While there may be a shortage of theatrical horror films scoring a nationwide release, there are still plenty of titles touring the festival circuit and coming out via VOD and DVD that are equally worthy of your attention. The foreign film market has also been churning out a lot of noteworthy titles. Unfortunately, films that don’t get the big-studio marketing treatment often wind up overlooked. To shed some light on some of these lesser-known features, we started running a recurring feature spotlighting a series of impressive films released over the past five years, which may not have received all the publicity they deserved (due to financial limitations, being overshadowed by larger scale releases, or myriad other reasons). Since that segment has proved popular, we’ve decided to continue on and open the timeframe up to ten years.
We’re showcasing five titles from the past ten years that may have passed you by, but are certainly worthy of your attention. We hope that even die-hard fans of the macabre will find a film or two on this list that might have slipped under their radar...
Watching this French extremity film is a bit like taking a ninety-minute thrill ride that doesn’t slow down for a minute. The performances are top notch and the musical cues and score are extremely intense. The ending was a little jarring but perfectly fitting for the tone of the film. Unfortunately, Inside went direct-to-DVD in the U.S. Had the film received a theatrical release; it would likely have enjoyed a successful run. Béatrice Dalle’s is excellent as ‘La Femme’; we don’t learn her intentions until the very end of the film, which makes her behavior all the more ominous. Dalle plays the role with a ruthless and unyielding determination that all makes sense at the end but the since the viewer is given no insight in to her motivation until the final scenes of the film, it makes for a suspenseful viewing experience.
Cold Prey I and II
The Cold Prey Films are part of a trilogy, but the third is not really essential viewing. The first two films, though, are fantastic. The final girl, Jannicke, is tough, level headed, and isn’t about to take any shit from anyone. Cold Prey and Cold Prey II take place in succession – the third is a prequel – so, it’s ideal to watch the first two films back-to-back in order to keep the timeline straight. The second film was unavailable in the U.S. until recently but our friends at Scream Factory were kind enough to secure the domestic distribution rights and allow stateside audiences to see this modern slasher classic for the first time.
I will start of by saying that Botched isn’t going to please everyone. But, I definitely enjoy it. It’s like a Guy Ritchie heist film crossed with a satanic slasher. The film takes a dramatic shift in tonality in the second act and I loved the direction the film went when it did so. Watching it for the first time, Botched had a slightly surreal quality to it but upon re-watching I appreciate some of the subtle humor that I didn’t pick up on the first time around. Stephen Dorff (The Gate) turns in a fine performance and is likable as Ritchie in spite of being somewhat of an antihero. And Jaime Murray (Dexter) is great as Anna, the female lead. Botched doesn’t reinvent the genre but it certainly has ample laughs and a few good scares to offer.
This is an amazing Spanish language film that gets just about everything right. It’s highly original; it quickly sets itself apart from other time travel films. The performances are top notch; I wouldn’t necessarily have pegged Karra Elejalde as a leading man but he ends up being an excellent choice. The ending brings everything around full circle with an interesting twist. The movie is well paced, making the running time fly by; there are no lulls and it never gets bogged down with any dull sequences.
The Skin I Live in
The Skin I Live In is one of the most unusual films I’ve seen. It takes a little while to clue the viewer in as to what’s going on; the lack of exposition early in the film makes for a highly unexpected reveal later on in the picture. I had no idea what to expect going in. I didn’t read anything about the film prior to watching it and I wont spill any details because I don’t want to spoil it for prospective viewers by giving anything away. Suffice to say that this one is not to be missed. Antonio Banderas turns in an arresting performance, as does the rest of the cast. The film raises a lot of interesting questions and doesn’t necessarily answer all of them. It lets the viewer draw a lot of his or her own conclusions.