From the Archives: 6 Under-seen Horror Movies Currently Available on Netflix

From the Archives: 6 Under-seen Horror Movies Currently Available on Netflix

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

Trying to see a scary movie but don’t have the guts to sit through BOO! A Madea Halloween??? Don’t worry, Cinedelphians, I’ve got your back. But instead of having you seek out hard to find classics or horror flicks you’ve seen a million times, here are a handful of films you probably haven’t seen, and every single one of them is currently streaming on Netflix. So dim the lights, grab a snuggle buddy, and MAN THE HELL UP. Time to get spooked, son. 

Dark Skies (2013 – Dir. Scott Stewart)

I’m a sucker for movies about aliens. Maybe it’s because my last name is Scully and I’ve spent a large portion of my life being helplessly linked to the X-Files, but it’s also because I desperately want to believe that aliens exist, and for some reason I hope that they aren’t seeking peace. It’s just more fun that way. Dark Skies takes the template of your mainstream, PG-13 horror flick and switches the masked killer for pissed off aliens. It’s like The Forgotten, only good.

Ok fine, I kinda liked The Forgotten.

Dark Skies looks slick and keeps the story small, smartly avoiding the tropes of most mass-invasion thrillers, and delivering a slow burn – unheard of in the world of extraterrestrial sci-fi. It’s also a great reminder of how good of an actress Keri Russell is.

The Snowtown Murders (2011 – Dir. Justin Kurzel)

While not necessarily a horror film in the classic sense, this chillingly dour and violent film is based on the true story of one of Austrailia’s most prolific serial killers. When a troubled young man is taken under the wing of his mother’s new boyfriend, he finds a father figure he never had. But when his friends and family start disappearing, the true colors of his new friend begin to show, blurring the lines of innocence and evil.

Kurzel’s film takes the shape of a crime thriller, but the dreadful feeling never lets up, escalating to the point of being unbearable. There are as many brutally graphic scenes as there are coldly suggestive moments, each are equally haunting. It’s been about a year since I last saw The Snowtown Murders, and I still regularly find myself ruminating on some of its more shocking moments.

And Kurzel’s next film is Assassin’s Creed, so there’s that.

They Look Like People (2015 – Dir. Perry Blackshear)

This is the kind of movie that makes me want to make a movie. With essentially no budget, They Look Like People is entirely absent of bells and whistles. In fact, there’s really only one shot I can think of that required any sort of effects work, and it’s the kind that could be created on an iPad.

It sounds like I’m talking smack. I’m not. This short thriller is endlessly inventive and morbidly funny. Using just a few locations and a handful of actors, Blackshear evokes a level of paranoia befitting of a much denser film – but as they say, it’s the stuff you don’t see that scares the most. What makes it even more effective is how relatable the characters are. It’s easy to put yourself into any scene, which makes the touching conclusion that much more satisfying.

The Amityville Horror (2005 – Dir. Andrew Douglas)

Of the Platinum Dunes horror remakes of the mid-aughts, The Amityville Horror remains one of the best. This is mostly because we are so far removed from the ‘true’ source material (which has long since been thoroughly debunked), that the filmmakers were pretty much given free reign to play with a basic premise. And it’s a simple premise: family moves into a spooky house, Dad becomes possessed by the house, Dad starts a-killin’!

The strength of this version rests on a wickedly mean performance from Ryan Reynolds. His descent from cool dad to maniacal killer is paced and thorough, helped by his own confusion as to what’s occurring. The scariest part about him is that he doesn’t realize he’s losing his mind. This is doubly terrifying for his family, who has to simultaneously run from this man they once loved, while making peace with the fact that the same man is long gone.

Sure the film dabbles in some messy modern stylistics, but the complaints are all garden variety for this sort of thing. And let’s be honest, the original franchise isn’t really anything that special to begin with.

Kidnapped (2010 – Dir. Miguel Ángel Vivas)

I struggled with this one at first, mostly because it appears to be brutality in service of nothing, but eventually the supremely high-quality filmmaking took over and it became clear that the ambition of this film isn’t to say anything at all – it just wants to punish the viewer.

Yet, as much as it wants to hurt us, it wants to do so beautifully, constructing an entire film out of 10-15 extremely long, densely choreographed single takes. This is a filmmaker showing off; using his skills for evil. It’s as if Vivas is saying “check out what I can do . . . and don’t mind the excessive violence.”

If Kidnapped wanted to run me ragged, mission accomplished. This one is not for the faint of heart, but man is it a stunner.

The Den (2013 – Dir. Zachary Donohue)

Before Unfriended came The Den, and while it doesn’t have the brand recognition of its cinematic soulmate, it’s a film of equal quality. Framed entirely within a computer screen, and taking place through a series of webcams and video chats, The Den is probably best watched on a computer. HOW CONVENIENT.

When a young woman logs onto “The Den” (think chat-roulette) for a video project in which she aims to speak with as many people as possible, it all seems so harmless. But when her surfing makes her a witness to murder, she gets involved in something much bigger. The Den respectably attempts to make a commentary on the dark side of human nature and how it can flourish given the anonymity of the internet. It’s hammy, but that’s exactly how horror should be. Plus, who cares how hammy it is when it’s true?

Best part about The Den: at a lean 81 minutes, there’s not enough time to become tired of the found footage conceit, nor is there any room for filler.

Happy watching, friends!

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