6. Overlord (2018)
Since George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, zombies have become an inseparable part of pop culture. In the last decades we’ve seen them come and go in all possible shapes and sizes. With popular names like Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, World War Z, and of course The Walking Dead series, it might surprise that zombie fatigue hasn’t set in yet. But as long as the genre keeps innovating what is there to complain about? With Jim Jarmusch tackling the monsters in his own Jarmusch way in The Dead Don’t Die and genre-mixing movies like Overlord it seems like zombies won’t die anytime soon.
In Overlord a group of American soldiers are on a mission to destroy a German radio tower on top of the church in a little town. When they infiltrate the village, they discover a secret German base where the Nazi’s perform gruesome experiments. The story quickly turns into a full on gorefest when Nazi zombies are unleashed on the soldiers. The great sequences of over the top gore are not the only thing the movie has going for it. It’s only a small part of a surprisingly fun story with well fletched out characters. Of course, in the end it’s mostly about the Nazi zombies, which make for a refreshing war-horror movie with a campy b-movie feel to it.
7. Climax (2018)
Gaspar Noé has established himself as an auteur filmmaker that confronts and shocks with his movies including Irreversible and Enter the Void. He has made himself known for his always unconventional ways of portraying violence, sex, and drugs. His movies always manage to spark up controversy by testing the audience’s limits. With Climax he doesn’t fail to do so again.
Climax has an ensemble cast of professional dancers, including Sofia Boutella. Most of the cast had no prior acting experience, which doesn’t show at all in their performances.
The story follows the group of dancers throwing a party after their rehearsal. However, because someone spiked the drinks, the party becomes increasingly lurid and takes one dark turn after the other.
Climax is an impressive piece of filmmaking that is mostly unscripted. Most conversations are improvised and so are a lot of plot points. Because the film was shot chronologically, Gaspar Noè kept the freedom to let his cast think of plot developments on the spot. Knowing that there are some very long takes (one of 42 minutes) makes this approach to filming all the more impressive.
8. Unsane (2018)
Steven Soderbergh has long been a household name in Hollywood. He is most known for his Oceans trilogy and recently his movie Contagion is back in popular demand. But besides his popular movies he has always been a frontrunner in modern indie films which often aren’t seen by many. With his mind set on innovation, he keeps trying out new experimental filming methods, which always make for something unique. With Unsane he again dives into an unconventional way of filmmaking by filming the entire movie on iPhones.
In Unsane Sawyer, a young woman played by Claire Foy, tries to seek help for her traumas caused by her experiences with a stalker. While seeking help she involuntarily commits herself to a mental institution, which is out for scamming her insurance company. In the mental institution her sanity is put to the test and she comes to wonder if she really might be crazy.
Steven Soderbergh’s decision to film on iPhones could have been a wrong choice for any other story, but in Unsane it works perfectly. The style of filming is really claustrophobic and stress-inducing, putting the viewer in the shoes of Sawyer. This makes Unsane a unique watching experience and a great addition to Soderbergh’s filmography.
9. The Wailing (2016)
The second Korean horror movie on this list is something completely different. Where Bedevilled found its horror in gore, The Wailing is just good old scary.
It focusses on the strange occurrences that happened after a Japanese stranger settles in a little Korean village. People get a mysterious rash which makes them crazy enough to murder their own family. A policeman gets invested in the case when his daughter might be a victim of the strange sickness. The sick people have a little in common with zombies, but because they still have a consciousness, they end up being a lot scarier.
The movie is a long sit with its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, but once you’re invested in the story it doesn’t let go. It leads you in with interchanging laughs and scares, but gradually gets more bleak and scarier by the minute. It has some things in common with the previously mentioned ‘I Saw the Devil’ so fans of that should be in for a ride. With the zombie like infected, the popular ‘Train to Busan’ comes to mind while watching as well.
10. The Neon Demon (2016)
It’s a dog eat dog world out there and Nicolas Winding Refn has a thing or two to say about it. In this highly stylized psychological horror, Elle Fanning plays a beautiful aspiring model, Jesse, trying to make it in LA. Her beauty doesn’t go unnoticed by anyone, especially by other models who will do anything to get what Jesse has. A sinister metaphor for not only the fashion industry, also applicable to the LA entertainment industry and probably even more than that.
Nicolas Winding Refn goes all out with his love for vibrant contrasting colors and heavily stylized production design, which he already showed in Only God Forgives and Drive. Like his previous films, his style makes for a mixed critical response, some having issues with the often empty-feeling characters which might just be a thing of acquired taste.
Undeniably, the horror elements of the movie are some that just have to be respected. The surreal, almost Buñuel-like moments make The Neon Demon a unique watch, not easily forgotten.