Some of the biggest horror movies of 2017 came out recently. The long awaited film adaptation of Stephen King’s It and Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! had a huge impact. Amongst all this hype, less high profile horror movies can be easily overlooked. So I have chosen some of my favourite obscure horror films.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Described as “the first Iranian vampire Western”, this film is very unusual. Arash works hard and looks after his father who is in debt to a pimp. When the pimp is killed by a mysterious girl in a Chador who grows fangs and sucks his blood, Arash’s world becomes scarier, darker and menaced by a constant threatening presence. Shot in black and white and with a cast little known in the West, this film is powerful, unsettling and creepy. This is essential watching for anyone who wants to broaden their knowledge of the horror genre.
Vagina dentata, the words alone sends shivers up my spine. This black comedy horror follows teenager, Dawn, who discovers she has teeth inside her vagina. When a schoolfriend attempts to rape her, she responds by biting off his penis. After that, she must come to terms with what she can do, in a world where women often experience sexual violence. This film uses its premise to explore issues around consent and teenage sexuality. It’s gory and dark, sometimes comic and sometimes scary. The film ably straddles both genres, taking body horror to places that are painful to watch.
No, not the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s novel, but the Korean film about a giant killer tadpole attacking people on the Han River, obviously. This may sound like a silly concept for a horror movie, but it is a tense two hour viewing experience. Park Gang-du runs a snack bar near the Han River in South Korea. When a giant creature emerges from the river and kidnaps his daughter, Gang-du must venture down to the sewers to rescue her. What follows is a scary and violent confrontation with the creature and a government that will stop at nothing to cover up the creature they had a role in creating.
The Neon Demon
Nicolas Winding Refn has previous form directing films that are both abstract and unsettling (Drive, Only God Forgives), however with The Neon Demon he outdid even himself. The film follows Jesse, a sixteen year old model who quickly captures the imagination of photographers and casting agents in Los Angeles. However, her beauty and rapid success inspire awe and envy amongst her peers. This admiration and hated of Jesse prove to be really dangerous. This film contains moments of terror and extreme violence, but most disturbing is the aura of unreality in all Refn’s films. We have the sense that Jesse’s life is an unstable nightmare, beyond her control, where any situation could be deadly.
The past is a scary place, filled with superstitions and where violent deaths were more common. The sense you could easily meet a horrible ending 300 hundred years ago is woven throughout The Witch. William and his family have to leave their Puritan plantation in 17th Century New England. They find a new farm on the edge of a secluded forest, but when the children start to disappear, they suspect the forest might not be uninhabited. Paranoia and fear of a malevolent supernatural force spread through the family, and the viewer doesn’t know what is real or what is superstition until the end of the film. This makes for an eerie and tense viewing experience.