To continue Hollywood’s trend of horror remakes, it was just announced the directors behind the underrated 2019 thriller Ready Or Not are set to helm a Scream movie, and it's exciting news reminds us of all the awesome work that’s been produced out of the horror genre as of late. It's a time very much like when the original Scream was released, as the classic slasher flick needed an update, and got one infused with a whole new energy. And though a lot of buzz of the new horror renaissance has surrounded franchise reboots such as this upcoming one, there’s a lot of recent hidden gems that are completely original fright-fests.
So forget where the light switch is in your house, definitely leave your kitchen knives laying around, answer that “Unknown” phone call, and check out these awesome, under-the-radar horror gems.
Ready Or Not
First off, if you were confused at all at the mention of Ready Or Not, it’s time to change that right now. Before Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett become known for adding their particular flavor to the Scream franchise, you cannot miss the fun ride that is Ready Or Not. The comedic horror cult hit stars Samara Weaving as a bride who is marrying into a rich family. On her wedding night, she is surprised to learn that she’ll be spending it with her in-laws playing a bloody game of hide and seek, with her as the target. The movie is both terrifying and complete fun – it’s Die Hard if John McClane was a newlywed trapped in a culty horror flick.
Bill Skarsgard is best known for his spine-chilling role as Pennywise in the IT movies, but he also did a totally different horror movie last year. Villains is a horror comedy about a young couple who are looking for a new start in Florida. Their plan is to rob one last gas station before hitting the road, but then their car breaks down. The pair decide to break into an isolated house to grab the keys of another car, but they definitely pick the wrong residence. They meet a Southern couple (played by Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Donovan) who have a little girl chained up in their basement and such. Villains is a hilarious horror that debuted at 2019’s SXSW to rave reviews, but never got a great deal of mainstream attention.
Following its premiere at Sundance last year, The Lodge hit theaters early last month to great reviews amidst some serious duds in early 2020. Still, this horror gem has remained under the radar. The Lodge stars Mad Max’s Riley Keough as a new soon-to-be stepmom named Grace who is left with her fiance’s two young children (Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh) at a snowed-in and isolated lodge. It’s the cold, haunting setting for some disturbing events to take place tied to Grace’s own past. The Lodge is pulled off by the Austrian filmmakers behind Goodnight Mommy, and it’s an expertly orchestrated unnerving horror through and through.
I See You
Leaning more into the mystery side of horror movies is another little-seen pearl called I See You. The 2019 film enlists the Academy Award-winning talent of Helen Hunt, who plays the wife of a detective who is investigating a case involving a missing boy. Then an evil presence finds its way into the Harper home, placing their own teen son in danger and making for some particularly nail-biting sequences that will have you at the edge of your seat. I See You is packed with twists and turns, and its refreshing to see Hunt back at it.
Anna And The Apocalypse
Ever heard of a horror musical? Well, it totally exists and it's called Anna and the Apocalypse. It came out back in 2018, and it’s an awesome treat. This British delight takes place during Christmastime, and it’s the funny zombie musical you never knew you needed. It’s about a group of 20-somethings who sing their way through slashing up deadly undead so they can reach their loved ones during the holiday season. This movie is not exactly horrifying, but makes up for that with a ton of bloody moments that make the comedy shine – in the vein of films like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland.
Netflix has been getting on the horror bandwagon too, notably with last year’s The Perfection. The original film from the streaming service is a horrifyingly twisted story about a cellist (Get Out’s Alison Williams) who seeks out the new star player of her former school (Logan Browning). It’s tough to talk about this one because you’re going to want to go in blind, but get ready for an insane ride that’s playful, messy and makes good use of its leading ladies. You won't see where The Perfection decides to take you. Due to Netflix remaining silent on its numbers, it’s not easy to gauge how popular The Perfection was, but by my estimate it’s not been talked about nearly enough.
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Mainstream audiences tend to forget the slew of foreign-language horror offerings available that don't get the spotlight of major studio releases, and Tigers Are Not Afraid is one of the recent ones you should give a try. Influenced by Guillermo del Toro’s early work, Issa López has made a dark fairy tale with horror elements. Tigers Are Not Afraid is about five kids living in Mexico amidst the country’s violence and drug wars. The orphaned children are given three magical wishes as they are haunted by ghosts. It feels realistic and traumatizing, while also having a beautiful and fresh take on the genre.
There are many other recent horror films to be discovered that didn’t quite reach the level of hype that more mainstream hits like The Invisible Man, Us and Halloween have been showered with, and it's not hard to imagine these filmmakers going on to make the next big horror hit. There’s nothing quite like a good horror movie sneaking up on you, so happy watching!