM at night ever again.
No Exit takes place during the height of a blizzard. Darby is recovering drug addict who sneaks out of rehab to visit her mom in the hospital after she suffers from an aneurysm. Unfortunately, she doesn’t make it to the hospital, becoming stranded at a visitor’s center after the road is shut down due to a blizzard. She quickly finds out that the people also stranded with her are in the midst of a kidnapping. Once she finds out, it’s a little too late just to back away. No Exit has all the makings of a thriller aimed to keep viewers guessing.
Ready or Not
The thing about the holidays is often times you have to interact with family members that you’ve never gotten along with. Ready or Not takes place on the height of Grace’s wedding. Her husband Daniel’s family is… unique to say the least. They come from money, their riches made from the Le Domas Family Games empire. One of their rituals is to play a game of hide and seek, one that gets increasingly morbid as the hours pass. Grace doesn’t know what she’s getting into, much like the viewers. Once the body count increases, you’ll be too busy trying to be one step ahead of the film to make sense of Daniel’s crazy family.