While I am the first to admit that I sometimes complain about the lack of solid options for Netflix’s horror movie selection, there are always a few gems that seem to slip under our radar. Whether they be independent movies that don’t receive a lot of attention from mainstream audiences, or releases that just get swept under the rug because of box office juggernauts like It that distract us, you may not have seen or even heard of some of these horror treasures, but you’ll hopefully take a break from binging Stranger Things and Black Mirror for a change, and give these lovely little movies a chance.
- Super Dark Times (2017) Had I seen this artistic dime last year when it was initially released, I would have easily placed it on my best horror list of last year. Alas, this story tells of teenage best friends Zack and Josh, living in 1996 Upstate New York, who live just as ordinarily as any other teenage boys do…until they are suddenly involved with a deadly accident that changes the course of their friendship for good. Filled with amazing mid-’90s nostalgia (Bill Clinton clips on the TV, Minefield on the computer screens, huge cordless phones, and Jansport backpacks) director Kevin Phillips specifically relies on a setting that takes place pre-Columbine massacre: where teenagers were a little more likely to get away with minor acts of violence, and parents weren’t as weary nor suspicious of what their sons were up to, if they happen to have come home past their curfew one night. An effective character study of how guilt, grief, violence, and keeping secrets changes people over the course of time, Dark Times contains a stellar performance by Owen Campbell as the sensitive geek’s geek Zack, who wants to pledge loyalty to his best friend Josh, while also managing to do the morally right thing, at the same time. Trailer
- The Invitation (2015) So, I’ve pretty much recommended this film to almost everyone at this point, and for good reason- trust me! I first watched The Invitation back in the summer of 2016 when I first noticed it on the Netflix list, and I’ve probably watched it an additional five or six times since then. An emotional ride that shows us a man named Will (Logan Marshall-Green) pulling up to his former wife’s house with his new girlfriend for a dinner party in the Los Angeles hills (where all the weird shit happens). Will is immediately skeptical of the intentions of his ex-wife and her new husband, who have also invited about 7 or 8 of their other mutual friends, suspecting that they may be involved with a death cult and possibly trying to recruit their guests to join. A slow burn that is so worth the wait towards the last 30 minutes, we learn more and more about the tragic loss of Will and his former spouse, and we begin to understand how strongly grief can affect people and influence them to do crazy things, as well as what awful things can happen in a social setting when some people are too polite to speak up- when they are confident that something weird is going on. The Invitation is easily one of my top recent favorites ever. Thanks, Netflix. Trailer
- Hush (2016) The home invasion subgenre gets a chilling twist in 2016’s Hush, which tells the story of deaf writer Maddie who lives alone in the woods (to concentrate on her book, of course, why else?) with only a few distant neighbors nearby, who has her home invaded by a slick, masked man with a bow and arrow as his weapon of choice. Memorable performances by Kate Siegel and John Gallagher, Jr. and great use of sound effects and lack of jump scares make this effective thriller one that is not only terrifying, but re-watchable. If you haven’t already checked this one out, you’re missing out. Trailer
- The Devil’s Candy (2017) I already placed The Devil’s Candy on my 2017 horror winners list , and you will also really enjoy your viewing. A young, struggling couple and their daughter move into a new house that may contain a dark past and satanic entities within its walls, as well as a stalker nearby who may have lived in the house prior to them. On the surface, it’s a haunted house story that has been told a thousand times before, but what makes the The Devil’s Candy so special is that you absolutely fall in love with this family. The dad and teenage daughter are crazy metalheads who bang their heads to Metallica in car rides, while the wife/mom is as cool and supportive of a mom that anyone can hope for during trying circumstances. I found myself audibly crying out, “Noooo!” whenever something horrific happened to any of the family members, making this an effective character-rich horror film. This movie is also as equally dark as it is light-hearted. Candy serves as a love letter for metalheads who love the horror genre (i.e. me), but anyone and everyone who watches will find themselves rooting for this family to come out of this house alive. Well worth the Netflix stream. Trailer
- A Dark Song (2016) Wow. I just recently watched A Dark Song for the first time, and, in many ways, it was not exactly what I expected it to be, which is refreshing. Don’t expect to be taken by your hand and led for this one- it requires a little more thought that than. A grieving mother (Catherine Walker) hires a brash occultist (Steve Oram) for a psychologically draining ritual that she believes will answer her questions about her dead son. With visually stunning imagery of landscape shots of Wales, U.K., where the entire film takes place; honest and realistic performances that convey frustration, anger, laughter, and trust versus skepticism from the two leading actors; and truly unsettling scenes that make the hairs stick up on your neck, A Dark Song is hauntingly beautiful, unique, and at times, truly scary.~