Netflix Guru’s Monster of the Week: Mad Women

By Claire Farrow

There is a chill in the air—well, only when you’re inside—which means that Halloween season is upon us. From the falling leaves to the pumpkins, the witches to the innocents, the humor to the horror, everything is beginning to scream Halloween, particularly in choice and availability of film. Soon ABC Family will begin their annual trek into darkness with their film series “13 Nights of Halloween,” reminding us of the films that help usher many into the horror genre. Additionally, more and more films are emerging in the box office that burst with creepy goodness. If you are unable to wait that long, might we suggest a shot of Netflix for that spooky fix?

Each week in October, Netflix Guru will showcase a series of films that focus on a specific theme or subgenre of horror. Within each theme there will be a variety of well-known and obscure flicks to round out the subgenre. After all, what is Netflix for but to give you options for alternative film. On this first week of October, here are three female centric films that are sure to ease you into the season of gratuitous fright. The Others (2001) and The Babadook (2014) are about single mothers who probably have a screw loose, not to mention slightly creepy children to boot. American Mary (2012), on the other hand, is the story of a young woman who falls off her rocker as she becomes an expert in her field. Shall we begin?

The Others (2001)

Largely uninhabited island? Check. Huge Mansion on said island? Check. Potentially crazy mother in said mansion? Check and mate. The Others begins innocently enough with Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) telling her children about the Biblical creation of the earth. Then we see her awakening in a fit of screams. From there, we descend into a literal dark world centered around photosensitive children, mysterious servants and elusive intruders. The combination of all threaten the sanity of a woman whose husband has been MIA since the end of the Second World War. These factors also add to Grace’s feeling of isolation. This film pays homage to older thrillers, such as Gaslight (1944) and other similar classic films in aesthetic and tone. What is really going on with this disturbed family may be unclear until the very end, but even if it is not, the eerie setting and characters are worth the watch.

Scary Factor: Twisted Love/Spooky

The Babadook (2014)

Nothing is more innocent than a pop-up book… unless it’s this one. This sinister book finds its way into the home of a widow and her young son. Even before the book is introduced, you know something is off with the family. The child is crazy… no, it’s really the mother who’s lost her mind…wait, what? In the history of evil books, using a pop-up book adds to the list of items that will forever give us apprehension at the mere sight of one in a bookstore. Interestingly, the most beautiful part of this film is the book. The illustrations, while somewhat macabre, have a grotesque beauty to them. And something so central to the plot should be this intricate and thought out. The scenes with the book are by far the most interesting sections of the film, although the psychological torture this mother and son duo are put through is even more terrifying than this chilling book. This Australian indie horror flick brings a twist to an innocent bedtime story, and with it a premise that feels fresh and strange all at once.

Scary Factor: Avoiding pop-up books for life/creepy

American Mary (2012)

It is a universal truth that a promising, young and beautiful medical student buried in student loans would want a side job. And this is what happens with Mary Manson, though perhaps not exactly how you would think. Throughout the course of the film, Mary is drawn into an alternate, somewhat-seedy business after a chance to earn quick cash turns into an opportunity to increase her income. Soon, however, things go distressingly and horribly wrong for our protagonist. Now, this “side job” becomes her obsession, and as tensions and stakes rise within her life and occupation, we are caught up in the macabre work Mary performs for others, wondering what extreme the film will traverse to.

Scary Factor: Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned and armed with a scalpel/Slice and Dice.

Be sure to pick up next week’s issue to read the Netflix Guru’s recommendations on comedic horror films.

Claire Farrow can be reached at

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