October typically casts a rather creepy shadow over the world of cinema. With Halloween rearing its head at the end of the month, scary films and darker material rises to the surface.
There are a few very exciting horror movies on the way this month, from an Aussie ghost story to Harry Potter sprouting some strange cranial appendages. As well as the scares, there are a couple of very worthy biopics that probably mark the informal beginning of awards season and yet another YA franchise opener.
Here are the ten films you should venture to the cinema to see during the course of October.
10. Fury (Oct 22)
War movies are not really my cup of tea, but Fury caught my attention due to the involvement of David Ayer. Ayer is the filmmaker behind the likes of Training Day and the fantastic End of Watch.
Although he misfired this year with Sabotage, he is usually a consistently interesting director. Brad Pitt stars as the seasoned veteran leading a tank crew as part of the Allies’ advance into Nazi Germany.
It could be another bland war movie or Fury could be something special from the mind of Ayer. It’s certainly worth the price of a ticket to find out.
9. Serena (Oct 24)
It ticks a lot of Oscar boxes, from its period setting to its A-list cast. The story follows Cooper and Lawrence as a troubled couple trying to keep their timber empire afloat in Depression-era America.
The cast alone guarantees success of sorts, but it remains to be seen whether Serena will be scooping statuettes next year.
8. Mr Turner (Oct 31)
Timothy Spall picked up the prize for Best Actor at Cannes for his portrayal of British painter J.M.W. Turner in Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner. The film reaches UK cinemas this week as it begins its push towards a space at the Oscars.
Spall’s portrayal of the visionary artist has been more or less universally lauded and Mike Leigh has long been a fixture of great British cinema. Signs are good for Mr Turner, but there’s a chance that it’ll all just be a little too worthy for its own good.
In amongst the noisier fare of the Halloween season, Mr Turner could be a quiet frontrunner.
7. The Book of Life (Oct 24)
This has been a pretty awful year for animation. With the exception of a few films – notably The Boxtrolls – the usual flowing tap of family movies has been fairly dry throughout 2014.
However, if you add Guillermo del Toro to the mix as a producer, then things start to look very different. With a dark feel, The Book of Life combines GdT’s trademark surreal blackness with sight gags and a rich visual style.
Taking in different realms, scheming spirits and a complex love triangle, this could be the surprise hit of the month.
6. Life After Beth (Oct 1)
Since Shaun of the Dead, several attempts at zombie comedies have come and gone. The latest pretender to the Pegg/Wright/Frost crown is Life After Beth, starring surging talent Dane DeHaan as a young lad nursing a bereavement and Aubrey Plaza as the girlfriend he is supposed to be mourning.
The two central cast members are excellent comedy performers, with Plaza especially impressing in Scott Pilgrim vs the World and little-seen indie Safety Not Guaranteed.
In amongst the genuinely dark horror fare this month, Life After Beth could be the light, frothy flick that brings in the date movie crowd.
5. The Maze Runner (Oct 10)
There’s a growing contempt for young adult novel adaptations now, given the ubiquity of subpar fare like the Percy Jackson series and The Mortal Instruments.
However, The Maze Runner looks to be a genuinely interesting and mysterious story. Another franchise kick-off, it depicts a small group of youngsters who find themselves in a field, surrounded by a maze, with no knowledge of how or why they are there.
A young cast, including British talent Will Poulter, looks set to bring real class to the film, which will be hoping to be more like The Hunger Games than the rest of its under-performing genre buddies.
4. Annabelle (Oct 10)
First there was The Conjuring, but before there was Annabelle.
The creepy doll from James Wan’s surprise haunted house chiller is set to get her own spin-off this Halloween. Off the back of one of the scariest horror movie trailers in recent years, Annabelle looks like it has done its best to replicate the things that made Wan’s film so effective.
The doll herself will work as a scary character, regardless of what the film does, but this could be the “cattle prod cinema” surprise of 2014.
3. Horns (Oct 29)
Harry Potter is going very dark indeed as Daniel Radcliffe dons an intimidating pair of forehead protrusions for his lead role in dark thriller Horns.
Radcliffe plays the fantastically named Ignatius Perrish. He is suspected of the rape and murder of his girlfriend (Juno Temple), which is a cause not helped by the growth of a pair of striking horns upon his head.
Horns looks like an exciting and interesting project for its star, with Piranha reboot director Alexandre Aja in the chair. Things are going to get dark.
2. The Babadook (Oct 24)
It’s quite rare that horror movies from outside of either the UK or America make their way to our cinemas. So it’s clear that Australian chiller The Babadook is something very special indeed.
The film follows a mother and son who discover a mysterious storybook, called Mister Babadook, and soon find themselves plagued by the monster within the book. Based on trailers, it’s a film that doesn’t rely on jump scares, focused more on creeping chills.
The Babadook looks like one of the most interesting and effective horror films this country has hosted in years. If you only go to see one horror film this October, The Babadook is the one to go for.
1. Gone Girl (Oct 3)
Gone Girl is the latest film from David Fincher. That alone justifies its number one spot on this list.
Ben Affleck plays husband to Rosamund Pike. When Pike disappears, Affleck is eventually drawn in to the case as a suspect. If you haven’t read the book, then you don’t know very much more because many of the trailers do a great job of keeping the basic plot under wraps.
With Fincher at the helm and a pacy, twisty thriller narrative to work with, the next stop for Gone Girl will almost certainly be the Academy Awards.
Do you agree with my film choices? Which movies will you be trying to see in October, and which ones will you be avoiding like the plague?