Every horror fan hits that wall where we just can’t seem to find a promising movie that will shake us to our core. This happens for two reasons; the first being desensitization. We see some of the scariest films on a regular basis, going, of course, immediately to the classics and then veering off into the world of sub-genre. Slasher, supernatural, noir, surreal, all manner of variations for film’s oldest and most reliable genre. Going from one movie to another searching for that single piece of horror magic buried beneath a rubble of dreck can be trying, even exhausting.
While the “list of horror films you’ve never seen” approach to recommendations for the worn-down horror veteran is ubiquitous, it’s often false advertising. How many lists bearing a similar headline are going to recommend Session 9 or The Orphanage? Well, not this one. While it would be easy to drop some obscure horror titles no one has ever heard of, that too sounds like a cop out, so I’m not going in that direction either. Instead, I’m focusing on horror films that are somewhat accessible. No one wants to watch the unpleasantness that is August Underground’s Mordum or Mermaid in a Manhole, myself included.
While seasoned horror veterans who have seen some of the titles on this list will likely pass through, it’s my goal to create recommendations unseen enough that even the most astute of horror fans can walk away with at least one never-watched title. Let me know how I did!
We’re going in order of least scary to most.
5. The Cottage (2008)
It’s interesting to me that Bloody-Disgusting gave this British horror/comedy such a lackluster review, as it’s quite a fun ride. It shares a commonality with From Dusk Till Dawn in that it doesn’t become a horror film until about halfway through. With a plot involving a phobia of moths, a kidnapping, and an intelligent, feisty hostage nearly as ruthless and demented as the Jason Voorhees-esque slasher known simply as The Farmer, this one is a genuinely fun time. It stars an up-and-coming Andy Serkis of recent Star Wars fame.
4. The Woman (2011)
In 2011, the director of May, Lucky McKee, released The Woman, which was met with heavy controversy at that year’s Sundance Film Festival. Taking on such difficult subject matter as extreme domestic violence, The Woman is a challenge for all viewers. While the controversy generated some serious buzz and coverage in publications like Wired, the hype mostly fizzled out. Alas, The Woman remains largely unseen. With solid performances from Sean Bridgers, Angela Bettis, and Pollyanna McIntosh, this collaboration with the recently deceased, legendary horror writer Jack Ketchum is a must-see for any horror fan.
3. Jack Ketchum’s The Lost (2006)
Earlier this year the horror community lost one of the greats. As mentioned in #4 on this list, the man Stephen King called “the scariest man in America,” Jack Ketchum, died on January 24, 2018. A film adaptation of his book The Lost remains his least-known work. A film largely about bullying—a theme common in Ketchum’s work – this movie explores the deep-rooted psychopathy of a sadistic bully by the name of Ray Pie. The last 15 minutes of this film are so incredibly haunting, it makes this movie difficult to recommend. But for those seeking out something to be horrified by, look no further.
2. Eden Lake (2008)
Another film which deals with bullying, Eden Lake stars Michael Fassbender in an up-and-coming role. Before he donned the Magneto helmet in X-Men: First Class, Fassbender starred in this vicious tale of relentlessly brutal teenage bullies, who just won’t leave one adult couple alone. This is one of those movies where the viewer continues wondering how much worse things can possibly get, right up until the credits roll.
1. Angel Heart (1987)
Starring Mickey Rourke as a sleazy private investigator and Robert DeNiro as Satan, this is 0ft-overlooked horror gem is the stuff nightmares are made of. Though many of the movies on this list have something of a twist ending, this one takes the cake. Set largely in New Orleans, Angel Heart has a tone and feeling all its own. The film has gained something of a cult following and went on to inspire director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight).