The big stories for horror fans this October are obviously the Halloween sequel and the Suspiria remake. (Didn’t you hear? Sequels are good now.) But Vulture has some great news for you: In addition to those legacy titles coming soon to a theater near you, two of the best, scariest movies you’ll see all year have just made their American debuts via video on demand.
First up, there’s Satan’s Slaves, an Indonesian occult thriller from writer and director Joko Anwar. A sort-of remake, sort-of prequel to the 1980 film of the same name, Slaves centers on a family that is mourning the recent loss of their mother, who was once a famous singer but fell out of the public eye during a years-long illness that drained her family of their financial resources. But Mother’s passing is just the start of the story — her death catalyzes an escalating series of horrors and tragedies that forces her family to confront dark secrets about her past.
If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like Hereditary, it is! But since Slaves actually debuted in Indonesia last year, we have to give credit where it’s due and say that Hereditary is kind of like an American Satan’s Slaves, and not the other way around. In terms of audience attendance, Slaves was the biggest local release at the Indonesian box office last year, and it went on to become one of the highest-earning domestically produced films in the country’s history. Since that time it’s been racking up strong reviews at film festivals across the world, and the horror-specific streaming service Shudder picked up exclusive distribution rights. It’s beautifully shot, bound together with a great family drama, and filled with frights both atmospheric and jump-inducing. And for those sensitive to the long-haired ghost archetype in the style of Ju-On’s Kayako Saeki, this one should really push your buttons.
Also arriving on Shudder this week is Terrified, an Argentinian tale of domestic disturbance from writer and director Demián Rugna. This movie is quite simply excellent, and if Satan’s Slaves evokes Hereditary trauma for American audiences, then Terrified is like if you combined the scare-power and style of the first Conjuring with the dimension-hopping ghouls of James Wan’s other ghost franchise, Insidious. Except the interlopers into our mortal realm in Terrified aren’t red-faced men or sad-looking humans with sunken eyes — they’re grotesque perversions of what bodies should be, and even if you don’t see them often throughout the movie they bring the chills whenever they appear.
Rugna’s film recently won best horror feature at the American genre Mecca that is Fantastic Fest, and there are a few set-piece scares that will have you reexamining any mysterious knocking sounds you hear around your house, and what might be lurking under your bed when the lights go out.