9. The Witch
“The Witch” is one of the best atmospheric films of all time. It brings back the slowly-built nail-biting fear and suspense in the film and almost eschews traditional jump scares. Packed with subtext and shot with excellent black-and-white natural cinematography, “The Witch” doesn’t leave the viewer as the fear slowly increases. The great acting performances from both the child and the adult actors is a great addition.
10. What We Do in the Shadows
Funnyman Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement created a horror comedy film in “What We Do in the Shadows” that makes fun of the vampire traditions seen in cinema. In a self-aware documentary style, Clement and Waititi showed a different type of vampire and their special kinds of antics. Immensely funny and critical of vampire stereotypes, “What We Do in the Shadows” premiered in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
11. The Babadook
A small Australian psychological horror, “The Babadook” shows the desperation and depression of a single mother whose unobliging child increases the problem in their daily survival routine. It is a daring film that doesn’t fear to show a mother who is condemning her child and subconsciously wishing for his absence. Hailed by “The Exorcist” director as one of the most horrifying films he ever has seen, “The Babadook” also premiered in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival along with “What We Do in the Shadows.”
12. American Honey
“American Honey” has a brave runtime of 160 plus minutes, a rare event for an indie film. But this epic road film earns every penny of it, which made Sasha Lane an overnight star. Engrossing, exploding and meditative, “American Honey” competed for the Palme d’Or in the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and won the Jury Prize.
13. Green Room
Mostly enclosed in a single space, the punk chamber drama “Green Room” is horrifying and claustrophobic. Full of violence and gore, this film is not for everyone and requires a strong calmness of mind and heart. With a great soundtrack and editing, this film is one of the best genre films of this decade, and it was screened in the Directors Fortnight section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
“Mudbound” creates authenticity in its every frame concerning the lives of the Black citizens of America after the horrific World War II. The rough behavior of the white characters in the film was deemed as excessive by some people, but those who have seen such psychotic characters in their life will know the dedication of the director. A great mixture of a history lesson and poetic narrative, “Mudbound” is a great film by Black filmmaker Dee Rees.
15. Safety Not Guaranteed
“Safety Not Guaranteed” is one of the definitive films of the great but small-lived mumblecore movement. Starring Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza, this sci-fi comedy-drama is beguiling and heartfelt. The emotional message struck a chord, as did the real storyline in the beginning, and the characters are greatly created. “Safety Not Guaranteed” screened in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.
A majestic achievement of independent filmmaking, “Coherence” was created with no locked script and improvised dialogue and acting. Influenced by “The Twilight Zone,” director James Ward Byrkit created a mind-bending film around the subject of the Schrödinger’s cat equation in “Coherence.” The film is also genre-bending without trying too hard; the relationship drama of characters’ lives easily mixes with the sci-fi aspects. The lead characters were the actor friends of the director and their interactions are unbelievably real with lots of improvisation. The film first debuted at the Austin Fantastic Fest in 2013.
For a long time, “Tangerine” was only known as the film shot entirely on an iPhone. This is a rare achievement and had the stamps of indie making all over it, but the quality of the film was largely overlooked. “Tangerine” was immensely strong in its technical department despite not shot in a typical camera used for movies, and the focus on the Los Angeles sex subculture makes for a comedic gem. “Tangerine” premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.