With a quarantine-o-ween well and truly on the cards this year, we’ve pulled together a few ideas on how to get your Halloween on at home and enjoy some socially distanced spookiness.
There is something for everyone on the list from a horror movie marathon, to online immersive experiences and even “ghosting”, but not in the way you might think I mean.
There are activities you can do on your own if you’re brave enough or even grab some friends, this is how the NJI team will be making the most of the Halloween season.
Some of us may have our own halloween traditions, mine for example is to try to watch 31 horror films in October. Classics which i watch every year, like The Thing and Texas Chainsaw mixed up with some more recent offerings. But if i was to recommend a film for this October it would be HOST.
Host was written and filmed during quarantine, and you know the zoom meetings we all love. Well, that’s the format of the film. A group of friends have a zoom hang out and decide to take part in a seance, i won’t give too much away but let’s just say someone else joins the meeting.
Host is available on shudder, which is a horror subscription service so there’s plenty of films and documentaries to treat yourself with. Check out The Cursed films series, Scare Me and The Mortuary Collection whilst you’re there too.
Are you sitting comfortably?
My love of storytelling, especially the macabre and the strange has been around since I was younger, the Point Horror series and R. L.Stine most definitely helped me be the bookworm I am today, and because of them, I’ve been coming up with ghost stories since I was little.
As someone who aspires to be a writer of these sorts of stories, it wouldn’t be right for me to not share some of my favourites with you. People instantly think of writers like Stephen King, Clive Barker and Dean Kootz (who again were the authors I grew up with) but trust me, there’s so much more contemporary horror out there if you know where to start and chances are you may have watched their stories re-told recently in shows like Monsterland, The Haunting of Hill House and Lovecraft Country.
Have you ever had a book pull you in so deeply, you remember exactly where you were that in that moment? The Fisherman was that book for me. I’m a bit of a jaded reader, I absorb a lot of the horror genre (in all it’s forms) so for something to boldly insert itself into my must-read list, is pretty something. Now, Cosmic Horror is an odd one and not an easy sell to a casual reader. It’s not all tentacle faced monsters and old gods (cheers Lovecraft), to me it’s that deep, old unknown. Something that exists before us and resonates in the ground around us. It’s the truest sense of the word supernatural. This book is that and more. It’s about loss, grief, love and the dark folklore that entices our two protagonists out in a search for something to help them feel whole again.
I am a complete sucker for anthologies. How else do you get a taste for sub-genres and writers you have never heard of before. The Dreaming Isle, well I might be biased here but England has a wealth of history and cultures and with that comes the folk tales and legends. Every family even has their own haunting in one way or another and we love any excuse to tell them over a pint in an old pub on the moors. The dreaming isle is a mix of folk tales, ghost stories and other uncanny fiction about our green and pleasant isle. There will be a story here for you, I promise.
Had to give credit where credit is due here. Mary Shelley, is a bit of a hero of mine when it comes to storytelling and just her general attitude. Frankenstein came about after a dreary holiday away with friends, they sat around the fireplace and told each other a story. As well as Frankenstein, another modern horror character was created during this weekend. The Vampyre. Can you imagine having a weekend so productive?
Frankenstein is probably the first book I read as a teenager where I realised the bad guy isn’t the bad guy. You have empathy for the monster, this empty lonely creation and this book makes you consider life and the lengths you would go to for immortality. If not for your self but by creation and legacy. If it’s something you were forced to read at school, I’d consider a revisit as you might find something in it now you missed when younger.
Lifting the veil
If you have less time on your hands and still want to to curl up in the dark and get lost in a story, a podcast is probably more for you.
Autumn is the perfect time to sit around a campfire and share ghost stories but for now, tune into Jim Harold’s campfire. Taking inspiration from those Coast to Coast AM late-night calls, listeners speak to Jim and recount their personal experiences of unexplainable events, creepy happenings and “head-scratchers”. You can find his podcast on all the usual platforms.
Shadows at the door is a podcast full of pleasing terrors. Drawing on the haunted landscapes of classic folk horror, the podcast lifts the veil on some of your favourite ghost stories and presents new fables throughout a series of macabre audio dramas. They also discuss the cultural aspect of the ghost story and what makes it such a favourite today. You’ll also get classics from authors such as Charles Dickens and M R James, who wrote ‘The turn of the screw” which has just been reimagined for Netflix’s new show The Haunting of Bly Manor.
This one is for yourself and a group of friends. Plymouth point is an immersive theatrical thriller you can take part in from home. The experience is all over zoom and can have up to five people take part. A local girl has gone missing under mysterious circumstances and it’s up to you and your friends to join the search and unravel the mystery.
Darkfield radio is something born from lockdown too and has made their experiences all virtual. They deliver immersive audio experiences to people in their own home through simply downloading the app.
The experiences are broadcast at certain times during the day. All you need is headphones, your phone and a kitchen table. Double plays on perspective and explores the psychological condition where the sufferer is convinced that a loved one has been replaced by a replica. Double is 20 minutes long, for two people, and there is only one rule, Everyone has to be who they say they are. So choose wisely who you play with here.
Did you ghost me?
No, not that way…Ghosting is an old tradition which is actually about giving and being kind to your neighbours and friends.
It’s a sweet way of telling people you’re thinking of them now the nights are drawing in even closer. Simply put together a little goody bag and leave it on their doorstep, unannounced and with a note.
Think of it as Valentine’s day for ghosts.
And finally everyone knows you have to say goodbye before you close the circle right?
So here’s hoping that there’s something in the list that will help you celebrate halloween in a spooky yet socially distanced way this year.