I’m a huge horror fan. The adrenaline rush of being scared (in the safety of my own home or in the movie theaters of course) is addicting. Once upon a time, when I had more spare time, I was constantly scouring the Internet for obscure (but well-reviewed) horror films. Unfortunately, I can’t do this as much as I use to, but I still watch many as I can. 2016 was a great year for big horror releases (The Witch, Don’t Breathe, The Invitation, The Green Room and Syfy's Channel Zero: Candle Cove anthology TV series are a few that come to mind), and 2017 is set to be another fantastic year with the recently-released and critically acclaimed movies, Get Out, Raw, and Split, and upcoming titles like the highly anticipated IT and It Comes At Night. The future or horror is looking bright for the silver screen.
That said, horror is one of those film genres where many of the best ones come from the independent scene. And I don’t mean that in a snooty, “I’m more cultured than you” kinda way. Not at all. Due to having limited access to money, indie horror films have to be more inventive, focus more on character development, and rely on innovation when it comes to scares. Ultimately, the lower the budget, the more creative you have to be. If filmmakers and writers don’t do realize this, it really, really shows.
You’ve probably noticed that we don’t cover the horror genre as much as we should on LRM, so I thought I would help remedy that with an article on my five of my favorite lesser-known horror films released in the last 10 years. Now that I think about it, I could actually drill down this topic even further, as they are all “slow-burn shockers” -- my favorite type of horror -- filmed outside of the US.
Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe you haven’t. But there’s always people looking for good recommendations in this very unique film genre. I know that I do, so let’s get this list started!
The Borderlands (UK) / The Final Prayer (US)
The Borderlands is a found-footage film that centers around a group of three men sent by the Vatican to debunk (or confirm) rumors of actual miracles. Taking place in an old church near a small English town in the middle of nowhere, their investigation progressively gets unexplainable … and dangerous, leading up to a pretty insane finale.
My interest was immediately piqued after accidently watching the trailer on YouTube a few months prior to its 2012 UK release and so I made sure to watch it the night it became available. I wasn’t disappointed.
Like every movie in this list, I am going to say as little as possible when it comes to the plot. But I will mention why this movie worked so well: the acting. The interactions between the characters are incredibly convincing. You can tell the actors themselves are obviously seasoned in their craft, but are unknown enough to make it seem like what we are watching actually happened. Moreover, the setting, particularly the old small church where the events center around, is also insanely creepy--even during the day. You can only imagine what it’s like during the night scenes. It all comes together to make an incredibly effective creep-fest.
Half mockumentary, half found footage, The Conspiracy is Canadian film (i.e. Vancouver used as New York City), and one of my favorite films of the past five years. Though some would probably argue that it’s more of a “chiller” than horror flick, the terror it induces in the second half makes for a convincing argument for the latter.
The film stars two amateur filmmakers who, after hearing about a local conspiracy theorist/activist, decide to create a documentary about him. After something unexpected happens, things take sudden sinister turn. Saying literally anything more would ruin the fun.
This film is so well made and so well acted, that some of my friends that I introduced the film to thought it was an actual documentary for the first 20 minutes. This made the craziness of second half all the more scary. If you have Netflix, check it out now.
Lake Mungo is another great mockumentary. Though it’s part of the same sub-genre as The Conspiracy, Lake Mungo relies solely on interviews and testimonies throughout the entire film. Though it might seem a bit boring from that description, make no mistake: this is a seriously unnerving horror film.
This hyper-realistic Australian flick tells the story of a mourning family trying to understand the events surrounding the drowning death of their daughter. Soon after the funeral, strange things begin to happen. Was it just an accident, or were horrifying supernatural elements at play?
With the great editing and incredible acting by the “interviewees,” Lake Mungo does an excellent job to make us think this tragic event exists in the real world. The emotion of the grieving family seems so genuine, making the supernatural element, as well as the fim’s last engraving image, even more effective and goosebump-inducing.
Huh? Two Australian horror films on a very specific list? I honestly didn’t realize this until now. I guess that goes to show you that they have a lot to offer in this genre (and they really do).
Like most of these films, I stumbled on this -- yet again -- horror mockumentary film during one of my many, many found footage Google searches. This film is about a journalist who learns of a government cover-up after the city suddenly halts their project to recycle millions of unused litres of water in the abandoned tunnels beneath Sydney. As they illegally head deeper into the tunnel system to find out the truth, they discover something sinister instead. How’s that for a story?
The Tunnel relies heavily on post-event interviews of those involved. While they are describing what really happened down there, it does a great job making the audience wonder who didn’t make it.
Before I get into Kill List, I just wanted to note that, of all the movies in this list, this film is the one you should know the least about before watching. So if you’re like me and enjoy going into movies like these completely blind, then I’d advise to stop reading now. I won’t be spoiling anything, but the little you know, the better.
Kill List is the most disturbing film of the bunch and easily one of my all-time favorite horror movies. This film left me thinking about it long after the final shocking and gut-wrenching scene.
The story focuses on a former soldier (and his friend) who have become hitmen since leaving the military after a mission gone wrong in Kiev. After being out of the business for awhile, the main character (along with said friend) decides meet an ominous client who has one last “kill list” for them. The events that transpire after they accept the job become progressively darker.
This is a seriously unnerving and scary film.
These five great horror films are just the tip of the iceberg, as there are many other films I could have easily added to this list like Willow Creek, Creep, Undocumented, and I am Ghost to name a few.
Let me know what your favorite lesser-known horror flicks are by heading to the comments section below!