Of all the genres of film that I despair for, horror is up there near the top, because lately it's been driving itself off a cliff. Not that schlocky horror with over the top gore hasn't always existed, but lately blood guts and gore seem to the end, rather than a tool. I won't name names, because I don't want you seeking these things out, but lately it seems that films have been desiring to throw stuff on screen that would make the Marquis de Sade blush without any point behind it. I'm all in favor of pushing the envelope (I own a copy of Irreversible for example) but it seems like once they push the envelope out to these points I'll be the one standing there going “Okay, we're here. Why did you want to get here?” I mean, for fuck's sake, even Cannibal Holocaust had a point.
And I hate Cannibal Holocaust.
Ugh. That absurdly long paragraph is intended as a long-form introduction to this edition of missed movies, aimed at obscure horror made in the last 10 years that I do think are worthwhile. There are others, naturally but these will do for now.
I want to put a warning attached to this one: Women with sexual assault triggers should definitely avoid this one. Also men who get freaked out by emasculation, probably should keep away. Otherwise, people on the horror scene (or the drunk college scene with one horror fan in the group) will remember this as the major 'endurance horror' film of the last few years (until the heavily overexposed and completely worthless new one came along, and no I won't name it, you know what I'm talking about).
The film is fairly upfront with it's concept: A teenage abstinence advocate is nearly raped and finds out she has vagina dentata (teeth in her vagina for those of you who can't figure it out or are too scared to look it up). No really, that's the premise. And while it's not quite The Exorcist the film pushes this concept for all it's worth, working on a slightly cruel sense of humor and a grim undercurrent of light parody. It can get physically hard to watch at times (it's not coy about it's results), but a smart screenplay, solid metaphors and good acting do some heavy lifting. It's not quite a masterpiece but it's unique and inventive, and isn't that usually enough to warrant a look?
Hooboy this one is gonna take some explaining. In some woods in...some state, I don't remember if they specify or if it's important, a family is trying to live their lives. Problem? Their 10 year old twins are completely psychotic. As in, they would make Damien from The Omen freak out. Hell they could probably give Freddy Kruger a run for his money.
The film is a found footage movie, a genre I usually detest, but the incredible performances from the creepy twins (apparently twins in real life) does a lot to make up for it. And it wisely works the camera into the action, especially towards the end in ways that ramp up the horror. It also goes for the gore and horror full bore, and is completely unafraid to make horrible things happen to anyone and everyone. Most of the 'creepy kid' movies this side of The Omen remake have been garbage, or at best passable (not counting Let the Right One In), but this one really hit it out of the park, and it's probably the most genuinely scary movie on this list. It's also hard to find, so if you get a chance, don't miss this one.
Trick 'R Treat
This one is primarily known in horror circles for it's incredibly annoying journey to find a distributor. Technically finished in 2007, it waited until Halloween 2009 until release despite being widely praised at every festival it screened at. And now that it's out, everyone can see why.
Trick 'R Treat is largely an anthology film, centered around 4 stories taking place in a small town on Halloween, with a creepy kid in a mask as a unifying centerpiece. While I don't want to spoil anything, I will say the stories themselves are well tied together, well written and well executed, working on some clever concepts and subversions of expectations. It's also takes a large amount of quality from it's class, being constantly willing to keep a large amount of the gore offscreen. Like Teeth it's not quite a masterpiece, but it's a good Halloween scare film, so if you see it on Netflix or whatever you kids use these days, give it a look.