Your Field Guide to This Year's Horror Movies

As summer turns into fall, multiplexes shift gears from summer blockbusters to awards-baiting prestige movies. But there’s one delightful blip in the transition: the month of October, when we get a bunch of junky horror flicks thrown into the mix for Halloween.

I happen to love them, but I fully understand that not everyone is going to go out of their way to check out all of the slayings and gore. So, which of this year’s Halloween horrors is right for you? Consult the field guide below.

Let Me In
Halloween Element: A vampire
The Deal: Cloverfield director Matt Reeves remakes the recent, super-acclaimed Swedish film, Let the Right One In. The slow-burning movie is about a bullied boy who makes a new friend—who isn’t exactly a normal, happy-go-lucky, human kid. This story about young vampires is far more brutal and heartbreaking than anything in the Twilight series. (Note: If you’re interested in the original, the Irvington Town Hall Theater is planning a screening on Halloween.)
The Buzz: While Let Me In also received favorable reviews from critics, earning a 79/100 on the Metacritic scale, audiences have mostly ignored it, and it’s earned only a little more than $11 million so far. If you want to see it in theaters, you’d better hurry up—it’s rapidly disappearing.

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Halloween Element: Aliens (bet you thought I was going to say monsters, didn’t you?)
The Deal: In the world of this film, aliens have set up shop in Mexico, causing the U.S. to throw up its hands and declare the country a quarantine zone. An American journalist travels into this infected area to find a missing girl and bring her home.
The Buzz: This small movie doesn’t come out until Friday, so it’s light on reviews, but its mini-budget and impressive special effects have invited comparisons to last year’s charmer, District 9.

My Soul to Take
Halloween Element: Vengeful serial killer
The Deal: A Nightmare on Elm Street creator Wes Craven returns to his favorite well for another movie where a spurned serial killer returns to his hometown to menace local children. And, because this is 2010, it all goes down in 3D.
The Buzz: …is not very good. The movie only earned a paltry 25/100 metascore and only made about $14 million at the box office so far. Unless you have a burning desire for these small-town slasher stories, your 3D dollars are probably better spent on Jackass. Just hope that Wes Craven is back on his game for Scream 4 in April.

Paranormal Activity 2
Halloween Element: Demons
The Deal: The ultra-low-budget Paranormal Activity bested the waning Saw franchise last Halloween, so the creators have returned for Round II. The basic setup is the same: the movie operates on a “found footage” conceit, with most of the shots coming from supposed home-security cameras as a family is haunted by things that go bump in the night.
The Buzz: Even though the film is essentially the same as the first one and it comes with middling critical reviews (53/100 on Metacritic), horror fans are flocking. According to Box Office Mojo, the film delivered the highest-grossing opening weekend ever for a supernatural horror movie. Saw has its work cut out for it.

Saw 3D
Halloween Element: Jigsaw
The Deal: Since this is the seventh film in the franchise, Saw fans know the deal by now: Jigsaw and his minions set fatal traps for people (now in three dimensions!) This time, survivors are banding together to put an end to this whole Jigsaw mess once and for all—this is being billed as the final film in the series. (I have my doubts.)
The Buzz: The studio behind Saw doesn’t screen these films for critics—because it doesn’t’ have to. By now, people know if they’re on board for the next Saw film or not.

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Paranormal Activity photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Saw 3D photo credit: Brooke Palmer

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