What’s scarier than a spooky Halloween? In 2022, it might be the pressure that comes with picking the perfect costume. In recent, more internet-focused, years, Halloween and its ingrained dress code have become an annual chance to prove that you’re culturally savvy, or at least have an hour to stand in line at Spirit Halloween with the rest of the procrastinators. But in the past four years, a recurring victor has arisen: A24. The production and distribution firm has emerged as one of the internet’s favorite options for Halloween costumes, with fans telling Rolling Stone A24 isn’t just trendy— the studio is inspiring a new generation of film lovers.
What makes a good Halloween costume? In Mean Girls, titular character Cady Stanton might have defined 2004 best, “In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.” But in 2022, a person’s Halloween costume can say more about them than any “About Me” page — especially as the holiday has a tendency to bring out people’s worst impulses, mainly racist or distasteful costume choices. So, where does A24 come in? The film distributor has made a name for itself with its arthouse offerings: Pearl, Midsommar, Bodies Bodies Bodies, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Moonlight, After Yang, Hereditary, X, Minari, The Witch, and The Lighthouse. While none of these films are the same, each adds to A24’s innumerable range of characters: villains, heroes, campy killers, queer main characters, and families of color trying their best. And in a media landscape defined by cookie-cutter (and often white) protagonists, it tracks that fans are flocking to a film company that gives them the opportunity to create Halloween costumes that feel as authentic as possible.
Amanda Garcia, a 25-year-old production assistant in California, was inspired by her love for A24 films to create a Halloween costume of Alice from the slasher Bodies Bodies Bodies. Garcia called the film a “Gen-Z Whodunnit,” and said she was drawn to it because of the movie’s humor and the actress behind Alice, Rachel Sennot, who has her own cult following on the app. She added that A24 is so popular on TikTok and among gen-z moviegoers because of its recognizable aesthetic and commitment to interesting storylines.
“The storylines, the characters, the look, the feel of A24 films is just different,” Garcia tells Rolling Stone. “A24 has really stayed true to their branding, so if you’re an A24 fan, you know the actors, the colors, even the aspect ratio.”
As a group, A24 has very little to do with the actual conception of some of its most popular films. Founded in 2012 by three media veterans, the company’s main focus is distribution, which means acquiring films at festivals and then managing all aspects of their release. In less than nine years, A24 offerings have been nominated 25 times at the Academy Awards, taken home seven of the coveted gold statues, and continued to win increasingly larger bits of cultural relevance each year.
On TikTok, horror movies can be notoriously hard to promote, as the app regularly prohibits content that is sexually explicit or violent. But that hasn’t stopped A24 films like Bodies Bodies Bodies, Pearl, Midsommar, and X from getting attention on the app. Quotes from Pearl and X, and all revolving around emotionally charged monologues from lead actress Mia Goth, have continued to grow on the app, with thousands of users dressing up in the characters’ most recognizable outfits and praising Goth for her utmost commitment to the bit. “The director yelled cut and Mia Goth heard cunt and went with it,” one TikTok reads.
Kate Whitley, an A24 fan based in Virginia, chose her Pearl Halloween costume because of her love of horror films that reinvent the final girl, a common horror trope of the last female character left alive to either confront a horror film’s monster or live to remember their atrocities. Extremely famous examples include Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Alien, or Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode in the Halloween films (who Whitley calls the OG hot girl). “The [appeal] of final girls is that at the end of this horrific thing you’ve just watched, it’s a badass woman standing as the final survivor,” Whitley tells Rolling Stone. “A24 movies are just so relevant and smart and full of plot twists, and they respect that history. I’ve seen so many Pearls and Maxxine costumes but also noticed a lot of Hereditary and especially Ladybird with the iconic pink cast. What makes them so special is that they’re pretty simple costumes but have such visible details it makes them all elevated.”
[Jonathan Fierro, another Pearl devotee, points to a long connection between the queer community and horror, which he thinks is part of the reason A24 is so popular with the younger (and gayer) generation. “People have made us out to be the villains so often that it makes sense that [queer] people are so drawn to movies that highlight an anti-hero or campy villain,” Fierro says. “Pearl was a 1,000 percent movie for the girls, the gays, and the theys. So as I was literally watching, I thought ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna be her for Halloween. Done.’”
And it’s not just horror films getting the costume treatment. Everything Everywhere All At Once, another A24 film with an all-Asian main cast, has also provided major costume options for this Halloween season. A martial arts multiverse film starring Michelle Yeoh and Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere has been praised for its honest and emotional depiction of a mother, daughter relationship. Trisha Fuerte, a Filipino cosplayer, tells Rolling Stone while she’s extremely skilled at doing her own takes on popular white characters, the film was one of the first times she’s been able to do a popular costume with so much of her identity already embedded in a character’s backstory.
“I’m a huge A24 fan in general, but [Everything Everywhere] is a movie that is all-encompassing and really hits every mark,” Fuerte says. “As a queer Asian, to see a queer Asian be the main focal point of the movie, and have all of these incredible costumes and also control not one, but all of the universes was really exciting to me.
Emilie Su, a student at Princeton, created a costume based on Everything Everywhere’s Raccacoonie character—a hibachi chef whose cooking skills come from the Raccoon hidden under his hat ala Ratatouille. She echoed Trisha’s sentiments, saying the film felt like a move past simple representation and offered viewers fully fleshed-out characters. “It felt like such a refreshing depiction of Asian characters,” Su says. “There was such a beautiful balance of their culture, and their heritage spread throughout the film without making it their sole identity.”
Su added that since 2019 she’s noticed a surge of mainstream films attempting to recreate the diversity of smaller indie companies like A24. And while she’s happy to see more Asian or Black representation in film, she’s always worried that something that grows so quickly could disappear just as easily if it doesn’t get the same financial support.
“My sister and I are so paranoid that in a year or two, people are just going to drop [diverse movies] again, and it’s going to be something that was just a phase,” Su says. “I hope that’s not the case, but you know, it’s always a fear.”
Every year, A24’s slate adds another awards season darling, and with it, further cements itself in the movie lexicon as a company that’s inspired a cult following. A24 fans who spoke to Rolling Stone identified a central tenet to the film company’s work: a genuine desire to represent as many weird, fun, and unique communities and experiences as possible. Fuerte tells Rolling Stone that “there’s something for everyone” in A24’s offering, and she hopes a more mainstream appreciation for firms like A24 will continue to push the needle on filmmaking forward—and encourage other movie studios to think about what their younger audiences really want to see.
“I hope the world appreciating [A24] and people seeing all of these crazy costumes online will give [Everything Everything] and other movies like it the flowers they deserve,” Fuerte says. “And it starts the campaign for Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar.”