You know how it is – its late at night and you feel like watching a horror.. not the well-watched ones nestled snugly on your shelf , but something new.. something that might be a discovery. But upon perusing the selections of Netflix or your local dvd store you realize you’ve seen all the ‘big’ releases and are stuck selecting from the, gulp, straight to dvd section. Those movies with no name stars/directors/writers, the ones with lurid titles and awkward cover art; the ones that are a BIG risk.
I have watched some absolute drivel in my quest to find a good horror, the search is worth it for the gems you can encounter (or even just the ‘that wasn’t bad’ type of horrors that may give you cheap thrill here and there) but weeding through the rubbish can be quite disheartening and each disappointment makes you far less enthusiastic to run that risk again.
The horrors I have collected here are the budget horrors that pleasantly surprised me, either by being genuinely frightening or better made than expected. Most fall down in some way and that would be mainly due to the limited budget which of course would effect every aspect of production.
I hope you agree they're worth the chance…
Please note – I chose not include any low budget horrors that went on to be big hits or cult classics, only the small ‘never heard of it’, back of the dvd movies here..:-)
With a budget of only $70, 000 this is a prime example of working within your means. A small story, all shot on location and with minimal fuss, this tells the tale of Callie and the mysterious disappearance of her husband Daniel. When her sister Tricia arrives in town to comfort her, they start to suspect that his disappearance and the oddities they’ve been noticing around the neighborhood are all to do with that strange tunnel at the end of their block. Valiantly performed by Catherine Parker and Courtney Bell as the overwrought wife and her sister respectively, and directed by Mike Flanagan (who went on to helm the much lauded ‘Oculus’), it is by turns intriguing, sad, odd and creepy.
Give it a try.
This is one of those films where you spend the first half an hour wondering if you should turn it off, the acting is sub-amatuer, the dialogue clumsy and it seems to meander from one scene to the next hoping that it's characters are enough to sustain you when unfortunately quite a few of them are more than unpleasant. Then something happens, the story takes a twist I didn’t see coming, and then another twist, and then a monster appears, and then its exciting, and then finally it takes a giant leap into sci-fi that I found both touching and completely out of left field. Basically the story of an ill-fated light plane ride with a group of friends on their way to a Coldplay concert, this is a hidden treasure trove of story that unfolds into something I had not imagined when I started it. I really liked this film, my early feelings of doubt probably contributed to how much I enjoyed it in the end but I still think it’s a film that should be seen. Just don’t expect Citizen Kane and stick with it. The song on the end credits is also awesome, thank you Tegan and Sara.
You’re trapped on a ski lift with two friends, down below in the ski lodge, the lights have been turned off and the staff have left for a long weekend break; hungry wolves circle below and its getting more frigid by the minute.. What do you do? This is the intriguing premise faced by the protagonists in ‘Frozen’ (not to be confused with the all singing animated behemoth).. One or two of the actors here you may recognise from other minor roles but there are no real stars here and the director, Adam Green, has only gone on to do one other film after this one. What I enjoyed about this film was its efficiency in story telling (we get to the crux of things mighty quickly), the well drawn characters and the touch of realism that made it more involving for me. The things they attempt in their desperate plea to save themselves do not seem too far fetched, the worries and niggles between the trio are believable and it did keep me watching and pondering that question – what would I do?
You know the main actor, you recognize his face but cant quite picture what he’s from. Yep he’s THAT guy, the one on the tip of your tongue when you’re watching a movie but when you hear his name you are vaguely disappointed because nope, doesn’t sound familiar. Starring Mark Duplass as the titular Creep in a virtuoso performance, this is the story of a videographer (Patrick Brice – the writer/director) who answers a craigslist ad for a job that is definitely to good to be true. What ensues is relentless and as creepy as the title implies. Small, nasty and gets under your skin; this ticks all the boxes for a psychological horror about that one person you just need to get away from. We’ve all met a person like that.. now imagine he likes you.. he likes you a lot..
The Pact, 2012
In an effort to cope with the recent death of her mother and the sudden disappearance of her sister, a young woman Annie (played with gusto by Caity Lotz) moves into the home of her cousin. After her cousin also disappears under mysterious circumstances and some disturbing ‘encounters’ of her own, Annie becomes convinced the home is haunted by her mother and engages the help of a medium to uncover a far more disturbing truth. Also stars Caper Van Dien of ‘Dawsons Creek’ fame as the chief investigating officer (and a little sweet on Annie) Bill Creek. This film was a well-made supernatural horror with all the expected clichés that that entails, until it suddenly took a very shocking and frightening twist three quarters of the way through. I admit that when it happened I actually gasped out loud and this one actually did give me the occasional second thought at night once the lights were off and I was alone in the dark attempting sleep. Unsurprisingly the director, Nicholas McCarthy, went on to direct my favorite horror of recent years ‘At the devils door’. This is effective, compelling and well written, better than a lot of the big name horrors that have been out in the last few years, and I wish more people would give this under-rated movie a shot – you wont be sorry you did…
These are the ones I chose, but I would love to hear your selections.
Please comment and let me know. Anything that lessens the risk is fine by me!