Every time I come across an article online which lists a certain number of horror movies “You Haven’t Seen”, invariably I’ve seen all of them, and I suspect so have most self-respecting fans of the genre. That might well prove to be the case here, but I thought it high time I cast some well-deserved light on a few of the more obscure ones that may have slipped beneath your radar. If even one of these is unknown to you and you end up loving it as much as I did, then I’ll consider this blog post a success.
When I first saw the trailer for this Israeli horror film about a brother and sister who have fled their home, only for one of them to find himself caught in a psychopath’s trap, it looked well-shot and acted but little else. I assumed it standard slasher fare until I read the reviews and realized that this was another in a long line of examples of studios trying to market a hard-to-classify film to a wider audience. The trailer is grossly misleading, so much so that I suggest you don’t watch it at all, and go into RABIES with no idea what you’re going to see. It’s superbly well done, and not at all the kind of film you think it is. To say any more would be to ruin it, so check it out if you can find it.
Directed by Jaume Balaguero, the guy who brought you [REC], [REC] 2 and the upcoming [REC] 4: APOCALYPSE, one might be forgiven for assuming this Spanish thriller would be balls-to-the-wall gore, but it’s anything but. Instead, SLEEP TIGHT, about a night porter who decides–for no other reason than he can–to make the life of one of his residents hell, finds Balaguero in a quieter if no less vicious mood. This one’s a bit of a slow burn, but the payoff is absolutely worth it. One of the most disturbing films I’ve seen in years, and hardly a drop of blood in sight.
The first of the two Irish horror films on this list, CITADEL uses its low budget and central premise–that of a young father stricken by agoraphobia after failing to save his wife from a gang of violent youths–to great effect. Like the main character’s affliction, the mood in CITADEL is suffocating, and director Ciaran Foy ratchets up the tension by slow degrees until it’s almost unbearable. Reminiscent at times of David Cronenberg’s THE BROOD without the gooshy biology, CITADEL has plenty to say about societal decay and the fears of being a parent too, which only adds to the terror.
Don’t let the “Guillermo Del Toro” presents tag fool you, in terms of visual style and story, this movie has more in common with Dario Argento. When Julia begins to lose her sight–a congenital defect she shared with her recently murdered twin sister–it gives the filmmakers all kinds of opportunity to play with the things Julia, and we, sees. And while it takes a jarring left turn in the third act, enough mystery and horror have built up in the previous two to make this one of the better genre films to come from Spain in the past few years.
The second of two Irish horror films, this one can be classified as a gorefest. Despite the hokey premise (which is actually presented better than it sounds) of a remote Irish farm being the epicenter of gruesome experiments on livestock, there’s a lot that actually works here, from the mood and solid performances, to the creature effects. And while it loses something toward the end, the journey to get there is lots of splattery fun. Just be sure you’re not eating while watching it. Seriously.
So what do you think? Have you seen any of these movies, and if so, what did you think of them? Do you have any recommendations for little-known horror movies others might have missed? If so, share them in the comments below.
Next time, I’d list my top ten favorite Irish horror movies (you probably haven’t seen those either…)