Unlock the educational power of Horror films this Halloween

21 Oct 2022

6 mins

As Halloween approaches, the BFI's latest blockbuster season, In Dreams Are Monsters, is gracing cinemas UK-wide film with an programme celebrating the horror genre. Taking place until 31 December 2022, 'In Dreams Are Monsters' is a fresh, inventive and inclusive take on the horror genre, tracing how the imagery of nightmare has been created through film, and how stories of monsters have always been political.

And to further help you explore the frights and delights of the genre this Halloween, we've launched a brand new Horror page of our own, collecting together horror films for all ages that educators can stream for free* with Into Film+, as well as curriculum-linked film guides, resources and articles exploring horror films both old and new. We've also included a selection of spooky youth-made shorts that anyone can enjoy. Visit our new Horror page now.

Why Horror?

Horror is one of the most enduring and iconic genres in all of fiction but film is arguably where it truly finds itself at home. From the early days of cinema, filmmakers have used the medium to terrify audiences, utilising their creativity and imagination to challenge and advance the medium, and present audiences with countless celluloid nightmares.

Even way back in the late 1800s, with moving pictures in their very infancy, horror films were being made. It wasn't until the 1930s, though, when the genre truly took on a life of its own. Universal's iconic series of films depicting now-iconic villains like Dracula, the Wolf Man and The Mummy were a huge success, and are still influential almost a century later, while actors like Bela Lugosi, Peter Cushing and Cristopher Lee became household names for playing horror heroes and villains. From British institution Hammer Horror's heyday in the 1950s and 60s, through to seminal works like Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, and John Carpenter's Halloween, the genre has continuously reinvented itself, pushing ever-more terrifying visions onto audiences that continue to lap them up.

More than just scary stories, the horror genre has long had the ability to provide incisive social commentary, with screen monsters representing any number of real-life issues throughout history. From Invasion of the Body Snatchers' exploration of the fear of communism, right through to modern classics like Jordan Peele's Get Out, which shines a wry light on the Black experience in modern America, horror films provide a dark mirror with which to look back at ourselves and our world. Beyond Hollywood, horror films like Japan's Ringu or South Korea's Train to Busan, allow us to explore the channelled fears and experiences of different cultures, while the horror genre in Hollywood eventually became so ubiquitous that it spawned its own self-referential sub-genre, typified by films like Scream.

And of course, horror isn't just for grown-ups - it's also a captivating genre for children and young people, with horror-themed titles like Goosebumps and Hotel Transylvania taking a gentler, more child-friendly approach to the conventions and iconography of the genre.

The 2022 Into Film Awards received scores of horror films, suggesting that the genre's popularity among young people is indeed as strong as ever. Similarly, our Film of the Month competition regularly receives horror films, and to get you in the mood for Halloween, you can enjoy a few fantastic examples of youth-made horror shorts below. Enjoy... if you dare!

The String: A Grim Fable

Engaging for ages 16+

The String: A Grim Fable is a psychological horror, told entirely without dialogue, that follows a young man whose life takes a disturbing turn when he wakes up tied to his bed. The film's precise pace and haunting imagery create a suspenseful atmosphere that explores themes of identity and life and death. 

The Birth of Sister Hidden

Engaging for audiences aged 14+

This terrifying tale sees a woman, haunted by shocking nightmares, unaware that there is a mysterious being following her around her home. The film's chilling soundtrack and brilliant editing makes this one not for the faint of heart!

Horror films at the Into Film Festival

The 2022 Into Film Festival is taking place from 8-25 November, and will bring learning to life for 5-19 year olds across the UK by inspiring young people to watch, understand and make film in new and creative ways. While many events are already booked up, there are still places available at a number of horror screenings across the UK - see below for details. 

And remember - the Into Film Festival is entirely free of charge, so be sure to book your places before the remaining events fill up!


Jordan Peele's latest thoughtful horror sees a brother and sister discover something sinister on the remote and dusty ranch that they run, and sense the opportunity to profit from it.


Prano Bailey-Bond's debut sees a film censor becoming unravelled as she begins to notice similarities between her traumatic childhood and a horror film she is examining at work.

Petit Vampire

After becoming fast friends, a mischievous little vampire and a 10-year old orphan soon find themselves pursued by a a moon-headed monster.

The Witch

Robert Eggers' modern classic is a terrifically realised psychological horror about a family torn apart by a sinister presence in 17th century New England.

* Screenings for an entertainment or extra-curricular purpose require a PVS (Public Video Screening) Licence from Filmbankmedia. State-funded schools in England are covered by the PVS Licence.

Into Film and the Into Film+ streaming service is supported by the UK film industry through Cinema First and the BFI through National Lottery Funding, thanks to National Lottery players.

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