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  • Lauren Johns

Horror Movies that Slipped Below the Mainstream

By: Lauren Johns

It’s not Halloween, not even close, but there’s no rule that prohibits you from turning your life into a 24/7 horror fest. If you’re like me, you consume horror like water: watching videos about potential phobias that you didn’t realize you had, listening to paranormal podcasts, making a plan to watch a nice rom-com and ending up watching another installment of “Jigsaw ''. There’s so much to consume out there, and no end in sight.

Despite the immense amount of options, sensitivity is an important factor. With all the formulaic horror movies out there, (I’m looking at you “Blumhouse”), it’s easy to become a bit desensitized, where nothing scares or surprises you like it used to. 

At your next movie night, instead of wasting hours battling indecision—only to settle on some mediocre movie about night swimming—spend five minutes with this list instead and prepare to be amazed (and possibly scarred). 

To note: these movies are not numerically ranked.

Creep (2014)

If you’re a fan of found footage films and surrealistic elements, consider queuing this one up.

The R-rated movie revolves around a struggling videographer named Aaron who receives an online request to film a man named Josef for a day, and things get extremely jarring and absurd. 

Alice Lu, UMSL alum, believes that despite the more simplistic concept, the film is executed extremely well. “I think found footage kind of slips under the radar because of the lesser quality and potential motion sickness with the camera shaking,” Lu said. “But the acting in this film really makes a strong impact and there are definitely moments that will make your skin crawl.”  

The movie has a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and is streaming on Netflix.

"Creep" Movie Poster, Credit to: Rotten Tomatoes

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies (2022)

This A24 production was deemed “overrated" at the time of its release, but kind of vanished into the abyss after that. Be honest, you totally forgot this movie existed. 

The film follows a rather formulaic plot, but has a unique Gen-Z perspective, 20-somethings that actually act like 20-somethings, and has some razor sharp plot twists. To sum it up, it’s all about rich young people having a wild party at a remote family mansion, and things get wilder when someone winds up dead. If you need more of an incentive to watch, there are a lot of big names in it: Pete Davidson, Maria Bakalova, Amandla Stenberg, and more.

The movie has an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and can be streamed on Hulu.

"Bodies, Bodies, Bodies" movie poster, credit to: IMDb

Skinamarink (2022)

Despite the 72% Rotten Tomatoes ranking, this Canadian horror film (directed by Kyle Edward Ball), seems to be something you either love or you hate, since it places an extreme emphasis on atmosphere and suspense building. This is analog horror at its finest, utilizing low video quality, noise distortion and ancient technology. The perspective is also extremely wonky, since it’s meant to remain at a young child’s height.

The plot goes like this: Two children wake up and have no clue what happened to their dad or the windows and doors in their house. This might just bring up every childhood nightmare you’ve ever had. 

Fun fact, according to buchtelite, the title of the film is inspired by a nursery song that was originally called, “Skid-dy-mer-rink-adink-aboomp”, but the title has evolved over the years.

The film is also an extended version of a short film called “Heck” that was released in 2021, (Mashable).

“Skinamarink” is streaming on Shudder and Hulu.

"Skinamarink", Movie Poster, credit to: Reddit

The House (2022)

Funny story, I went online to find out where I could stream “Skinamarink”, and found a Netflix link that, plot twist, did not take me to the movie I’d searched for. Instead, I stumbled across “The House”, a British stop motion film that consisted of three different storylines all taking place in the same house. While I do consider this to be within the horror genre, the film wasn’t necessarily scary, I would use the words “unsettling” and “eerie”. The first two stories dealt with greed, wealth, and a slow spiral into madness, and the last story was ultimately uplifting, giving viewers an eventual break from all the doom and gloom. 

The beautifully created sets and characters make it extremely memorable. I’d recommend this to lovers of “Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Coraline”. 

The film has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

"The House", Movie Poster, credit to: Collider

The Hole in The Ground (2019)

This Irish film (produced by A24), is more than meets the eye. While the plot feels like an overdone concept—son disappears and returns not acting like himself—the acting is immaculate, the characters are multi-dimensional, and the cinematography is stunning in a melancholic, bone chilling and whimsical way. This psychological slow burn thriller will have you falling off of your seat. 

According to IMDb, the movie draws inspiration from elements of Irish folklore: portals to the underworld and fairy-like creatures. 

The film has an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and can be streamed on HBO max.

"Hole in the Ground", Movie Poster, credit to: Hulu

Truth or Dare (2017)

Not to be confused with the 2018 Truth or Dare that looked like it used Snapchat filters.

This horror/mystery follows the common trope of a group of friends sneaking into an abandoned place (aka: a haunted house), to throw a party, get wasted, the works. Things take a sinister turn when a basic game of Truth or Dare goes awry. 

“I like this [film] because it’s entertaining without being too over the top”, Lu said. “The tropes are utilized in a unique and modern way.”

Trigger warning: lots of grotesque and gory moments, similar to the kinds of things you might see in the “Final Destination” franchise. The ratings may not be great, but it’s quite the entertaining watch. 

You can stream via Hulu or Amazon Prime.

"Truth or Dare", Movie Poster, credit to: Rotten Tomatoes

Apostle (2018)

This Netflix original takes viewers back in time to 20th century London and centers around a man named Thomas Richardson who sets out on a mission to save his sister who is being held for ransom by a religious cult. 

“I was horrified and disturbed by how this film played out,” Lu said. “If you are intrigued by religion, cults, and history, this is definitely worth the watch.”

The psychological thriller has a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes (although it deserves a higher score). 

"Apostle" Movie Poster, credit to: IMDb

Bones and All (2022)

Those with weak stomachs, proceed with caution, this movie goes heavy on the bloody violence. 

This is a romance/horror filma rare genre combination—based on a coming of age novel of the same name that was written by Camille DeAngelis and released in 2015 (Time). The adapted film centers around two cannibals (played by Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet) who venture on a 3,000 mile road trip through America, fleeing their horrifying pasts.

“[The movie] was overlooked in the sense that it’s a horror movie, but it was treated as more of an art-house drama,” said Daniel Gerth, Director of Student Services, Alumni Relations and Associate Teaching Professor. “This was probably the case because horror is still considered pretty low brow in a lot of circles, [not super cultured or intellectual].”

Whatever you want to label this movie, it has a very unique plotline and an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. You can stream it on Amazon Prime.

"Bones and All", Movie Poster, credit to: IMDb

Barbarian (2022)

This movie goes a completely different direction than one might expect. The villains are not blatantly obvious and the whole plot will leave you scratching your head, wondering if the directors were on something. 

The plotline revolves around a young woman who arrives at her rental home, only to find that it’s already occupied. She comes to learn that she has greater issues than just a mysterious house guest. Be prepared for a heart racing, anxiety inducing adventure. And the constant urge to yell at the screen because the characters keep making stupid mistakes. 

The movie has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and you can stream it on Apple TV.

"Barbarian" Movie Poster, credit to: IMDb

Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

Despite a few obnoxious jump scares, this movie deserves a spot on this list. The setting is nightmare inducing right off the bat, can you imagine working in a morgue? I have all the respect in the world for morticians. But in this film, the characters do some foolish things, ignore the signs of impending doom (extremely obvious signs by the way) and unsurprisingly, the situation turns dire. 

The movie highlights a father and son that work together in a morgue and have to conduct an autopsy on an unidentified woman (aka: Jane Doe). 

“This film deserves more views because the scenes are so unsettling and [the viewers’] emotions will be heavily manipulated,” Lu said. “”The concept is so simple yet so innovative and fresh. I would highly recommend this film if you are looking for an awesome and memorable movie night in the dark.” 

Warning: prepare for some insomnia with this one, the piercing yet vacant blue eyes of the corpse are hard to unsee.

The film scored an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and can be streamed on Tubi or Hulu.

"Autopsy of Jane Doe" Movie Poster, credit to: IMDb

All in all, if you want to give horror another try, these films should do the trick. Hopefully, these will serve as the ultimate cure for desensitization with sleepless nights as a symptom. Who needs sleep anyway? Sleep is for the dead.





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