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10 Spooky Season Screen Stories

“This is Halloween, this is Halloween…” With spooky season just around the corner, check out these ten screen stories that will be sure to give you a shiver up your spine.

1. The Babadook (2014)

In this iconic Aussie horror flick, Essie Davis gives a powerhouse performance as a single mother plagued by the violent death of her husband, who along with her son, starts to realise a creepy children’s book “Mister Babadook” is manifesting in their home… Or is it? Written and directed by Jennifer Peedom in her feature debut, this Australian horror film might only be eight years old but it’s already a cult classic. You might be Babashook to know, but the Babadook himself has also been embraced as a gay icon (see here) in the same realm as RuPaul since 2017.

Watch The Babadook on ABC iview here.

  • 2. Cargo (2018)

    The feature film debut of directing duo Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling (who went on to direct episodes of The Haunting of Bly Manor), this zombie film with heart stars Martin Freeman, who becomes stranded in rural Australia with his infant daughter in the aftermath of a violent pandemic. When he too becomes infected, he’s up against a ticking clock to find her a new home and protection for her before it’s too late. Watch our Behind the Scenes video with Ramke and Howling here, as they also talk about the journey of adapting it from their viral Tropfest short to a feature.

    Watch it on Netflix here.

3. The Monster with me (2022)

Written and directed by Artin Rain and from the aptly named production company Shortest Blockbusters, The Monster With Me is a short horror anthology made for TikTok, that takes audiences through different nightmares, all connected by a monster. With its first person perspective and immersive thriller style, this 10-part series with its one-minute eps is difficult not to binge.

Watch it on TikTok here.

4. The Moogai (2020)

Written and directed by First Nations filmmaker Jon Bell (The Gods of Wheat Street, Black Comedy, Cleverman, RFDS), this psychological horror short made its premiere at Melbourne International Film Festival in 2020, won an award at SXSW in 2021 and was selected to screen at Sydney Film Festival. In it, Shari Sebbens stars as a new mother who becomes increasingly unstable when she and her partner (Meyne Wyatt) are terrorised by a malevolent spirit she believes is trying to take her baby.

Click here to listen to our podcast with screenwriter Jon Bell and watch The Moogai on SBS On Demand here before end of October.

A feature length version developed with Causeway Films received Production Investment from Screen Australia’s First Nations Department in August so keep an eye out for it on the big screen in the future.

Watch it on SBS On Demand here.

5. relic (2019)

The feature debut of co-writer/director Natalie Erika James, Relic made its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in 2020. Chilling and filled with a deepening sense of dread, in it three generations of women – daughter, mother and grandmother (played by Bella Heathcote, Emily Mortimer and Robyn Nevin) – are haunted by a manifestation of aged dementia that is taking over their family home. This clever concept also caught the attention of Hollywood: it’s produced by Australians Anna McLeish and Sarah Shaw from Carver Films, as well as Jake Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker through Nine Stories, and executive produced by Anthony and Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame) through their independent production company AGBO. Listen to the podcast episode with James about the making of Relic here. Also keep your eyes peeled for James’ next project – the Paramount Players' psychological thriller feature Apartment 7A.

Watch Relic on Stan here.

6. shadow trackers (2016)

In this four-part NITV documentary series, First Nations presenters/investigators Hunter Page-Lochard (Cleverman) and Zac James (8MMM), gear up with cameras, flashlights and as much bravery as possible to discover the truth behind the scary stories that petrify, guide and teach us life’s lessons. Follow the two as they talk to locals, storytellers, elders, non-believers and search for the evidence behind the traditional spirit stories and urban legends. Read about the making of the documentary series with producer Dena Curtis here.

Watch it on SBS On Demand here.

7. sissy (2022)

Starring Aisha Dee (The Bold Type) and written and directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, Sissy made its world premiere at SXSW in 2022 before screening to sold-out sessions at Sydney Film Festival and MIFF, and picking up Audience Awards at both Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival and Overlook Film Festival. In it, Instagram wellbeing star Cecilia (Dee) is living what appears on the outside to be her best millennial life, until she runs into her childhood best friend Emma (Barlow – starring as well as directing). Emma invites Cecilia away on her hen’s weekend at a remote cabin in the mountains, where surely nothing can go wrong. A fun and bloody skewering of influencer culture with a side of satire and slasher, Sissy is continuing to impress critics too, with a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (see here) and three AACTA feature nominations (Best Direction, Best Lead Actress for Aisha Dee, and Best Film).

See it in cinemas from 27th October.

8. spookers (2017)

This documentary feature focuses on the Haunted Attraction ‘Scream’ Park in Kingseat, New Zealand, where every weekend come rain, hail or shine, a group of amateur performers become zombies and chainsaw-wielding clowns for the night – sometimes doing their job of scaring punters too well (a ‘code brown’ exists – you can use your imagination to know what it means). This doco, directed by Florian Habicht, looks not just at the screams, but at the quiet New Zealand couple behind Spookers, the close-knit family of misfits who make up the staff, and the history of the site as a former psychiatric hospital. A feature from Madman Productions, Spookers is also an Official Australian/New Zealand Co-production.

Watch it on DocPlay here.

9. stunt gone wrong (2017)

A big stunt goes wrong… and it’s made by The RackaRacka. Need we say more?

Funded through Screen Australia’s Skip Ahead Initiative, you can check it out on YouTube here. Those last 10 minutes. Yeesh.

10. wyrmwood: apocalypse (2022)

Created by brothers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner (with Kiah directing, editing and writing, and Tristan writing and producing) this sequel to their popular low-budget 2014 zombie feature is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where soldier Rhys (Luke McKenzie) lives. Rhys has spent his life tracking and capturing survivors for his evil bosses in the hopes of finding a cure, until he teams up with a group of rebel survivors to help rescue a girl who could be their only way out of the apocalypse. Click here to watch co-writer/director Kiah Roache-Turner explain his process for making of the splatter-tastic ‘post-title credits scene’.

Watch Wyrmwood: Apocalypse on Binge here.