Believe it or not, the 2000’s were a very fertile time for horror. I had launched the website Icons Of Fright with my co-creator Michael Cucinotta back in 2004 and through the second half of that decade, we were always striving to find the best independent horror titles to recommend to our loyal readers. I’ve already suggested 6 horror titles I consider gems from that era in last week’s editorial. But it was fairly easy for me to cull yet another 6 from the same time period that I feel also warrant your attention, because as I said earlier, it was a fertile time!
So, without further ado, here are 6 more horror films from the 2000’s you may have missed!
While most primarily know writer/director Adam Green for the HATCHET franchise, or for appearing in front of the camera in the sitcom HOLLISTON and the feature film DIGGING UP THE MARROW, there’s one movie early in his career that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. Although he had made HATCHET first and chronologically it was released first, I was fortunate to view SPIRAL, his second feature film, before anything else, and I absolutely loved it. Co-directed by Joel David Moore, who also penned the script with Jeremy Daniel Boreing, SPIRAL follows the lonely and strange existence of Mason, a telemarketer by day, and painter by night. (Also played by Moore.) But his entire world gets shaken up and turned upside down when he meets Amber (Amber Tamblyn), an exuberant young gal that might just be able to help Mason out of his shell. But are Mason’s dark tendencies far worse than Amber could have imagined? Featuring an off-kilter, yet stylish jazz score and a pre-CHUCK Zachery Levi, who also served as a producer on this project, SPIRAL is a gem from the late 2000’s that deserves to be rediscovered.
THE COTTAGE (2008)
I love when a film sets up a perfect storm or a comedy of errors for the main characters. That’s the case with the irresistible British film from writer/director Paul Andrew Williams, THE COTTAGE! Constantly bickering brothers David (Andy Serkis) and Peter (Reece Shearsmith) plot a quick money making scheme that revolves around the kidnapping of a young girl. They hide out in a secluded cottage. But what they don’t count on is a terrifying, deformed maniac farmer who lurks in the darkness of the neighboring woods! Hilarious, gory and featuring one of the cooler looking “slasher” killers to emerge from the 2000’s, THE COTTAGE is pure horror fun.
If you’re familiar with Tim Sullivan’s 2001 MANIACS movies, which blend together horror, gore and over-the-top comedy, you should also take a look at his straight-forward horror tale DRIFTWOOD, co-scripted with Chris Kobin. After the death of his brother, David Forrester is obsessed with gloom and darkness, like most angst-ridden teenagers, but his parents see him as potentially following in the same destructive path as his older brother, so they send him to an “attitude-adjustment” camp run by Captain Doug Kennedy (Diamond Dallas Page). Yep, let’s just say it isn’t exactly the safest environment for a trouble young person to find themselves in, especially when David starts to see the apparition of a former deceased teen there. How far will Kennedy take his on-sight tortures? And can David survive long enough to solve the murder of the ghost haunting him? DRIFTWOOD offers a spooky, moody dramatic little horror film with lots of atmosphere and a great score. M. Scott Smith, who was one of the editors on the original EXORCIST cut the picture, and gives it a few scary zingers. Recommended!
LIGHTNING BUG (2004)
This is the only one on this list that isn’t a straight horror movie. It’s a drama, but I had to include it because not only do I love it, I think as any fellow kid that grew up with a love of horror, you’ll appreciate it too. This is FX artist Robert Hall’s directorial debut, and it’s very loosely based on his own upbringing. Bret Harrison stars as Green Graves, a young kid from the South that aspires to one day make monsters for Hollywood movies, but first, he must deal with the real-life monsters in his small town, such as the abusive step-father that terrorizes his mother, or the religious fanatics that are convinced his work is Satanic. Or the shocking secret that his new-found girlfriend harbors. HELLRAISER’s Ashley Laurence plays Graves’ mother in the film, and it’s great to see her do something dramatic like this. It’s just a good story that will inspire you to always strive for more in your life, especially if that revolves around your love of monster movies.
KATIEBIRD: CERTIFIED CRAZY PERSON (2005)
Here’s one that might not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for something extreme, ala HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, this may be a hidden gem you’ve never heard of. Written and directed by Justin Paul Ritter, KATIEBIRD: CERTIFIED CRAZY PERSON follows the story of serial killer Katiebird Wilkens at various stages throughout her life. It’s told in a fractured order, often with split screen depicting multiple characters reactions during any given scene. The score is comprised of avant-guard jazz with a pinch of metal guitars. And all of the frantic-ness of the stylistic choices only add to the state of mind of the main character. Again, this one’s not an easy pill to swallow, but if you like any of the true crime adaptions of serial killers ED GEIN, TED BUNDY or DAHMER, I can assure you you’ve never seen anything quite like this.
THE LOVED ONES (2009)
The fact that this film doesn’t get more love is beyond me! Granted, Sean Bryne’s debut feature film THE LOVED ONES took a while to make it to the States, but when it did, I was blown away by this nasty little horror thriller that’s part HEATHERS, and part HOSTEL! We all know how important the prom is to a young girl’s teenage life. So when Brent (Xavier Samuel) turns down Lola’s invitation (he does have a girlfriend already, so…), she doesn’t exactly take it well. Her and her father kidnap the young lad and decide to orchestrate the best possible prom experience they could come up with in their own home. Dark, comical and totally unique, THE LOVED ONES is what I love about horror. Plenty of surprises in this one, including a couple of laughs, some cringe inducing torture, and a great, great performance from Xavier Samuel, who also later appeared in Bernard Rose’s FRANKENSTEIN as the monster (review here) and also alongside Brad Pitt in FURY. Highly recommended.