These Horror Movies Are Must-See
Most people can tell you that life is Hell. You live in a perpetual hamster wheel where every day is essentially the same, played on a repeat loop until you die. Waking up at the same time to do the exact same things, only under the banner of a different day. This is exactly why I like horror. It allows me to escape from my own self built Hell into someone else’s, and in horror, basically everyone you see has it worse than you. For me, it is like a respite from the real horrors I face. When I see someone getting chased by some hellborn abomination, I smile, simply because I look at it as an allegory for bill collectors. But the problem with horror films is that people only ever hear about or see the films that hit mainstream, and from the boring, CG jump scares of It Chapter 2 to the insane number of Annabell movies we seem to keep getting that no one is asking for, the REAL great horror films are slipping under everyone’s radar. But I am here as your beacon of hopeless hope. I am here, as the light on the shore and guide you to the good horror films that no one has seen.
Keep in mind, I will keep my summaries abrupt and spoiler free. I do not want to ruin any of these gems for you. And lastly, I may link trailers, but the best way to see these films is blind. Trailers do little more than give away too much (especially when it comes to the horror genre) so trust me, but watch them at your own risk.
I Trapped the Devil
This movie is a perfect example of how to do an indie horror film. The movie has literally three people in it, and it all takes place at one location, with a simple (but haunting) premise:
What would you do if one of your siblings brought you over their house and told you they trapped the Devil in the basement?
Is he crazy? Is there some truth to what he says?
The best part of this film is you ARE essentially a third sibling here, caught between two, trying to figure out where the logic lies in all this madness.
So simple, yet so deceivingly dark in its execution and there are no words to summarize how much I adore this movie’s closing shot.
I know this film reached the theater and people liked it, but anytime I ask anyone about it, no one knows what it is. Probably the biggest budget film on the list, to sell Overlord is really easy, peep this:
Some Nazis have been doing some occult shit and some soldiers discover it and all Hell breaks loose.
A surprisingly violent film with some really memorable effects and performances, Overlord is that loud, bloody horror that just ends up being a great deal of fun.
And F*ck Nazis. Watching them getting splayed never gets old.
I will warn all of you right away, I saw the cover art and went into this film thinking it was gonna be a kooky horror-comedy (I don’t do trailers) and I WAS SO WRONG. THE FARM IS F*CKING HARDCORE!
I want to tell you very little as seeing it with no preface made it that much more disturbing, but I can give you a quick summary.
Couple encounters some creepy folk on a vacation, and them creepy folk take things to 10 quicker than you can say “human meat.” Think Texas Chainsaw but MUCH CRUELER. That is the thing, I cannot stress how dark this movie gets (and I think that has a place in horror, but some don’t).
Honestly, this movie had one scene where I was like: No, they aren’t gonna do THAT. And then they did that, and I was genuinely in shock.
Also, approach with caution because some of the violence against women in this flick would genuinely f*ck some of you up. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong here.
Now if you want horror comedy….
Girls With Balls
Girls With Balls is a French horror and any genuine fan of horror should know what that means. For those who don’t, French cinema is, well, in a word, unflinching. Even when it does horror comedy, expect blood. Lots of blood. And gore. Lots of gore.
But the funny thing is I popped this one on thinking it would be a throwaway, but it really works.
The synergy of the young cast, and the premise takes something overused and adds a nice heaping of originality to it. How so, you ask? By making them volleyball players. Sounds odd but works, just trust me.
Honestly, this one is a softer version of The Farm, aka, a group of people interact with creepy locals and it gets out of hand. But add the fact that the heroes of this film is a bunch of high school girls on a volleyball team sets up some very funny scenarios and scenes, and the film strikes a nice balance between gore horror and straight up comedy, which can be a tough thing to pull off.
I love Starry Eyes for more than just a horror movie. It is a film about one girl’s dream to make it in Hollywood, and the soulless people she interacts with on the way. Again, this is a film I want to be ambiguous about, yet still entice you to see it.
Basically, this film summarizes “evil hollywood” better than any other movie that has ever been made about the subject, and shows what that life can do to someone pure if it corrupts them. And honestly, there is a feeling of dread that hangs over the whole movie, and once it goes dark, if you know anything about Hollywood and the sickos that inhabit it, it will stay with you as much as did with me.
I love this film for the simple reason that is shows what really went down in the Jonestown massacre. For those who don’t know, Jim Jones was a man who started a “cult” in Capetown, Africa, and they went on to be known as “the sucide cult” but it is one of the most misinformed moves in media. They weren’t a suicide cult. They were a cult initially built on very strong ideals, but sadly, the sick man in charge lost his shit, and things just spiralled in a way few have ever seen. If it was a suicide cult, why were these people screaming and being shot? Listen for yourself, those are not willing participants (and yes, that is real):
But the thing is, The Sacrament shows the exact way things went down, from the killing of a politician that set everything off to the poisoning of babies with syringes so they would die first, it is one of the bleakest days in human history, and this movie shows that without looking away.
Wrinkles the Clown
Okay, so disclaimer: The Wrinkles the Clown documentary is not straight up horror. But yet it deals with the very concept of horror, and society’s general fear of clowns, which is widespread now because of all those “clown sightings” people share in social media.
Thing is, Wrinkles is the one who started that whole trend. And this documentary does a deep dive into that very mythos, why we fear what we fear, and how the media can help perpetuate that fear and compound it.
Also, I will say this on record, looks wise, Wrinkles is about as scary as they come, and there is a very cool plot twist about 65% through the film that did kind of blow my mind.
Next to The Joker, Climax might be my favorite film I have seen this year. Warning right off the bat, this film is made by Gaspar Noe, and for those who don’t know, his movies are some of the most disturbing films ever made (Irreversible being one perfect example). But Climax is basically a two hour panic attack, so know that before you go in. It is loud, it is intense, and it never slows down or gets quiet. It only ramps up more and more until you, the viewer, feel like you want to rip your own skin off.
The film might be the most manic film I have ever seen.
Story is a simple one, but deceptively so. A bunch of professional dancers get together to celebrate, but someone doses the Sangria with a ton (I mean a TON) of really strong acid without telling anyone. As you can imagine, shit gets hectic. And the constant, bumping EDM soundtrack and near constant, erratic dancing of the people in the film start making you feel like you are trapped with them.
And head’s up again, when this one goes dark, it goes full dark, no light.
Everyone is talking about Midsommar, and though that film was good, Climax is a far superior fever dream more should be talking about this year.
Quick warning about this A24 joint: if you are not a fan of Giallo cinema, this movie might not resonate with you as much as did me. To me, this is the film the Suspiria remake should have been. Eerie, pretty, a wee bit sexual at times, but visually captivating.
Now I will tell you this about In Fabric. It is methodical, slow, and tense, but do not expect a gore fest or something that will have you “scared” in the traditional sense. I won’t say anything more than “a haunted dress”, but the movie pulled me in on that premise alone, and accomplished what it set out to do with great aplomb.
But the thing about Giallo films is, they are sometimes style over substance (which is honestly what makes them so great) so look at In Fabric more as a surrealist painting come to life than a traditional movie and you won’t be disappointed.
Also, there is a tonal shift in the second act of the film that erupts into a bat shit crazy final ten minutes, but as jarring as it is, it works. In Fabric is more art-house than conventional horror, but so original it deserves more eyes on it.
South Korean cinema is tied with French for me as being my favorite for similar reasons. They don’t compromise their story, they don’t water it down, and rarely are forced romances or happy endings a thing. Movies like I Saw the Devil are relentless journeys into nihilism, and that can be heavy for some, but every South Korean movie I have ever seen has resonated with me on some level. And The Wailing is one of the best of the lot.
All I will say is this: The Wailing is South Korea’s take on possession movies, and my God if it doesn’t have one of the creepiest endings to a movie I have ever seen.
This one will stay with you. A slow burn until it isn’t, and then it just eats you alive.
I wanted to end this list with Baskin because it is a film like three people know even exists.
Baskin is a Turkish horror film that I can’t tell you much about because knowing nothing really helps sell this insane film. The best thing I can compare Baskin to is the artwork of Hieronymus Bosch.
Baskin begins with a car accident, and from there it becomes a surreal, blood soaked romp through the horrors of our own minds. An intense film that sort of beats you down, but also leaves you impressed with the hellish visions it delivered. Baskin shows that horror and arthouse have a place side by side.
So screw all the crappy recommendations you get on Hulu and Netflix and Amazon this time of year and seek out these eleven horror gems. They all offer something unique and wholly different than the shitty mainstream horror that drops and tries to win over it audience with pointless jump scares and no substance. These films are the opposite of that. And damn creepy to boot.