2016 may have been a shit year for politics and the mortality of cultural icons, but it was a banner year for horror films and a few of the best ones are ultra-low-budget affairs that may have slipped under some folks’ radar.
What follows are, in my opinion, the five best horror movies of 2016. Note that a couple of these titles were completed in 2015, but did not receive wide distribution until 2016. Also, full disclosure: I have not yet seen The Shallows, Hush, Train to Busan, or The Love Witch—all of which have gotten great reviews from respected sources.
Night of Something Strange
This over-the-top splatter flick about an STD that turns its victims into raging zombie-like maniacs was shot by up-and-coming film maker Jonathan Straiton in Virginia for a mere $40,000. It looks like a million bucks. With top-notch gross-out effects and awkwardly comic sexual situations, Night of Something Strange delivers the sort of comic-book violence and black humor that will resonate with fans of the Evil Dead series or Street Trash. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and a sick sense of humor may be required for full enjoyment, but there’s still moments that are shocking and brutal. Straiton is a director to keep an eye on. The film is rentable on Amazon with a DVD/BD forthcoming.
This quasi-art film may be the “weirdest” entry on the list, and I imagine some would find its premise a bit pretentious, but it’s one of the most refreshingly original horror films I’ve seen in at least a decade. Michael Medaglia’s Deep Dark follows a struggling, untalented artist working in the unappreciated medium of mobiles. The artist discovers a hole in the wall of his rented room which communicates with him, at first through a series of notes and then, as the hole gains strength, verbally, and eventually—when things start to get really weird—sexually. The hole in the wall provides the artist with the tools to achieve his dreams of success in the art world, getting him into a gallery and eventually into the gallery owner’s pants, which causes a (sometimes graphically) messy love triangle between the artist, patron, and muse. Fans of Lynch and Cronenberg take note of Deep Dark. Like Night of Something Strange, this is another highly effective film shot on a ridiculously low budget: reportedly $20,000.
More after the jump…