Year after year, Hollywood churns out horror movie sequels to terrible franchises that have inexplicably done extremely well at the box office. Meanwhile, the most amazing and original horror films do not get seen because they don’t get marketed properly, and they are left to pull themselves in to the corner and die quietly of neglect. \
The fact of the matter is, it is up to us, fans of GOOD horror films, to tell each other about a truly terrifying, disturbing, or just downright twisted take on the genre, so the directors with original visions and unique voices do not just get shuffled under the rug to make way for more of the same watered-down, Americanized, PG-13 horror films that the studios keep tossing at us, convincing themselves and trying their damnedest to convince us that we don’t know any better. As fans of horror, it is time to show them we know better and we DEMAND better horror films. These are just a few examples of horror movies done right.
Directed by David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry
Do not get scared by seeing three director names there, they did that on purpose. This is not the usual “movie wasn’t working so we hired a different director halfway through” scenario. The three directors all direct different ‘sections’ of the movie. I know it sounds strange, but stay with me for a second here.
The story is that a signal comes through telecommunication devices and turns people into raging psychopaths. Trust me, though, it is not that simple. Not at all, and that is where most miss the brilliance of this film, but that is the gamble an original premise takes.
Our films mainly follows three people on the course of an evening as they deal with “the signal” and the effects it has on people. Lewis and Mya are husband and wife, and Ben just happens to have been banging Lewis’s wife, and that sets the tone for the insane relationship between these three and how it unfolds across the course of the film.
So three directors were brought into this film to give the film a sort if insane, jarring-and-jumping effect to the story that sort of shows us how differently the signal effects people.
The first section of the film (each director handles a different “transmission”) is straight gore horror. Brutal and violent, it pulls no punches and never pans away.
The second transmission is more along the lines of a black comedy, and this is the part that loses a lot of viewers, and that is a shame, because it casts the madness of a crumbling society in a very different light than what we are used to, BUT, it also is the first transmission that hints that the transmission may not actually be turning everyone into psychos, but it may be effecting different people in very different ways.
Is it jarring to experience the humor of these scenes at times, yes. And does it feel slightly out of place in a movie this dark, at first, yes. But then you realize that it is all painting a much broader experience from The Signal, and the segment is just as perfectly suited for the film.
Sir, I recognize the sheer handiwork it took to build your spork, now would you please put it down?!
The last transmission is more along the lines of a post apocalyptic version of a Shakespearean tragic love story. I will not ruin anything for anyone, but I will say confidently that this movie has what may be my one of my favorite endings to a horror movie ever. Remember, “crazy” is a very general term, and it can mean very different things to different people.The Signal takes this idea to brave and original new heights.
And while the three director, three segment thing may seem tough to take in this format, It is a far more brilliant concept then “all shot in one take” or other gimmicks directors are currently trying to use to bring in horror fans, and it is a crime more people have not seen The Signal. As a horror fan, it eats me up inside I still have no one to talk to about this movie. Can someone PLEASE change that?
The Perfect Host
Directed by Nick Tomnay
In this film, David Hyde Peirce, initially seems like he is just playing himself yet again (rich white man who only knows the finer things in life), who is seemingly the victim of a home invasion by a man who just robbed a bank and needs a place to lay low for the night, and it seems like things might get a bit hairy. But this is one of those rare instances when the home invader is FAR less insane and dangerous then the man whose home he just invaded. Sick premise, huh?
” I’ll wash the dishes tonight, Frasier.”
I would love to tell you more, but as the story unfolds, so does the intricacies for the viewer to enjoy and decipher how they will. Yes, there is some torture and bloodshed. And yes, it does get fairly insane at the apex, but I can bet you have no idea where this is going, because I didn’t, and I am that assh*le who prides himself on ALWAYS figuring out an ending to a movie before it happens.
You will have an IDEA where this is going, but you don’t know where it is going.
I think that is why I enjoyed the film so much. You think you are getting one thing ( is this going to be FUNNY GAMES?) and then it goes someplace completely different ( A dinner party? NO way…) and even THEN it switches it up one more time for you. Much like the last film on the list, The Signal, this is very much three movies in one, depending on how you view it.
Some people didn’t like the ending very much, and I can understand that, but I have to give points here for originality. It is a well written, wonderfully acted film, and even if the ending leaves you a little underwhelmed, it is still worth taking the ride just to see how utterly dark and twisted David Hyde Pierce is in this film. Who knew?
Directed by Lars Jacobson and Amardeep Kaleka
The film was originally titled Cradle Will Fall when released in the UK, for those curious. So in 2001, a woman named Andrea Yates calmly drowned her five children, killing them all. Postpartum depression was cited, the world was shocked, and of course, a film was made. While this film does not follow that tale exactly, it used Andrea for inspiration, and the resulting film is at times shocking and equally hard to swallow.
The film follows a young mother as she suffers a complete mental breakdown while her husband is away on business and she takes it out on her children. One in particular, Jimmy, must rise up and protect his siblings in the face of absolute matriarchal madness.
The movie immediately fills with you with a sense of tension that is almost nauseating, then when you see what she did and what she DOES, it is greatly unsettling. But it also makes for a great horror film.
Some times, good horror beats you down and leaves you a breathless. There should be no fears or taboos. A psycho mother is pretty taboo, it even messed me up.
A mother dealing with depression as a result of child birth, and then that depression turning itself into a sort of psychotic rage that she then takes out on her children is something that I have never seen in a horror film, and for good reason, it is f***ed up.
The film is made even MORE disturbing by the fact that the lead looks sort of like a lost Kardashian sister.
Truthfully, if the last 30 minutes were as intense or truly upsetting as the first 60, I would not have suggested this film, because some subject matter can be TOO dark. Luckily, the ending of the film is so terrible and “Hollywood”, that you lose an sense of uneasiness you had up to that point.
So why are you recommending it if the ending is terrible, Remy? Because everything up to the ending is very disturbing, and if you shut it off at the right point, this is one hell of a horror movie. Plus the first kill in this movie honestly made me feel sick, and they don’t show a damn thing. THAT is effective horror.
Let’s Scare Jessica To Death
Directed by John D Hancock
Ok guys, this one is old, I know. But I just finally got around to watching it last year after many recommendations, and honestly, though I wasn’t sure how I felt right away, it has grown on me over time and resonated as a very unsettling film. It is like The Wicker Man meets Girl, Interrupted. Excuse me for a second while I give myself a pat on the back for that line, that is some spot on sh*t right there.
The movie is about a woman named Jessica who has just been released from a mental institution for having a “mental breakdown” (those are always so vague in movies. We always see them “after” they had their breakdown? Why do we never see this breakdown and what does in entail exactly?) and she and her husband decide to take trip to the Connecticut countryside so she can recoup and stabilize.
But the country house has a squatter who is a young and attractive, red-headed-hippie-chick. And like any rational people recouping after a mental breakdown, they decided to let the attractive transient stay as oppose to kicking her out. Oh, and Jessica thinks she is a vampire. And Jessica still might be bat-shit insane, but even we, as the viewer, are never truly sure.
Is this all in Jessica’s head? Is that woman in the painting upstairs really the red headed vamp or is Jessica bugging out? Why does it seem like an orgy is going to happen at any minute in this movie? These are just a few of the questions you will ask yourself as you are watching it.
And the lake scene toward the end of the movie really freaks me out for some reason.
What is done SO well in this film is the growing sense of dread we feel as we experience the little moments of her mental instability matched with the eerie and strange things going on around town and her odd house guest, it adds up to make even the viewer uneasy in their own sanity.
We hear what Jessica hears, which is oft disconnected whispering of her name. We also here her inner dialogue as she thinks “They’re all going to think you are crazy, Jessica.” over and over. People in paintings whisper at her, and her subconscious is clawed at by an incessant sense of growing fear and constant insecurity. She experiences strange things, over and over, but fears sharing them with her husband because of her prior mental state. And once she does begin to share how she feels, the whole thing just unravels more.
It is a nice balance to try to strike for us as we watch the film, too. Is any of this real? I won’t ruin it for you either way, but I will say that this movie is haunting and oddly poetic, and has one an absoluetly stellar ending. Also, there is just something creepy about 70s horror movies when they are done right. They all have this 8MM film feel to them that somehow makes them feel all the more authentic and disturbing. Like a snuff film.