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Scary Movies for Teens and 20-Somethings

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illustrations by Gabriella Consuelo

Scream (1996)

If you are just getting into horror, start here. While Scream is still most famous for Ghostface, an easy Halloween costume, and Drew Barrymore, the best “girl who dies before the movie starts,” it is also one of the best slashers in the horror genre. The plot centres on Sidney, who desperately tries to uncover the movie’s killer as she is stalked at home, at school, and throughout town. Scream is influential to the slasher arena, which had fallen on hard times and bad movies, and director Wes Craven perfected the meta-horror genre with the self-aware killers and victims.

Disturbia (2007)

Disturbia (which has no relation to the 2008 Rihanna song) will keep you on the edge of your seat. This thriller follows teenager Kale, who ends up on house arrest for the (somewhat understandable) assault of his teacher. As he watches his neighbourhood from the confines of his house, he begins to suspect one neighbour of being a serial killer. Shimmering with suspense, a strong cast, and a plot that will hold up, it is creepier than many thrillers and deserves a watch this spooky season.

Halloween (1978)

Halloween is a horror classic with truly effective scares, one of the best scores of all time, and phenomenal direction from John Carpenter. Michael Myers, the iconic boogeyman, can be seen hiding behind a white mask in many scenes, which adds to the suspense you feel for the main character, teenager Laurie Strode.

Jamie Lee Curtis (who plays Laurie Strode) is one of the most prominent names in horror, thanks to Halloween, and she has reprised her role many times. The latest planned installment of this film is Halloween Ends, out in theatres October 14.

Goosebumps (2015)

If you grew up reading Goosebumps, you would appreciate this horror comedy where two teenage boys accidentally release the monsters from some of R. L. Stine’s famous books into their unsuspecting town. Starring three teens and Jack Black as R. L. Stein, you can enjoy the goofy jump-scares and the heartfelt story. Goosebumps is probably your safest bet if you are not a horror fan but still want to watch a fun, spooky movie this season.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Based on Alvin Schwartz’s chilling tales, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark establishes itself as a classic horror film. Set in the late 60s, it has an aesthetically pleasing Halloween vibe and is excellent for more squeamish horror fans as it has plenty of scares without being bloody. As a movie filled with multiple scary stories, it has fantastic flow and a cast of young teens to whom you’ll become attached. Chances are you’ll beg for a sequel.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

A shockingly low-budget film that helped showcase an entire new supernatural horror genre, Paranormal Activity is a “found-footage film” that presents spine-chilling horror while staying in one house. The movie is filmed by a young couple haunted by something that has followed one of them, the frightened Katie, for more than a decade. Her boyfriend Micah decides to try and catch the haunting on film, which helps viewers feel like they are observing a real couple go through terrifying moments. Paranormal Activity is the first of seven released films, so prepare for a marathon!

Happy Death Day (2017)

This Groundhog Day-type comedy thriller follows sorority girl Theresa who lives the worst birthday over and over, with iterations of her getting slaughtered by the same baby-head-wearing monster. While Theresa tries to unmask who is killing her, you will see her grow into a better person. The plot is fast-paced, funny, and a bit clichéd, but it will entertain you nonetheless.

Others to Watch:
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Hocus Pocus (1993)
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
The Conjuring/Annabelle movies (2013-2021)

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