Tis the season to get spooky, but a lot of people who like to get spooky have seen just about everything. You can only watch Get Out and A Quiet Place so many times before things get boring. Sure, there are Halloween classics that people can return to, but why not check out something a little more underground?
This list is for people who are sick of the mainstream. It’s a list for people who want to give the little guys a chance. It’s a list for people who feel like they’ve seen everything. Below, there will be fifteen recent horror movies that you might have missed.
With so many horror movies carelessly thrown into theaters, it may be hard to catch up with some of the smaller titles. More importantly, this is great for people who are running low on horror movies. Don’t sit through wide release duds like Slenderman or The Nun. These movies actually have some sort of value.
1. The Lure
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The Lure cannot fairly be classified as a movie with one single genre. To watch this movie and claim that it’s “only a horror movie” would be a blatant lie. Similarly, it would be unfair to say that it’s “only” a romance movie or “only” a fantasy movie.
It’s a whole lot of everything rolled into a ball that, by some miracle, is a joy to watch from start to finish. So many moving parts shouldn’t result in a movie this captivating. Somehow, everyone involve came together to create movie that’s heartwarming, creepy, and psychologically stimulating. Oh yeah, and did we mention it’s a musical?
All of that may not give readers a clear picture regarding what they’re getting into, so let’s make things easier. The Lure is a Polish musical with a horror twist loosely based on The Little Mermaid. The mermaids in this movie take influence from older folklore rather than Hans Christian Andersen or Disney.
In other words, they closely resemble sirens due to their desire to lure in gullible humans before sinking some teeth into their flesh. That’s where the horror comes into play. The romantic elements are more akin to the kid-friendly versions, which ultimately results in a sort of “best of both worlds” scenario. Essentially, everything works because the various pieces work exceptionally well together.
In fact, every element that should feel out-of-place doesn’t. The Lure is a mishmash of so many different ideas, but all of those ideas come together in a way that feels surprisingly coherent. In the wrong hands, this movie could have been an utter disaster. Thankfully, catchy tunes and clever genre blending make for a completely unique viewing experience that’s hard to forget.
2. Ghost Stories
Sure, most people know about Hereditary, A Quiet Place, and Halloween, but buried deep within 2018 is a horror underdog that’s begging for some more attention. That movie is called Ghost Stories, and it’s one of the best movies of the year so far, horror or otherwise.
Of course, it’s easy to hype a movie up without backing anything up. It would be easy to just say, “hey, this is an amazing movie.” That, of course, is not the point of this list. If this movie is going to be compared to some top notch horror movies, there better be some evidence to back that up. Well, suspicious readers, don’t fret.
There is a decent amount of mystery tied to the movie, and to ruin that mystery would be an injustice. However, unlike certain movies on this list, a brief summary of the premise shouldn’t take away from the experience.
Ghost Stories revolves around a professor who seeks to prove that any and all ghost stories can be explained through rational thinking and science. His stubborn anti-paranormal attitude is eventually challenged when he’s made to investigate several “unsolvable stories.” Throughout the course of the movie, these unsolvable stories come together to create something of an anthology. The story of the investigative professor acts as a framing device.
Here’s the kicker: for once, the framing device is just as interesting as the short films comprising this anthology. The shorts are creepy, thought-provoking, and entertaining, but so is the overarching story. In fact, the movie is an all-around success, which is exactly why it sits near the top of this list. So many anthology movies fail to live up to their potential because a large fraction just isn’t as good as the rest.
Ghost Stories is an all-around solid movie. It’s equally important to note that this is also a consistently intelligent movie. Forgoing trashy twenty-minute clips in favor of frightening shorts that keep the brain active, it’s hard to find much to complain about.
The only potential problem could be the ending. While this writer found it to be brilliant, others may leave disappointed. Even if you can’t get behind the ending, it’s still really easy to appreciate everything beforehand. This is exceptional filmmaking through-and-through, and it deserves an audience that can verify that.
Oddly enough, the subgenre of “heavy metal horror movies” has been growing since the mid-2010s. This year’s Pyewacket injects some heavy metal occultist stuff into its strange tale of family conflict. Alongside that, The Devil’s Candy made something of a splash following its release.
While those movies were great, the most noteworthy horror movie about heavy metal has got to be 2015’s Deathgasm, which revolves around some metalheads accidentally summoning a demon. Like most horror movies that incorporate metal music, Deathgasm wisely plays into the fact that this particular genre of music is often associated with black magic and satan. That’s where we get the horror.
A premise as silly as this would hardly benefit from a pitch black tone. Luckily, Deathgasm takes the horror comedy approach with excellent results. To be fair, this could be because New Zealand horror movies love to incorporate comedy. What We Do in the Shadows, Housebound, and Dead Alive are some of New Zealand’s best horror movies. They also happen to be acclaimed comedies.
At the same time, it could just be because the director knew this wouldn’t work without some laughs. Frankly, that’s one hundred percent true. Deathgasm benefits immensely from a perfect blend of horror and comedy. The concept is wild, so a little camp mixed with a lot of jokes tends to help. This of course means that it’s never all that scary, but it still features every element a person would want to find in a horror movie.
The high placement on the list should hint at the fact that there’s little to complain about here. The quirky New Zealand madmen have done it again. Deathgasm is a fast-paced joyride that feels right at home alongside other horror comedies. Don’t let it be overshadowed by bigger releases. It deserves a spot in a marathon with movies like Shaun of the Dead and Army of Darkness.
4. Starry Eyes
Let’s start with a fun fact about Starry Eyes: a chunk of the budget was raised through Kickstarter, so don’t say Crowdfunding doesn’t do anything for people. Crowdfunding has brought us all sorts of strange, low-budget movies, and this one is just one of many examples.
Strange and low-budget is perhaps the best way to describe Starry Eyes actually. After all, it’s unlike anything you’re likely to see. Hollywood doing Hollywood isn’t exactly anything new, but this takes a different approach entirely, and it works.
Without giving too much away, it’s about an aspiring actress who will do just about anything to achieve fame. “Just about anything” eventually results in something twisted horror fun.
In an effort to keep some of the more alluring aspects a secret, just be aware that the lengths this woman will go to become a star are alarming to say the least. Putting fame as the focal point allows for several themes to build in conjunction with the scarier moments. The themes aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but the ways they’re approached are. Starry Eyes is a success because it’s simultaneously freaky and provocative.
All of this praise should convince people to seek it out, but be aware that it doesn’t exactly have universal appeal. With a 6.0 on IMDb, it’s safe to say that this movie isn’t for everyone. However, it’s absolutely worth uncovering whether or not this is a movie for you. It is, no surprise, a polarizing work of fiction. The good news is that the people who will love it should really love it. At the very least, dive in and give it a shot.
5. The Monster
Simplistic and traditional are two words that could easily be used to describe The Monster. At first glance, this may appear to be a movie that plays thing safe. Even the title is bland and unoriginal. All of this sounds like a waste of time until you sit down and watch the movie.
Set any and all low expectations aside and soak in a movie that knows a thing or two about how to build suspense and leave viewers on the edge of their seats. It doesn’t need to do anything creative to be effective. It just lets the suspense do the talking.
Should we really be surprised though? This is coming from director Bryan Bertino, who’s known for the flawed but chilling movie The Stranger. While his breakthrough hit had pacing problems and some seriously idiotic main characters, Bertino clearly knew how to keep audiences frightened. This skill was absent from his second directorial effort, Mockingbird. It returned in his most recent effort, and thank goodness.
6. A Dark Song
Horror movies that deal with the topic of loss seem to have a leg up on the competition. Think about the critical acclaim earned by movies like The Babadook, The Orphanage, and Hereditary. “Mourning through horror movies” doesn’t sound like something that can be accomplished, but you’d be surprised.
Given the prevalence of the afterlife and the supernatural in the genre, this touchy topic becomes something that can be tackled in surprisingly creative ways. While everybody and their mother has talked about The Babadook, there’s a hidden gem that also deals with grief: A Dark Song.
In the movie, a grieving mother contacts an occultist who promises to get her in touch with her deceased son. Of course, she has to jump through all kinds of hoops before that even becomes a possibility. The mother’s failure to give up is of course the key to the movie’s success.
The horror elements are fine, but viewers are more likely to feel care about the thematic buildup from start to finish. Clearly, something is being said about the lengths people will go to in order to reconnect with lost loved ones. The fascinating part is seeing what the filmmakers are willing to show you.
As with a lot of indie horror flicks, this is a more intellectual viewing experience. As pretentious as that may sound, the value seriously doesn’t come from the horror. A Dark Song isn’t all that scary, but that’s okay. It has a lot to say and it does a good job when it comes to providing food for thought. It’s not the most effective horror movie about loss, but it’s another worthy addition.
V/H/S and its sequel helped repopularize horror anthology movies. While not everyone was a fan of the format, especially because of the hit-or-miss quality of such movies, a lot of horror fans were willing to embrace the inconsistency. This is especially the case because the highs were high enough to warrant an entire viewing.
Southbound is a rare anthology movie where every self-contained story is worthwhile. Some are obviously better than others, but there isn’t a single short film that feels like a waste of time. This can’t even be said about the V/H/S series. Long story short, the directors that worked on Southbound have put together a movie that feels more consistent than we’ve become accustomed to.
The introductory short is arguably the weakest, but it helps set up the rest of the movie, so it gets a pass. Meanwhile, the strongest shorts include The Accident, directed by David Bruckner, and Siren, directed by Roxanne Benjamin. These Twilight Zone-esque mind benders are noticeably smarter than other anthology vignettes. Trading gore for psychological twists and turns, it has a leg up on movies like ABCs of Death and All Hallows’ Eve. It goes for a different type of audience and it succeeds as a result.
Those looking for a cohesive story will leave disappointed. Then again, knowingly going into an anthology looking for a cohesive story might be a bad idea. The real appeal here is the fact that the movie essentially features all wins. Sure, it’s not completely consistent, but it’s hard to find a short that’s not worth watching. Consider that a towering achievement.