I've had my finger to the pulse of the indie horror scene for decades, and I don't remember ever witnessing so many exciting filmmakers emerge within such a brief period of time. Certainly, over the years, sporadic independent directors stood out and created exceptional films... but today we seem to be in a golden epoch of stimulating, truly indie genre film.
These independent movies - made on budgets ranging from around a million bucks, down to DIY features that cost pocket change - have been far more inventive, engaging, and impressive than the vast majority of recent bigger budget films. For example, Adam Rehmeier's movie Jonas (2013) - which was made on a budget that would pay for a week of catering on a $1 million production - is a much better film than the majority of the movies I've seen in the past 24 months... and I'm comparing it to films made at all levels of budget, up to $200 million mega-budget Hollywood spectacles.
Excited about today's truly independent film landscape, I'm thrilled to point out ten heavy-hittin', trail-blazin', extra-impressive fresh faces on the scene. Most of these guys don't have decent advertising budgets behind their films, so we gotta work a bit harder to find what they unleash... but for those of us losing interest in the Hollywood phone-it-in, cookie-cutter method of filmmaking, the extra effort is worth it!
Certainly, there are additional indie filmmakers beyond this list you should be eyeballin', but I think this offers a nice cross-section of the must-see talent out there right now. I've kept this list focused on new and new-ish directors who are pulling off the most impressive films on the lowest budgets. Listed in alphabetical order, here are ten of the most intriguing and inspiring on-the-rise indie genre directors who should be on your radar:
Watch First: The intelligent and fascinating micro-budget sci-fi movie, Primer (2004).
Don't Miss: Carruth's long-awaited follow-up, the brilliant, Upstream Color (2013).
Current/Upcoming: Carruth is reportedly working on his third film, The Modern Ocean.
Watch First: His insane short film, Treevenge (2008).
Don't Miss: The visually delectable roller-coaster ride through depravity, Hobo With A Shotgun (2011).
Current/Upcoming: The " Slumber Party Alien Abduction" segment of V/H/S/2 (2013).
Jorge Michel Grau
Watch First: His "I Is For Ingrown" segment of The ABCs Of Death (2012) and his short film 72 (2011). Both are dramatic, impactful, and haunting.
Don't Miss: The intense original version of We Are What We Are (Somos Lo Que Hay, 2010).
Current/Upcoming: Grau is in development on a thriller titled Big Sky, and (oddly) the sequel to Jim Mickle's remake of We Are What We Are.
Chad Crawford Kinkle
Watch First: The vicious short film Organ Grinder (2011).
Don't Miss: His refreshingly inventive, creepy, and well-acted feature film debut, Jug Face (2013).
Current/Upcoming: Kinkle is currently writing his follow-up southern gothic horror script, the title top secret.
Watch First: The kooky killer-clown slasher film, 100 Tears (2007). It's not high art, but it's a lot of fun.
Don't Miss: The unique and compelling micro-budget psychological horror film, Fell (2012).
Current/Upcoming: Koch's "A Very Bad Situation" segment of the anthology Hi-8 (2013), slated for release later this year.
Watch First: His excellent zero-budget feature film debut, Mulberry Street (2006).
Don't Miss: The outstanding post-apocalyptic vampire / road trip film, Stake Land (2011).
Current/Upcoming: We Are What We Are (2013), Mickle's "reimagining" of Jorge Michel Grau's original Mexican film.
Watch First: The chilling short film, Worm (2010).
Don't Miss: The sinister and slimy short film, Familiar (2012).
Current/Upcoming: In the works are a short film titled Heir and a feature length version of Worm.
Watch First: The dark and gritty shocker, The Bunny Game (2010).
Don't Miss: The brilliant, incomparable Jonas (2013), being released online for free September 11th.
Current/Upcoming: Rehmeier has multiple projects in the works, including the H.P. Lovecraft inspired The Night-Gaunts.
Watch First: The fever-dream short, Gracie: The Diary Of A Coma Patient (2007), shot on Super 8 film.
Don't Miss: The mesmerizing A Measure Of The Sin (2013), currently impressing audiences and critics on the film festival circuit.
Current/Upcoming: Wedding is developing multiple projects, including a horror film titled The Incorruptible.
Watch First: The raucous slasher flick You're Next (2013), released this past Friday, and the humorous "Q Is For Quack" segment of The ABCs Of Death (2012).
Don't Miss: Wingard's outstanding, dreamlike serial killer thriller, A Horrible Way To Die (2010).
Current/Upcoming: His "Phase I Clinical Trials" contribution to V/H/S/2 (2013).
Thanks for reading.
- Eric Stanze