With the recent success and praise of stylish indie chillers like It Follows (2014) and The Babadook(2014), Independent Horror films have gained popularity and momentum. This current overpopulation of content has sadly caused some gems to slide under the radar. Here is a list of 9 must-see Independent Horror movies over the last ten years. Some you may have heard of, some you may have overlooked. All are memorable and worth a watch.
The Wizard of Gore (2008)
Director Jeremy Kasten‘s remake of the classic Hershell Gordon Lewis gore-fest features a cast of genre favorites including Crispin Hellion Glover (Back to the Future), Jeffrey Combs (The Re-Animator), Brad Dourif (The voice of Chucky) and Near Dark‘s Joshua Miller. The bizarre narrative style has something of a David Lynch tone. You might find yourself going back for repeat viewings to try and piece it all together. The camera work feels as if you are walking into a 1960’s Batman villain lair filled with extras out of a Jess Franco movie. If that doesn’t do it for you, the naked cast of Suicide Girls being torn apart by jaw-dropping fore effects will. Nope. I’m not going to talk about Crispy’s codpiece.
Sometimes billed as a sequel to their previous film, “Glam Gore aka Last Caress“, Francois Gaillard and Christophe Robin‘s Blackaria stands all on it’s own as a candy-coated Neo-Giallo nightmare with elegant visual style and raw indie flavor. The blend of beautiful women and hyper-sexualized violence bathed in red and green light brings a heavy Mario Bava vibe. I find myself going back to this film for repeat viewings and I highly recommend it to anyone with a pulse.
Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010)
Do you hear that? It’s the sound of your mind melting from watching Beyond the Black Rainbow. How would I try to put this movie into words? It’s essentially a recipe for madness. Stick David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, and Thx-1138 in a blender. Hit puree. Garnish with a twist of slasher movie and enjoy. Taste the rainbow.
Something I often do when friends come to visit is put the first ten minutes of this movie on. I like to see the impact it has on them. Most of the time, they want to keep watching it. They always ask me the name. Detention is part slasher, part high school comedy, and part time travel movie. How does this all seem to work so well? You do not have time to figure it out as you are bombarded with razor-sharp dialogue and rapid-fire editing that makes the films of Edgar Wright come to mind. Produced independently and later purchased by Sony, Detention seemed to somehow get completely buried. Watching it you get the feeling that it could have been a huge hit with the right marketing push. Not sure what happened there. Detention‘s Director Joseph Kahn is the same man who made that super crazy violent and hilarious R-rated Power Ranger short film that went viral. He also directs tons of music videos. Detention stars Josh Hucherson (who also Produced the film), Shamlee Caswell(The Conjuring), Dane Cook (who is actually really great in this) and K-Mart from the Resident Evil series, who has all the best lines in the movie.
American Mary (2013)
The Soska Sisters do not pull any punches with this brutal thriller following a young Doctor’s descent into the dark world of unnecessary surgeries and extreme body modification. Katherine Isabelle (Freddy Vs. Jason) plays that pitch-perfect tone of fierce and jaded that she showed us in 2000’s Ginger Snaps, but with a maturity and poise that makes for a great anti-hero. Tristan Risk appears almost unrecognizable due to prosthetic make-up, yet gives an amazingly heart-felt performance.
This film is top-notch in both style and substance, giving Sylvia and Jen Soska a well-deserved spotlight in the world of horror cinema and paving the road for more exciting projects from the Twisted Twins. Look for their upcoming re-imagining of the Cronenberg classic, Rabid.
Starry Eyes (2014)
Starry Eyes is an dramatic thriller following the life of a twenty-something girl in Los Angeles (Alex Essoe) as she braves the daily struggle of an aspiring actor hoping for that one big break, until she gets it and it’s more than she had hoped for. Beautifully shot and accompanied by chilling sound design, Starry Eyes hits you with an impending Rosemary’s Baby vibe and rapidly spirals into complete madness and depravity. Alex Essoe does an outstanding job of making us sympathize with her at first and later making us completely terrified of her. Last I checked this movie was streaming on Netflix. Better add it to your watchlist.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)
Best described as more of a meta-sequel than a remake, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s film takes place 65 years after the events of the original. Written by Earl E. Smith and featuring rock-solid performances by scream queen Veronica Cartwright (The Birds, Alien) and Blair Witch Project‘s Joshua Leonard, this film interweaves footage from the first film in incredibly stylized and clever ways for a new breath of fresh air. The result is a beautifully shot and brilliantly executed slasher that raises the value of the original.
The Guest (2014)
Maika Monroe (It Follows) stars in Director Adam Wingard’s (Your’e Next, V/H/S 1&2) mystery thriller about a mysterious war veteran (expertly portrayed by Dan Stevens) that shows up on the doorstep of an everyday family and ends up changing their lives forever. In my opinion, this film ranks higher than the director’s previous efforts, evoking an 80’s John Carpenter feel. The moody top-notch cinematography works together with a broody pulsating synth soundtrack that makes for a fantastic assault on the senses. I caught this movie streaming on Netflix. I must say I was highly impressed and have had the soundtrack on heavy rotation ever since.
The Editor (2015)
The creative team at Astron 6 (Father’s Day, Man-Borg) hit every memorable note in the Giallo genre in this beautifully shot spoof on the Italian mystery thrillers of the 70’s and 80’s. If you are familiar with the works of Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci or Sergio Martino, this movie will hit you right in the sweet spot. If not, you are still in for a violent, funny and sexy treat. From the breath taking opening fire-dance sequence with a barely clothed Tristan Risk, Astron 6 sets the stage with a gorgeous looking, yet surprisingly tounge-in-cheek sleekly stylized homage that will keep horror fans coming back for repeat viewings.
Did we miss one of your favorites? If so comment below with your favorite indie horror hidden gem from the last 10 years.