Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a member today »

From The Nightmare (2015), dir. Rodney Ascher (image courtesy Gravitas Ventures)

October is nearly over, so we’re nearing the end of the cinematic spooky season. If you have any space left for horror movie recommendations and want to go off the beaten path, check out these supremely scary documentaries. It may be easy to joke that nothing is scarier than real life, but, well …

The Nightmare (2015, Rodney Ascher)

In this film, people who have experienced the horrifying phenomenon known as sleep paralysis discuss the vivid dreams they’ve had while apparently awake and completely unable to move. The descriptions are unnerving enough, but the magnificently creepy recreations of the dreams make this something truly memorable.

Available on various platforms.

Collapse (2009, Chris Smith)

You don’t have to believe in half of the things that Michael Ruppert does (or even any of them) to be left haunted by this film, in which the late activist and investigative writer lays out why and how he thinks the world is about to end. Even the fact that 10 years later, his dire predictions have not yet come to pass doesn’t dilute the eerie, convincing magnetism with which the movie depicts his conviction.

Available on various platforms.

The Act of Killing (2013, Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and Anonymous)

One of our picks for the best films of the 2010s, this immensely disquieting documentary talks to several perpetrators of the anticommunist genocide in Indonesia during the 1960s. These men are not only apparently unrepentant but openly boastful of their roles in the deaths of thousands, eagerly recreating the events in staged settings. This is a look into institutional evil and memory unlike any other.

Available on various platforms.

Support Hyperallergic

As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever. 

Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.

Become a Member

Dan Schindel

Dan Schindel is Associate Editor for Documentary at Hyperallergic. He lives and works in New York.

Leave a comment