The last few years of horror productions have shown a lot of technical ingenuity and imagination. The screenplays became smarter, there was more focus on choosing the right cast, and talented new directors proved that horror films are about more than ghosts and monsters hiding behind the curtain on a stormy night.
After films like “Midsommar,” “Us” or “It Chapter Two,” it was quite difficult for other productions of the horror scene to be in the centre of attention in 2019. But this certainly does not mean that there was any lack of great horror films in 2019. On the contrary, the list of amazing and scary horror films of 2019 can be very long, with new independent productions, the usual Halloween releases, and some international spooky films.
Below you can find some of those films that did not receive enough attention. Nonetheless, these films can give you chills on any kind of night or day.
Directed and written by Scott Neck and Bryan Woods, “Haunt” is an American production about a group of college friends who are looking for an adventure on a Halloween night, and end up getting more than they expected or wanted.
The story in “Haunt” is certainly not new, and the beginning of the film offers nothing more than the typical slasher horror, with the group splitting up way too early as well as some very predictable scenes.
However, the two talented directors (the creators of “A Quiet Place”) do not disappoint with “Haunt,” despite the foreseeable twists. As the characters in the film become face-to-face with their fears and nightmares in a labyrinth of scary costumes and blurred rooms, terror and fright are delivered through more than cheap jump scares.
An interesting aspect of the film is the emphasis on the psychological behaviour of the characters. In the case of Harper, the main character in “Haunt,” the flashbacks and references to her past throughout the film offer an interesting perspective to the main plot.
In the end, even with a mediocre story, “Haunt” delivers exactly what it’s supposed to deliver: fright, suspense, bloody scenes, and Halloween entertainment.
9. Daniel Isn’t Real
“Daniel Isn’t Real,” directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer, is a psychological horror film about the complicated and dangerous relationship between an adult and his imaginary friend. It is based on the novel “This Way I Was Saved,” written by Brian DeLeeuw, who also wrote the screenplay for the film.
The film presents the peculiar and dangerous relationship between Luke, a young adult who is losing touch with reality, and Daniel, his imaginary friend.
The relationship between the two starts when Luke is a child, but from the start of the film, when Daniel appears to be an innocent invention of a child’s rich imagination, a sinister side of Daniel emerges. Luke eventually lets go of his imaginary friend, but Daniel returns to his life when they are both grown-ups. At first, it is all fun and games, with Daniel helping Luke gain the confidence he needs to live his life, but as expected, things slowly start to grow threatening again and the level of terror has new dimensions.
The acting, with Miles Robbins playing Luke and Patrick Schwarzenegger as Daniel, is very good. If there is any problem with this film, it’s that the suspense does not emerge enough from the story because there is too much focus on what is visual, not leaving enough to the imagination of the audience. The visual part also had some flaws and poor effects, which is understandable for a low-budget film, but could have been left out and compensated with better dialogue.
Overall, the narrative is engrossing, and in dealing with mental illness, inner demons, and past traumas that never cease to haunt their victims, “Daniel Isn’t Real” manages to be a strong psychological horror.
“Harpoon” is a Canadian film directed by Rob Grant, an already skilled editor and director of horror films.
In this violent horror, three friends remain stranded at sea on a yacht for days and conflicts soon emerge between them. The three friends are Jonah and Richard and the latter’s girlfriend, the attractive Sasha. They are presented to us by a narrator’s voice, one that could be considered a fourth character, making observations about the nature of friendship. The introduction of the voice-over in the film, with its philosophical and sarcastic tone, creates a distinctive atmosphere, one that actually saves the film in the moments when the plot seems too extreme.
From the beginning of the film, it becomes clear that the relationships and the behaviour between the three friends are very tense and disturbed. The film opens with a brutal fight between the two guys caused by Richard’s jealousy, who suspects Jonah of having an affair with Sasha. This conflict is rapidly solved, but their adventure on the yacht brings other past secrets and issues into discussion and leads to new scenes of violence and brutality. When they remain adrift in the great and terrifying ocean, danger and bad luck take the worst out of these already troubled people.
The film, which is ludicrous in the beginning with its funny dialogues, actually manages to show disturbing truths about human nature. The interesting aspect is that it does so in a very natural way, without complex psychological tricks or fancy special effects. “Harpoon” is more than the bloody and violent horror it seems at first sight. It is a film that becomes scary not because of its violence, but because it succeeds in showing the very thin line between sanity and insanity.
7. The Nest
The Italian horror film “The Nest” is a dramatic and emotional story centred around a paraplegic boy who is caught between his mother’s authority and his love for a new girl who wants to show him the world. Though it is one of the least talked about horror films of 2019, “The Nest” skillfully combines mystery and the emotions of adolescence in this captivating film, directed by Roberto De Feo.
“The Nest” starts like just another ghost story in a big and mysterious mansion, only to prove that real horror can come from totally unexpected places.
The protagonist is Samuel, a sensitive boy who lives in an old mansion with his mother and a few other people. His father is dead after an accident, the same which left Samuel in a wheelchair. Their life in the imposing and gothic mansion is almost isolated, which gradually changes when the bright young lady Denise arrives at their house.
Much of the horror comes from the setting, with old furniture, long hallways, and abandoned vehicles. The characters’ look, from clothes to their makeup in a Victorian gothic style, also contribute to the mysterious setting and are intriguing for the story. While everyone is dressed in old-fashioned outfits, Denise looks like a modern girl, with worn-out contemporary clothes and an iPod, creating a strange but important contrast.
De Feo’s “The Nest” is a film that lacks profoundness in some of its key moments, but its technique, with multiple layers of mystery and suspense, is gripping and ultimately offers a smart and frightening horror.
Produced by Blumhouse, “Sweetheart” is a story about survival on a deserted island that manages to express the anxiety caused by loneliness and to capture the fright of real dangers.
Jenn, played by Kiersey Clemons, remains on a deserted tropical island after her boat sinks during a storm. After burying one of her friends, she discovers the presence of a terrifying two-legged creature. Scared, anxious, and confused by the situation, she tries to survive and to fight the sea monster, and keep her mental sanity in an unfriendly place.
A film about surviving on an island while being threatened by a creepy big monster, “Sweetheart” is without a doubt very terrifying. At the same time, it is very different from other monster horror films because most of the focus is on the main protagonist and her struggle. The behaviour and reactions of its main protagonist make the story engaging, and Clemons’ role as Jenn is one of the greatest choices in the film. She delivers an almost perfect performance that is very natural and expressive.
“Sweetheart” is J.D. Dillard’s second film, but he definitely succeeds in offering a captivating suspenseful story from the beginning until the end.