Halloween is losing its scariness and it’s time to bring it back.
This year, the 10 most popular Halloween costumes are completely devoid of horror—and while it would be fun to dress up as Edna Mode, an ABBA-inspired dancing queen, or a cow, you should embrace your inner scariness instead. Not spooky in a cute way. Make a full-on effort to be as terrifying as possible. (Here are some very creepy inspirations.)
Halloween costumes tend to reflect current popular culture, and while scary options don’t top Google’s Halloween search data, scary content is still huge in 2018. Halloween, a direct sequel to the 1978 slasher film of the same name, premiered this October and made a killing at the box office with $33.3 million on opening day. There are 11 movies in the Halloween franchise but it’s been almost a decade since the last one came out—the return of Halloween is also the return of good old hide-your-children Halloween terror. (The franchise’s central serial killer, Michael Myers, usually only strikes on this night.) The record success of the latest Halloween is a reminder that we still love to be terrified, and this is the holiday to celebrate that.
That so many people like to be scared is what makes horror one of the most lucrative genres in Hollywood. Horror films also have relatively lower budgets, and it’s refreshing to watch atrocities that aren’t real. Netflix is capitalizing on this genre too, with original series like The Haunting of Hill House and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a horror reboot of the lighthearted 1990s classic Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which premieres on Oct. 26. Netflix’s algorithm helps producers determine what audiences want, and fright clearly sells. As the entertainment industry gets creative with scariness, Halloween costumes present the perfect opportunity for us to do the same.
Dressing truly spooky is also a surefire way to turn heads, start conversations, and maybe even elicit a few screams. And let’s be honest, in the social media age, sometimes attention is what we want. Looking scary enough to repel others also claps back at the stereotype that people, especially women, use Halloween as an excuse to dress overtly sexy. People should be able to dress as sexy as they like any time of the year, and Halloween shouldn’t be a proxy for shame escapism. Put on that seductive outfit because you really want to, not just because Halloween feels like the only time you can.
Personifying terrifying things or characters also provides the chance to stare death in the face (or be the face of death yourself!). Halloween is an occasion when you can dress up as your own worst fears, whether that’s a disfigured murderer, demonic nun, or killer clown. It can be thrilling to experiment with identity, but it’s even more liberating to see something incredibly scary in your own mirror and not be afraid.
Here’s another thing: There’s a lot in this world to be afraid of, and it’s nice to take control of the fear for once. Whether you’re worried about the future of gender equality, free speech, or the planet, a scary Halloween costume turns terror, for one night, into something we can manage.