People are always telling me that there are no more original horror movies these days. Lately, I’ve heard many say that there aren’t any decent horror filmmakers anymore, simply because the majority of genre films that make it to the theater have bigger budgets, with fewer talent. Of course, there’s always an exception here or there, but sadly, many of the mainstream films are made with the goal of a large profit, rather than quality. However, hope is not lost. There are still many worthy directors that deserve the attention and budget of the bigger names. Although it may be difficult to find some of their films, the effort that you put forward can only help propel these directors into a higher slot that would allow for a wider distribution. Without further ado, here are the horror directors who are worthy of your attention.
Ti West emulates old school horror. All of the classic, slow-paced, dialogue-driven greats like The Shining, The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, and others, are echoed in West’s advanced work. His patient, gradual build-up creates so much anxiety that when the final act occurs, it’s always horribly shocking. Plus, his attention to detail and cinematography in such films as House of the Devil, The Innkeepers, and V/H/S make him one of the most promising indie directors working today. Make sure to keep an eye out for his upcoming film, The Sacrament, which is set to release sometime in 2013.
Director of The Raid: Redemption and the V/H/S/2 short “Safe Haven”, Evans has his own edge in the horror genre: he knows how to film fight scenes. It sounds simple, but there are tons of films that fail to properly demonstrate what actions are taking place and by whom during physical confrontations. Evans, on the other hand, knows when to back up and let the viewer watch the punches fly, and when to zoom in and devour each drop of blood spilt. This advantage can be attributed to the countless hours he spent watching numerous martial arts films as a kid, sparked by a love of Bruce Lee. His sequel to The Raid, simply called The Raid 2, is set to release in 2013. I’m positive that this highly anticipated sequel will be just as well-coreographed and jaw-dropping as the first installment.
Jen and Sylvia Soska
The Soska Twins gained early fame for their bloody, female-helmed American Mary, which hit limited theaters in America in 2013. Starring Katherine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps), their second film centers around Mary Mason, a broke pre-med trying to earn some cash on the side to help her become a dignified surgeon. After an unfortunate but surprisingly enlightening incident, Mary learns that she can earn more money than she’s ever dreamed of by working on the black market as a body mortification doctor. This brave, mostly untouched area of horror was tackled fiercely and beautifully by the Twins, who wrote and directed the feature themselves, making a mark for women in the horror industry everywhere. However, they didn’t earn a spot on this list simply because they are female directors. They created such a well done film so early in their careers, that it would be extremely impressive for any filmmaker. Also, the sisters have said that although they hope to encourage other women to follow their dreams, they do not wish to be known as the girls who direct horror movies, but rather, two horror fans who get to create work that they love, and just happen to be women. Their outlook and talent is not only admirable, but also, promising for the future of the genre.
Gens is known by most as the director of The Divide, but he didn’t catch my attention until I watched The ABCs of Death. His segment for the letter X, titled “XXL”, was arguably the best short in the entire anthology. Not only did he show that with a little creative thinking and determination, one can surpass any assigned challenge, but he also made great social commentary about the pressure to be physically perfect according to society’s standards. His upcoming film The Farm, set to release in 2014, stars Scream Queen Danielle Harris, Michael Biehn, Jennifer Blanc, Michael Eklund, Courtney B. Vance, and Ivan Gonzalez. Based on his previous work, I’d say chances are it’ll be a success.
Last year, this director made one of the most underrated horror films in recent memory. Starring Ethan Hawke, Sinister tells a grisly account of a true crime novelist chasing his newest pursuit, the unsolved crime of a family hanged in their own backyard. In order to find the missing family member; the youngest daughter, and to reinstate his thriving career again, Ellison (Hawke) moves into the murdered family’s home, and begins investigating. Derrickson’s film stood out because it plays like a vintage ghost story, using the darkness as the creepy presence in the room, rarely shedding a moment’s mercy for the relief of light, even after Ellison finishes watching extremely disturbing snuff films on an old Super 8 projector. With the aid of an uncomfortable, teeth-grinding score, and terrific performances by Hawke and Juliet Rylance, Derrickson created a truly inspiring, scary, classic piece of work. I can’t wait to see the sequel, and see what else he’s got up his sleeve.
Director Wingard has done a fine job of putting the fear back in films. Today’s audiences are so jaded, that oddly enough, it seems to takes more than a maniac running around with a butcher knife to frighten us anymore. With the fear-mongering in the news, the violence in T.V. shows and films, and the influence of quickly maturing adolescents, people today have a touch of “been there, done, that” mentality. That’s where Wingard comes in. You think you’ve seen the same home invasion movie hundreds of times, then he and Simon Barrett suddenly shock viewers with You’re Next, a terrifying account of a family put in jeopardy when masked mad men invade their happy home. No matter what plot Barrett writes, Wingard executes it with a brutal, realistic force which frightens even the most experienced genre fans. Be on the lookout for his newest feature, The Guest, which is currently being filmed.
Most have heard of him already, but for those who haven’t, check him out immediately. Green’s body of work includes Frozen, Hatchet I, Hatchet II, Hatchet III, Holliston, and more, which is very impressive because each piece is so different from the others. Frozen is a dramatic, psychological thriller that tells the story of three college kids trying to find a way off of the ski lift that has left them to fend for themselves against blizzards, wolves, and the unmerciful cold. The Hatchet series is an homage to 1980s blood-soaked slashers, that follows Mary Beth Dunstan as she seeks revenge against the urban legend Victor Crowley, who killed her family. Lastly, Holliston is a new T.V. show on the FEARnet channel, which is best described as the birth child of Friends and Spaced. Not to mention, all of the side projects, like the comedic ‘Halloween’ Deleted Scene starring Joel David Moore and Kane Hodder that he released last October. Between writing, directing, and starring in his own show, Green is constantly touring around the country to different conventions to meet his beloved Hatchet Army, and even working on a new film called Digging Up the Marrow. Oh, and did I mention that he prides himself on giving FREE autographs to fans? All of his hard work, positivity, and kindness make him one of the most talented directors in horror, and probably one of the coolest people on the planet.
When considering which horror directors deserve appreciation for their work, Alexandre Aja’s name always comes to mind. He stands apart from the rest through his sophisticated, artistic edge that he brings to all of his films. In High Tension, his strong female lead demonstrated the terror of a home invasion, and the perseverance of true friends to reattain what was lost. High Tension was not only a valid, and much needed representation of a woman who won’t lie back and accept her misfortune, but it was a bloody, intense ride from start to finish, with an ending that begs to be remembered. With Maniac, Aja faced the daunting challenge to remake a cult classic, and created his own vision with ease through POV-style filming that separated his from the original. Coming up next in 2013, Aja will take on the adaptation of Joe Hill’s Horns, starring Daniel Radcliffe. His interpretation is sure to be intriguing, and above all, professional.