People often look towards the classics when trying to get their October thrills, The Exorcist, Halloween, etc., taking ample opportunity away from many genuinely frightening and under-seen recent releases. These range from straight cut horror to films that blend genre in ingenious and unexpected ways leaving such a distinct uneasy feeling that they deserve your undeterred attention.
The House of the Devil (2009)
The breakout hit from mumblecore actor/director Ti West, the film follows a young college student trying to earn some extra cash by looking after an older couple’s centennial mansion. What starts out as a possible haunted house thriller morphs into a simmering, cult-infused survival tale seemingly picked out of the horror heyday of the 80’s. A fact further embellished by its fuzzy 16mm camera work.
Starring Ethan Hawke as a true crime writer vying to make his next big hit, it boasts a killer monster with the unique ability to live in the photos (and film) in which it appears. Couple that with a plethora of creepy kids and a genuinely tense atmosphere you have one of the most well rounded horror films of the last five years.
Hailing from France, Inside uses its minimalistic setting to claustrophobic excess, continually ramping up what the audience is willing to watch. Following a simple premise, a pregnant woman is attacked in her home by another woman trying to steal her unborn baby, and twists it in every possible way with the end leaving you shaking in its unflinching brutality.
You’re Next (2012)
Shelved by its studio for several years after raving critic reviews, Adam Wingard’s film takes the home invasion trope and flips it around rewarding audiences with a badass heroine. Sharni Vinson stars as one of the invited at a family’s wedding anniversary. Taking time to set up the different dynamics between each of the family members before indulging in a sadistic and enthralling fight for survival, it only gains favour with its synth heavy soundtrack keeping the film from feeling never less than 80’s cool.
Kill List (2011)
One part family drama, hitman thriller, and satanic explosion, Kill List embodies a type of slow burn thriller that is rarely seen in modern horror. We follow former hitmen Jay and Gal who leave retirement for one last pay check. Leaving any jump scares at the door, director Ben Wheatley crafts tension so spine chillingly cold that the final few minutes will linger and possibly confuse (and I say that in the best way possible.)
Under the Skin (2014)
Scarlett Johansson entrances as an extra-terrestrial come to lure men to their deaths. At times feeling like a progression of 2001: A Space Odyssey, all the while crafting its own distinct aura, the most beautiful and heartbreaking film on this list often amazingly displaying the most defining horror characteristic used: humanities cruelty.
Green Room (2016)
The newest film on the list may also be the hardest one to consider as pure horror. A punk rock band is secluded in a neo-nazi compound and forced to fight for their lives. Yes, that is the completely rad story that sets up an epic fight that boils over in tiny fragment. Piercing segments of extreme body disfigurement and an overwhelming sense of unease compel its figure on this list. Also featuring one of the last performances of the late Anton Yelchin as he faces against grizzled Captain Picard stand as one of the best and most intense films of the year.