I’m a bit of a horror addict, and in recent years there have been a number of independent horror films that I’ve really loved. Unfortunately, Hollywood blockbusters don’t often contain the scare factor that you get from independent horror films and world cinema, where the unexpected is waiting around every corner. Low budgets and unknown actors can often have more of an impact than expensive CGI. Here are some of my favorite independent horror films – whether you’ve heard of them or not, these should be on every horror fan’s watch list!
1 Byzantium (2012)
This modern day vampire story starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan makes the top of my list of independent horror films for several reasons. Not least because it’s another new, eerie take on the vampire genre by ‘Interview with the Vampire’ director Neil Jordan. It’s a dark, melancholy tale of two vampires and the way they live under the radar in modern society, topped off with a haunting soundtrack that will stay with you long after the credits roll. I loved everything about this film, and think its place at the top of this list is well deserved – vampire lovers should definitely check this one out.
2 Wake Wood (2010)
It’s not often you find an Irish horror movie to watch, but Wake Wood popped onto my radar last year and I realized I’d never seen it! It tells the story of a young couple played by Aiden Gillan and Eva Birthistle who move to the rural town of Wake Wood after the death of their young daughter Alice. I won’t give away more of the plot, but let’s just say that they make an agreement with the village leader Arthur (expertly acted by Timothy Spall) that has dire consequences for the whole family. I found this film really spooky, and it’s definitely not one that you want to watch alone!
3 Citadel (2012)
Whilst we’re on the Irish films, check out Citadel. This gem of a horror movie was one I had been meaning to see for ages and finally got around to watching last month. Part futuristic horror, part social commentary, it revolves around the life of Tommy, an agoraphobic young man who has recently lost his wife to a brutal attack by a gang of feral children in the tower block where he lived. Tommy sets out to find out more about the children, and with the help of a local priest he heads for the one place he knows he’ll find them – an abandoned tower block known to locals as the Citadel. This film has a real air of foreboding that begins with the first few seconds and lingers long after the credits roll – you’ll either love it or hate it!
4 The Loved Ones (2009)
Never being a huge fan of Australian films, I was delighted to discover this little slice of indie horror one summer – it’s deliciously dark, incredibly gory and not advised unless you have a strong stomach. It starts innocently enough – outsider Lola invites Brent to the prom and gets turned down. This sends her spiraling into a violent revenge plan which will see Brent fighting for his life. I loved the touches of black comedy and soundtrack in this film – it’s a twisted little thriller that you’ll find yourself telling all your friends about!
5 Fritt Vilt (Cold Prey – 2006)
Having never seen a Norwegian film before, I was intrigued as to what surprises this film would hold when I received a copy on DVD a few years back. It’s essentially a subtitled slasher flick, but somehow the fact it’s not in English just serves to add to the tension. A group of friends are on a winter sports holiday, skiing in the Jotunheimen mountains, when one of them breaks his leg. Forced to find shelter, they stumble across an abandoned hotel where things quickly go from bad to worse. Expect gore, and plenty of jumpy moments during this stylish slasher film – keep the lights on!
6 Excision (2012)
This film with 90210 star AnnaLynne McCord was shown at several independent cinemas and a few chains across the UK but never really took off until its release on DVD. McCord is barely recognisable as Pauline, a delusional and disturbed teenager who lives with her family and younger sister, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. She aspires to be a doctor, which leads to some horrific dream sequences and delusions. I loved this film for its disturbing and creepy qualities – be warned, it’s quite gory!
7 Dead Snow (2009)
Whilst it’s not strictly terrifying, Dead Snow is another independent Norwegian film that is dark and spooky – and it’s probably one of the best (and only) films featuring Nazi zombies! The plot itself is slightly predictable and silly, but there are some genuinely jumpy moments and it flows nicely, with solid acting and plenty of scares. This is one of my favorite zombie films, and it’s one not a lot of people have heard of!
Checking out independent horror films is a great way to get your horror fix if this is your favorite film genre, particularly if you’re not a fan of Hollywood remakes or cheesy slasher horrors. There are some real gems to be found, and a quick search online will usually bring up some lists of independent horror films it’s worth seeing – after you’ve ticked off the films on this list of course! I’m always on the lookout for new horror movies; have you seen any unusual ones lately?
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