– By Matthew Sawczyn –
If you’re a horror junkie or lover of supernatural stories, October must be your hayday: blustering weather, leafless trees, dark dusks… So if you’re staying in tonight and are in the mood for something scary and substantial, here are seven Halloween movies with strong spiritual themes!
A beautiful, soaring reflection on themes of the spiritual life, in a gorgeously animated feature crafted for adults and children alike. In the depth and wisdom characteristic of Studio Ghibli, this Academy Award winner touches on the bold themes of loss, dread, and the reality of death, all while telling a deeply moving story full of heart.
Nothing short of magical, Spirited Away will add whimsy and enchantment to your Halloween season.
The Exorcist (1973) & The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
It isn’t really a Halloween movie list without some exorcism. Two incredible portrayals of the very real horror of demonic possession, and the light that ultimately overcomes it. Known for their twisted imagery and scares, at their heart these movies are about the power of faith, family, and the lengths we will go to save those we love. In the end, there is a God who is stronger than even the most terrifying of horrors.
We really can’t talk about Halloween without highlighting this Disney-Pixar masterpiece! Shining with vibrant, breathtaking colors and full of life (pun intended), Coco portrays the power of family, and the rich reminder that those we love never truly leave us. With fun songs and poignant characters, this award-winning animation shows us the music in our everyday.
A Quiet Place (2018)
One of the most moving meditations on parenthood in years, A Quiet Place features near mind-breaking tension, as one family attempts to live a wholesome life in a ravaged, dangerous world. A modern horror classic that is equal parts terror, and familial love, A Quiet Place will have you on the edge of your seat at its start and tearing up by its end.
The Others (2001)
Continuing with the themes of parenting, this lesser known character piece transports us to the end of World War I, as the distressed Nicole Kidman waits with her two sick children for the return of their father from the war. The children have xeroderma pigmentosum, and are therefore extremely sensitive to sunlight, meaning the curtains are forever closed, and the entire Victorian style house is draped in darkness (an instant setup for that horror feeling). Smart, scary, and boasting one of the most satisfying endings ever, The Others showcases the strength of a mother who fights to protect her children, even against forces she doesn’t comprehend.
The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Does this film even need a description? Wretched Ringwraiths, terrible trolls, and ugly Uruk-hai populate Peter Jackson’s magnificent interpretation of the Tolkien classic, where the forces of good battle with the Dark Lord Sauron for the future fate of all Middle Earth. Eerie imagery and fantastical creatures make this epic by the Catholic author a fitting feature for a spooky October night, much more than the next two entries in the trilogy. Travel with Frodo as he and his friends elude dark horsemen and sneering orcs, and set forth on the adventure of a lifetime.
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How do you feel about this list? What Halloween movie do you enjoy watching this time of year?
About the Author
Matthew Sawczyn is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, and alumni of JPCatholic (MBA in Film Producing – Class of 2017). He loves hiking, HBO, and cuddly cats.
For more articles by Matthew, click here.