How to survive Halloween – according to the movies

'Host' writer Jed Shepherd reveals his dos and don'ts of the year's spookiest night

British director Rob Savage’s haunting horror Host is one of the best horror movies of 2020. Set on Zoom and lasting only an hour – the film was written and made during lockdown! – much of its brilliance lies with writing team Gemma Hurley and Jed Shepherd.

With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we’d ask Jed to fill us in on how best to survive this most spookiest of nights. He’s dug deep into his horror movie fandom to provide these insights, so listen up – what follows may just save your life…

Horror villains
Kane Hodder as Jason in ‘Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan’ . Credit: Alamy

Don’t… investigate strange noises


Jed Shepherd: “It’s your natural instinct to go to the source of the noise. Perhaps your cat knocked over a vase like in every Friday The 13th movie ever? Perhaps it’s just the washing machine? But on Halloween night it’s much more likely to be an escaped convict with a hook for a hand. Stay on the sofa. At least you’ll be comfortable when you die…”

Do… lock away the dolls

“Unless you have children and this is the 19th Century, you should not have any creepy-looking dolls in your house whatsoever. If you do, it may already be too late. Did Annabelle not teach you anything? Use the Gremlins technique and put your doll in a microwave, set it on high and watch it burn. Also, in 30 years time, when you walk past an antique shop window and see that very same, charred doll staring back at you, do not repurchase it out of curiosity and give it to a family member.”

The Babysitter Killer Queen
Andrew Bachelor as John, Bella Thorne as Allison and Robbie Amell as Max in ‘The Babysitter: Killer Queen’. Credit: Netflix

Don’t… invite over a friend, especially if you only met them that day

“Their intentions may seem sincere and they sure did bring over an expensive bottle of wine, but on Halloween, your new friend is much more likely to be a member of an evil cult, one who needs to complete a human sacrifice task by midnight or else. You’ve seen The Babysitter movies, right?”

Do… listen to creepy warnings

“It might be an old lady who warns you not to step on the grass – you will get pulled down into the earth and/or become a grass monster – or a spooky-looking child with hollow eyes who tells you to never open the box, and then hands you an ornate box carved with strange symbols. Most importantly, if there is an infamously ‘crazy’ person in your town that stands on the street corner and talks about the end times – Halloween is the day to listen to them. I learned this from Sam Raimi’s excellent Drag Me To Hell.”

Don’t take a shower on Halloween. Here’s ‘Psycho’, if you needed proof. Credit: Alamy

Don’t… wash


“Remember, on October 31, the bathroom becomes a Hellmouth. Freddy Krueger knows it. Candyman knows it. It’s a statistical fact that 95 per cent of all ghosts and monster sightings happen when you are listening to music in a bubble bath and close your eyes for just a second, or when you are lathering in the shower and turn your back to face the shower head. If you have to wash on Halloween, use wet wipes. And never, ever, let the bathroom mirror steam up…”

Do… ignore the doorbell after 9pm

“This is a good idea on most days to be honest – telly is very good these days – but on Halloween, it can be the difference between living and a rusty hatchet in your skull. No kid in their right mind will Trick or Treat after 9pm because all of the good sweets will be gone and there’ll only be Bounties and ready salted crisps left. If you’ve seen The Strangers, Funny Games or this seasons favourite, Trick ‘r Treat, you’ll know that being unsociable is being safe.”

Don’t… head out alone

“Social distancing can do one on All Hallows’ Eve. Even though the chances are that one of your friends is the grown-up version of the kid you bullied in school and they’re just biding their time to get revenge on you – like in that weird David Boreanaz flick Valentine – your chances of survival increase exponentially with each person that joins your group. If you find yourself dying for the toilet – pun intended – and you can’t convince each of your friends to come with you, either hold it in or get creative. It’s amazing how much a Lucozade bottle can hold. It should be in their marketing.”

The Exorcist
‘The Exorcist’ is a film you should pay attention to. Credit: Alamy

Do… say no to offers to babysit, pet sit or house sit

“All of these things will be haunted on Halloween. It’s better to suffer the chance of a fractured friendship than the wrath of a possessed poodle. Some red flags you should be aware of: the kid with an imaginary friend – hello The Exorcist – and a house with an ultra-advanced prototype security system. That last one is just begging for your final moments to play out in next year’s big found-footage hit.”

Don’t… do a seance over Zoom

“In my experience, it will end in tears.”

‘Host’ is available now on Shudder