1. HellFire (2015)
Marc Fratto’s Hellfire is so satisfying on so many levels that you’ll be left wondering why he hasn’t been snatched up the Hollywood machine as horror’s next “it” guy. Equal parts Reservoir Dogs and Evil Dead, Hellfire follows a group of ambitious prostitutes as they kidnap what they believe to be a drug kingpin in a bid to change their lives and leave their professions far behind. Little do they know their captive is much more than what they originally thought. Believable characters, a smart script and some great gore make this low budgeter a must-see. Original review here.
2. Absentia (2011)
Your atypical “a bump in the night” psychological thriller, Absentia, is a riveting genre-masher that is one of the more successful nail-biters in recent years. A man, missing for years, returns home to his ex-wife bringing with him more questions than answers. As his wife works to uncover the mystery linking him to an ominous tunnel near their home her paranoia grows, as does the viewers’ culminating in an effective supernatural puzzle that will leave the audience looking over their shoulders as much as the film’s main heroine.
3. The Revenant (2012)
Kerry Prior’s epic undead horror-comedy The Revenant went largely unnoticed despite some VERY favorable reviews and some stellar performances from the likes of iZombie’s David Anders. Arriving home in a body bag, soldier Bart Gregory literally wakes up dead. A new unquinchable thirst for human blood and nigh invulnerability puts Gregory and his best friend on a path of violent vigilantism against the city’s criminal elements. Prior’s directorial turn at bat is far more complex than this synopsis gives it credit for and its ending both tragic and poignant, if not a little too realistic in today’s political climate. Original review here.
4. A Dark Song (2016)
Hitting the US just recently (April 2017), few recent horror films have had the emotional impact on me like Liam Gavin’s A Dark Song. A mother having recently lost her child, employs the help of an accomplished occultist to put her grief to rest, summoning angels and demons in her quest to make herself whole again. A very heavy atmospheric look at loss and maybe one of the more realistic depictions of ceremonial magic, A Dark Song plays almost every frame with the same kind of emotional weight that cripples its leads. An intense last act and a wholly satisfying and again, emotional crippling ending will see this one quickly jump ahead in a lot of “best of” lists.
5. It Stains the Sands Red (2017)
One of the most recent entries, and one that is still making the rounds, is director Colin Minihan‘s fresh and surprising take on the zombie genre. An incredible female lead (Britanny Allen) takes a simple tale of one woman’s journey across the desert stalked by a lone hungry zombie and turns it into a powerful transformative exploration of the human spirit to survive. Good direction and solid gore also make this one a stand-out. Original review here.