The horror genre has certainly made a mainstream comeback in recent years with the box office success of films like Hereditary, Nope, A Quiet Place, and M3GAN. A genre that ebbs and flows in popularity with the public, dominating decade’s like the 70’s and 80’s but falling short in the 90’s and early 2000’s, we are lucky to see it widely favored again.
In the last five years or so, we have seen many new films hit theatres that are extremely unique and break through the mold of common horror expectations like Barbarian or X. We have also seen a successful resurgence in remakes and reboots within iconic franchises like Scream or Halloween. In 2023, we saw a good mix of this. Talk To Me, Infinity Pool, and Five Night’s At Freddy’s were great examples of fresh looks, while Saw X, Scream VI, Evil Dead Rise, and Insidious: The Red Door impressed with the latter concept.
Of course, there is a reason these films are highly praised among movie goers. However, most die-hard horror fans will often argue that the underground of the genre produces far more interesting efforts. Low-budget, indie films with up-and-coming directors and fairly unknown actors don’t have the pressure of a blockbuster hit production company…which typically allows them to be a whole lot weirder. They can take bigger risks without repercussions.
Sometimes this doesn’t work, but when it does, holy shit. This year we gained some bangers in this category. From campy horror-comedies, to alien home invasions, to shaky-cam/found-footage, here is our list of six underrated horror flicks you may have missed this year. Grab the popcorn and be ready to cover your eyes, because this list is worthy of your Halloween weekend.
Starring Kiernan Shipka of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Mad Men, The Blackout’s Daughter and more, Totally Killer is a fun ride from beginning to end. A horror comedy at its finest, it mixes the slasher genre with time travel to deliver a bloody good time. It feels like a combination of The Purge, Final Girls, and Happy Death Day. When a girl is forced go back to 1987 to save her mom’s group of friends from a serial killer, she finds that her parents aren’t the people she thought they were, and the 80’s were a hell of a lot different than the world she knows now. It’s hilarious, gruesome, cheeky, and insanely clever. Totally Killer is a must watch.
There’s Something Wrong With The Children
There’s Something Wrong With The Children is one of the better “creepy kids” movies that has come out in a long time. This trope is pretty much dead, having been done hundreds of times. However, there is something about this film that feels fresh. No one wants to be killed by a kid, and in this movie there are two. The thing that sets this film a part from its counterparts, is its focus on the mental health of the lead character (Zach Gilford). He is convinced that there is “something wrong with the children”, but his history of delusions and psychosis make him hard to believe by his wife and friends. You’ll find yourself in a personal battle between believing him, and not believing him. The ending gets a little crazy, but it is so unique that viewers won’t mind the weirdness.
Every single movie in this franchise kicks ass. The first V/H/S breathed new life into the found-footage genre, and each film to follow only cemented the enthralling nature of this series. An anthology at heart, each bite-sized bit of horror is delivered in a fashion that everyone watching gets something they love from each film. If you’re not into one of the stories, you only have to wait about ten minutes before you’ll be gifted with something entirely different. These movies have a decent scare for each and every viewer. Ghosts, zombies, serial killers, demons, aliens – you name it, these movies have it. The newest addition is V/H/S/85 and it does 80’s horror SO WELL. The second tale, “No Wake” is the highlight of the stories, and is sure to make you think twice before visiting another lake with your friends.
Skinamarink was the talk of the town in January of this year. Originally hitting the festival circuit in 2022, it gained so much popularity that it garnered an official theatre release a year later. The Canadian indie film was Kyle Edward Ball‘s directorial debut and was made in one location for less than $15,000. To date it has grossed over two million dollars. Obviously more than an impressive feat for an underground flick. It spread via word-of-mouth on TikTok and Reddit, claiming to be the “scariest movie of all time”. The phenomenon felt reminiscent of the original Paranormal Activity.
The film seems to divide viewers, either being entirely loved or entirely hated. It isn’t gory, it has no jump scares, and boasts hardly any dialogue at all. Skinamarink preys on the youthful and primal fear of the dark. Following two children who wake up in the middle of the night to their parents having disappeared, it is simple at its core but incredibly effective. Give it a shot if you haven’t already.
No One Will Save You
You’ve never seen a home invasion movie like No One Will Save You. Most known for her work in Booksmart, Dopesick, and Unbelievable, Kaitlyn Dever carries this movie with her captivating performance. Essentially the only character in the entire film, No One Will Save You follows Dever as she navigates one of the most terrifying nights of her life. Someone is trying to break into her rural home, isolated on the outskirts of town. However, it isn’t just someone, it’s something.
Bridging together the home invasion narrative with the horrors of an alien invasion, this movie will have you holding your breath for 90 minutes straight. The only short-coming of the film, is the choice to show the alien too soon. It leaves little suspense to be had from such an early reveal, but it is enjoyable nonetheless. You’re constantly rooting for the main character as if it were happening to you.
Easily the most bizarre movie on this list, Murder, Anyone? is not easily digestible. You may have to watch it twice to get it, but that being said, if you like it then you’ll love it. The play-within-a-play-within-a-movie is so meta it almost hurts, but in the best way possible. Similar to films like Black Bear, Scare Me, and Murder Party, the film surpasses norms and has earned a whopping 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Squeezing in likeness somewhere between horror and dark comedy, the film kicks off with two writers attempting to collaborate on a play. They battle with hero vs. villain, reality vs. fantasy, and play vs. movie. Murder, Anyone? is a campy, whodunnit, murder mystery that flips traditional storytelling on its head. The avant-garde thriller is perfect for when you need a movie that will make you think, while also being a clever and fun experience.