Horror is the angry, readheaded stepchild of the movie industry. EVERYONE likes a good love story, which is why “Titanic” made millions not once, but twice in theaters. The general public actually endured this three hour plus tale of love aboard a doomed ocean-liner, multiple times at the theater.
And what about comedy? People love to laugh. It’s universal. No matter what language you speak, you love to laugh. Right? How many more “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” turds will we have to endure over the years? If you are like me, you probably wonder who funds these kinds of films. But hey, I get it.
Not everyone wants to see demons eviscerating teenagers, rivers of blood, or machete wielding maniacs. I guess we (the “Royal We”, the horror community) have what some would call…an acquired taste?
So because Horror is often treated the neglected, angry ginger kid of the film world, there is a sad lack of funding for films. But that’s ok. As horror fans, we define the word “fanatical”, and we have a tight-knit group that passes films around, and gets the word out. Many indie horror films go on to be cult classics, enjoyed by generations. So here are 5 of my more recent favorites, that I think are worth a watch.
1. Dark Circles (2012)
If you have read any of my other posts here at Horror-movies.ca, you will know that I often will buy/rent/download a movie based simply on the cover art of the DVD. This is a seriously bad habit of mine, as I often end up with completely un-watchable crap. But not this time! The DVD cover looked cool, so I grabbed it up.
A couple moves to the woods, in a remote location, to get away from city life and raise their kid. They find that they may not be alone.
“Dark Circles” explores one of my biggest fears…parenthood, and the sleep deprivation that comes with having a newborn baby. There are some seriously creepy moments in this one, and the film keeps you guessing until the end.
2. Detention of the Dead (2012)
Cheesy, cheese cheese, cheese bread cheesiness.
But I loved it. I don’t know why I loved it so much. It’s silly pothead humor, with tongue-in-cheek gore. There are plenty of horror easter eggs hidden in the movie and dialog as well ( “Tom Savini Library” ). Not to mention the obvious comparisons to 80’s teen classics like “The Breakfast Club”. I thought the movie was fun, and I knew exactly what I was getting into from the get-go. That being said, “Detention of the Dead” will not be everyone’s cup of tea.
It also teaches you a valuable film-making lesson: Bad blonde wigs do not look good on anyone.
3. Static (2012)
“Static” is one of those films that slipped completely under the radar. Did this even come out in theaters?
There is some real star power here, featuring some horror veterans: Milo Ventimiglia ( Heroes, Kiss of the Damned, The Divide) and Sarah Paxton ( The Innkeepers, Last House on the Left). This is the first offering by director Todd Levin, and if it is any indication of his skill, I cant wait to see what he does next.
There are some twists and turns in “Static”, and you have it all figured out long before everything gets wrapped up in the end. This doesn’t cheapen the film at all, however.
4. A Horrible Way To Die (2010)
Before Adam Wingard was directing “You’re Next” or working with Ti West on the “VHS” movies, he made this gem. It didn’t see a huge release, but word of mouth definitely got this film some well-deserved attention.
While definitely low-budget, the writing and acting are top tier. There’s a slow burn plot, that jumps around, telling the story through flashbacks until we finally reach the climax. You will recognize some actors from “Youre Next”, which I think is pretty cool.
Wingard is someone that we should all be watching. He is currently wrapping up a movie called “The Guest”.
5. Byzantium (2012)
I saved the best for last.
I am totally surprised that this was not a major release. It has some big stars, an accomplished director, and a well written story. For whatever reason, it did not see a widespread release, despite the fact that a good bit of money was spent on it.
Directed by Neil Jordan ( “Interview with the Vampire”, “In Dreams”) we have a new spin on the vampire tale. “Byzantium” changes the rules of being an undead immortal. It’s hard to write something interesting when it comes to the vampire genre, but Jordan’s film manages to not only re-invent the idea of what vampires are, but also show that the vampire genre isn’t dead. The film is beautifully shot, and every scene pops with sparse colors. Our lead actresses (Gemma Arterton and Saoirise Ronan) are outstanding in their roles and believable in their 200 year relationship with one another.
What really makes “Byzantium” stand out is the emotional depth of the story. It is essentially a study on family, and the story has a lot of heart.
Of course, there is a lot of blood too.