6. Calibre (2018)
Vaughn and Marcus are lifelong friends. They decide to go on a hunting trip to a remote part of the Scottish Highlands, but nothing could have prepared them for the situation that they soon find themselves in – a situation that ends up testing them both them and their friendship to the limit.
Calibre makes use of the stunning setting of the Scottish Highlands to enhance the feeling of isolation and of having nowhere to run to, in a thriller which takes a situation that could likely happen to any of us. Throughout the film, the audience can put themselves in the shoes of the main characters and wonder what they would do.
Calibre builds up tension well throughout, it is not immediately obvious where the danger is going to come from or from who and this makes Calibre a suspenseful and intriguing watch. Calibre is yet another example of a low budget film that shows how a few key ingredients can come together to make a film that will leave you questioning your own morals.
7. Super Dark Times (2017)
Teenagers Zach and Josh are best friends living in a leafy suburb in upstate New York in the late nineties. When a horrifying accident occurs one evening, the boys suddenly find a wedge driven between them and the once inseparable duo begin to drift apart as they deal with the accident in different ways. When circumstances take a turn for the worse and spiral into violence, one of the boys makes a shocking discovery.
Super Dark Times is a coming of age tale, and as the title suggests, has a dark twist. The film’s tone is established right from the very start with the visuals and cinematography of the film enhancing this. Overall, this gives the film a grim and moody look – not unlike the teenagers who take centre stage.
There is a lot in Super Dark Times that feels reminiscent. It is not because of the story that unfolds but because of the characters within it and the close friendships that they have that are unique to being a teenager – the way that you talk with your friends at that age is a way that you will probably never talk to friends again. The setting of the nineties also evokes nostalgia, and the suburb location will be recognisable to so much of the audience.
This shocking and dark film will not be to everyone’s taste, but Super Dark Times marks an impressive debut from its director Kevin Phillips that is worth seeking out.
8. Green Room (2015)
Struggling rock band, The Ain’t Rights, are on the verge of calling it a day after a long and unsuccessful tour when they get a last-minute booking at an isolated club in the woods. When they witness a violent incident backstage that they were not meant to see, they become trapped in the green room of the club. The club’s depraved owner will do anything to ensure that his nefarious secrets are kept that way, but The Ain’t Rights decide that they are not going down without a fight.
Green Room is a clever film which utilises its confined settings to intensify the situation that the band finds themselves in and amplify the tension to the max. The film plays on claustrophobia and the violence that ensues in the cramped space is unflinching.
One of the biggest joys of watching this dark and grim film is seeing Patrick Stewart as an utterly deplorable villain, so used is the audience to seeing Stewart putting on the charm and being the quintessential British gentleman. He is joined by a great supporting cast, and in particular many might say that this is Anton Yelchin’s best film – it is certainly a great showcase of his talent.
9. Cam (2018)
Alice is an ambitious camgirl who is determined to be one of the highest rated girls on the site where she posts daily videos to her followers. One day Alice realises that her show has been taken over by her exact replica. As this copy of her takes over more of Alice’s identity, both on the internet and in real life, Alice finds herself desperately struggling to take back control.
This film was praised upon its release and many referred to it as a Black Mirror-esque, clever, social commentary on how much we have invested in our digital lives. Cam can certainly be interpreted that way with its smart premise. It is true that today’s modern society, we do live so much of our lives online and so it is not too much of an exaggeration that one of our greatest fears would be to have our identity stolen and our online lives toyed with in a way that affects our real lives as well. Cam plays on those fears and then intensifies them and is a film that leaves audience with much to debate.
10. The Invitation (2015)
When Will is invited to a dinner party at his ex-wife’s house with her new husband and their friends, he goes along reluctantly. Though he and his former wife share a traumatic past that no one else can understand, he is not keen to revisit the house where past memories linger. Soon it becomes apparent that his ex-wife and her new husband may have sinister plans for the gathered guests.
The Invitation effectively builds up the tension and suspense, leaving the audience guessing throughout. This build up is such a slow burn that by the time the big finale comes, the audience is on the edge of their seat.
The Invitation is a clever thriller film which employs a good use of horror as well. The outright horror sequences are shocking, and this mix of tones works really well in changing the audience’s expectations for the film. The Invitation all leads to an ending that is extremely unexpected and so if you like films which are not predictable then The Invitation certainly falls into that category.
Considering the low budget, The Invitation works very well within its limitations and even manages to make certain elements of the film appear as though the budget was much higher – for example the sound design and editing is really effective.