Darlings, as the evenings grow longer and we head into the darkness of the last new moon of 2012, what could be better than curling up at home to watch a little horror? Here are five decent horror films currently available on Netflix Instant, iTunes, and Amazon OnDemand that seemed to fly completely under the radar when they were released. These under-promoted and indie films tend to feature atmospheric terror over gore and present some effective and fresh ideas in horror. As a bonus for those of you who are sick of milquetoast PG-13 scares and found footage films, these movies are all traditionally filmed, R-rated offerings, and each one had moments that left me watching shrunk back as far away from the TV as physically possible. This, my dears, is a sign of a solid horror flick.
1. The Caller (2011)
Requiring the occasional suspension of disbelief, The Caller uses its unusual premise to full advantage to create a tremendous sense of dread, as we watch, helpless, our protagonist trying desperately to stop the horror infiltrating her past.
“This spooky thriller tracks the private nightmare of Mary Kee, a divorcée who begins receiving disturbing telephone calls from a woman she doesn’t know. After engaging the stranger initially, Mary tries to extricate herself — with horrific results.“
2. Wake Wood (2011)
This film takes a little time to get going, but the ending is one of the most solid 30 minutes I’ve seen in a while, mostly due to the outstanding performance of dear little Alice. Dear, dead, wrong Alice. These people need to write “Sometimes, dead is better” on a chalkboard 1,000 times.
“After losing their only child, Alice, in a vicious dog attack, two grieving parents relocate to a small town where — to their horror and fascination — they discover a pagan ritual that will grant them three more days with their deceased daughter. Hoping to allay their sorrow, at least temporarily, the couple decides to go through with the rite, but the larger question remains, what happens after the three days have passed?”
3. The Pact (2012)
Unexpected and creepy, The Pact is a feature-length pickup of a 2011 short film. Although the plot raises a few unresolved questions, I loved that the writers made this more than just a simple haunted house story.
“Feeling obligated to return home for the funeral of the mother she despised, Annie soon senses an evil presence in her childhood home. As she seeks answers about her mother’s death, Annie is forced to face demons from her past.”
4. The Signal (2006)
I adored The Signal so much that this is my second time writing about it. Filmed in 13 days for $50k, the film is presented in three vignettes, each with a different director and tone, taking a slightly different perspective on our story as rage zombies run amok in the city. The black comedy in the second segment is pitch perfect, and I loved watching a single story progress through different voices.
“When the phones, radios and televisions in the city of Terminus begin to broadcast the same strange signal, the transmission breeds jealousy and hate, turning once-sane people into murderous lunatics. A faithless wife seeks the safety of her lover, while her affected husband hunts for her. David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush each write and direct an act of this horror tale that was nominated for a John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award.”
Absentia is another ultra-low budget indie film I’ve mentioned here on the site before. From the creative team behind Oculus, this $70,000 film suffers occasionally from the limitations of its budget, but more often turns those limitations into a positive, creating an almost Lovecraftian menace of dark, foreboding places and a mostly unseen terror at the outside edges of our imagining.
“Seven years after her husband, Daniel, went missing, Tricia is about to have him declared dead. But as she copes with her grief and the reappearance of her annoying sister, Tricia begins to suspect a sinister force is behind Daniel’s disappearance.”
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Categories: Netflix Instant, Reviews, Trailers
One of my favorite “horror” (more so suspence) films is “The Village”, directed by M. Night Shayamalan and starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Joaquin Phoenix.
You know, I don’t know that I ever saw that one. I have noticed that there’s not a lot of Shayamalan stuff on Instant.
It’s a shame it’s not on Netflix, but it has been out since 2004 so it might be online for under $5. It’s worth watching.
How funny – I just posted something about The Signal today too : )
Ooo, excellent write-up. I’m linking to it here in the comments!
YAY! The Signal was all kinds of good. I also really liked The Pact and Absentia but haven’t seen the other two… nice list!!
Yay…it’s so hit-and-miss choosing horrors. Will put these on my list!
I do wade through some pretty mediocre offerings trying to find the good ones. I hope you come back and let us know what you think if you watch any of these!
I will! There is so much shit out there, but when you love a good horror or thriller it’s worth wading through to get to the great ones. It’s great to have a short list!
Have seen Absentia…was good.
Have you seen Oculus? It’s hard to find, but I thought it was very effective.
I haven’t but will look for it now. Would you compare it to anything?
The premise actually made me think of a mash up of Stephen King’s “The Reaper’s Image” and “Room 1408” (the short story, not the film). Here’s the trailer.
I believe every single one of these minus The Signal is in my queue right now. 🙂 I *think* I saw The Signal but since I’m not sure I’ll have to go check it out!
I am definitely interested to hear what you think! 🙂
Amazing! I will have some fun searching these out on the internet… unfortunately Canadian Netflix is like American Netflix’s annoying little brother…while big brother can watch all the cool Indy and R rated stuff, little brother is stuck with boring big budget and PG 13 garbage…oh wait…i just found The Pact…score one for Canada! *laughs
I did wonder about that. I think they are all also available on iTunes or Amazon on Demand (or *cough* other areas of the web). 🙂
– abraham lincoln cuts off a zombie head – EMANCIPATE THIS!!!!
See, that is a movie I would watch. Especially for the post-assassination zombie twist at the end!
YAY AND HALUCINATIONS FROM DEJA YOU
The only one I haven’t seen is Wake Wood (I’ll put it on my LoveFilm list on your recommendation). A brilliant selection, have you seen Kill List?
I actually wound up having dinner with Charlie Adlard during Comic-Con and he recommended Kill List, so I’ve been dying to catch it but haven’t yet. It looks like Ben Wheatley, the director, has a few new things coming out soon. The trailer for Sightseers looks good.
Definitely want to catch this one, it looks like the caravan holidays I remember from childhood… with a bit less murder, perhaps x
How did you know I needed just such a list? I saw Wake Wood at the very end of October and adored it. If these others are half as good, I will be very pleased.
Perfect! Do let us know if you find anything else you liked on the list! 🙂
I didn’t read the post because I am a fancy playboy but I will remark on how pretty everything looks!
You are SO clever with the word play, lovey.
The Signal was all kinds of awesome — equal parts humor and horror and you never quite knew whether you should be laughing or getting ready to wince.
I’ve spoken to a few people that didn’t care for it, so I think it may be a loved it or hated it kind of thing. I thought it was great, and the dark comedy vignette was fantastic.
I’ve seen some of these and wondered about them. The teaser for Wake Wood made me think of The Monkey’s Paw. Remember that short story? Great premise, though. I’ll check it out.
I’ve passed over Absentia a few times because their cover (at least on Netflix) looks like too much of a rip off from the terrifying end scene (and actually movie poster) from Quarantine (which, while a “found footage” movie, I thought was terrifying). But I’ll trust you on this one.
And thanks for the other recommends. They will go into my queue immediately.
I hope you find something you enjoy, darling. I must say that the premise in Wake Wood isn’t anything new, but I still found it rather effective. For the budget, I found Absentia to be well done. I love having an opportunity to let the story do the work to create horror, without CGI monsters as a crutch. Do let us know if you get a chance to watch any!
Okay, so I watched The Signal. Yikes. Disturbing, then funny, then disturbing again. SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE READING THESE COMMENTS: I will say that I wanted the girl to take control at the end. I know she was messed up from watching the television in the terminal, but I think the boyfriend unstrapped her hands. I wanted to see her leap up and slam the husband’s head through the television set. It would’ve given the power to her, instead of having to be saved by the boyfriend. But I think what they ended up doing was the second best thing they could’ve done (and almost threw me. I was starting to wonder who was actually whom myself). So I really enjoyed this one. Just happened to have the opportunity to see it, and it might be awhile before I get another chance to sit and watch another full length horror without the kiddies, but I’ll let you know when I get to these others.
I’m so thrilled you enjoyed it, Paul. I think the ending was probably the weakest part of the whole film, but overall it was very well done. Feel free to make use of the Friday Night Features page if you’re pressed for time – I don’t think any of the horror shorts there over 15 minutes.
The Pact looks really good – I’m gonna have to check that one out!