Alright, my first two were classic armchair squeezers, the kind you went to the outdoor with your girl in the 70's and by the 25 minute point, she was in your lap. Now I'm getting a little serious. A horror movie with intelligence, way above average acting, and a heavy-assed tone.
During the civil war a group of former confederate soldiers, an ex-slave, and a nurse pull off a robbery gone-wrong and hole up in what appears to be a gigantic abandoned plantation. Uninhabited, except by demonic after effects of something horrible that happened there. It's not the haunted house theme that puts this one on my Halloween list, it's the friggin' tone created by first time director Alex Turner.
He takes a veteran cast including Henry Thomas (Suicide Kings, Elliot from "E.T."), Patrick Fugit (Saved, Almost Famous) who is outstanding here, Isiah Washington (Grey's Anatomy), Niki Aycox (TV's Dark Blue), among other familiar faces and gets outstanding performances out of all of them. I mean, they decided to elevate the bar from the first take.
The movie has all the classic horror movie elements: the affore-mentioned haunted house, (a creepy-assed dingy plantation, in this case) approaching thunderstorms, a giant cornfield in the front yard to play head games with you, and creepy, giggling, crying children's voices sprinkled onto this horrific cake for spice.
Turner lays it on thick, with a grinding score, and lighting that lets you see just enough to induce a case of the jeebs. Facial expressions tell stories here that dialogue just could not cover, especially in the case of wounded thief Patrick Fugit and how he reacts when he wakes up to find something that shouldn't be there standing next to his bed.
As Halloween approaches, do yourself a favor. Coke, popcorn, remove the lightbulbs from the lamps, and pop in "Dead Birds"
You might not want to do it alone, though.