In these times of uncertainty, the AOAS Squad want you to know that your health and safety is of paramount importance to us. 

For that reasonunlike every aggravating intrusive email from companies whose listserv you somehow ended up on in the last decadewe’ve put together something that you can actually use as you socially distance and/or quarantine yourself. That’s right: a curated watchlist of our favourite films and TV shows that are readily available on streaming services! 

JOE’S PICKS

The Changeling (1980)

Streaming on Shudder.

Nothing says “trapped in the house alone” like this classic Canadian ghost story about a widower, a colossal deserted mansion and a bouncing red ball. Director Peter Medak and lead George C. Scott lend the film an air of class and sophistication that simply isn’t on display in modern films. Turn the lights down low, crank the sound way up and prepare to get spooky! 

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Happy Death Day (2017)

Streaming on Netflix.

This is a pretty obvious “feel good” pick, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. Mixing slasher tropes with Groundhog Day, anchored by a fearlessly comedic lead performance by Jessica Rothe, this Blumhouse film is pretty much the definition of a comfort food flick when you need a pick me up.

Plus: that Baby Head mask is legitimately disturbing. Why the hell is that thing a mascot?!

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Servant (2019)

Streaming on Apple TV.

A grieving bougie Philadelphia couple (he’s a famous chef, she’s a TV personality) take in a mysterious young woman to care for their newborn. The catch: the baby is a doll and the nanny situation is orchestrated by the husband to help his wife cope with the trauma of losing their son. The other catch: the nanny isn’t everything she seems and when she arrives, the doll becomes a living baby again. 

This creepy, atmospheric, dread-infused M. Night Shyamalan produced-series (10 half-hour episodes) has already been greenlit for a second season, but it’s engrossing and highly bingeable. Plus, the lead performances by Toby Kebbell and Lauren Ambrose are amazing. This one flew under the radar, but deserves your quarantine eyes.

The Shallows (2016)

Streaming on Netflix.

We can’t leave our houses, so what better time to take in a film that reminds you vacations aren’t all that great? The Shallows is the perfect combination of escapism and gentle reminder that even a surf vacation has its nightmare scenarios: in this case, getting stranded on a rock in the middle of the ocean by a great white shark.

This is a film that shouldn’t work, but the one character and one-location conceit works incredibly well because of Blake Lively’s physical performance, the great direction by Jaume Collet-Serra and a funny supporting role from a seagull. 

CC’S PICKS

Tremors (1990)

Streaming on American Netflix.

Ok, maybe it’s because I’m an American and from the Southbut who doesn’t love the fresh young faces of Kevin Bacon and Reba McEntire as they battle some weird, giant sand worms? More fun and ridiculous than scary, Tremors does have a bit of the same “trapped in one place” we’re experiencing right nowand they survive, so it’s got an uplifting end. 

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

Streaming on American Netflix.

I really feel like this movie was overlooked when it first came out. Small-town father and son coroners (Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch) find themselves performing an autopsy on a strange woman’s body found at the scene of a brutal murder. As things get increasingly creepy, the duo finds themselves questioning everything they thought they knew. The supernatural and realistic play together perfectly and create a super slow burning creeptastic story. 

The Outsider (2020)

Streaming on HBO.

Even if you haven’t read the book, the investigation of a child murder in a small town turns beyond unnerving when the suspect doesn’t turn out to be who everyone thinks it is. With a stunning cast of Ben Mendelsohn, Jason Bateman and Cynthia Erivo, The Outsider takes what you think you know about the world and upturns it. Coincidence and the supernatural battle it out over a 10-episode arc that leaves with you a shiver you just can’t shake.  

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Starry Eyes (2014)

Streaming on Shudder.

A struggling young woman who aspires to be a movie starlet finds herself in the middle of something much bigger and much more insidious than the movie industry. Alexandra Esso gives a chilling and phenomenal performance as a down on her luck woman willing to do anything to make her own dreams come true. This is a good movie to put on and lose yourself in while stuck indoors.

VINCENT’S PICKS

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Streaming on Hulu, Shudder, Tubi.

When I saw that Hellbound is available on multiple platforms I knew I had to recommend it. Featuring many of the same cast and crew as the original, Hellbound picks up where the first film leaves off; this time venturing into the world of the Cenobites to expand on the lore created in Hellraiser. I love this film more than the first because it dials up the amount of fantastical elements. Fantasy and horror can often make a perfect pair.

The Medusa Touch (1978)

Streaming on Tubi.

The Medusa Touch is one of many telekinetic-themed horror films that came out in the late 1970s following the popularity of Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976). This British production is set up like a slow-burn murder mystery following French detective Monsieur Brunel’s (Lino Ventura) investigation into the past of a recently attacked novelist, John Morlar (Richard Burton). As Brunal sifts through Morlar’s history he discovers frequent incidents of death and destruction along with an overarching theme of misanthropy.

The slowly unfolding mystery of Morlar and who attacked him is engaging, and the bonkers ending is a welcome treat. What better escape from the powerlessness we are currently feeling than watching the story of a man who has complete control over the destruction around him.

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Mom and Dad (2017)

Streaming on Hulu.

Before there was Mandy (2018), Nicholas Cage starred in another crazy, less talked about horror film called Mom and Dad alongside Selma Blair. If your preferred way to cope with the unknown in real life is to watch insanity play out onscreen, then Mom and Dad is the perfect catharsis for you. This high energy cat-and-mouse movie shows us what would happen if the parents of a middle class, suburban community suddenly had an irresistible impulse to kill their own children.

Imprint (2006)

Streaming on Tubi.

On his journey to find the Japanese sex worker he once promised to marry, American journalist Christopher (Billy Drago) runs into a disfigured woman (Youki Kudoh) who tells him the story of her past and the fate of his love Komomo (Ito). Originally intended to air as the thirteenth episode of the mid-2000s TV anthology Masters of Horror, Imprint was denied the television spotlight by Showtime over concerns about its graphic and disturbing content.

Directed by Takashi Miike, Imprint is a painfully sadistic film with torture sequences that rival the best of the torture porn genre. I personally find Imprint more disturbing than his more well-known film, Audition

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Final Exam (1981)

Streaming on Tubi.

I knew I had to stay on brand by recommending at least one low budget, 80s slasher when choosing films for this list. Deciding which slasher to include was not an easy task! I ended up picking Final Exam because it was filmed and produced in a small town next to mine. There is no better time to rep the hometown than while stuck in your house!

Final Exam is one of 72 films to be labelled a “Video Nasty” in the United Kingdom. It is a straightforward American slasher about a killer stalking a group of college students that have yet to leave campus for summer break. While people who aren’t fans of slashers may find Final Exam formulaic, I think its homemade feel and quirky characters make it a fun watch for any slasher lover.

Make sure to pour one out for all the college students who are quarantined at home before summer break when you watch. At least they escaped any crazed killers lurking on campus!

VALESKA’S PICKS

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019)

Streaming on Shudder.

If you haven’t yet watched this incredible documentary on the origin and development of black horror cinema, then your self-quarantine may very well have a small silver lining.

Horror Noire made waves upon its release last year, garnering critical praise and widespread support from the horror community. Brought to fruition by Xavier Burgin (director), Ashlee Blackwell (writer and founder of Graveyard Shift Sisters), and Robin R. Means Coleman (author of Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to the Present, on which the film was based), Horror Noire is a thoughtful, compelling exploration of the racial tensions and tropes that have historically shaped black horror cinema, and of the resistance and ingenuity that have helped it realize its full and intriguing potential. Its talking heads include Rachel True, William Crain, Tony Todd, Jordan Peele, and Tananarive Due, among many others.

CAM (2018)

Streaming on Canadian Netflix.

A collaboration of writer Isa Mazzei and director Daniel Goldhaber, CAM is a refreshingly sex-positive psychological horror film whose protagonist is a cam girl facing an unprecedented and extremely unsettling technical support issue: her channel has been taken over by a sinister doppelgänger who shows no inclination to relinquish control.

Madeline Brewer turns in an outstanding performance (or perhaps performances is a better word) as Alice, an ambitious woman whose goal of reaching number one on her camming site is thwarted when her alter-ego Lola takes on a life of her own. Worth watching if only for its sympathetic portrayal of sex work , CAM also offers effective tension, sharp wit, and some absolutely delicious set design. Read my interview with Isa Mazzei in the latest issue of Grim.

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Under the Shadow (2016)

Streaming on Canadian Netflix.

Directed by Babak Anvari, this excellent Iranian supernatural horror film is set in post-revolution 1980s Tehran. Alongside Train to Busan, it was a major highlight for me when it screened at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival in 2016. The story centres on Shideh (Narges Rashidi) a young mother left alone to care for her small daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) after her physician husband (Bobby Naderi) is called away to perform military service. Resentful that she was barred from continuing her own medical training due to her involvement in activist groups and still grieving the recent loss of her mother, Shideh grapples with frustrations and fears as her neighbourhood becomes the target of ongoing shelling. 

After a missile strikes their building, Dorsa becomes convinced that she and Shideh are being targeted by a djinn, but are the family’s strange experiences caused by the supernatural or by PTSD? With its themes of isolation, psychological distress, strained familial relationships, resentment, and grief, Under the Shadow calls to mind Jennifer Kent’s brilliant 2014 breakout film The Babadook, as well as Hong-jin Na’s The Wailing (2016), while creating a haunting atmosphere that is singularly its own.

The Lodgers (2017)

Streaming on Canadian Netflix.

The Lodgers is a quiet and insidious little monster; a dark and disturbing folktale in a deceptively bucolic setting. Twin siblings Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Miler), orphaned at a young age, reside in their family’s ancestral home. While they’re rapidly running out of money to cover their bills, that is the least of their worries; a dark tradition keeps them trapped on their estate, hostage to an arcane set of family rules that promise terrible punishment if they are broken. 

While Rachel dreams of escape and satisfied desire in the arms of a handsome veteran (Eugene Simon) from the village, Edward finds himself drawn deeper into the terrible mysteries of their family home and the secrets it holds. The arrival of their 18th birthday brings these tensions to a head, triggering a maelstrom of horror and terrible truths. The film burns at a slow but even pace, luxuriating in the lush Irish countryside of its setting and taking its time to develop its characters and the engrossing family mystery.

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Knuckleball (2018)

Streaming on Crave.

Michael Peterson’s Knuckleball is a homegrown horror shot on location in Alberta. Lean and mean, the film clocks in at a short 89 minutes but never feels underdone. Henry (Luca Villacis) is dropped off at his estranged grandfather’s (Michael Ironside) house while his mother Mary (Kathleen Munroe) and father Paul (Chenier Hund) attend the funeral of a distant relative. Icy dialogue between the parents during the opening scenes gestures toward deep-set familial tension, which is more fully manifested as the film proceeds; the concept of family–and the many missteps that can radically alter or destroy it–form the linchpin of the film.

Henry and Jacob find common ground in their deep love of baseball, but their burgeoning friendship is cut short after Jacob is felled by an ill-timed heart attack. Unable to reach his parents for help, Henry is forced to turn to farmhand Dixon (Munroe Chambers), a young man whose emotional instability is unmistakably telegraphed by his eyes. The arrival of dusk and a devastating storm leaves Henry isolated and left to fend for himself. A more realistic version of Home Alone with far fewer laughs and far more physical (and emotional) scarring, Knuckleball delivers entertainment and gore without being gratuitous.

LINDSAY’S PICKS

Dead to Me (2019)

Streaming on Canadian Netflix 

The hotness of this show kind of came and went as a subtle Netflix drop often does, but as someone who’s watched it through twice, I’ll shout that it’s worth flipping back to. This quirky dark comedy tackles very realistic grief with that crackling tone of “rich California types quipping their way through madness” that we loved in Santa Clarita Diet. It’s a really fun exploration of female friendship, the struggles of being a “wife,” and the things that people label “crazy” when it’s just women trying to survive. But more than that, it’s dark, it’s hilarious, and the mystery will make it really feel worth blowing through an entire season in a day with no remorse.

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Await Further Instructions (2018)

Streaming on Canadian Netflix

I thought twice about this one given that it’s going to potentially accidentally convince you that self isolation is a scam, but I will take my chances. This weird-as-hell take on a quarantine tests the limits of what people do when instructions are given by an authority figure. The fear of being told to wait inside and standby for instructions is maybe a bit too real, but this surreal take on it might just lend some comfort. Perhaps? I mean, at least we aren’t trapped in a house with all of these f***in’ people, amiright?

Tau (2018)

Streaming on Canadian Netflix

Sure, maybe a tale of being on lockdown in a house isn’t what you’re looking for right now, but this lesser-known sci-fi scratches much more of a fairy tale itch than you’d expect. This sci-fi tale of a woman held captive by a futuristic smart house is like a spacey twist on Beauty and the Beast that leaves a trapped woman drowned in luxury, a luxury with which she can communicate, that seems friendly, but is aiding in her captivity. Maika Monroe is still my favourite next-gen scream queen, and this is a worthy addition to her film roster.

What are your quarantine picks?