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There’s been something of a horror movie renaissance over the past decade. Following the release of such subversive successes as “Get Out” and “Hereditary," horror movies and thrillers are beginning to enjoy something of a higher culture and art relevance in the film industry.
In fact, moviegoers are questioning why horror is so disrespected as a film genre now more than ever. Surely, you can be scared and highly impressed at the same time? With the social commentary of the allegories evident in Jordan Peele’s movies (“Get Out,” “Us” and upcoming “Nope”), the forthcoming remake of “Candyman,” “His House” and the new release “Censor,” perhaps this genre deserves more praise than it gets.
And, as the nights begin creeping in earlier and earlier, an exploration of underrated horror movies is certainly in order. Explore the creativity and artfulness of this genre through these underrated, alternative picks. Manufacturing screams requires some major imagination. And, who knows? Maybe these underrated horror movies are just what you’ve been looking for. Let the shrieking commence.
Horror-comedies: laugh through the fear
If you don’t love the idea of purposely making yourself scared, a horror-comedy may be more your speed. Somewhat less easy to come by than a straightforward slasher or paranormal movie, horror-comedies allow the audience occasional relief from the constant scary tension of the film.
While many horror movies do have some element of comedic relief, horror-comedies rely on the laughs just as much as they do the screams (perhaps even more…). A classic example of this genre-bending can be seen in “Shaun of the Dead” and “What We Do in the Shadows.”
The first underrated horror movie we’ve chosen within this subgenre is “Housebound,” an Australian movie from 2014. With its pretty standard “haunted house” aesthetic and a plot revolving around a woman forced to survive house arrest while under increasing danger from the paranormal, “Housebound” seems like an unambiguous attempt at horror.
That is, until its protagonist, Kylie, decidedly does not buy into the bullshit. Kylie is the type of horror protagonist who vehemently refuses to entertain any horror trope. Rather than scream in frustration at the screen, you’ll spend this watch cheering her on.
You may have heard a thing or two about the next movie on the list: “Jennifer’s Body,” but don’t knock it ‘til you watch it. When this movie was released in 2009, it was so panned that it ruined screenwriter Diablo Cody’s career. That being said, it’s now reached a cult classic status that is more than well-deserved.
More of a watch for young women rather than the college-aged men it was originally marketed toward, “Jennifer’s Body” is a feminist horror-comedy that was ahead of its time. In fact, it’s probably Megan Fox’s best role to date, remaining relevant as a commentary on the oversexualization of young women as well as the parasitic nature of adolescent relationships. Plus, who can resist iconic lines like “I’m going to eat your soul and shit it out?”
For fans of frights
Few genres of films have faithful fans. People who really like horror movies really like horror movies. For horror fans, it can be slightly difficult to find anything that will really throw them for a loop. If that’s you, then we have some underrated horror movies that you have to check out.
For something absolutely terrifying, that will stay with you forever, add “The Wolf House” (“La Casa Lobo”) to your list. Actually, put it at the very top of your list. The trailer alone will have you shivering.
An animated, enigmatic retelling of “The Three Little Pigs,” this Chilean film is a stop motion adventure which was filmed entirely in a singular room, even using animated papier-mâché at times. Based on the historical mass migration of Nazis from Germany to South and Central America following World War II, “The Wolf House” engages with Chile’s dark past by integrating it with the horror genre. This one is all types of insane – including insanely good.
Another foreign film pick is next – psychological horror film “Under the Shadow.” Critically acclaimed, this movie was an international coproduction by the United Kingdom, Jordan and Qatar; it is a Persian language film that takes place in 1980s Tehran, during the War of the Cities.
A compelling blend of the postcolonial political landscape of the post-revolutionary Iran and the horrorscape of paranormal and psychological terror, “Under the Shadow” is the kind of movie that’s impossible not to read into. Focusing on a mother-daughter duo who must protect one another as the war endures right outside of their home, this character-driven picture is an instant favorite for anyone who watches.
Underrated horror movies that are oldies, but goodies
It’s not just contemporary horror films that deserve to be hyped up. Many older horror pictures never got their due, which is just a travesty. Let’s take a deep dive into some underrated horror movies of the past.
What’s more of a blast from the past than the threat of nuclear war? A faux-documentary that was released in 1966, “The War Game” is the kind of horror movie that sacrifices jump scares and suspenseful music for a more gripping, existentially horrific plot.
Detailing a nuclear attack on the UK from the USSR, this movie was pulled from being shown on the BBC soon after its first broadcast due to its disturbing content. Luckily, we pretty much have access to everything we want in 2021, so get your hands on it ASAP.
Modern horror had to get its template and its tropes from somewhere, right? We’ve got one of the movies that started it all: “The Haunting.” Based on Shirley Jackson’s iconic novel, “The Haunting of Hill House,” this 1963 film is nothing like the 2018 Netflix series which shares the same source material.
“The Haunting” is everything you want from a movie set in a haunted house. In black and white, this horror classic really buys into every jump scare and all of the supernatural terror that it espouses. Shirley Jackson would be proud of this adaptation, and she was even alive to see it!
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