Credit: Public Domain

Non-horror film & television for Halloween

By Leah Hart

Not a fan of jumpscares and poltergeists? These autumnal tv shows and movies have you covered.

Trick or Treat? Treat yourself to the time of year promised to under-the-covers curling of toes and arm stretching yawns, chilling our noses and our hearts with tales of the gothic and the cursed. But for the scaredy-cats, here’s a curated list of non-horror film and TV for this Halloween season.

Taking place in the most perfect of houses, a colonial style Victorian Second Empire with a porch, astronomy tower and a breathtaking cliff-side location, the witches of Practical Magic have hit the inheritance jackpot. Of course, excluding the death curse on all their lovers. Set to the magical music of Steve Nicks, this movie explores small town superstition and love between sisters. At least watch it for the house that Barbara Streisand tried to buy.

A modern adaptation of the peculiar and gothic detective stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, BBC’s Sherlock takes you through the dark streets of London, every episode a new puzzle to solve. Deeply atmospheric and kind of creepy, this show is so bingeable after a long day of walking around the rainy streets of Glasgow in the darker months. Thrilling but not quite scary, Knives Out and How To Get Away With Murder are also great mysteries that warrant several rewatches for their compelling characters and killer plotlines. Very different in tone, Knives Out is more whimsical than the chilling atmosphere of How To Get Away With Murder, but both retellings of Cluedo are always welcome to hot chocolate with me. So is the psychological thriller Black Swan, portraying the cut-throat competition of professional ballet, starring a convincingly naive Natalie Portman who slowly loses her grip on sanity. There’s also a little bit of gay in there, FYI. 

I also recommend the recent release They Cloned Tyrone, a sci-fi mystery following a Scooby-Doo crew consisting of tough-as-nails dough-boy Fontaine, loveable sex worker and dreamer Yo-Yo along with the voice-of-reason pimp Slick. This unlikely team of felons embark on their very own Nancy Drew case in a sweet mix of tension, comedy and soul tunes.

The essence of Autumn, I’m sure you’ll know the pumpkin-speckled town of Gilmore Girls as the ruler of this list, but in the vein of academically focused shows, I recommend kicking off the school year with the shows Fresh Meat and The Sex Lives of College Girls. Both set in college, these shows are very relatable and full of first-year awkwardness you can be happy to forget.

Gone too soon, creative genius Nora Ephron was behind the trifecta of cosy Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks rom-coms that includes When Harry Met Sally. Maybe it’s Central Park, maybe she’s born with it, but there’s just something so autumnal about New York City cinema.

The movie Kal Ho Naa Ho stands out in Bollywood with its individualist urban New York setting, in contrast to the usual warm vivid colours of semi-pastoral Indian cinema. A love story between three friends, the film traces their changing relationships in time with the seasons. Starring the legendary Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta as the uptight Austenesque heroine, tissues are an essential accessory to this movie. If you feel like staying in and getting existential, Groundhog Day lets the viewer come to terms with the fact that they can’t and shouldn’t wish for unlimited time to do and learn everything, because then you get sad and lonely. Bill Murray in this movie is a mood.

Despite the title, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is not a horror movie, but a gothic lover movie, staging the spooky meeting between the quintessential heterosexual American couple and vampire-coded queerness.

And for my final trick, I shall disappear…


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