Overlooked Horror Gems from 2000 to Present
Any horror fan worth their salt has not only seen the classics, but has spent countless hours digging through bargain bins, streaming catalogs, and online lists looking for gems they might have missed. With that in mind, I’m offering up some of my favorite horror films from 2000 to present that are a little off the beaten path. Free up a few evenings because I have such sights to show you.
A Cure for Wellness (2016)
Gore Verbinski, director of The Ring and the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films among others, has made a string of entertaining movies, all of which feature some truly lush and striking cinematography work. He puts that aspect to good use in this Lovecraft rift, which features dreamlike imagery, unsettling creatures, a dark and tragic backstory, and a sweeping musical score. Critics were lukewarm on this effort, and it failed at the box office, but give it a go, because it has plenty of great things to offer.
Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made (2018)
Presented as a documentary with a film within the film, Antrum focuses on a supposed cursed movie of the same name that has been responsible for murder and mayhem. Though not everything works, particularly the efforts in fusing the documentary aspects with the interior narrative, the parts it does get right really shine. A ritual sacrifice, a demon’s disturbing face, and a hole being dug to hell are just a few of the moments that are sure to stick with you.
Directed by Vincenzo Natali of Cube fame, and produced by Guillermo del Toro of everything he’s ever done fame, Splice is a continuation of many of the sci-fi/horror themes and motifs utilized by the great David Cronenberg decades prior. Along with the intriguing narrative concerned with genetic manipulation, the melding of practical and CGI effects is done quite well and really makes this one pop.
This underseen French film is one of the better home invasion movies to come out in some time, centering on a family being terrorized by a group of mysterious assailants. As the family’s home falls victim to disaster by way of the invaders, the directors, David Moreau and Xavier Palud, really ratchet up the tension through some strong set pieces, particularly one featuring plastic divider sheets. This is definitely one to put on your October watchlist.
This riff on Frankenstein is much more of a character study than many other horror movies you’ll find, as it focuses on the lonely and socially awkward May Canady and her desire to connect with others. Despite her best efforts, nothing seems to go her way, leading to a tragic and bloody conclusion. A truly great indie horror film.
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Though largely overlooked during its original release, this movie has gone on to become a cult classic and is well on its way to becoming a seasonal classic, due to its strong ties to Halloween. Told as an interweaving narrative of five stories, this movie carries the torch and tone of projects like Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, Cat’s Eye, Trilogy of Terror, and others. Gore fans will find a lot to love, as will supporters of Samhain. Just make sure you adhere to all the rules.
Though not as beloved as 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, this sequel from Ridley Scott delivers up disturbing scenes, a wonderfully chilling performance by Anthony Hopkins, and a memorable villain in the disfigured and sadistic Mason Verger, played by a note-perfect Gary Oldman. This is a follow-up that takes big swings and strives to set itself apart, and it succeeds much more than it fails.
Ever since The Blair Witch Project’s monumental success, the found footage genre has been a staple of modern horror. While these movies tend to be very cheap to produce, and quite profitable, the quality of the fledgling genre has been somewhat lacking, with likely only a few films that stand out. The Bigfoot movie Exists, directed by the Blair Witch’s own Eduardo Sánchez, is one of them, as it features some truly unsetting moments, great creature effects, and solid twists on the genre.
Little Otik (2000)
Followers of David Lynch might appreciate this Czech film, in that the narrative plays out as something of a waking nightmare. When a couple is unable to get pregnant, they opt for an alternative child, one with a voracious appetite and disturbing appearance. This film is one that’s best to approach knowing as little as possible, so I recommend staying in the dark on it and giving it a spin some rainy night.
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