Well, last year is history. Was it good for you? It was great for me. There were some great major releases last year ( Insidious Chapter 2, Evil Dead, The Conjuring). But there were also quite a few indie releases that were worth checking out.
The indie flicks: bastard sons of the blockbuster. You often come across people that turn their noses up to indie films, thinking that just because they were made on a tiny budget, or didn’t get a major release, means that they are somehow inferior. But us horror fans know differently. There are masterpieces awaiting us out there, that may barely see the light of day.
Most of these never saw a major release, but that doesn’t mean that they were not fantastic. Some of these are a recap, from my other “Under the Radar” posts and my horror reviews. Some of these are being mentioned for the first time!
So here you go, a partial “best of” list for movies that flew under the radar. I hope your 2014 is full of awesome nightmares, and more great indie films!
“Byzantium” is a completely new take on the vampire mythos, directed by seasoned veteran Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire). Not only does it change the origin of vampires, but it changes a few of the usual rules. Not to mention that even when it is it’s goriest, it is absolutely gorgeous to look at. If you missed this one, make sure to check it out.
Theatre Bizarre (2012)
Very rarely do i watch a film, and at the end say to myself or my roomful of cats: “What in the hell did I just watch??!!” Thatre Bizarre is an anthology film, with a very creepy wraparound story featuring living puppets and marionettes. each offering is different in style and tone, and it goes from humorous to down right WEIRD. Worth a watch!
Alyce Kills (2013)
“Alyce Kills” starts off slow. So slow, that I almost got bored with it. But when it picks up, it hits the 90MPH mark and doesn’t let up until it’s conclusion. Kudos to the film makers for throwing in several “Alice in Wonderland” references, which fit perfectly with Alyce’s slow descent into complete and total madness. There’s some awesome gore in this one, and proves that just because it wasn’t a blockbuster, it can be mind-blowing.
“Thale'” is a dark fairy-tale about Norwegian folk monsters called “Huldras”. These rulers of the forest can be your friend, or can be your worst nightmare. The story is told in a series of flashbacks, and builds up to a very gory ending. Besides the dodgy CGI work, this is a real winner. So if you can look past a couple of bad special effects shots, you will be very surprised by this little film.
Under the Bed (2012)
Who wasn’t terrified as a child of what could be lurking under the bed? This indie gem from Stephen C. Miller ( The Aggression Scale) preys on your childhood fears. There is very minimal CGI work, and the practical effects hit a home run. The movie will definitely appeal to children of the 80’s, as it reminds you of monster movies from that era. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great indie effort from an up and coming director. Buy this DVD!
Would you Rather? ( 2013)
“Would you Rather?” was a totally random pick for me. Im one of those people that get suckered in my cool cover art for a DVD. I figured if it’s terrible, I can return it to the redbox rental machine and it only cost $1. But I was totally surprised. what seems like a possible “Saw” rip-off at first, takes a turn and becomes it’s own beast. If you missed it at redbox, find it!
Jug Face (2013)
Wow…..what a bizarre movie. “Jug face” clearly had a shoestring budget, but that doesn’t stop it from being a creepy, tour de force of horror. I went into the movie knowing almost nothing about it, which only made the experience more interesting. Definitely check this one out!
The Seasoning House (2013)
“The Seasoning House” was as shocking and brutal as many other contemporary Horror films, up there with the likes of “Martyrs” or ” A Serbian Film”. It’s depiction of violence in the underground sex trade in the Balkans is hard to watch. Luckily it is also a blood-soaked revenge thriller!
American Mary (2012)
I was lucky enough to catch “American Mary” before it’s 2013 release. The Soska Sisters ( Dead Hooker in a Trunk) take their bizarre style of film, and take it to the next level. Katherine Isabelle is great as our title character, and you really feel her breakdown to sociopathic behavior. This is a 4 star effort from the sisters ( who even have a cameo in the film).
I don’t even remember where I first heard about “Haunter”, but the premise sounded awesome. Ghosts being haunted by ghosts? Sign me up. This little indie gem is slow at times, but a well crafted story and the use of minimal sets, really make an impact. I also love the throwbacks to the 1980’s, such as an Atari game, and New wave music posters. If you like your ghost stories with a twist, then check this one out.
While “Contracted” comes off silly at times, because of some dodgy effects and acting, it is completely saved by the fact that the story keeps you guessing until the credits roll. What has happened to our leading lady? Possession? A disease? This little indie film is a great example of what you can do with minimal budget, and expansive imagination.
“Cassadaga” does almost everything right. There’s a great story, and some really great gory effects ( human marionettes!!!). Throw in a fantastic leading lady (Kelen Coleman) , and some twists and turns., and you have the recipe for indie greatness. If you missed it, go out and find it!
That concludes my recap of some of my favorite indie films from this past year. I can’t wait to see what awaits us in 2014 in the world of “Under The Radar”. I hope I turned some of you on to movies that you might have missed or skipped over, and I can’t wait to show you some more of these indie films in 2014. Thanks for reading!