In any other year, every October release on a streaming platform would invariably be tinged with a spooky spirit—or at the very least, an autumnal aesthetic. But the dozens of release delays and huge amounts of schedule reshuffling going on behind the scenes at platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ means a bag of treats is more mixed than usual for audiences this month.
Not to imply this is at all a bad thing. Rather, it just means that audiences will be spoiled for choice all month long. On top of the usual slew of horror-related content—Blumhouse Pictures alone will be releasing four movies on Amazon Prime Video in the next few weeks—there will be plenty of comedies and historical dramas with which to settle down on the couch and watch. We’ve collected just a few of the most standout titles that will be dropping on the major streamers in October, whether your tastes skew towards acclaimed documentaries or autobiographical tales of reinvention.
That said, we couldn’t resist throwing in an example of one of the many electrifying horror flicks that are being released towards the end of the month. Given the real-world horror of a pandemic going on at the current moment, it’s probably better to stay in on Halloween and give yourself a celluloid fright within the safe confines of your own home.
The Forty-Year-Old Version
A new comedy from Lena Waithe and debuting writer-director Radha Blank, this R-rated semi-autobiographical comedy is a love letter to New York City. Blank plays Radha, a down-on-her-luck playwright desperate to hit the big time before she hits 40. Reinventing herself as rapper RadhaMUSPrime, she embarks on a quest to find her true voice as she oscillates back and forth between the worlds of hip-hop and the theatre. In January this year, the picture debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, where Blank won the U.S. Dramatic Competition Directing Award.
Netflix; available from 9 October
Another breakout Sundance hit, Time is a documentary made by Garrett Bradley, who became the first black woman to win the documentary directing award at the festival this year. Termed a “slow burn beauty” by film critic Blige Ebiri, Time follows Sybil Fox Richardson, who fights for the release of her husband, Rob, serving a 60-year prison sentence. Filmmaker Bradley met Richardson in 2016, and has been working on the documentary since then. Combining original footage with home videos, Time is a slim but powerful beast, clocking in at just 81 minutes. A gripping and graceful family drama, it is a heart-wrenching and powerful saga.
Amazon Prime Video; available from 16 October
Set on the windswept English coast, Rebecca is a highly-anticipated adaptation of the 1938 Gothic novel. Starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas, one of the movie’s screenwriters is the acclaimed Jane Goldman, known for numerous entries in both the X-Men and Kingsman series. The new movie has a lofty legacy to live up to, with 1940’s lauded Hitchcock film adaptation preceding it, an Oscar Best Picture winner. However, according to director Ben Wheatley, the Netflix adaptation will not tread too closely on its forerunner’s coattails, making it more about the romance between James and Hammer’s characters than the psychological ghost story.
Netflix; available from 21 October
On the Rocks
Directing powerhouse Sofia Coppola collides with living legend Bill Murray (marking their first collaboration since 2003’s Lost in Translation). Adding Parks and Recreation’s Rashida Jones to the mix, the resulting project is father-daughter comedy caper On the Rocks. Jones plays Laura, a woman scorned—or suspicious that she’s been scorned, as she worries that her husband is cheating on her. Murray is her playboy father, who helps her on her quest to prove it. Another prowling, fizzing love letter to the city that never sleeps, the two of them proceed to explore their way through Manhattan as they stake Laura’s husband out. The film will go through a limited theatrical release on 2 October by A24, followed by a digital wide release by Apple TV+ a few weeks later.
Apple TV+; available from 23 October
Expect a fresh spin on the tired haunted house subgenre of horror, as British writer-director Remi Weekes takes the premise and runs wild with it. Starring Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu, who play a Sudanese couple seeking asylum, and Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame, His House proved to have such strong early buzz that Netflix snuck in a deal to snap up distribution rights before Sundance even started. Digging into ideas like survivor’s guilt through surrealist imagery, Weekes conjures a fearful vision that is evocative of every kind of dislocation from home—spiritual, physical, emotion—as well as a growing sense of distrust in reality. There’s also a killer twist at the end, though we won’t give it away.
Netflix; available from 30 October