Starring: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsborg
Written & Directed By: Lars von Trier
Lars von Trier makes films by his own rules, giving us this art house horror film with striking cinematography and inspired stylization, completely committed performances, and raw sex and violence to explore the evil intentions of one’s nature. Everything in the film is very subtle, but intentionally because von Trier doesn’t want to have to tell his audience these things, he wants them to explore it through their own eyes. There’s so much meaning, care, and insight shown in such a creative and innovative way; exactly what gritty, severe, intense horror movies should hold. Read the full review.
Starring: Colleen Porch, Ridge Canipe, Joel Bryant, Kali Majors, Holden Thomas Maynard
Directed By: Lars E. Jacobson, Amardeep Kalaca
Written By: Lars E. Jacobson
Baby Blues is a film based on depression, a broken home life, and a severe case of mother abandonment. It turns a seemingly innocent small town family life in to a spiral of madness, putting the weak against the innocent. The tone is a very inconceivable and discomforting one to handle. Baby Blues tackles the subject of children having to fight against the one who is supposed to protect them unconditionally, their mother. It does this through brutality and extremely difficult situations, but it does so with such insight and compassion to the story and the condition of the characters involved. Read the full review.
Starring: Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan, Jenny Spain, Eric Podnar, Candice Accola, Andrew DiPalma
Directed By: Marcel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel
Written By: Trent Haaga
Deadgirl took a few years to be released because of its controversial subject matter. I am very glad that it did as it’s one of the most creative zombie films to come out in quite some time. Nearly every zombie film has followed the Romero Night of the Living Dead inspired formula. The zombie outbreak takes place, the living run desperately, find somewhere to hide, and eventually make their final escape before the zombies corner them. We have gotten a few films that break away from this formula such as Fido, but for the amount of zombie films that come out very few follow a different story structure. Deadgirl doesn’t even use the word zombie and only shows one zombie throughout the film. The dead girl has been killed, but keeps on coming back to life. She also spreads her undead virus by biting her victims. Aside from not dying and her method of infecting others just about everything else is unique from other films in the zombie genre. Read the full review.
Diary of the Dead
Starring: Joshua Close, Michelle Morgan, Chris Violette, Phillip Riccio
Written & Directed By: George A. Romero
George A. Romero, father of the zombie sub-genre of horror, gives us another tale of the living dead. Rather than continuing the dead series story, he chose to start over from the beginning, already having the sequel to Diary of the Dead lined up. Unless the film takes a very different approach from this one, I am sorry to say that that the sequel is most likely not a good thing. Diary of the Dead loses a lot of the story and even the audience along the way. It is more of a platform simply lecturing us about the falsity of the media and even our dire need for technology. Read the full review.
Starring: Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Jack O’Connell
Written & Directed By: James Watkins
Eden Lake is a film that certainly took me by surprise to say the least. I was expecting the typical couple goes off on vacation, gets lost, and ends up on the trip from Hell thanks to some killer stalking them. I expected it to be generic, predictable, and very formulaic. This couldn’t be farther from the truth though. It’s no surprise that it comes from the UK as its tone feels just like some of the gory, intense, and completely brilliant foreign films that have recently come out of the genre. Eden Lake takes theoretically innocent and harmless teenagers and kids and turns them in to nearly demonic figures that will stop at nothing to torture and murder simply to mess with their elders rather than respecting them. It’s a brilliant film with just the right amount of blood, despair, and disturbance, reversing the roles of power and analyzing why youth has such a heavy dependence on excessive violence. Read the full review.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearhart
Written & Directed By: Michael Haneke
Funny Games is a shot-by-shot remake of the Austrian film of the same name from 1997. Normally the case with remakes, but especially when the films are so close to each other, with nothing aside from different actors to differentiate between the two, are just a ploy to make money off of another‘s popular work. That may be the case to some extent however, with Michael Haneke writing and directing this film, the same filmmaker as the first film, it seems that reaching a wider audience was his main goal. He has a message and something he wanted to say, and felt the importance and vitality of this enough to make a separate film with a few well known American actors to criticize the American desires of media violence specifically. Read the full review.
Familiar (Short Film)
Starring: Robert Nolan, Astrida Auza, Cathryn Hostick
Written & Directed By: Richard Powell
Familiar is a dark short film that immediately shows us the twisted fate at hand. It comes full circle, showing how we got to this point and reveals the uncompromising gritty reality behind it. Of course, this is really just setting the tone for what is to follow. At first glance, we really have no real understanding of what’s going on or the weight it holds. Read the full review.
Starring: Karina Testa, Jean-Pierre Jorris, Estelle Lefébure, Maud Forget
Written & Directed By: Richard Powell
Frontier(s) is a French horror film that takes the lead of films of grotesque horror, but uses more thought to construct meaning and purpose in the film than many gore fests usually do. It uses the severity of the torture the characters are forced to deal with to expose the insanity that is very much alive in the world. Frontier(s) is very refreshing, as not only an excellent and innovative horror film, but as one that actually has something to say. Read the full review.
Let the Right One In
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson
Written By: John Ajvide Lindquist (novel/screenplay)
Let the Right One In is adapted from the 2004 Sweedish graphic novel, both of which are written by John Ajvide Lindquist. Having the author adapt the film was a very wise step and we are given a very thoughtful film because of it. The film takes the time to explore very many sides to its multi-dimensional story. It has something to say and does it with subtlety and craft. It has a completely unique feeling from nearly any other vampire film. It uses far more insight and gives us surely one of the best vampire films to date. Read the full review.
Starring: Morjana Aloui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Bégin
Written & Directed By: Pascal Laugier
Martyrs takes the theory that what comes after death will always be unknown to the living and challenges it through extreme violence and institutionalized torture. An ambitious attempt at justification is presented, but it is clear no sense of morality is really involved in these vicious actions. It has a million twists and turns throughout. Every moment of the film has an intriguing and heartbreaking story to tell. Read the full review.
Starring: Rita Suomalainen, Steve Porter, David Yoken, Anna Alkiomaa
Written & Directed By: Tommi Lepola, Tero Molin
Skeleton Crew is a Finnish film that combines asylum horror and the film within a film concept, leaving us with a bloody and camp-filled film. It is not completely cheesy or completing serious. It pokes fun at itself and has a lot of fun with the typical conventions and even clichés of horror films. The film hits on some very creepy themes that make it captivating and sets up a great atmosphere and tone for the psychological elements that are yet to come. Skeleton Crew is a campy fun, creative, and gory film that questions what depicting true violence entails. Read the full review.
Doctor S Battles the Sex Crazed Reefer Zombies: The Movie
Starring: Rick Carrillo, Alicia Shaddeau
Directed By: Bryan Ortiz
Written By: Bryan Ortiz, James Harz
Doctor S Battles the Sex Crazed Reefer Zombies: The Movie is a hilarious and highly stylistic horror comedy. With a title like that would you expect anything less? It’s a film that has a ton of fun with itself, which is completely contagious to the audience. Writer/ director, Bryan Ortiz, sites Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez as influences, which really comes through in his technique and direction. He combines this with the horror element. “Doctor S” takes us in to the spirit of the 1950’s with mockingly snappy characterizations and plenty of danger and destruction. Read the full review.
Starring: Bostin Christopher, Ashley Johnson, Illeana Douglas, Daniel Stern, Jared Kusnitz, Jere Burns, Kevin Pollack
Directed By: Tony Krantz
Written By: Erik Jendresen, Thomas Schnauz
Otis is a satire on the recent “torture porn” films. However, it is more than just a comedic take on the subject. The laughs and outrageous actions of the characters that we see going on are both thrilling, disturbing and all too possible. There is a huge component of truth to the film as it goes in to events that happen every day. It goes past this truth though and even goes in to reasoning, where we are able to understand this mad man. What causes him to be the way he is is something that is very universal, showing that many people have the potential to be an Otis. Read the full review.
Starring: Eric Christian Olson, Rider Strong, Jennifer Cortese, Bumper Robinson, Wayne Young
Written & Directed By: David Kebo, Rudi Liden
Death Valley is a horror film taking place in the desert, making it feel a lot like The Hills Have Eyes. Rather than using deformed vicious humans it uses a territorial gang as the
villains. The film doesn’t do anything completely new, but as it
goes along it has a way of surprising you. It becomes more than just
partying turned in to a death threat. It questions people’s morals,
strength, and just how powerless and lifeless a desert can make a
few kids from the city feel. Read the full review.
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Starring: Alexa Vega, Anthony Head, Paul Sorvino, Bill Moseley, Paris Hilton, Sarah Brightman, Nivek Ogre, Terrance Zdunich
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman
Written By: Terrence Zdunich, Darren Smith
Darren Lynn Bousman has built his career through the sequels of the Saw franchise. Now he steps away from the popular franchise and presents us with something very different, not just from his Saw films, but something genuinely unique from anything else that’s out there right now. Especially in contemporary American horror we see so many of the same ideas and films being done over and over again. Repo! The Genetic Opera is bursting with passion and creativity from beginning to end. There have been gothic rock operas before, but Repo is more than the genres it deals with. There is no question that this film isn’t for everyone. It has a very specific audience, but for that audience Repo! The Genetic Opera is sure to be an instant cult classic. Read the full review.
Starring: Candice Lewald, Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic, Nathan Witte
Written & Directed By: Ryan Nicholson
Many films claim to be throwbacks to horror, but few are really able to achieve this. Gutterballs looks and feels like an 80’s slasher every moment of the movie. The indie feel benefits the movie, giving it an authentic tone that takes us in. Gutterballs is a true throwback to the horror slasher and revenge film. It lives and breaths it through and through while bringing its’ own originality to the table. Read the full review.
Starring: Leighton Meester, Nicholas D’Agosto, Melora Hardin, Larry Joe Campbell, Lola Glaudini
Written & Directed By: Brendan Cowles, Shane Kuhn
Drive Thru is a teen horror film that has elements of It and A Nightmare On Elm Street and twists them to give us a wildly funny film. It uses a psychotic clown to not only give us an insane murderer, but an evil fast food representative. The film plays on this through one of the taglines, “Fast Food Kills“. Overall, the film has been overlooked and underappreciated, which is too bad since it has some highly entertaining kill scenes and some very funny dialogue. Read the full review.
Starring: Tiffany Shepis, Caroline De Cristofaro
Directed By: Ivan Zuccon
Written By: Ivo Gazzarrini
Nympha is a horror film that deals with religion, yet in a completely frightening way really taking out any and any light. The roles are reversed and it gives us a very chilling, terrifying, and ultimately depressing situation. We are forced to question morality that is commonly given to certain roles and types of people, some of which clearly aren’t always true. Nympha is a very dark and depressing film that shows corrupted good gone bad and sick and twisted immorality that is troubling to watch, but utterly captivating. Read the full review.
Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat
Written & Directed By: Oren Peli
Paranormal Activity gives you a lot more reasons to be scared or relate to the fear and uncertainty that the characters are facing than most horror films. A major part of my enjoyment and involvement in watching the film was because I was watching it in a packed theater with everyone on edge, expanding exhilaration. Clearly, this is not a film for everyone since it is really about the little things that make you jump. For those that are looking for blood and effects, this is not the film for you. It’s a film that showcases what making the most of your resources can do and that sometimes less is more. Read the full review.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Johnny Depp, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia
Written & Directed By: Wes Craven
A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most iconic and inspiring horror films. It is such a haunting film that has everything; great characters, gory and original deaths, a creative story, and interesting concepts. It merges the lines of reality and fiction; taking away any safety net and taking us in to a dimension where nightmares are a reality and nothing is impossible. You really care for the characters, which is one thing that makes it stand apart from the average slasher. Nancy is easy to sympathize with as one of the stronger female characters of horror. Freddy is such a darkly thrilling villain to watch in action. He is a fun yet creepy villain who takes his victims in to his own world where he is in control. Read the full review.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Miko Hughes, Wes Craven, John Saxon
Written & Directed By: Wes Craven
One of the most gripping things about the Nightmare on Elm Street series has always been how it blurs the lines of fiction and reality; making Freddy’s dreamlike fantasy in to a nightmare that can’t be escaped from. Aside from the original, this is my favorite A Nightmare on Elm Street film and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they are the only two films in the series that Wes Craven directed. The first Nightmare was creative, fresh, and gave birth to the most satisfying horror villain. New Nightmare is the one that brings something new to the plate and enhances the powerful themes of there being no safety net; not even in the world outside of the typical Nightmare world. Read the full review.