31 for 31 (not to be confused with ESPN’s 30 for 30 movie series, which I totally didn’t rip off) is a series of articles where I cover a different horror movie for each day in October. A few years back I tried something similar to this feature where I attempted to watch and review a movie every day throughout the month of October. That idea quickly ran out steam as I couldn’t keep up with the task, so this year I’ve decided to try something a little different. This time around, I’m still planning on covering 31 different movies, but it will be broken down into four parts that will go up about once a week throughout the month.
I’m also not trying to break down each of these movies or write in-depth reviews. Instead this is just going to be a more laid back series of articles. I’ll still give you my final score for each movie (because people love scores), but think of this more like a blog. So with all that out of the way, hopefully I can help guide you towards something worth watching during my favorite time of the year.
2013 | R | 1h 52m
Based on one of the real-life cases of famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring tells the story of a Rhode Island family that is being tormented by what appears to be a demonic force. I’m normally not a fan of possession/exorcism movies (I think The Exorcist is one of the most overrated movies ever made), but when I watched The Conjuring back in 2013 I loved it. I have to say, after watching it again for this article, it definitely holds up. Even though I’d already seen it and was watching it in the middle of the day there were still parts that creeped me out and had me on edge. It’s the perfect combination of psychological and jump scares and also features some pretty decent acting. It’s honestly one of the best horror films I’ve seen in the last decade and I think everyone should watch it.
The Conjuring 2
2016 | R | 2h 14m
The Conjuring 2 takes things across the pond to England where another family is being tormented by a demonic force and is based on the real-life Enfield haunting. The first half of the movie is about on par with its predecessor, as it creates a palpable tension and is genuinely frightening. Unfortunately, as the film progresses it starts to go a bit off the rails. Most of the scare tactics were used up in the beginning, so repeated scares had little affect. I mean, you can only be scared by something suddenly appearing on screen accompanied by a loud noise so many times before it gets played out. There were also times where the film just felt downright campy, which I normally don’t mind, but it felt out of place in this particular movie. All that said, The Conjuring 2 still tells an interesting story and is better than most other horror films from recent years. It’s good and deserves a watch, but It does fall short of living up to the original.
2016 | R | 1h 28m
Three thieves, each with their own motives, decide to break into the home of a blind veteran in hopes of nabbing an easy $300,000. That’s the simple premise behind Don’t Breathe, but when the blind man turns the tables on the would-be thieves and they end up trapped in his home, simplicity goes out the window. I wouldn’t say it’s a groundbreaking moment for the genre, but with a few twists and a lot of tension, Don’t Breathe is a damn solid film and one I’d highly recommend checking out.
2016 | PG-13 | 2h 14m
The original Ghostbusters is one of my favorite movies, but unlike many other “fans” I was actually looking forward to the Ghostbusters reboot from last year. Unfortunately, all the whiny little internet trolls got their wish and said reboot turned out to be pretty bad. The pacing is atrocious and the writing is even worse. I have zero problems with the cast. In fact I like each member of the Ghostbusters team quite a bit. It’s just a shame that the writing is so terrible that none of them could actually shine. I did feel that, if written properly, these characters could have been the perfect collection of new Ghostbusters. There were some small glimmers of hope like the variety of new weapons and gadgets at the busters’ disposal, as well as the talented cast, that I know a possible sequel could be great. I guess we will have to see if it ever manifests though. Until then, I think it’s best to just forget this particular entry even exists.
2014 | R | 1h 47m
Until I watched It Follows, it seemed like a film that people either loved or hated. I guess I bucked that trend because I fell somewhere in the middle and thought it was just okay. The premise is basically that characters are pursued by some sort of supernatural entity and the only way to free themselves from its pursuit it to pass it on to someone else through sexual intercourse. There were some genuinely creepy and disturbing moments, but there were also plenty of moments that just fell flat thanks to sub par acting. If I had to point to one thing that I found particularly great, it would be the soundtrack which was done by Disasterpiece, who worked on the games Fez and Hyper Light Drifter. If you’re a horror fan, I think It Follows is a movie you should watch at least once, if for nothing more than to see what all the hype is about.
2015 | PG-13 | 1hr 38m
Two things I particularly enjoy in the horror genre are movies with a Christmas theme and those that integrate comedy. Krampus does both of these nearly perfectly. There’s nothing more unsettling than seeing people being terrorized during what is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year. While it’s not the scariest movie you’ll probably ever see, between homicidal gingerbread men, grotesque children’s toys, and freaky little elves there’s just so much to love about Krampus.
The Midnight After
2014 | NR | 2h 2m
I originally watched The Midnight After on a whim and I’m glad I did because it’s kind of fantastic. Set in Hong Kong, a group of strangers catch a late night ride on a minibus and soon realize they are the only people left in the city. What follows is one wild ride of a movie filled with a ton of bizarre and off-the-wall moments. Some of these moments actually kept me thinking about the film days after I watched it. It really is a movie that has to be seen to best understand and, if you have Netflix, you should definitely give it a shot.
Train to Busan
2016 | NR | 1h 58m
Prior to watching Train to Busan I had heard great things about it and I’m thrilled to say that it did not disappoint. In a genre that has been over saturated by zombies in the last few years, Train to Busan feels like a fresh take. It displays one the most brutal and relentless depictions of zombies I’ve ever seen in a movie and it also features a cast of endearing characters that I actually came to care about. There were also a handful of jaw-dropping moments that I wasn’t expecting to see. I can’t say enough good things about Train to Busan. It’s absolutely a movie that all horror or zombie fans should check out.