2016 is shaping up to be what looks like a tremendous year for the Horror genre. There are tons of big franchise movies hitting the theaters including: Leatherface, Amityville: The Awakening, and many more. That being said, let's take a quick look at 8 indie gems also on the way.
Trailer dweller Lou and her best friend Sadie spend most of their nights steeped in a murky haze of pot smoke and booze-filled TV-watching sessions, venturing out on occasion to party in a desolate community full of drug-addled ex-marines and other miscreants of society. After an otherwise normal night of self-destructive behavior, Lou awakens with symptoms of a bizarre illness and psychosomatic visions that she can’t seem to shake. Unfazed, she continues with her hard-living ways, but even her frequent bong rips don’t fully explain the shitstorm swirling around in her head. Something otherworldly has infected her body, and try as she might, it refuses to be ignored. An unknown stranger arrives to help her get a grip on reality as paranoia sets in and stories of conspiracy spread.
Writer and director Danny Perez returns with a new exercise in visual madness, further cementing his spot as a purveyor of demented imagery and unrelenting chaos.
2. The Blackout Experiment
You arrive at a secret location at a precise time, prompted by a mysterious email. You must follow the instructions closely. Once inside, disturbing visions begin. Unspeakable acts befall you—often frightening, sometimes sensual, possibly painful—each stimulating your deepest fears. And when it's over, you are changed, abandoned, and left wondering what is real and what was merely a game.
In a culture that has embraced immersive theater and interactive entertainment, the rise of extreme haunts such as the popular horror experience called Blackout has become essential to an obsessive audience that hungers to test the very limits of the dark unknown. Rich Fox's otherworldly narrative-driven documentary shrewdly seeks out the survivors of some of Blackout's most intense simulations, revealing an underbelly of private rituals and personal paranoia. Obliterating the line between the real and the imagined, this hybrid experiment dares its victims to stare into the hidden pleasures of a waking nightmare, and then it stares right back.
3. Outlaws and Angels
A gang of cold-blooded outlaws narrowly escape a blood-soaked bank robbery in a grimy frontier town. With a notorious bounty hunter hot on their trail, these nefarious criminals desperately need a place to hide out before night falls. Fate brings them to the home of the Tildons, a seemingly innocent family with two feisty daughters. As the men settle in, an impetuous game of cat and mouse plays out during the cold, black night. Come morning, nothing will ever be the same.
Writer/director JT Mollner’s feature debut is a glorious 35mm ode to European westerns of decades past that upends any previous notions about the genre—it’s a fresh take that reveals the gritty, depraved, brutal truths of the American West. Chad Michael Murray shines as the forceful and charismatic antihero, while Francesca Eastwood’s first leading role in a feature swiftly places her on even ground with her legendary father.
It sure sounds fun: a band of carnies road trippin’ on a sunny Halloween day in 1976—just a freewheelin’, magical mystery tour of good times and better weed. But this here mellow is getting harshed, baby. First, the sky gets darker. And then everything else does, too.
Our huckster heroes are forced to match wits with a fiendish crew of psychobilly fascists who love chaos, pain, and greasepaint. And the audience is up against an equally unpredictable opponent in writer and director Rob Zombie. With characteristic flair and zero remorse, Zombie rips the wings off of his little counterculture butterflies, baring their true, animal natures—not to mention a shitload of viscera.
Like any nightmare, 31 is terrifying because you never know what’s coming next. But here’s a little hint: don’t get too attached to anyone or anything, especially body parts. Those knives are sharp as hell.
5. Carnage Park
The year is 1978. After botching an ill-conceived bank robbery in a desolate California town, two wannabe crooks named Scorpion Joe and Lenny flee the scene with a hostage, Vivian, and lead the local lawmen on a dangerous high-speed chase. With his partner suffering from a gunshot wound and losing blood fast, Joe takes to the back roads to dodge the heat, but he unwittingly steers them into the path of a far more dangerous evil: a psychotic ex-military sniper who doesn’t take kindly to strangers. Thrust into a wicked game of cat and mouse with a highly trained and mentally imbalanced killer, they begin a harrowing fight for survival.
Hot on the heels of his previous feature, (2015’s Darling) Mickey Keating’s latest descent into insanity showcases his versatility as a writer and director, braiding crime caper and survival story into one demented thrill ride. Ashley Bell quickly turns the role of damsel in distress into that of a badass, “don’t fuck with me” female lead traversing the horrors of Carnage Park.
6. Under The Shadow
In 1988 Tehran, Shideh’s attempts to rejoin medical school after getting married and having daughter Dorsa are thwarted as a consequence of her politically active history. Her husband is sent off to serve in the Iran-Iraq War while Iraqi air raids draw perilously close to their own apartment. As she is left alone with Dorsa after neighbors and friends flee from a city in chaos, her daughter becomes increasingly ill and seemingly disturbed. Shideh initially dismisses Dorsa’s tantrums over a missing doll, but she reluctantly comes to suspect that they’ve been targeted by djinn—malevolent spirits that steal from those they seek to possess.
Babak Anvari’s ambitious feature debut blends period detail and social critique with a good old-fashioned horror story, crafting a film that is as smart as it is scary. Anchored by Narges Rashidi’s stellar performance, Under the Shadow presents Shideh’s experience as a strong, defiant woman—frustrated by a society that has consistently admonished her for her independence—as she single-handedly battles a multitude of dangers from both the physical and supernatural worlds in order to save herself and her child.
7. Trash Fire
Owen and Isabel’s love story simmers with spiteful rage, but unfortunately, for everyone, Isabel is pregnant with Owen’s child. In order to prove to her that he could become a stable father, Owen agrees to reconnect with his only living relatives at Isabel’s request. The couple takes a trip to visit his perversely devoted grandmother and his sister Pearl, who was severely burned in a fire, to finally bury the hatchet. But sometimes the ties that bind can cut off all circulation.
Writer/director Richard Bates Jr. (Excision, 2012) gloriously returns with a new troubling portrait of love painted in miserablist black humor and horrific consequences. His committed cast fully embrace this nasty world, hurling one-liners at each other that land like a slap to the face. Uncompromising in attitude, Bates remains one of the truest voices in American cult cinema. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be scarred for life.
8. The Greasy Strangler
This Los Angeles–set tale follows Ronnie, a man who runs a disco walking tour along with his browbeaten son, Brayden. When a sexy, alluring woman named Janet comes to take the tour, it begins a competition between father and son for her attentions. It also brings about the appearance of an oily, slimy, inhuman maniac who stalks the streets at night and strangles the innocent—soon dubbed “the Greasy Strangler.”
Flush your expectations down the toilet, because you have never seen a slasher film or a father-son comedy like this before. Jim Hosking (Renegades, 2010) makes an outrageously off-kilter feature film debut that is equal parts disgusting, offensive, and manically entertaining. Featuring performances by Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, and Elizabeth De Razzo that are destined for cult status, The Greasy Strangler also enlists a dream team of talent behind the camera, including a deliriously fun lo-fi score by Andrew Hung of Fuck Buttons and a few of the most prominent genre film producers from across the globe for this triumph of the bizarre.
There ya have it Horror Hounds, I'll be back soon, breaking down the indie horror scene all year long. Have a howlingly good 2016 and come join The Horror Hound Community @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheHorrorHoundHotel/k