Let’s face it, Fall is a perfect time to cuddle up under a blanket and watch dreary movies that match the early darkness outside of our windows.
Summer seems forever away whichever end you look at it, Halloween is now in the rearview mirror, and though Christmas is right around the corner it is still weeks before decorations are up to bring around that season’s festivities.
Granted this may not be the best time of the year for many, but thankfully indie horror has the perfect entries to match this oddly “blah” time between Halloween and Christmas.
For best results, set the mood for yourself by choosing the crummiest evening outside and when you have some alone time to really give these films the full experience of you unbridled attention.
Trust me, give it a few minutes into the first act and it won’t feel like you’re alone anyway.
The Dark and the Wicked (2020)
Available on Amazon Prime/Shudder
Maybe you think that on-premise alone there is some predicting what you’re in for when you press play on this eerie supernatural thriller, don’t worry I was once like that before watching it too.
Boy, was I wrong…so very, very wrong.
As strenuous of a watch, this was for a bit of Fall viewing, it isn’t just a gloomy demonic film filled with shadowy jump scares or cheap thrills. It’s a rollercoaster straight to Hell with all the bells and whistles, that plays with your emotions savagely before crashing into your deepest fears.
It isn’t just one thing that makes this movie a cut above other ghostly thrillers in recent years, the combination of eerie setting, gory payoffs, and a performance from actor Marlin Ireland that has the dramatic notes to make you cry if you weren’t so scared to make a sound during the entire thing.
Ireland’s lead role is compelling in a way that is contagiously fearful, every moment she is in danger within the film it amplifies the horrifying tension to 100 and there isn’t a landing that director Bryan Bertino doesn’t stick with a bloody delivery.
Put simply, if you’re a fan of demonic entity style films like Sinister and The Conjuring, this movie takes the usual inescapable premise and drags it to the darkest places with some seriously nauseating scenery along the way.
Available on Shudder
Let me start by saying this is not your usual “my kid is haunted and I need help” type of horror movie. It has all the markings of one, the setting to match, but the writing just makes the whole thing unexpected and soul-piercingly scary with minimal effort and hardly any monster reveals.
With a slower start, it gives you the feeling that you’ve been down this road before, the usual introductions, standard red flag warnings to the family, but when this movie decides to kick it into high gear nobody in the film is safe.
One great aspect was that the latter half of the movie had enough intensity that could have been spread out across multiple hours of screen time, but wisely, the halting stop made for a brilliant ending that crossed the finish line with a jaw-dropping climax.
Another standout thing about this hair-raising indie was Keegan Connor Tracy who plays the lead character Beth, the mother of the boy haunted by a not-so imaginary friend. Tracy has a brilliantly acted transformative journey and it feels like every single scene she pulls you in more and more right up until the credits roll.
As hyperbolic as it may sound, not since Babadook have I personally seen a “throw the whole kid away, it’s within your best interest” style of movie that actually gave me this many jump out of my seat moments. Which is saying a lot, seeing as these sub-genred movies come out so often.
Available on Amazon Prime & VOD
Everyone once and a while there comes a movie that merges two genres perfectly. It’s a feat often tried, but rarely ever when done to the level of flawlessness that Brandon Cronenberg was able to pull off with his 2020 sophomore feature.
Cronenberg manages to amalgamate horror and science fiction in such a way that this film creates a new genre entirely. One that may have several different iconic inspirations, but none quite brave enough to go into the vivid surreal nature seen until this epic ride.
It doesn’t just start with a bang…
My best explanation would be, by the time your mind even realizes it has begun you’re already initiated into Cronenberg’s world of uncut and unfiltered violence.
May this be your fair warning, that if you’re not into gruesome kills, chaotic violence, and 103 minutes of beautifully bloody cinema, then this probably is not the film for you.
However, for those who are willing to just cover their eyes when it gets to be too much, you will be treated to a once in a generation imaginative movie that will be hailed as one of the greatest 2020 movies regardless of genre.
It starts strong and never lets up even for a moment, not a single actor feels out of place and no scene seems unnecessary. Without a doubt, it is a top-tier sci-fi experience that also manages to fit in a gripping espionage story within the fray.
Horror seems to have two sides to the coin, it can fit perfectly for the crowd of a movie theater or with your usual viewing partner(s), but alternatively can be a completely different film while you’re alone placed in the darkness trying to remind yourself that what you’re experiencing isn’t real.
For those who dare to take on this challenge, it may be a walk in the park for a seasoned Horror Purist, yet even as one myself, there were moments in each film that managed to raise some goosebumps and earn a well-deserved shudder.