10 Recent Horror Movies You May Have Missed
It’s Halloween! And for some people it’s a good excuse to watch a bunch of horror movies. I don’t need an excuse though, I like me some spooky movies. If you’re not sure what to pick tonight, here’s some worthwhile films from the past ten years that may not be on your radar.
Director: David Robert Mitchell.
Of everything on the list this is the one you’re most likely to have seen as it did generate a good amount of discussion. It’s an unconventional, dreamlike viewing experience that scares on a few different levels. There’s social fears in the curse being passed on through sexual contact, which acts as an analogy for STI’s and puts sexual taboos in the spotlight. Then there’s the supernatural, the spirit monster thing itself, taking on any form and…following. It walks slowly towards you, through anything, never stopping and delivering a violent death if it catches up to you. The only way to survive is to pass it on and doom someone else. The ambiguous time period, steady pace and electronic soundtrack make sure you’re good and unsettled for it It turns up.
Director: Ari Aster
If you saw Aster’s debut feature Hereditary you already know that he’s got an excellent eye for constructing visuals and can scare the absolute crap out of you. He quickly followed Hereditary up with Midsommar, in which he moves away from supernatural spooks in favour of human monsters. It returns to the themes of family and cult behaviour but takes us to the bright sunlight and ardent fields of a rural Swedish summer. It wears its The Wicker Man influences on its sleeves, but tells its own story of gaslighting manipulation and sacrifice. We’re told this tale through the drug induced haze of our lead characters (which includes Will Poulter and The Good Place star William Jackson Harper), building a surreal detachment interrupted by sudden, brutal violence.
Director: Gregory Plotkin
Ok, we’re not just dolling out pretentious, college academic artworks here. We’ve got your nasty, retro slashers just like you grew up with. In terms of film-making quality, Hell Fest is best described as basic, but it makes up for it in enthusiasm from the performers and art teams. A group of teens attend a massive haunting event at a theme park, where they’re hunted by a mask wearing, knife-wielding maniac. It’s straight-forward, features imaginative set pieces and has a lot of fun with the concept.
Director: Fede Alvarez
That’s right, we’re putting a remake on the list. Plenty of people skipped over this film, seeing it as is copying a classic, but this is an example of how to approach a remake. It keeps the framework of the original with a group of young people being attacked and possessed by an evil entity summoned by reading from the Book of the Dead. It then gives the characters more sharply defined personalities and gives it a drier tone. It features some real scary, painful to watch sequences and some extreme levels of gore. This is worth watching…unless you squeamish.
Director: Mike Flanagan
What better represents the past few years of horror than taking away the use of one of our major senses? The Quiet Place, Birdbox, Don’t Breathe…it’s been a trend. Hush was not only ahead of the curve and one of the better examples, but directed by Mike Flanagan who has established himself as one of the very best in the genre right now (and we’ll be seeing his latest, Doctor Sleep, very soon). A deaf writer who lives in an isolated region discovers that a masked intruder has crept into her house and must defend herself from the man, who she learns is here only for the thrill of it. This is a tightly constructed thriller that will be a real crowd pleaser.
BOUNUS DOUBLE FEATURE!
YOU’RE NEXT and READY OR NOT
Director: Adam Wingard and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Am I cheating to squeeze an extra movie onto the list? Absolutely. Deal with it. They both have a dark humour, take place in one big-ass house with a dysfunctional extended family and feature a kick-ass female lead. You’re Next concerns Erin, meeting her boyfriend’s shitty family of assholes only for dinner to be interrupted by a gang of animal masked hunters picking them off one-by-one. Ready or Not‘s leading lady, Grace, is marrying into the shitty Le Domas family and gets roped into playing a game of hide and seek, only to find her new family hunting her down. Whilst Erin reveals previously unmentioned survivalist training, Grace gets by on sheer determination. They’re fun, they’re shocking and they’re both damn well made.
Director: Alex Garland
If you’re the sort to complain about the Academy ignoring great genre movies, then this is for you! From the under-appreciated man behind Ex-Machina and 28 Days Later comes this weirdly cerebral meld of horror and science-fiction. Reading like an SCP entry, the story revolves around an exploratory exhibition into ‘The Shimmer’. What they find is that the space affected by The Shimmer reflects and refracts DNA, causing strange mutations and combinations of living creatures. After a poor test screening response the studio pushed to alter the film to make it ‘less intellectual’ and ‘less complicated’, leading it to be released on Netflix in many countries. So if you want to feel like a smarty-pants, get onto this one.
TRAIN TO BUSAN
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Maybe you don’t want intellectual and complicated. Maybe you want zombies. Lots and lots of zombies, dealt with in the most classic manner or trapping a group of strangers in an enclosed location while a horde of the undead surround them. The unique selling point is that the survivors are on a train, keeping the action literally on the move and adding an inevitable end point on the horizon. It’s an excellent entry into a crowded market that stands out thanks to its solid production values. When zombies are done this well it’s plenty of fun. See it before the pointless and disappointing Western remake.
Director: David Bruckner
Although it comes to us from Britain there’s a distinct Scandinavian tone to this creepy journey through a spooky forest. A group of friends, including the excellent Rafe Spall, go on a hiking trip through Sweden to mourn the violent death of their friend (when did the Swedish tourism board piss off the horror film industry?). When they try to take a shortcut through a nearby forest and shelter in a seemingly abandoned cabin they begin a path featuring night terrors, mysterious runes and effigies and eventually a cult looking for human sacrifices. It’s a slow burn that culminates in one unique and freaky looking creature.
THE LOVED ONES
Director: Sean Byrne
Now from Australia, and just edging on the ten year window, is this painful and disturbing kidnapping and torture thriller. Lola (the excellent Robin McLeavy) is dreaming of the perfect Prom experience complete with her crush Brent. When Brent politely rejects Lola’s invitation to accompany her to prom in favour of his girlfriend Lola decides to hold her own event. Along with her creepily attentive father, Lola abducts Brent and they take pleasure in humiliating and torturing him. Lola and Daddy are among the scariest, most unhinged sadists we’ve ever seen in horror and it’s worth watching for McLeavy’s performance alone. Kasey Chambers has never been more disturbing that in this movie.