It is no secret to horror fans that some of the best films within the genre fly under the mainstream radar. Thanks to digital and streaming services, it is now easier than ever to travel off the beaten path and check out new content. While I could write an essay about indie horror films, here a few of the movies that aren’t to be missed!
The Ugly (1997)
While this New Zealand film initially had a successful festival run, it stopped getting the love that it deserves. The Ugly introduces mental asylum patient and serial killer, Simon Cartwright (Paolo Rotondo), as he begins meeting with his new psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Shumaker (Rebecca Hobbs). Through a series of flashbacks and stories, Simon reveals that he is tortured by the voices and apparitions of his victims as they urge him to continue killing. Their grisly appearance, complete with black blood, will send chills as they confront Simon.
Deep Dark (2015)
Aside from Deep Dark being the most recent release on this list, it is no doubt the most bizarre as well. A struggling artist, Hermann Haig (Sean McGrath), meets a talking hole in the wall that offers to help him get famous in the art world in exchange for his friendship. Not only does “she” provide Hermann with pieces for his artwork, but she is willing to kill for him. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, the hole has her sights set on taking the relationship to the next level. To sum things up, man meets a talking killer glory hole. Bloody brilliant…pun intended.
I always appreciate films that rely more on the viewer’s imagination than straight up action. With the entire film taking place within a small town radio station, we listen as townspeople call into the local radio announcer, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) to give accounts of a virus outbreak. Although the infected are not proper zombies, they end up going through the same motions. It is fascinating to piece together the whole situation as people tell their stories. It isn’t long before the virus creeps in to the station, wreaking havoc. One of my favorite things about Pontypool is Stephen McHattie’s deep, soothing radio voice.
Undoubtedly the second weirdest movie on this list, May follows the story of a woman who struggles with relationships because she is seen as a socially awkward freak. Her only friend is a doll that her mother made her, along with the advice “If you can’t find a friend, make one.” After multiple rejections, May takes that advice to heart and begins collecting the perfect pieces for her new creation. May is almost charming in a peculiar way, even though her awkwardness made me feel uncomfortable more than once.
One of my favorite directors from recent years is Adam Green. He quickly won me over with his humor and love of old school indie horror films and filmmaking. He blends both throughout his Hatchet series as a vengeful spirit named Victor Crowley slaughters everyone who trespasses into his Louisiana swamp. Starring horror icon Kane Hodder as the massive Victor Crowley, with cameos from Robert Englund and Tony Todd, this is a real treat for fans.
Although House of the Devil is from recent years, it feels very authentic to the 1980s, in which the film is set. Along with perfectly feathered hair and a Walkman, Director Ti West made this indie film with 16mm film and used filming techniques from thirty years ago. Jocelin Donahue plays Samantha, a babysitter hired by a mysterious couple who live in a secluded mansion. Although the plot is a slow burn, which is typical for Ti West flicks, the ending more than pays off.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
The mockumentary and black comedy horror follows killer Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel), who is preparing to join the ranks of famous slashers such as Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. In this universe, these killers are very real and they are regular men who turned into word of mouth legends, hence the stories we know today. Leslie is allowing a film crew to document the steps he has to take to physically and mentally prepare for his spree of killing sexed-up teens in the woods. The training bits are absolutely hilarious, along with how they dissect slasher flicks. It is as must-see for fans of this subgenre, but know that you’ll never watch slashers the same again.
I have a huge passion for indie horror films and these are just a few flicks that have helped fuel my obsession over the years. The horror genre had some incredible additions over the last year and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2016!
“A talking, killer glory hole”!? I have to see this!
Awesome article Melissa, sharing in my horror writers group.
Thank you so much! May I ask which group?