By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Check out this handpicked list of underrated horror movies that deserve your attention. From parasitic high school aliens to haunted mirrors, these are the movies that either got lost in the vast genre of horror, or that were simply ahead of their time. Enjoy.
1. The Faculty (1998)
This one came out at the tale-end of the nineties and was an interesting genre crossover directed by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn) and screenplay writer Kevin Williamson (Scream). The Faculty is a mystery / sci-fi / psychological thriller with a dash of teen horror. Aliens are taking over a high school in Ohio, and the teachers are the first to go. It’s pretty graphic in some scenes so be prepared to be grossed out and it boasts a surprisingly stellar cast too, including Josh Hartnett, Robert Patrick (of Terminator 2 fame), Salma Hayek, Clea Duvall, Famke Jansson and even famous ex-talk show host Jon Stewart is there as a science teacher.
2. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
One of the better recent Halloween films focuses on a few interconnected stories during Halloween celebrations in a typical American town. Suspenseful in parts, but also a lot of tongue-in-cheek fun. It’s based on a graphic novel so the whole film has a comic book feel to it. Prepare yourself for some intense plot twists… Some of them you’ll predict, and some of them you won’t.
3. Mimic (1997)
One of my favourite monster movies. Director Guillermo Del Toro is obviously no stranger to horror, but this is one of his lesser known films starring Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Northam. Sorvino plays Dr Susan Tyler, an entomologist that experiments with bugs in order to cure a fatal disease killing children in New York. Of course the bugs become the ultimate bad guys and take over the NYC subway system. Mimic is a slow burn and builds tension so well, partly because you don’t fully see the bugs until halfway through and partly because the subway is the perfect claustrophobic setting for such a narrative.
4. The Tunnel (2011)
A government water system project under Sydney is put on halt for mysterious reasons and a journalist with her film crew explore the tunnels underneath the city to investigate why. What follows is a found footage movie that feels a little bit like The Descent. Something’s down there and we’re never really sure what it is. An extremely claustrophobic mood set up mainly by the earie sounds and echoes of the tunnels. This was a low budget Aussie film and was actually available online for free for a while, but I still don’t meet many that have seen it.
5. Oculus (2013)
A very clever supernatural thriller / horror about a haunted mirror. We’ve seen so many of these haunted house horrors lately… This is something in between The Conjuring and Memento. Creepy things happen around a creepy mirror, but the real treasure here is the order of events. The timeline messes with you as much as it messes with the characters and sometimes it really catches you off guard. Very clever and entertaining film and a fantastic performance from young Scottish actress Karen Gillan.
6. The Loved Ones (2009)
This movie is INSANE. Fatal Attraction goes to the prom, in rural Australia. This is the second Aussie film on the list because there is some good horror coming from down that way at the moment, I mean just look at The Babadook. It’s said that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’, and that definitely applies for this film. Lola wants Brent to go to her high school dance but when Brent politely declines, Lola abducts him and creates her own hellish prom with all sorts of torture devices including a drill. The Loved Ones is so bad it’s good. Over-the-top violence and quite an intense performance by Robin McLeavy as Lola, but you just can’t turn away from this. I love seeing female killers in slasher movies too. There just aren’t enough out there.
7. Krampus (2015)
It seems that director Michael Dougherty is into holidays, because he also directed Trick ‘r Treat. This is more of a Christmas movie, but it’s just so damn creative and fun that I have to put it on here. Dougherty uses a lot of creepy dolls and other mechanical contraptions to create the creatures in this anti-Santa family horror. ‘Family horror’ sounds strange, I know, but that’s what it is. I get some Gremlins vibes from this one as well. And also, Toni Collette is in it, and she’s rarely in anything bad.
8. Hush (2016)
Very recent Netflix original film about the home invasion of a deaf writer who ends up being an absolute genius when it comes to keeping creeps out of her house, whether she can hear them or not. This one builds suspense well but doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares. Probably one of the most creative horror movies on this list.
9. Thesis (1996)
Spanish horror thriller directed by the great Alejandro Amenábar. Before he did Open Your Eyes and The Others, he made this artsy and entertaining psychological horror about Ángela and her university thesis on violence. Thesis is Spain’s answer to Seven, but much darker. Amenábar must love horror because this film is littered with references and nods to greats like A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Shining.
10. Let the Right One In (2008)
This Swedish vampire horror movie met with critical acclaim when it was released, but since the American’s remade it with Let Me In, it seems to have dropped off the radar a bit. The American remake is by no means bad, but the Swedish one is just better. Child vampires have been thrown around every now and then, but there’s never been a movie really centred around one. Let the Right One In is beautifully unpredictable and deals with a lot of childhood themes, especially bullying.
Feature photo: Horror Novel Reviews