Culture Crash: Halloween 2020

Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Halloween 2020 is going to be unlike any Halloween we have lived through before and, hopefully, unlike any Halloween any of us live through again. Trick or treating and traditional Halloween parties all seem like terrible ideas during a time when a deadly virus is being spread that thrives on person-to-person contact, unless you dress as Bane or Ghostface with a fully functional mask on.

As such, many of us will be spending October 31 at home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get festive. Order a bag of candy online, get some pizza delivered, and sit down with any number of movies, TV or books. I thought I’d share a few of the cultural touchstones I’m looking forward to consuming for this year’s annual fright night.

Doctor Sleep directed by Mike Flanagan

Director Mike Flanagan has been, to me, the best horror mind working for several years running, and his film, Doctor Sleep, an adaptation of Stephen King’s book of the same name, walks an expert tightrope, serving as an adaptation of King’s sequel to The Shining in literary form and as a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s movie The Shining, which differs greatly from the source novel. It’s impressive, scary and a lot of fun, and Doctor Sleep is streaming now on HBO Max.

If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, Flanagan’s TV series, The Haunting of Bly Manor is now streaming on Netflix, and it follows The Haunting of Hill House, which Netflix released last year and became a breakout hit.

If you’re bummed about WB’s decision to postpone The Batman, the next movie version of the caped crusader, to 2022, then you could check out the classic Batman graphic novel, The Long Halloween, which is a personal favorite of mine.

If you’re craving some new release films, the horror service Shudder recently released a movie called Host, which follows a seance conducted via Zoom amid the COVID-19 pandemic that goes terribly wrong. It had me pretty on edge for its tight 57 minute runtime.

The Witches – Available now on HBO Max

Additionally, if you’re looking for a family-friendly Halloween fix, HBO Max is exclusively streaming The Witches, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl, from director Robert Zemeckis. 

Halloween 2020 may not be full of visits to haunted houses or spooky school parties, but there’s still plenty of room for the traditional laughs and scares at home.

I’m Evan Rook.