Updated: Nov 21, 2021
Cornwall Film Festival is only a couple of weeks away! The 20th edition includes screenings of critically acclaimed films from different countries and genres. With Halloween right around the corner, we’d be remiss not to highlight two of the most highly anticipated 2021 horror films that are featured in the festival’s line-up this year: Lamb and Titane. Both will be screening at CFF, bringing bold and unique horror visions to Cornwall audiences.
While horror has never not been in fashion, over the past few months, reboots have stolen the spotlight from original new horror films. Halloween Kills (2021) is a 20-million-dollar production that cashed big at the box office, earning more than $90 million during its first two weeks in theatres. As part of the canon horror franchise that first graced cinemas in 1978, the latest instalment attracted die-hard fans as well as young horror enthusiasts curious to find out the fate of Michael Myers. The film’s success has already set another sequel in motion, with Halloween Ends slated for a 2022 release.
Similarly, the Scream franchise is back to reclaim its famous place in horror cinema. When the original film premiered in 1996, it shook the world of horror with its meta style and the instant classic “Do you like scary movies?” Today, the franchise directors are depending on 90s nostalgia and the iconic white mask to lure audiences back to the cinema for the fifth film which is set to premiere in January 2022.
While such franchises have built their fan base over time, it’s become frustrating to witness the recycling of familiar faces, merely masks, to churn more stories along the same lines. This is where indie horror filmmaking comes in. Blumhouse Productions is among the most prolific production companies dedicated to horror filmmaking. Its record not only includes Paranormal Activity (2007) and The Purge (2013) but more high concept horror films like Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017) and Us (2019).
It’s undeniable that the horror genre has experienced a renaissance in recent years. However, audiences may have missed some of the latest horror masterpieces due to distribution issues or a simple reluctance to venture beyond the typical English-language horror movie.
Here to spruce up your Halloween movie night, the following are six indie films that are among my all-time favourites. It’s equally scary and satisfying how many of them are debuts; only goes to show that the horror genre is here to stay and may do well to expand and allow fresh voices to breathe new life into its immortal zombie corpse.
Visually and acoustically singular in its execution, Raw immediately put Julia Ducournau on the horror filmmaking map. As a first feature, it shocks and stuns on every level. Not only did Ducournau transform the way we look at flesh, she channeled our darkest fears in this brilliant coming-of-age tale. The film won the FIPRESCI Award at Cannes.
Like Ducournau, Joachim Trier utilized the horror genre to tell the story of a young girl discovering her innermost desires. Trier incorporates supernatural elements to present Thelma’s struggle to come to terms with her sexuality. Thelma goes perfectly with Raw for a horror double bill.
In Fabric (2018)
Peter Strickland portrays a cursed dress in a haunting story that is bound to become a cult classic. The film’s kaleidoscopic imagery and unique score make it more than just a ghost story.
Saint Maud (2019)
Directed by Rose Glass, Saint Maud is a spell-binding debut that leaves a mark in horror cinema. While watching this film, I wondered how different, possibly better, it would be without any dialogue simply because of its overwhelming visuals and sound. Not to mention Morfydd Clark’s unforgettable performance as the tortured Maud for which she won the Best Actress BAFTA Cymru award last week.
His House (2020)
It’s hard not to be jaded by yet another haunted house movie but this one haunts differently. Remi Weekes’ directorial debut shatters all our expectations and cleverly channels the horror genre to depict the horrors of the refugee crisis.
Of course, the pandemic yielded creative filmmaking efforts but none quite like Rob Savage’s Host. What Searching (2018) did a couple of years ago was impressive but creating an entire film using Zoom and screen recording is much more potent and relatable during quarantine times. Savage makes the most of every single prop to support the story from the first conference call and until shutdown.