“Malignant” and “Old” had their fans but this year hardly any horror film got much of attention, at least commercially. More popular horrors of the year were sequels in already established franchises like “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do it”, “Don’t Breathe 2”, “Halloween Kills” and “A Quiet Place 2”. Hard to say they were much great and the less said about “Fear Streets” movies, the better but was it really an underwhelming year for horror in general? Not at all. At least we had “Titane”, a truly unpredictable and wild film. Then we had “Last Night in Soho”, which has a lot of problems in its script but is still watchable.
There were many more actually. Just for obvious reasons, some films went unnoticed and didn’t get much attention. However, this year was full of interesting, frightening, and/or original horror films. Here are ten of the finest horror films that didn’t get the recognition they deserve. There are all types of horror on the list, so hopefully, there’s something for everyone. So, if you’ve seen one of them and didn’t care about it, then check others – horror is such a rich genre that you can do so much with it.
Julia Meadows works as a teacher In the small town of Cispus Falls in central Oregon. Her brother Paul is the town sheriff. When a number of gruesome deaths occur, in which people are found cut up and dismembered, Paul is initially groping in the dark during the investigation. However, his sister soon suspects that the incidents are related to one of their problem students. Something is obviously wrong with the boy, and one day when she visits Lucas and his father at home, she makes a gruesome discovery. It’s better to not spoil anymore, as it’s fun to wait and see what’s going to happen.
Say what you want about Scott Cooper but the man constantly tries to explore different genres. His films are usually in the “classical filmmaking” area, which includes his feature film debut, a drama about the country singer “Crazy Heart” which certainly has some influences from “Tender Mercies” and a crime-drama “Black Mass”, which also its share of ”Goodfellas” influence. “Antlers” is where he goes up to do something more different and even more original. It’s also kind of cool that a director best known for sort of “Oscar-bait” films went off and did this. The script has some problems with underdeveloped themes but Cooper has created such a rich atmosphere here that it keeps you intrigued to the end. If you love “The X-Files”, this one feels like one of the best “Monster-of-the-Week” episodes.
9. Red Snow
If you leave out unintentionally funny horrors, we didn’t get many horror/comedies this year. “Red Snow” might be a good one for you. The film follows a quirky vampire novelist Olivia (Dennice Cisneros) who is preparing for Christmas at her Lake Tahoe cabin. She’s struggling to get a publisher but she believes that one day she’ll break through. She’s now working on a novel about a vampire and a human lady’s romantic entanglements in Romania. One day someone knocks at the door which she realizes is a vampire hunter and things will get out of control when she actually meets with a vampire.
If it all sounds too cliche or something, no worries – that’s the point. The movie has fun with a lot of genre tropes. Tonally, it might even remind you of “The Lost Boys” a bit. It’s certainly low-budget but it’s part of the charm, the production values are fine in general. The lead actors have good chemistry together and it helps us to root for them. Written and directed by Sean Nichols Lynch, “Red Snow” has enough silliness to balance it out with its frightening side. You might say the script is not as clever as it thinks to be but it’s still a lot of fun.
8. Till Death
Megan Fox is back. Well, kind of because hardly anyone talked about this film which is a shame since it’s a very effective horror/thriller. She plays Emma, an unhappily married woman who ends her extramarital affair with Tom in a New York hotel. The next morning she meets her husband, the lawyer Mark, in his office. On his desk, there is a file on the violent criminal Bobby Ray, who assaulted Emma eleven years ago and seriously injured her. When she asked why he was working on it, he replies evasively, Then they celebrate their wedding anniversary together. After more than an hour’s drive, they come to a house on the lake that they have rented before and where they have spent happy times. She wakes the next morning handcuffed to Mark who then commits suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Fox is not the greatest actress but she has an undeniable charisma that is compelling. That’s why this film works because you keep following her and a depiction of mental and emotional abuse her character goes through makes the film more disturbing and at the same time, thought-provoking. The director S.K. Dale has a found right tone for his film that keeps you on edge of your seats.
Hard to call 2021 one of the best years of cinema but it had a lot of promising feature film debuts. One of them belongs to Prano Bailey-Bond. She wrote a film on a very interesting subject. The lead character Enid is a film censor. Together with her colleagues, she watches films that are potentially harmful to young people on a daily basis. They do not always agree on everything. Enid types her recommendations with her personal impression of which scenes she finds particularly cruel or, depending on the distribution channel, should be cut from the film.
Enid’s co-workers call her “Little Miss Perfect” due to her strictness in recommending that violent content be cut or banned. However one “video nasty” she watches will set her out to solve the past mystery of her sister’s disappearance. Bit too ambitious for its good but mostly bold, original, and interesting film, “Censor” benefits from great period aesthetics and John Carpenter-esque score. Impressive visuals make it obvious that the new auteur is born.
6. Willy’s Wonderland
Nicolas Cage is one of the most original actors alive. The last decade had been so unusual for him, the internet has discovered the black comedy “Vampire’s Kiss” and seemingly thought it is some serious film where he just chooses to act weird for no reason as well as his actual failures “The Wicker Man” and “Deadfall”. It doesn’t help that he kept making straight-to-video action thrillers for his tax problems in those years but the more you know him, the more you understand that he’s actually a man who’s capable of everything; just in recently, he had dramas like “Pig” where he had to show some subtle, soulful acting and will deliver his movie star charisma as Dracula in soon. However, many people also love Cage for his unpredictable acting performances, where he just goes wild.
“Willy’s Wonderland” is not “Mandy” in that regard and it’d benefit from a better director but it has Cage forced to spend the night in a twisted amusement park where he faces threatening animatronic characters come to life. And that’s kind of enough to watch this movie. The concept could’ve been much better executed but it has Cage and that’s enough. it’s actually a unique performance for him since he doesn’t have any dialogue which shows that he can be effective even without his famous and remarkable line deliveries.