It’s been a while, but here’s another bunch of spooky movies you might not have seen.
This 1981 film is one of the most unsettling I have ever seen. Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani play a couple whose marriage has deteriorated beyond repair. She wants a divorce, but Neill is determined to try and save the relationship: if only for the sake of their son, Bob. Although it features some spectacular – and horrifying – special effects, the film succeeds mainly on the strength of its psychological nature. Paranoid and desperate, this is a film you will never forget.
Absentia is going to become a real cult classic. Released in 2011 and made on a measly budget of $70,000, it’s got the best scares-to-pound ratio of any film since The Blair Witch Project. Winner of a huge number of horror awards, the film follows two sisters trying to continue their lives after the disappearance of the elder’s husband several years earlier. But was something sinister behind his departure?
Cabin Fever 2
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t like the first Cabin Fever. It didn’t scare me, the over-the-top gore seemed a cheap trick, and the plot didn’t work for me. The sequel, though? Well that’s a different matter entirely. The only way I can describe this film is that it’s like Napoleon Dynamite if someone added a flesh-eating virus to the mix. Totally unique and compelling viewing.
In this found footage film, a group of grad students decide on a controversial film thesis – to travel into America with a group of illegal immigrants and document their journey. Unfortunately, the group is captured by an anti-immigration vigilante group, who offer them a deal: record everything that happens in their secret prison, and they will be set free. Try to interfere, and they will be killed.
Shadow of the Vampire
This movie gives us a brilliant premise: what if, whilst making Nosferatu, Director F.W. Murnau had given the role of the vampyr to an actual creature of the night? Darkly funny and deeply frightening, this film has absolutely fantastic performances from John Malkovich and Willem Defoe. Add a great supporting cast, including Cary Elwes, Udo Kier, and Eddie Izzard, and one of the best final monologues in cinema history, and you’ve got an excellent horror on your hands.
Stir of Echoes
Probably the most well-known film on this list, Stir of Echoes had the bad luck of being released very soon after The Sixth Sense. Kevin Bacon, after a hypnosis session, begins to suffer horrifying visions of a ghost of a girl. Although not particularly scary, the film has a great atmosphere, excellent performances, and puts together a genuinely compelling mystery.
I love a bit of body horror, and Society is one of the greats of the sub-genre. Equal parts funny and disgusting, the film follows a teenage boy who begins to suspect his family – and his entire town – may be more than human. Acting as both a great parable for adolescence and a scathing critique of the class system, Society shows that horror can be intelligent.
Speaking of body horror, it would be negligent of me not to mention David Cronenberg. One of the greatest directors ever, he’s been responsible for some of the best horror films ever created – but his first film is often overlooked. Made in 1975, it was once the most successful Canadian film of all time, but was so heavily controversial that Cronenberg found it difficult to get funding for further projects. Also known as They Came From Within, Cronenberg’s debut is a must watch.
A lot of horror films tap into the fears we had as children. They is no exception, and focuses around four adults that had night terrors when they were growing up. What if night terrors were because of genuine monsters, and that one day, those monsters come back? It may not be a classic, but They is a real chiller.
The final film on this list, Dread is based on a short story by Clive Barker. A team of students decides to do a film study on fear – getting to the root of what really makes people scared. Although it sometimes drops into Saw-esque territory, for the most part it is a brutal, psychologically-scarring film with surprisingly deep characters. Most impressive of all is Quaid, played by Shaun Evans, who gives a brilliant, terrifying performance.
That’s all for now! Up next, another retro review. But I’m sure that more horror recommendations will be coming your way…