With Halloween just around the corner, many will be sitting at the TV for a nice night of blood and guts. But some of us don’t get pleasure from human pain and suffering; some of us are frightened easily and would prefer a cozy night in for All Hallow’s Eve.
This is a short selection of festive films, curated for those less horror-inclined. They vary in scariness but are all firmly in the not-so-scary camp. Grab your apple cider and pumpkin spice candles and settle in for a night with one or more of these spooky, but not-so-scary films.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
The classic stop-motion films follow a bumbling inventor, Wallace, and his much smarter dog, Gromit, on a slew of adventures. In “Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” the lovable Wallace and Gromit are pest control agents. They defend their neighbors’ gardens from hungry rabbits as they prepare for the annual large vegetable competition. When Wallace experiments with rabbit brainwashing, he accidentally creates a monster set on eating all the vegetables in town.
The film is pure fun with plenty of laughs, and it cements Wallace and Gromit as two of the most delightful animated characters ever created. With the impressive stop-motion animation Aardman Animations is known for, “Curse of the Were-Rabbit” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. If you’re a fan of anything Aardman or just looking for a good time, it’s a must watch.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is about a young witch who leaves home with her sarcastic black cat to make her own life in a new city. She stumbles into the delivery business and uses her flying broomstick to serve the city. In her own small ways, she helps ordinary people in their everyday lives, making new friends along the way.
“Kiki” is a quiet film, a real slice of life, but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. Studio Ghibli are masters of stillness, and in “Kiki,” this stillness, coupled with a beautiful score, leads to deep profundity. It speaks to burnout, inspiration and failure in a true coming-of-age story that, despite its fantastical premise, feels more authentic than most.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
In “An American Werewolf in London,” two young Americans, David and Jack, backpack through England when they are attacked by a werewolf, killing Jack. David wakes up in a London hospital and is soon haunted by Jack as the next full moon approaches, all the while falling in love with an English nurse.
“An American Werewolf” is a landmark of the horror-comedy genre. Though there is a bit of blood and gore, it is first and foremost a comedy with horror elements sprinkled in. It’s most famous for its classic practical effects, which are fantastically vintage, but it has some truly funny moments as well. A product of its time, but definitely still worth a watch.
Attack the Block (2011)
Fireworks explode over South London as a young nurse gets mugged by a gang of teenagers. Despite their hostile introduction, the nurse finds it safer with the teens when monstrous aliens fall out of the sky and attack their block (a large apartment building).
Where “An American Werewolf” is a comedy with horror, “Attack the Block” is an action-horror with plenty of comedy. The comedy comes from the characters, which are so authentically realized through a teenage cast with real chemistry and heavy use of South London slang. It’s “Stranger Things” meets “This Is England” with a dash of “Do the Right Thing,” a thoroughly entertaining and artful indie adventure.