Artsy horror films steal the spotlight

Indie films and underground studios are gaining notoriety, stealing Oscars from the big productions, pushing the boundaries of traditional films, and creating their own unique subgenres. Recently, their newest targeted genre is horror, and 2019 was a big year for this genre, as many standout films were released. 

Us (2019)

Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Jordan Peele, Us follows the tale of Adelaide Thomas (played by Lupita Nyong’o) and her family through the revolution of the Tethered, their government created clones. Us brings a fresh and innovative storyline, along with spectacular acting to the table. The storyline comes to a head at the end with a new play on the typical “horror story ending twist.” Peele, known for mixing in political issues within his films, ties in the issue of neglect and what would happen when angry people organize and start a revolution.

Midsommar (2019)

From the visionary mind of Ari Aster, Midsommar was written as a break-up film after Aster experienced a rough break-up. Midsommar pursues college students Dani and Christian and their struggling relationship. After Dani’s sudden and tragic familial loss, their relationship is further strained, and while Christian’s friend group are opposed to it, Dani reluctantly joins them in their trip to Sweden to see a midsummer festival which is held every ninety years. While the movie is more unsettling than it is scary, it still has many gruesome and graphic scenes, all shot tastefully and distinctly. While the idea of attestupans, or elderly people throwing themselves off cliffs, may be off putting, the progression of a toxic relationship between an emotionally distant man and a grieving woman is portrayed in quite an extreme way, but still interesting enough to keep the audience engaged. This may be the first horror film to take on mainstream media where the horror is happening in broad daylight, smothered by flowers, dancing, and ritualistic sacrifices. If your relationship is going through a tough time, this would be the perfect movie to see with your significant other.

Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary, Ari Aster’s directorial debut, is more of an extreme unsettling family drama rather than a full on horror film. The film tracks the Graham family after the loss of their grandma. While many details cannot be released without spoiling the big twist in the beginning of the movie, it is safe to say that the storyline is quite compelling and takes sudden turns, but just enough for it to make sense. The standout of this film is each of the family member’s acting. The family dynamics after a terrible loss brings pure sorrow to the audience.

Suspiria (2018 Remake)

This remake of the cult classic horror film originally released in 1977 comes from the mind of Luca Guadagnino, who also produced the critically acclaimed Call Me By Your Name (2018). While that may be a big jump, from a romance story to a horror plot, Guadagnino can make that switch with ease. He explicitly states that Suspiria (2018) is more of a reinvention, or separate rendition than the original 1977 film. The bones of the original are there; the basic plot is the same, but the events play out much differently. The color pallete is completely revamped, where the original had bright electric colors (most notably the iconic brilliant red blood) that gave a psychedelic feel, but Guadagnino’s color palette uses rusty brown and earthy tones, and only uses primary colors sparingly. The gradual buildup of the storyline laced with occasional grotesque scenes is sure to leave the audience in a small state of psychosis. 

All four movies are available to purchase digitally or through Blu-Ray.

Note: All movies reviewed have been given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America. Viewer discretion is heavily advised.