With the scariest day of the year approaching, the season of haunted houses, autumn treats, and ghostly costume parties is upon us. But with Halloween landing on Tuesday this year, how can you be expected to keep up with the holiday spirit(s) while still making it to your 8:30 a.m. class the next day? The answer: Kick back, relax, and spend the day recovering from your Halloweekend while you check out our Halloween-themed media recommendations, courtesy of the Arts & Entertainment team.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Isobel Bray, Contributor
This eerie tale revolves around the reclusive Blackwood sisters, Constance and Mary Katherine “Merricat,” who live in a grand house on the outskirts of a fictional American town. Six years prior, their entire family was poisoned except for Uncle Julian and their cat Jonas. Since then, the townsfolk have shunned them, believing one of the sisters to be the murderer. Their lives take an unsettling turn when their long-lost cousin Charles arrives, disrupting their routine by expressing an interest in Constance and the Blackwood estate. Shirley Jackson’s concise writing evokes the atmosphere of a dark folktale. For all its grimness, it is also a darkly humorous story. Merricat narrates the novel, and her childlike innocence and witty observations will draw you in, even as the ominous undertones become increasingly apparent. The deceptive simplicity and sinister ambiance were what made me love this book. The final published work in Jackson’s lifetime, the novel maintains the author’s signature style, as a comforting yet scary story reminiscent of small-town Americana classics.
Rituals On The Bank Of A Familiar River Kiki Rockwell
Suzanna Graham, Arts & Entertainment Editor
This Halloweekend, I’ve been solely interested in a very simple musical niche: Feminine melodies in minor keys with enough percussion and synth to make the hairs on my arm stand on end. Luckily for me, I’ve found just that in Kiki Rockwell’s latest album, Rituals On The Bank Of A Familiar River. While the album has a lot of gorgeous Celtic musical inspiration, Kiki’s inclusion of hostile chatter, frantic screams, and monotone chants in the background make me think that I’m hearing music directly from women amidst the witch trials of the high Middle Ages. However, Kiki refuses to follow history. “Burn Your Village” includes a multitude of women backing vocals and a beat that reflects a quickening metronome, reflecting a group of women ‘witches’ fighting back against those who condemned them. Kiki’s music is that of haunted women, radical solidarity, and suppressed feminine power. It’s raw. It’s powerful. It’s perfect for this bewitchingtime of year.
The Scream Franchise
Isobel Bray, Contributor
The Scream franchise, renowned for its unique blend of horror, satire, and self-awareness, has stood the test of time. Across the initial four installments, director Wes Craven skillfully deconstructed and subverted conventional horror tropes, offering both a meta-commentary of the genre and genuine scares. While the original 1996 film set a new standard, the franchise’s ability to reinvent itself while preserving its core essence accounts for its enduring appeal. The movie follows Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) as she battles masked, knife-wielding killers obsessed with phone calls and scary movies. The first film, which follows high school students in the suburban town of Woodsboro, California, is my favourite—partly because of the iconic 90s aesthetic, and because of its approach to the genre, creating a nostalgic yet relevant horror experience. The most recent releases, Scream (2022) and Scream VI (2023), directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, follow a new generation of Woodsboro students, with appearances from some of the original cast. I did not find the recent films particularly terrifying, especially since the biggest jumpscare turned out to be when McGill’s downtown campus stepped in for New York City in the sixth film.